Sunday, October 05, 2008

Religious beliefs and OCD

Before I get started, Just want to make it clear that I am in no way dissing people who suffer with OCD. It can be devastating for those afflicted with it, but when studying both religion and OCD side-by-side, could it be that there is a connection somehow? Is religion a mental illness?

I was reading about OCD the other day and how so many of the symptoms are similar to religious beliefs and rituals. While the person knows what they are doing is illogical, they can't help themselves and keep doing it anyway, unable to stop because they must.

Comparisons between OCD and Religion

* Obsessions. These are unwanted thoughts, ideas, and impulses that you have again and again. They won't go away.

Like the church teaches that humans cannot stop "sinning" even in one's own thoughts?

They get in the way of your normal thoughts and cause anxiety or fear.

Must keep believing or something bad will happen, God will send punishment even if you aren't really doing anything or thinking anything bad.

o A fear of harm to yourself or a loved one.
o A driving need to do things perfectly or correctly.
o A fear of getting dirty or infected.

The fear that you must believe so that you won't harm yourself or others, desire for perfection that we can never obtain, but religion teaches that their magical sacrifice and resurrection of a zombie can bring that perfection, wash away the "dirt and infection". Week after week, day after day, hour after hour they keep trying to get "clean" but cannot. The rituals must be repeated because there is just no end to the "dirt".

* Compulsions. These are behaviors that you repeat to try to control the obsessions. Some people have behaviors that are rigid and structured, while others have very complex behaviors that change.

Just like religions and their rituals that are used to try to attain some special favors from supernatural beings in order to feel like something, someone is in control of things.

o Washing or checking that something has been done.
o Counting, often while doing another compulsive action, such as hand-washing.
o Repeating things or always moving items to keep them in perfect order.
o Hoarding.
o Praying.

We hear in churches about the "washing away of sins" and how Jesus can wash all our troubles and cares away...along with our evil sins.

I am not certain about how exactly the rosary works, but I know there is a repetition of numbers involved and counting...saying a number of "hail Mary's" after confession of doing something bad. Hoarding...not sure if I can think of one that fits this one, except hoarding people, getting more and more people for Jeeebus and God.

Praying...I don't need to go into detail about praying and the wishful thinking. This is listed as an OCD symptom though, and this must then pertain to all of these fools who flock to mass, church services, revivals, or whatever to pray their hearts out for some kind of control in their lives.

Religion should have a place in the DSM-IV

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