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By Mubeena Mirza, LCSW

When I applied to my master’s program in social work, I was asked to write an essay on intersectionality. Upon researching this word, I found that it clearly explained an important concept to me- we are not monoliths but are a complex interplay of our identities. Rather than static labels, our identities are multifaceted, made up of various intersecting pieces that demand nuanced understanding. We are intersections of our various identities- our faith, class, gender, nationality, race. We are our struggles, and our strengths, each aspect warranting careful, tender care, and disruptions in one dimension can reverberate throughout our entire being.

Through my work with individuals navigating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) I have seen the complex intersection between OCD and matters of faith. OCD can become intertwined with an individual's religious beliefs, leading to what is commonly known as religious scrupulosity. A person of faith may begin to doubt their devotion to their higher power, the steadfastness of their beliefs, and their performance of religious rituals. A beautiful religious practice might quite literally become torture when overtaken by their OCD bully. Moreover, OCD may exploit other themes, such as contamination, to induce doubt regarding one’s daily spiritual life. These manifestations highlight OCD’s relentless pursuit of certainty regarding one’s moral integrity and religiosity.

When OCD encroaches upon one’s faith, the result can be profoundly difficult. It often leaves individuals grappling with feelings of confusion and isolation. This internal turmoil may prompt individuals to question their spirituality and morality. While they are fighting internal battles, they may have difficulty finding supports that understand that OCD is a mental health affliction and not an issue of faith. A person may attempt to confide in a friend, loved one, or faith leader, and they may or may not find the support they need.

Enter the Faith and OCD Conference scheduled for April 18, 2024. This event, hosted by the International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Foundation (IOCDF), provides an invaluable platform for discussion and enlightenment on the intersection of faith and OCD. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with individuals with lived experiences, esteemed faith leaders, mental health practitioners, and researchers in the field of Faith and OCD. In past years, the conference has been attended by hundreds of individuals who have benefited from informative presentations, interactive workshops, and inspiring narratives. Embracing diverse belief systems, the conference aims to foster inclusivity and understanding.

Reflecting on my personal journey, I recognize the significance of representation and visibility within such contexts. The crucial role of validation and community support cannot be overstated when overcoming obstacles. Faith leaders, clinicians, and individuals with lived experience alike stand to benefit immensely from the collaboration present at the Faith and OCD Conference. Therefore, I extend a warm invitation to consider attending the conference, where meaningful connections, insights, and strategies await those navigating the intersection of faith and OCD.



  • Joedaya Beauford

    I want to change my compulsions but I need a lot of support, courage and structure


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