So this post is a bit different than my regular posts… Rather than discussing a specific aspect about OCD or anxiety, this post is a request for your assistance in completing an exposure.
Here’s the background…
I have a patient with scrupulosity (religious OCD) who is working to resist his prayer rituals. Oftentimes, his OCD will lead him to pray many, many times throughout the day in response to various triggers he encounters. One of his primary treatment goals is to be able to reduce unhealthy, OCD-based prayers throughout the day.
Scrupulosity treatment can be challenging, but he’s doing a great job. At this stage, we are trying to ratchet things up a notch by having him purposefully expose himself to situations where people request prayers from him directly.
Over the last week or so, I’ve been asking people who come to the office to write down “prayer requests” for him. After reviewing these requests, he is to actively resist praying on their behalf. The exposure goal is for him to know that there is actually a person out there with a real prayer need who is requesting help — BUT… to be able to actively resist the urge to pray and then effectively manage any resulting anxiety, guilt, or distress.
In other words, his ERPs involve receiving “message in a bottle” prayer requests that he then tosses back into the ocean without responding to them.
For those of you without OCD, this goal might seem strange. Why not pray for people who need help? This is because many people with religious scrupulosity find themselves getting stuck in prayer rituals for countless hours each day, even in situations where prayer is neither warranted nor appropriate.
Prayer can become dissociated from its intended purpose and become more of an anxiety- or guilt-driven compulsion than part of a healthy spiritual life. For people with religious OCD, it becomes critically important to be able to perceive a need for prayer and yet not respond.
Scrupulosity (Religious OCD) Treatment (ERP)
Here’s where you come in… I’d like the ocean to be a bit bigger than my office (which is actually more pond-like). If you have a moment and would like to help someone else with their scrupulosity ERPs, please feel free to submit a prayer request in the comments below. For privacy reasons, feel free to use a FAKE NAME when you comment. However, please make it a REAL REQUEST. Remember, the point of this exercise is not to have prayers sent your way — but rather to give someone with OCD an opportunity to resist OCD-based urges to pray.
FYI, the comments below will not appear immediately after you post. They’re moderated, so keep that in mind if you participate. Also, I’m requesting that the comments remain a reassurance-free zone. Any replies that are reassurance-based will not be approved.
Lastly — if you also happen to have scrupulosity — feel free to incorporate the prayer requests below into an exposure of your very own. However, please respect the intention of the exposure and do not pray for any of the requests below. If you can’t resist, please click away now. 🙂
Thanks for your help!
Here are the instructions from our original “Message in a Bottle” exposure…
Please help me with my exposure.
I have scrupulosity (religious OCD), and I’m working on resisting urges to pray. To help me out, please leave your prayer requests below. My goal is to be able to read your prayer requests and then not pray for you. Feel free to make it challenging for me by sharing how much you need prayer or by telling me how much pain you’re feeling.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Thank you for asking for prayer requests. The teenage daughter of a dear friend has been in a children’s hospital intensive care unit since April 9. She finally a bit more stable (“critical stable”). I would ask prayers for her health, the mother’s well-being and for them both to feel assurance of G-
_d’s love around them. My friend is an atheist and my heart aches for her at this time. Thank you again.
Thanks for your prayer request!
Please pray for me. My final exams are in 2 weeks, and my grades have plummeted because of my OCD. If I don’t do really well on my exams, I’m in danger of losing my scholarship, which would most likely mean that I’ll need to take a break from school.
I’ve been going through a lot lately, and I’ve begun questioning my faith. It’s actually scary to see myself writing this out, because I haven’t wanted to admit it to myself. I don’t want to feel this way, but I can’t understand how or why God would let all this happen to me. I know it’s not my place to have to understand His plans, but I’m really struggling right now to accept everything that has happened. Please pray that I’m able to get through this, that God will grant me strength, and that my faith will be restored and strengthened. Thank you.
There is a very young child who has almost died several times in his 12 months on earth. He stops breathing and doesn’t oxygenate his blood properly. He had been released to go to his home and finally be a baby in the family home. This weekend he turned blue again and was rushed by air to the nearest hospital that can treat his complex case. He is back on a ventilator and once more living in the hospital.
His parents ask that everyone pray for him. I am asking you to pray for this tiny baby and his very scared family.
Thanks for your prayer request!
Hello Scrupulosity Guy. I’m an atheist, and the only thing that can bring me to Faith and Salvation is the sincere prayer of a true believer who has love in his heart. Without your prayers I will remain Lost in this world and doomed to an eternity of Hell in the next world. God’s mercy and forgiveness can be granted only if you pray for me – my life depends on you.
