Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Community
3.83k Members
Avatar universal

Moral Scrupulosity

Aghh from where do I start? Please bear with me, I will try to be as short as possible and direct. I've been previously diagnosed with Depression, OCD, Bipolar disorder and BPD to some extent... After 8 years of struggling (I am 25 now), I came to believe that it is moral scrupulosity (which may sound like a new "disorder" to many people here) that I am mainly dealing with, not the religious version, it is the MORAL one. A small example would be like you're doing an exam and accidentally caught a glimpse at your friend's paper and saw a math formula and then, you immediately remember it (at the same time) in your mind. Question: should I write it down? Oh no, you would be a cheater since you've got it from someone else (even if you convince yourself that you have actually remembered it yourself), you will cheat in your success, and therefore, your certificate would be based on cheating, and therefore, your job would be based on cheating, and therefore, your life is A LIE! Yes, this is what I am dealing with on everyday basis!

Down to my direct issues, 2 issues actually:

1) 8 years ago, during my preparation to enroll in my undergraduate studies and due to the fact that I live in a country where "connections" (intermediaries) are over skills in everything, I didn't study that much for the entrance exam. I asked someone to talk to someone who knows someone in a political party to "prioritize" my name on the list of admitted students, oh God, what have I committed? (I was mentally 100% stable at that time) 8 years after, I am now an MBA student but struggling on a SECOND-basis and feeling extremely guilty about what I have done and about this question: what if I took someone else's spot? (And he/she scored better than me in the entrance exam?) I, however, managed to know that I have actually succeeded in the exam but with an average mark (think like 10.5/20) and the director told me that he had to decrease the success average to accept more students... this, however, will never rule my question: what if I took someone else's spot? Enter OCD and magical thinking ==> my license/master are lies, my work would be a lie, my life is a big fat lie, I've committed a crime! (I am not exaggerating, please believe me, this is what is always going around in my mind). I know that a normal human being would accept the fact that he has done a mistake (that if he even considered it a mistake in the first place) and simply move on. But I cannot, I am guilty.

2) Also during my university years, I was to be graduated very soon and having my final courses, there was a course where the doctor recognized my writing style and asked me to come to his home to solve the issue that I may have not passed the exam. I showed him my exam (recognized by my writing, names are sealed), he re-corrected it and added 1 extra point to get 50/100 (I had 49). In all case, I was going to pass it even if I got 49 due to a special average calculation in our system. What have I done now? Another crime! I violated the rules of the university, my doctor has also done the same. This also contributes to the "chain of lie" of mine ===> license/master based on a lie => work is a lie => whole life is a big fat lie.

Every breath I breathe, every step I take in my life, every road I take, I think of these 2 "crimes" (again, not exaggerating with the term), I know that there is no way to go back and fix the past but what can I do? I am trying so hard to accept the reality and move on but I cannot, I have taken antidepressants and antipsychotics before without any success, I also followed some online courses of CBT, ERP and DBT, worked for a while, never ultimately successful however due to the strong feelings of guilt. I am a good person, I have a good work experience, I am doing my masters now, I am peaceful, I support rights and ethics, I am not religious however (I do believe in God but in my own way) so please, and especially for those who are suffering from religious scrupulosity, no need to talk about the religion side, I care more about morals. Even if I had not done anything wrong, it is just that I did it in the bad way, everything has to be perfect according to ethics... perfectionism in an issue but ethical perfectionism is a BIG issue.

The thing is, in either ways, I've done them in the wrong way and through the wrong path. Suppose that you cheat on your driving license exam and you get the license, I have this magical thinking which implies that - whatever you do based on your driving from now on - would be a lie, means not acceptable, means not right, means you had no right, etc... can't really explain it :/

I am helpless, I went with myself too far, can't really know how to dig my way out again... How much I needed to vent out, thank you for listening.
4 Responses
1699033 tn?1514113133
Hi there.  While I can't say that my own form of OCD goes in this direction I can certainly see some of the hallmarks of catastrophizing OCD.  You take one thing and you carry it out to the nth degree and catastrophize it.  

