scrupulosity, maladaptive religiosity, intolerance of uncertainty, Latter-day Saints, obsessive-compulsive disorder, intrusive thoughts, grace


Many religious individuals, including members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS individuals), suffer from a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) known as scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is characterized by a cycle of anxiety-producing fear of sinful or immoral behavior and compulsive attempts to soothe that anxiety through religious means. While several therapeutic methods have proven effective for various dimensions of OCD, treatment of individuals with scrupulosity has been less successful. Increasing amounts of research indicate that an intolerance of uncertainty (IU) may play an important role in many psychological disorders, including OCD and, potentially, scrupulosity. IU may be especially problematic for religious individuals, because religion deals heavily with matters of faith that typically cannot be ascertained in ways that many secular phenomena or theories can. Individual IU regarding topics of morality, salvation, and perfection could motivate some religious individuals to develop specific beliefs or maladaptive ways of thinking and living that might lead them to experience scrupulosity. Additional research should further examine the relationship between IU and scrupulosity to help develop more successful methods of treatment for individuals struggling with scrupulosity.

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