Atheism Freed Me from All Life's Superstitions

By xrayman

Most of my life I have been very superstitious. Just the thought of an upcoming Friday the 13th made me very anxious. Anything with the number 13 made me very nervous. I would avoid black cats, walking under ladders, and of course a broken mirror caused me great distress. I had lucky numbers and unlucky numbers. The same was true for colors. Along with all my superstitions I also suffered from extreme obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which is superstition gone mad. OCD is manifested by many ridiculous rituals. I used to tap each door knob I walked by seven times and if I didn’t feel I did it right I had to do it again. My shoes had to be placed a certain way, my shirts had to hang in the same direction. I had to rinse my hair a certain way or I would have to do it again. With the obsessive compulsive disorder I became a prisoner to my rituals. They controlled my life. With OCD one gets this irrational belief it they don’t perform their daily rituals something will go terribly wrong.

Now I could never have called myself religious (I’ve always seen through the bullshit of organized religion), but I truly believed in a loving God and the power of prayer. Each day I also had very specific prayer rituals I would perform at specific times. I always felt that if I didn’t perform my prayers correctly that something would go terribly wrong. I prayed to God often and gave thanks in huge doses when I felt the loving God in which I believed blessed me with something nice, or got me out of a jam.

In March of 2006 I opened a huge can of internet worms and completely read myself out of God belief. By reading a few well written articles refuting religion, I became an atheist virtually over night. The hardest adjustment from the start was living my life without prayer. I never realized how ingrained into my mind set the prayer process was. Shortly after my de-conversion my wife had an abnormal mammogram and had to go in for further tests. I was very scared, but realized for the first time in my life that to pray would be futile. Thankfully even without prayers the additional tests proved to be negative.

As my God belief and my need to pray completely faded into oblivion, a wonderful thing happened. All of my superstitions and OCD neuroses slowly faded away and are now completely gone. When my mind no longer believed a God had any control over my life's outcomes, it became obvious that superstitious thoughts or actions certainly couldn't effect any outcomes either. I never considered religion to be a superstition, but now as I look at if from a different perspective I realize that religion and superstition are exactly the same. Ironically I prayed thousands of times over for God to deliver me from my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but it was only cured when my God belief flew completely out the window. This has been by far the most wonderful by product of my atheism. Atheism essentially cured me of a serious life altering psychological disorder.

Along with the passing of all my superstitions and my OCD, I have also thrown out a couple other commonly held beliefs. Gone is my belief in intuition or the “hunch.” For instance how common is if for someone to say they were thinking of a friend they hadn’t heard from in years when the phone suddenly rang and it was this person. Many call that intuition where as I now know it is nothing but coincidence. So often people will often say they had a hunch something would happen and it did. It’s all coincidence when you really analyze the million thoughts that go through one’s head in a given day. It’s a simple matter of counting the few hits of our thought processes and ignoring all the misses.

I work at a very busy big city hospital and despite the popular notion, I no longer believe that a full moon causes increased ER activity. Sure there are nights when we are busy during a full moon, but there are many crazy nights without a full moon and many mundane nights when the moon is full. It’s all about statistical averages and laws of chance and nothing more. I will say that on very warm summer nights we are often very crazy for obvious reasons. When the nights are hot people are out doing crazy shit in the big city. On a side note, one fact that is funny about my workplace is the fact that the number 13 does not exist. They won’t even end a room number in 13 as in 413. They just opened a brand new intensive care unit this week and it goes from ICU 12 to ICU 14. The same holds true for the new cardiac intensive care unit slated to open next week. It just cracks me up how the number 13 ensues so much fear into mainstream society that a hospital must make the appropriate accommodations. We have 14 operating rooms and it goes 10, 11, 12 then A and B. We are only ten stories high so they don’t have to do any deceptive floor numbering.

In conclusion I am just blown away by the unexpected benefits my atheism has brought fourth. Only one who has been a prisoner to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder will ever know where I have been. It can sometimes drive one near the point insanity. I would love to send this letter to a leading specialist in the treatment of OCD and see if they have ever seen this sort of thing before. Is there anyone out there who can relate to my story?

