1) Basically, scrupulosity is a condition of the conscience where a person sees sin when there isn’t sin or thinks that venial sins are mortal sins.
An example would be someone not wanting to go to Communion because they feel like they’ve broken the hour-before fast by swallowing blood if they had a bloody nose.
Another is thinking one is in a state of mortal sin for simply having lustful/violent/suicidal thoughts without consenting to them. These thoughts can be quite intrusive and very graphic.
It’s actually not a fun condition to have because the person uses a lot of energy determining whether or not they’ve sinned.
As such, the scrupulous conscience is not a healthy one, and the issue becomes even more compounded when mental illness such as OCD enters the picture.
A person need not have a mental illness to be scrupulous, but I do think on some level most everyone with a scrupulous conscience needs spiritual direction.
Individuals with a scrupulous conscience should probably not be looking for answers on-line as they need in-person spiritual direction from one qualified person. Support is fine, but there’s a fine line that I’m suspecting should not be crossed.
**2) **Spiritual direction is often needed when a person has scrupulosity. It’s not always preventable. Sometimes, it’s a phase, other times it part of a larger issue like mental illness.
The more a person knows about the faith (this is why proper catechism is important!!), the more they can discern their conscience.
**3) **This is hard for me to say for sure. HOWEVER, I suspect Catholics have a much more larger issue with it.
First, Catholicism has a lot of rules. I don’t mean that negatively, either. But when you have more rules, it’s more to keep track of. Take the hour-before-Communion fasting rule, for instance. I don’t know of any Protestants that have such a rule because they don’t believe in the real presence of Christ at Communion.
Second, Catholicism is more about that just following the Bible word for word. It’s about natural law and common sense. Catholic scholars have looked at everything from ancient Greece to Immanuel Kant in their deliberations of philosophy.
Third, mortal and venial sin. This is the big one. I don’t see these concepts emphasized much in other denominations. Some give me the impression that you are saved by believing and being charitable to some extent, and once I was even told that we all sin constantly, which based on Catholic teaching is absurd because I would say that most every sin out there requires consent.
This is also an issue because Catholics who have sinned mortally must seek out Confession, but if a person is scrupulous and thinks they are in mortal sin all the time, they are probably going to Confession more than they are obliged to, This is a problem because Confession is generally available once or twice a week, so the scrupulous person is seeking appointments with priests or will just sit around for several days thinking they are in a state of mortal sin.
The situation can really compound itself.