Why It’s Good Not To Confess In Religious OCD

Reading time: 45 sec

I sigh with relief when God forgives me. My confession helps me escape the mistaken sin and settles my mind.

I hate myself.

And the most crucial thing is trusting that my confession will prevent me from doing it again. I shouldn’t buy into it, but I do―I’m prone to its bribery by now.

Each time, I plead, “How can I be certain He’ll forgive me?”

Just confess, and the relief will come.

I conflict. “Is my sin even real?!”

Terrified, I oppose it, the thing that stirs my anxiety. I don’t trust it.

But I confess one more time.

REFLECTION

The term “mistaken sin” in this 100-word drabble is in the context that the wrongdoing didn’t happen. That’s why it’s a good thing not to confess in religious OCD. But despite the character’s being aware that the sin correlates with his religious OCD, he doesn’t trust yet that confessing is counterproductive. He conflicts with the antagonist (OCD)―he knows it’s fooling him, but God’s forgiveness is more important to him. Thus, anxiety relief following confession makes him think he has received His pardon. However, doubts about forgiveness increase his anxiety, and subsequent prayers for mercy strengthen the problem, maintaining the obsessive-compulsive cycle. The solution for the individual is to practice evidence-based treatment known as exposure-response prevention (ERP). This method weakens the obsession and reduces the urge to ritualise and can lead to recovery or much-reduced symptoms. I discuss ERP in detail in my book “Desire-Intrusive Thoughts: What to Do When Sexual, Religious, and Harm Obsessions Carry Unwanted Arousal”.

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