49 comments:

tina said...

Wow, interesting story. I have nothing to add to this but it sure is interesting to see the connection of OCD and religion. I would like to hear how this turns out of you get any more comments.

Carl K. said...

Hugely interesting story. I wonder if we can document other instances relating OCD and religion, and maybe begin to build a case against religion as a result.

stronger now said...

Check out this video with the song Habitual Inmate by the Bastard fairies. I had to listen to it while reading your story. I had to listen to it while writing this. I'll have to listen to it again.

Thackerie said...

I'm been admiring your responses to these blogs for some time now. I'm glad that you finally gave us your own story. It's a very interesting one - and thoughtful and well-written as usual!

god said...

hi, i'm glad you;ve fred yourself from the mind virus. in my opinion, religion and superstition, especially christianity can exacerbate tendencies towards anxiety disorders such as ocd.

if you peruse the testinonials on this site you will find ocd often manifests and reinforces itself with the chtistian mindset .

here is a story i always find interesting concerning religion and ocd: http://www.successfulschizophrenia.org/stories/wwu.html

SpaceMonk said...

I turned 13 on a Friday the 13th.:)
I also frequently dump loads of superstitions I gradually pick up.

I think it comes from their being so many things going on in our life that are beyond our control, so we try and exercise control over little things that don't really matter, but give us something we can handle.
For me it comes down to dropping useless fears.

twincats said...

I, too would be in big trouble if I were superstitious as my b-day is on the 13th as well. Although I didn't turn 13 on a Friday...

The OCD connection is interesting, but other conditions can perhaps be included as well, I think. My godson has Asperger's and went through a phase where he was incredibly concerned about my 13th of the month birthday. He became very religious as a pre-teen when his grandmother started dragging him to church, as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow xrayman...fascinating. I don't really know anything about what causes ocd but my sister has struggled with it, as well as anxiety problems, and in her case I think it is partially as a result of her perception that she had no control of her life. She was in an unhealthy marriage and now that she's out of the situation, she is much improved as well. I suppose unhealthy god belief could be like a bad marriage.....lol.

Anyway, enjoyed your story!
redtail

resonate11 said...

Fantastic! I love that rationality cured what faith and prayer couldn't.

xrayman said...

reasonate11 said,

"Fantastic! I love that rationality cured what faith and prayer couldn't."

Oh the irony !!!!!

Prayer and OCD are one in the same because they are all about this illusion of control over a situation in which there is none.

Anonymous said...

I loved your post and it is great to have you aboard. I have written a couple of time in the forum regarding OCD and religion. I suffered also when I was a Christian. My ritual involved light switches and writing things over and over again. Like you it disappeared when I gave up on religion. I think this is quite common.

I Broke Free

xrayman said...

Hey I Broke Free

Glad to hear someone else shared and was cured of the same affliction as I. It is a bitch isn't it?

Oh I had so damn many little repetitive rituals it would take a full page to name them all. I too would fiddle with light switches. I would count to seven in my head over and over all day long. I used to utter this same silly prayer when I passed a cemetery over and over.

Actually the worst part of my obsessive behavior was when I was drinking. A person with OCD makes the worst case senerio alcoholic. I was hitting the vodka at 7am. Thankfully I haven't touched a drop in 17 years.

I guess I must be thankful that I didn't get into organized religion because that could have been real trouble if I started believing in the Bible and all that bullshit, because I would have been into it full steam. Thankfully my subconcious never was sold on the Jesus idea.

Brian Worley said...

Xrayman,

I am accustomed to reading good comments from the xrayman. So when I saw your name on the opening post, I immediately wanted to read what you had to say.

Very interesting read as well as the comments to follow. Maybe you stumbled upon something that needs looking into. Keep telling your story!

Anonymous said...