"my license/master are lies, my work would be a lie, my life is a big fat lie, I've committed a crime!"  In my mind it is akin to something like my septic system died, next I'm sure it will be the well, Oh my God I can't afford 20 grand for a new well, therefore I will lose my house, etc, etc. Do you see what I mean?  

I want you to think for a second.  I'm sure you know people that have been promoted because of who they know and not how well they do their job.  I'm sure you know of people that actually looked purposefully at a neighbor's test and copied it knowingly.  I'm sure you know people that donate lots of money to a university and their friends kids get in or their own kids get in not because of merit but again because of who you know.  

These are not things that you can control.  What you asked for is what countless others ask for and because you got a yes does not make you a bad person.  Did you ask the teacher to change your grade?  No, you were called to his/her home and you both talked and the grade was upped by 1 point.  Still 49 or 50 out of 100 is still an F.  Nothing really changed there.  This person obviously sees potential and wanted to discuss and wanted to help you out.  Again, out of your control.  

You have every right to be where you are.  You got into university, no matter how, and you did well.  You got into Master's program and you are going to graduate.  Nobody gave you the grades to graduate.  It isn't like you just sat on your butt and didn't put in the effort.  You did.  

I wonder if part of this is a self-esteem issue.  You feel you are not worthy of many things when in fact you are.  

I used to sit back and not say anything.  Then I watched all the people around me complain and get things that I didn't think they deserved.  Guess what I learned...if you don't ask you definitely won't get.  I don't keep my mouth shut anymore.  I open it especially if I think someone is in the wrong.  Sometimes it goes my way and sometimes it does not.  

Keep working on your CBT, etc.  Work on some self-coaching as well.  When you think you are not worthy, say that you are because you are worthy.  That isn't a lie.  Counter those negative thoughts with positive ones.  You my friend have done nothing wrong.  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your kind response. Well, my friend, the thing is that, even though these things are out of control, I was the one who asked for them (the university admission at least), now what was done was done, I want to accept the reality and move on, reality may be or may not be that I have managed to get in because of my grades and not because of the help, again I do not know... it is uncertainty which fuels my anxiety now. How can I tolerate uncertainty?

What triggers my depressed state of mind and guilt is when I fight corruption and attack those who seek such ways to get employed (like my brother is going to do), etc... while I know that, deep down inside, I am really hypocritical because I have sought such a way before. I refuse to do it again now though and my family keep blaming me for such way of thinking (an idealistic one).

Actually 49 is an F but 50 is a P. (Even though that if I got 49, I would have eventually got a P due to a special average system).

Yes, I have scarified a lot and made countless efforts over the past 7 years, I have struggled but managed to finish, graduate and work, all under the stress of mental illness... And yes, I do admit that I have self-esteem issues. Even though I am an outspoken person and can be really social when needed, but my needs, my own very needs, can be easily neglected due to the fact that I simply don't think that I deserve them...  
1699033 tn?1514113133
Read this about OCD....Guilt is a big part of OCD and we all find our own things to feel guilty about.  

Avatar universal
I have just read this and I am in the most similar place to you with my morality thinking. I understand you 100%. I want to tell you to love yourself and accept what has happened. You know you are a good person to be now thinking about this anyway and you just need to say "oh well" and live your life in the most happy way you can. Know that you are good at what you do and that you just happened to be at a point in your life where those things just happened. You are young, still learning. Sending hugs to you as I know this feeling all too well.
Have an Answer?
Top Personality Disorder Answerers
1699033 tn?1514113133
Somewhere in, MD
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
For people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), the COVID-19 pandemic can be particularly challenging.
A list of national and international resources and hotlines to help connect you to needed health and medical services.
Here’s how your baby’s growing in your body each week.
These common ADD/ADHD myths could already be hurting your child
This article will tell you more about strength training at home, giving you some options that require little to no equipment.
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.