Debra Theobald McClendon: Scrupulosity—Obsessive-Compulsive Anxiety You May Mistake as Faith Crisis

Wed Aug 23 05:00:12 EDT 2023
Episode 239

You may have never heard of scrupulosity, but it is possible it has hijacked the religious experience of you or someone you love. In her September 2019 Ensign article, Dr. Debra Theobald McClendon wrote, “Scrupulosity masquerades as a desirable, higher standard of righteousness and personal worthiness—but it’s not!” So, what is scrupulosity? How does it manifest itself? How is it treated? Dr. McClendon helps us answer all of these questions and more on this week’s episode.

If it is a spiritual prompting, and you go through the things you need to repent, including a confession to an ecclesiastical leader if necessary, you will feel better. If it is driven by toxic anxiety, you will not feel better, because it's an anxiety issue. It's not a moral issue or a spiritual sensitivity issue.
Debra Theobald McClendon

Show Notes 

3:11- What is Scrupulosity?
8:34- How Does It Manifests Itself?
12:39- Confession
16:18- Therapy and Treatment
23:41- Correcting Sin While Not Giving Into Obsessions
26:18- Triggers
31:44- Godly Sorrow?
34:02- How to Help Others Who May Be Struggling
38:48- Too Late?
41:35- Repentance is Not a Checklist
43:31- The Atonement
45:16- What Does It Mean to be "All In" the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

This episode originally aired on July 1, 2020.

Links & References

Ensign Articles by Dr. McClendon
• “Discerning Your Feelings: Anxiety or the Spirit?” April 2019
• “Understanding Scrupulosity (Religious OCD),” September 2019

More resources on Dr. McClendon’s Website, see debramcclendon.com

Book by Dr. McClendon and her husband: Commitment to the Covenant, Strengthening the Me, We, and Thee of Marriage 

BYU Study on legalism: “Grace, Legalism, and Mental Health among the Latter-day Saints,” Daniel K. Judd and W. Justin Dyer.

Bible Dictionary definition of “Confession,” see ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Elder Bednar on checklists: “An Evening with Elder David A. Bednar” February 2020

“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.” —Abraham Lincoln

Podcasts with personal experiences with scrupulosity
• Listen, Learn and Love: “Episode 199: Tim and Aubrey Chaves, Active LDS, Faith Crisis, Scrupulosity
• Listen Learn and Love: “Episode 204: David and Jordyn Johnson, Married and Active LDS, Scrupulosity


View transcript here.

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