I think the reason "atheism" cured your ocd is because atheist material is not only anti-religious, but also anti-superstious as well. From what I read on the internet (which is exactly how I got deconverted) it all seems to promote a skeptical attitude in general. I would'nt be the same in my thinking if I had just deconverted from reading the bible. I love atheist propoganda! It says WAKE UP SUCKA! And that just plain makes you smarter and more aware...I'd like to think so anyways. I certainly feel way different. It's kinda nice knowing I am in charge.

xrayman said...

Hey Stronger Now,
I watched the video in which you provided the link. I can laugh at it now. Thankfully one of the few obsessions I didn't develop was the repeated hand washing or germaphobia. That would have killed my healthcare career. Through it all I would still eat sometime off the floor if I dropped it.

Another obsession I had was that the doors to the TV cabinet in our bedroom were open exactly right. I would get out of bed sometimes a dozen times to adjust them or I couldn't go to sleep. I drove my wife nuts.

Brian Worely thanks for your kind words !!!!!

To the last Anon poster,

"I think the reason "atheism" cured your ocd is because atheist material is not only anti-religious, but also anti-superstious"

Very profound statement indeed. I think atheist material emphasizes that religion is superstition.

Anita said...

Hello xrayman,
I really enjoyed your story and am thrilled that atheism has cured you of your OCD. I saw a documentary (or maybe it was a Dr. Phil episode) awhile back, about a young woman whose OCD manifested itself in the form of crazy religious rituals. Her room was overrun with crucifixes of every size, shape and description, and she was a slave to obsessive compulsive prayer. I encourage you to continue telling your story. Post it everywhere you can. I believe my maternal grandmother suffered from OCD, although she was never officially diagnosed. She raised me, so I witnessed her doing a lot of crazy shit. There certainly appears to be a connection between superstition and OCD. And, of course, all religions are based on superstitious nonsense. In light of your story, it's interesting to note that most faiths require followers to perform silly rituals designed to please or appease their nonexistent gods. You're definitely on to something here!

stronger now said...

I can't say if I ever really had the "C" part of the disorder but obsessing over things was what I did to keep myself from thinking about my childhood trauma. It sucked for my wife because she never knew what "thing" I was getting into next.

At least that's what the therapist said. I don't think he ever told me a diagnosis,(as in "You have OCD.") but he did offer me medication to help me stop the "repetative thoughts" as he described it. I didn't take it.

I'd get interested in something, like say, golf, and I'd have to buy as many books and learn as much as I could about playing golf and then I'd have to get the equipment and play a few times. Then my interest was over and I'd skip to the next thing whatever it was.(It was never spelling or writing) I wasted a LOT of money doing this over and over. I did learn how to do a lot of stuff though. If I ever had a cumpulsion, it manifested at work where I was considered a good employee for double and triple checking things. I could have cared less about the job or what my bosses thought of my job performance. I felt a NEED to check things. But this is only my interpretation of things and not something I can definatively pin on OCD.

I feel much better now though.

Sronger now(who feels like seeing that video again)

Artiss said...

Great post, I've had experience with OCD family members but never made the connection between that, superstition and religion. Interesting.

xrayman said...

Hey Stronger Now,
I am the same way as you in regards to getting heavily into something. When I take up a hobby or a habit it's balls to the wall. To tell you all the truth right now I am obsessed with the whole atheism and refuting religion thing. I never read books, yet I am on book number six(God is Not Great) dealing with this subject and just got one in the mail, Breaking the Spell. Refuting religon is my number one hobby of the moment.

Now when one does have an obsessive compulsive personality it can be a very positive force. I work out religiously five days a week. I am obsessed with physical fitness. With most people a workout plan lasts about two weeks, where as with me it's been twenty years and I will never stop unless I am unable. I also am very obsessed with perfection in my job.

I am also a self admitted sex addict, but I have a very beautiful and willing partner and keep it within my marraige.

The only thing that is gone are irrational obsessions like prayer and silly worthless and time consuming OCD habits.

stronger now said...

