Dealing with Scrupulosity

I just became a Catholic in April, and deal with scruples. I also have OCD, which makes it even harder. I keep asking if everything I do is a mortal sin, and it’s driving me nuts. My priest is aware of this, and has helped me through several situations. I just feel really discouraged, constantly wondering if I’ve done something that has to be confessed, because I’m afraid of going to Hell. I do see a therapist who is Christian, not Catholic. Maybe she can help me too. Can anyone relate?:frowning:

1 Like

A person with scrupulosity --ought to have a “regular confessor” who can direct them --and even give them some general principles to follow -to apply (for them due to their particular scruples -they are usually not for those with a normal conscience).

For they can be in a rather different boat than others. They with the direction of their confessor and the principles given - then act contrary to their scruples - ignore them -(using the older language) despise them, dismiss them–following that direction and the principles given. Acting contrary to what is not really their conscience so much as is unfounded fears. Such is a large key in the age old approach in the Church for scruples.

It is important for you to get such a regular confessor who can know you and your difficulties (OCD etc) and guide you.

As far as a therapist - certainly a Christian therapist is important - but who is not Protestant Christian but Catholic Christian (and faithful to the Church) (I saw a site that may be of help). For one who does not have a good moral theology background will be perhaps less helpful. But perhaps they can work with your Priest? Best though would be a Catholic who knows and professes the Catholic Faith and is faithful.

This site may help you:

Recent converts to can have transitory scruples…but in any case get a regular confessor and work with him. Then once they are remedied one would live normally as other good Christians. Now since you struggle with OCD that can play into things -so certainly seek out the assistance needed sooner than later.

Praying to the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, direction, strength & fortitude in your time of need.

Yes, I can relate. I lost over 20 years of my life to OCD and scrupolisity. In addition to speaking with a good priest and Catholic or Christian counselor, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help. This is a biological illness.

God bless you.

Personally I hate the word “scrupulosity” as used here and in this forum and in other circles. The definition is “the state of being careful about what is morally, ethically, or legally right or wrong”. Not a bad idea. The **affliction **would be better called “excessive scrupulosity” or “over scrupulous”.

Excessive scrupulosity is much related to OCD. In fact, I believe that excessive scrupulosity is a symptom of OCD for some people, especially artists, teachers, entertainers, salespeople, and anyone who is detail-oriented, does repetitive work, and is struggling with anxiety disorder.

True scrupulosity would be a great gift: the ability to discern what is good, a much-needed skill in our world. The excessive scrupulosity, however, can cause a person to believe that they, or someone else, did a criminal or immoral act that does not exist…Quite a problem.

The goal is good mental and physical health so the brain can function more quietly and accurately. Prioritization is important since the excessively scrupulous has difficulty perceiving proportion, size, and importance of an act, thought, or behavior. Nutritional support is helpful. Read about tryptophane or 5 http use for anxiety-type disorders.

Counseling is helpful. Be sure your counsellor stays out of your essential beliefs and faith…not all Catholic counsellors would understand how to separate the illness from the issues of conscience. Some non-catholic counsellors might be more respectful and stay away from the content of your faith and conscience, yet would focus on the amount and size of interfering ideas and confusions.

Thanks for the replies! I am on medication, but unfortunately it does not kill all the obsessive thoughts. It does help relieve the severity and stabilize my moods.

Words have more than one definition. And this being a theology forum - the definition would be the Christian theological definition. What you suggested another definition used in common speech in secular areas.

But here we need to use the theological understanding of the terms: Scruple, scruples, scrupulosity, scrupulous. Since this is a forum of Catholic Moral Theology :slight_smile:

There has been a theological definition and use - for hundreds of years…

There is not “good measure of” “rightly ordered” scrupulosity or scruples. So the application of “excessive scrupulosity” is not really the best as a theological description. There is not “non-excessive scrupulosity” in the theological sense. And even in the secular use - they do not use the term “scrupulosity” but scrupulous “the lawyer was scrupulously exact”. But again that is not the spiritual -moral -theology usage.

Such would not be the case theologically or in spiritual theology. The term for a rightly ordered conscience is never “scrupulous or scruple”.

Those terms are only used for that which is not according to right judgement of conscience.

The term that is used “well formed conscience” “a rightly ordered conscience” and if the conscience is particularly attuned in the rightly ordered way it can be called a “delicate conscience”.

It can be. There are those who struggle with scruples or scrupulosity who struggle with OCD and those who do not. But yes it can be said to be often be “related”.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit