Living with Scrupulosity: The Victim of a Powerfully Persuasive Cult Leader

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This article was written exclusively for by Steve Hazen.

It all started when I met a man who was a cult leader. I am a Christian, and it was my hope that I could share Jesus’s love with this person. My mind was severely altered under his coercive persuasion. To be honest, I really don't know what he did; I just know that I lost my mind in the end.

I never met this person face-to-face, but I had lengthy conversations with him into the night. He seemed to have all of the answers to “life.” He would say things like: “The answer is in the question. Keep asking the question, and you will keep getting the answer.” I know now that he was trying to make himself a god to me. It was very confusing.

I eventually put myself into a hospital where I learned that I had severe depression and psychotic episodes. The hospital was great. I had not slept in six days because this guy would keep me up talking about his view of everything. When I was in the hospital, there was a social worker who really comforted me. She prayed for me silently for about 10 minutes, and I felt cared for. It was instrumental in my healing.

I stayed a week in the hospital. The meds that they put me on really helped slow my thinking down to where I could make sense out of what was going on. Also, my brother came to see me. Through it, I look back and see God's hand working in my life even then.

Since that time my life has been a journey of absolute terror sprinkled in with times of great thankfulness and joy that I am still alive and that God remained faithful to me through it all.

Living with Scrupulosity

I was later to be diagnosed with OCD. My OCD is manifested in a religious way. I obsess in my mind about everything I do. Was that sinful? Does God still love me? Am I a child of the devil now? Did I blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Is the devil going to use me to hurt others as I was hurt?

It has taken me many years to even agree with the diagnosis given to me because I truly thought I was possessed by some evil spirit that would not let me go. However, when I study material about Scrupulosity/OCD it pinpoints the way my brain functions. And, in a way, it is a real relief to have a diagnosis because that means it may not be spiritual at all; it may be all in my head.

Of course, we struggle with that too, right? I want to encourage you. Every thought that you have had is shared by a multitude of others who suffer all over the world. Just remember, you are not uniquely flawed. I, for one, share in your suffering.

Those of us who have Scrupulosity know the immense amount of fear that is involved when we contemplate if God still loves us or not. Does He ever forget about us? We often feel so forgotten and so alone like no one can relate. It’s not true! There are those who can relate because they suffer in many of the same ways you and I do. Truth is we are not alone.

Recovery: An Ongoing Process

My healing has been ongoing. There has not been a point at which I could say, “That was it.” Having said that, I do know that I have done all I can to get better, including therapy, medication and group therapy. The group therapy helps a lot because one of the hardest things about mental illness is that the illness itself tells us that we are uniquely flawed. This of course is not true, but that is what continues to happen.

My recovery has been a mixture of everything: family, friends, medication, therapy and group therapy. My wife has been most instrumental in my recovery. She has been there when things were at their worst. We have been married for 21 years and have two kids, 19 and 17. She does not judge me harshly as I do myself. She encourages me and loves in spite of all the racing evil thoughts that go on in my mind. I believe that God has used all of these things to see me through, and He has remained faithful throughout.

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