I guess I am obsessing about the anti-christian/atheism thing as well. Although, sadly, I no longer have the money to buy all the books I would like to. So far I've read The God Delusion and I found a copy of The End of Faith at the used book store for half off.

I'm just glad that this sight exists. It's a fantastic teaching tool for those wanting to hone debate skills. I also like watching episodes of The Atheist Experience on google video.

I just wish I had an obsession to spell correctly.

Chad said...

Xray Man:
"I am also a self admitted sex addict, but I have a very beautiful and willing partner and keep it within my marraige.

The only thing that is gone are irrational obsessions like prayer and silly worthless and time consuming OCD habits"

Hey there Xrayman,

I was taught to trust God to provide me a wife, and wasted tons of time involved in meaningless and boring Ministries for Singles in these churches. I never found a wife as a result. Instead I met mostly a bunch of back biting and stuck up bitches.

Plus all they ever wanted to do was stupid church work and go bowling. I personally never did enjoy being around a large group of Church Singles going bowling and doing boring bible studies. My idea of a good time was taking a girl out on a date and having some good quality time together. The Church Singles Ministry never provided that for me.

One singles minister in a church that I went to would also tell us, "Don't worry about finding a mate, just learn to be content as a single person and serve Christ". They also talked about how singleness was a gift from God, however I never felt like it was a gift period. Plus every single minister who was involved in this church happened to be married, including the same hypocrite who was our singles minister who told us, "Don't worry about finding a mate".

Trusting in God for a mate is bullshit. I'm currently 38 years old and have never been married, because I was lied to and taught to believe that God would one day provide me a mate, and wasted many years doing worthless church work and going to boring bible studies along with boring outings for christian singles.

Plus I was involved with the single christian men's ministry. Looking back on it, I don't know why in the hell I was involved in a christian men's ministry. Hanging out with a bunch of Single Christian Men was not something that I really enjoyed. I guess I had nothing else better to do back then, and had hoped that maybe one day God would provide my wife.

Hanging out with a girl was what I was interested in.

This bullshit went on from the time I was 23 years old, and produced no wife for me whatsoever. I have also found that "Non-Christian" women make better girlfriends altogether. There is no way in hell that I would want a christian woman now.

Stushie said...

I broke free of superstition, too when I became a Christian. Funny how things work in different people's lives.

Black Swede said...

Stushie Said:
"I broke free of superstition, too when I became a Christian."

WTF????

Are you saying that you are still a christian, or are you no longer a christian?

NAND Gate Fetishist said...

SEX ADDICT?! Come on now, surely it's perfectly normal to be addicted to sex. I don't think that one really counts as an addiction. I'd just chalk it up to being human.

freethinker05 said...

stronger now, would you please give me the link to the atheist experience videos from google?

thanks, roger

Bloviator said...

Hey Xray,

Great stuff there. Like looking in a mirror for me. I have both OCD and a touch of Asperger's Syndrome, the combination of which has caused me no end of grief. One of the greatest difficulties for me has been the prevalence of literal/concrete thinking. Abstract thinking and self-direction were impossible for me for perhaps the majority of my life. I should have been a real sucker for fundamentalism, but thank clarity and reason I never went in that direction.

You, me and Stronger Now can start our own group of compulsive hobbyists who are now stuck on the anti-christian/atheist bit. I can't seem to want to do anything else with my free time these days. (Luckily for me, our local library is stuffed with most of the atheist writings as I live in a VERY liberal town). Also like you, I lucked out in that one obsession I would not allow myself was a religious obsession. Don't know why, just never got that 'firm grip on Jesus', ya know? However, in everything from astronomy to fishing to bicycling to bowling, I was and still am as obsessive as ever.

