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.