My daughter needs to have an operation on her spine and I am concerned that there will be complications. Please pray that the operation will be a success and that she will recover quickly without too many problems and be able to lead a full and happy life in the future.
Thank you for your prayers.
My sister is going in for her checkup to make sure she is cancer free from her recent treatments. The thoughts of having her go this this again are overwhelming and scary. She is requesting prayer from people that she has been healed and has many more years to enjoy with her husband and children.
Thanks for your prayer request!
Please pray for me- I moved to the Seattle area from WI at the end of last summer after finishing grad school. Anxiety and depression are making it extremely difficult to meet people and make friends, and I spend all of my free-time alone. I feel lost and pathetic. Please pray that I would have the energy to move forward during this time of loneliness. Thank you!
My cousin’s dog disappeared, and we don’t know what happened to it. We’re afraid that it ran away and might have been hit by a car. Please pray that she returns safely home.
Please, pray for me! I suffer from a severe form of OCD. This is what brought me to this web site. I tried all kinds of therapy, but it won’t go away. I’m so tired …
Thank you in advance!
I know this is not a prayer request but I loved your article on mental ritual checking because it resonated so well to me. I was wondering if there were any other common mental rituals besides the ones you mentioned in the article? Or any suggestions on how to prevent oneself from engaging in those compulsions I don’t believe you will post this response to the article but if you wouldn’t mind emailing in response to my questions above I would appreciate it! Also besides scripting what are some good exposures to practice compulsion retention?
I’m having brain surgery in two weeks. I am only 31 and I am the mother to two young children, 4 and 2, who still need me very much, as my husband suffers from severe depression and is not always able to give them the emotional attention and care that they need. I am abjectly terrified of suffering a stroke or brain hemorrhage and dying on the operating table, and I ask for your prayers to see me through the procedure. Please also pray that my husband’s suffering is relieved and my children are not harmed or traumatized by either of our health conditions.
I am a self-punishing person with scrupulosity OCD. I feel like I am not worthy of living unconsciously because I don’t talk with my family at some set number of times, because I litter, because I’ve had blasphemous thoughts, and because I don’t value the way my voice comes off over things like benefiting people with resources. My sense of morality has gotten out of control.
Dear Dr Seay
Thanks for your article it is really informative and helpful. Here in Pakistan its really hard to get hold of good therapists and I suffer from religious and moral scrupulosity. I wont even litter a small paper on the road/walkways thinking it might harm somebody. I also have fears of punishments, eternal damnation and hell due to my moral or religious failings.
Could you please suggest what sort of exposures I need to do.
I’m a young man addicted to crystal meth, before stumbiling upon this website tonight I have been batteling with my own PURE-O OCD issues, I am Addicted and Obsessed with disturbing sexual thoughts which have lead me to begin abusing drugs, drove me into a deep depression, weak minded and a un happy, confused andry young man who is now heavily hooked on this drug that seems to intese my symptoms to PURE-O OCD, I need help and I feel like I must do something DRASTIC IN ORDER TO ESCAPE MY MISERY.
I am struggling so badly with relationship ocd and am really concerned that my relationship is at risk which would destroy me… I’m also struggling because my medication level seems to be making me worse and I’m so scared that I’ll never get the right dosage. Please pray that the psychiatrist gives me the right advice. Thanks!
I’m 38 years old and just created my 5th Twitter account tonight. After doing so I was thinking what my first post should be. I then thought I should pose the question “Is there a clinical diagnosis for wanting to start over in life and everything you do in life?” I decided to Google it. I then found this page. I’m not sure if this is exactly what I have but it’s strickenly close. I’ve gone through my life keeping this urge a secret. But now I feel like I’ve found what may be wrong with me or close to. I need to do more research but I’m relieved to find someone out there that has a problem similar to mine just with a few tweaks. I sit here thinking have I been suffering my whole life from this and there is actually someone out there like me. Thinking how much time I’ve wasted makes me tear up. I’ve been to hell and back throughout my life and suffering and tonight I may have figured out what is wrong with me. It’s very emotional indeed. There is someone out there like me! Maybe I’m not crazy or wierd. Now I’m wondering what my next step is. Could this be what I’ve been needing to deal with? Have I spent all this time taking medication after medication and nothing worked. I’m nervous but excited. I knew I had OCD but I didnt know what to call it. Please pray that I figure out what I need to do to next.