Your posting on the little rituals you carried out brought back a wave of memories from my younger years -- thank age and changing physiology for the absence of these for me today -- examples of which are: could not go to bed without checking every door in the house at least 5 times; checked stove knobs at least 5 times, folded clothes and put on chair in a very particular order or I couldn't sleep; prayed to God for deliverance for a laundry list of potential ills every night (at least 30 or more diseases and disabilities); had to fold socks so the heals faced the same way; would not eat a bowl of cereal if I saw a speck of anything that seemed 'wrong' floating in the milk (at the same time would eat potato chips off the floor!); could not eat a sandwich made by my mom if there were visible fingermarks on the bread -- the list could go on forever. Talk about feeling trapped. The thing that helped me the most was when I realized I was an "ass-burger" (as some call the illness) and that most of this shit was beyond my control. And control was definitely the key. In retrospect, it seems so obvious to me that prayer is just another attempt to control things beyond my reach. Makes me wonder why I never noticed it before.

I also deconverted in the same manner as you -- got a bug up my ass about a comment made at the church my wife and I were attending (my first experience in an evangelical setting), did some internet research, and the whole thing came to pieces. I wonder now whether I really have believed in the past 30 years at all. Was I just fooling myself all this time? More likely, I knew it was bull, but fear and that deadly feeling of loss of control kept me pretending for much longer than would have been true were it not for the OCD/Aspergers.

As you know, I can also relate to the alcoholism. 31 years of freedom from that now and boy, did the booze ever make the OCD worse!!

AtheistToothFairy said...

Black Swede wrote:
Stushie Said: "I broke free of superstition, too when I became a Christian."
---
Black Swede,

It is quite evident that Stushie is a xtian. One only has to click on his profile to see he's a "Scottish preacher living in Tennessee"

So it seems he traded one set of superstitions, for another. The latter being Christianity and it's mythical gods.

ATF (Who can tell that Stushie lives in a woo-woo magical world, from his web page)

Astreja said...

Stushie, for someone who claims to be free of superstition, you sure have a lot of friggin' zodiac crap on your blog. Might I suggest that you retire from this site forthwith and deal with that 2x4 you've got stuck in your eye?

(Yes, ATF, I concur: The woo is strong with that one.)

Nighthawk said...

Bloviator Said:
"I have both OCD and a touch of Asperger's Syndrome, the combination of which has caused me no end of grief."

I think I can also relate to you and Xrayman is some ways.

I have OCD, ADD, and I suffer from depression that has also caused me no end of grief, and being a christian did not make things any better for me, not did it help me to deal with my condition. Matter as fact christianity made my condition only worse.

Bloviator Said:
"I should have been a real sucker for fundamentalism, but thank clarity and reason I never went in that direction"

Well unfortunately due to my condition I was a sucker for fundamentalism. Christians prey off of people who have weaknesses (Especially mental weaknesses) I was lost and broken and was looking for a fix in my life to deal with my condtions and I fell right into the trap known as "Christianity". Talking about my life getting worse after that.

Anytime I told these christian idiots that christianity provided no practical answers for me, they always came up with these typical lame assed excuses:

1) Just learn to deal with it. Have faith, read your bible, attend church, and Jesus was give you the grace to endure it. (Which never worked btw.)

2) God is going to use you to do mighty things, because God uses weak and broken vessels to display his mighty strength. (Yeah, instead I had an atheist tell me back when I was a christian that I reminded him of why he was glad that he was an atheist, and he saw no credibility with my God. Plus this atheist was highly successful and I was not. Way to go God in using me to be a witness for you).

Plus my ex-girlfriend (Who was also an atheist) told me this one statement that led to me finally turning my back on the christian faith:

"THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO LIFE BESIDES JESUS AND RELIGION".

BINGO!!!!!

Christians can't stand the fact that this so called healing power of Jesus is not real. People like us are a threat to their belief system and that is why so many of them come onto this site, because the things they read on here opens up their mind and causes them to have doubt.

This site scares the hell out of christians. This site exposes christianity for the lie that it is.

If there ever was a Jesus, he was nothing more than a magician and a spiritual con man who knew how to prey off the naiveness and superstition of ignorant and backwards Goat/Sheep Herders.

