What does religious OCD look like?

Religious OCD is where someone becomes obsessed with morality. Some may believe they have committed a sin, when they haven’t. Some have unwanted intrusive thoughts and misinterpret it as sin. What usually follows is that the OCD sufferer performs a neutralizing action either through compulsive praying or in my case thought neutralizing and avoidance.

I’m what is thought of as a purely obsessional or “Pure-O.” I have blasphemous thoughts that I do not want and I either try to avoid them, I’ll try to neutralize it through using logic and reassurance. I would even pray.

Hey I thought you are an atheist? Well, yes I am.

That means you don’t believe in God, right? Well…..yes.

So then what’s your problem? Now we get to the crux of why OCD is a mental disorder and not some existential problem. The problem is certainty or the lack thereof. The threshold that OCD requires is 100% certainty, not 99.0%, not 99.9999%, not even 99.999999999999999999% ….. ad nauseam. So even if I were to believe with extremely high probability, OCD undermines it. So yes, even atheists can be scrupulous.

My next post will be about atheism specifically, but suffice it to say there are a variety of flavors atheists come in. Many atheists actively believe “there are no gods or God” and therefore do not believe in God (strong atheism). Others, such as myself, currently lack a belief in God. We do not believe “there are no Gods” (weak atheism) we just may believe them to be unlikely mainly because of two maxims: Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence; It is impossible to disprove a negative.  I wonder quite a bit if there is a God.

To the religiously oriented: I’m not going to try to disprove God, but I will discuss why I myself do not believe, but most importantly I want to direct those who suffer from OCD to get the necessary help and avoid some pitfalls as well as provide support to those who suffer from this (either through fellowship or validation of experiences)

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3 responses to “What does religious OCD look like?”

  1. Jackie Lea Sommers says :

    Very well-written, clear post, TSA!

  2. Anonymous says :


    I read some of your other writings about OCD and atheism.

    I think I’m an ex-muslim, though I have questions that I deem from OCD, such as if I’m deluded or if I’m a covert believer.

    I have same exact kind of questions in my head, regarding your description of 0.00..1 % odds of a religion being true; and obsess over what a tragedy it would be if one of them, including the doctrine of hell, is true.
    The truth is you are obsessing about christianity and I am about islam and that tells us something – if that’s not a delusion per se – about “childhood indoctrination”.

    I’d like to have a talk with you.


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