Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thoughts on Thoughts

This article was in the local paper in Logan, Utah:

I applaud this study by Dr. Twohig, because I am aware of this type of OCD and I can imagine it is quite common in Utah among LDS members. As I've said before, there are many wonderful aspects to the Mormon religion and I was very fortunate to witness and partake in these aspects. I also felt there was the notion among LDS members that if a person lets down their religious guard they may fly off the handle and commit complete atrocities. If a person does not guard their actions and their thoughts, they will be doomed.

As an agnostic, I had friends ask me what kept me from doing "horrible" things and I was baffled, because didn't it seem obvious - I didn't do those things because a) they're against the law and b) they would hurt other people. I was told by my religious friends that if they didn't have their religion, they feared they would do the "horrible" things.

I think religion can add a healthy component to one's life, especially in the offering of a community, but I do not think it should make one feel that without it the person has no control over their actions. To me, that is a belief based in fear, not hope, not love, not joy.

Many religions teach that a thought is as bad as the deed and that is just ridiculous! We all have crazy, random, completely frightening thoughts and most of us can just let that thought ride its course. A person with OCD fixates on the thought, not because they are going to commit the atrocity of which they are thinking, but because to them, in this scenario, having the thought is just as bad as committing the act, so they feel they are already guilty. It saddens me that a religion would teach these things and confine its members in such an unhealthy way.

Yes, we all want to do good things, things that we can dwell on, things that can change the course of our thoughts, but we all will have thoughts of angry revenge, jealous rage, sad suffering and that is completely normal. Our religion should give us comfort when those thoughts prevail, it should not make us feel worse for something of which we ultimately have no control.

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