AtheistToothFairy said...

xrayman said:
On a side note, one fact that is funny about my workplace is the fact that the number 13 does not exist
----
Ohhh my, that old belief of number 13 being so unlucky.

Most folks during my boyhood days, felt that number 7 was their lucky number, but it never brought me luck and if I had to pick a number that was lucky for me back then, it would have been 13. Of course, I might have decided it was my lucky number, merely because instead of bringing the anticipated bad-luck it 'should have', it just didn't, making it FEEL lucky to me instead.

Here's an interesting fact for you.

While in the USA we tend to skip labeling floors of buildings with '13', other countries have a different fear in this regard.
For instance, in countries such as China and Taiwan, they skip the 4th floor like we do the 13th.
If I recall the reason correctly, it went something like: Their word for FOUR is very close to the word for DEATH, hence the superstition of FOUR in Chinese.
If any of you Chinese readers can explain this in more detail, please do so.

As far as OCD and superstitions go Xray'.....

I'm no stranger to this disorder amongst some of my relatives, along with some old-time superstitions as well.

Many from the older generations (like your parents/grandparents etc)., tended to carry many superstitious beliefs.
I recall as a boy, being convinced by several adults that breaking a mirror would surely bring me 7 years bad luck, that a black cat crossing your path was also bad luck, and of course, walking under a ladder was forbidden for the same reason.

It didn't take me long after becoming a teenager to realize that some of these superstitions had their roots in common events of life, such as walking under a ladder could indeed be dangerous, and probably was for one person who got injured by doing so and spread the word around, making it an urban legend of sorts.

A black cat might have been bad luck for two reasons I think.
1. You could trip over a black cat in the dark of night and get hurt.
2. Black cats were associated with witchcraft, being a favorite for 'demons' to use.

Breaking a mirror.....well besides getting cut from the sharp glass, I bet they use to believe that one was breaking a living 'image' of oneself (reflection) in the process. Just a hunch there, but perhaps a valid one?
I say this because I also recall that in some countries they were very superstitious about having their photo's taken by a camera. As if their 'image' in a picture held some evil power etc..

While I've known many, both inside and outside my relatives, who exhibited OCD characteristics, I can't say I know of any who seemed crippled by them, at least not apparently so.
I will say that as a boy I shared some of the OCD symptoms that I've read about here in your own words, and those who commented as well.
While my own were minor by comparison to what I've read about here so far, I can offer an idea as to where my own stemmed from as a boy.

Firstly, I think it's partially genetic in nature. Meaning, one's brain is wired physically towards such tendencies.
Secondly, I think they are rooted in fear, and also, offer a direct means to *seemingly* control aspects of the world; as it applies to our lives.

Once some ritual becomes established, we then fear not doing it, because we think something bad will happen if we don't. So, we then get trapped in this superstition and don't dare 'tempt fate'.

If we instead perform this ritual, we feel we are somehow controlling the positive forces that guide our lives and at the same time are avoiding the negative forces.

Of course, these beliefs would hinge on some supernatural element being at work here, so once one rids oneself of that element, the OCD loses it's power over us.
We then KNOW whether we perform that ritual or not, the outcome will be exactly the same.

I believe if one is prone to beliefs in superstitions, then one also can easily believe the OCD rituals have some power in our lives. Those who believe in such things as a god and the spirit world, would certainly be more prone to buy into the OCD power as well.

The only time I could see a belief in god being beneficial to thwart OCD behavior, is if a god believer was SURE their lives were totally in the hands of their god and that this assurance was enough to override their inherent idea that OCD rituals could alter their fate etc..
I doubt many average xtian sufferers of OCD would have a belief that god was in full control of every aspect of their lives, such that an OCD ritual wouldn't offer some benefit to them.

So in my opinion, belief in a god would most times NOT help an OCD sufferer.
In contrast though, ridding oneself of the belief in anything supernatural would surely include a dismissal of the supernatural force that governs the outcome of OCD rituals.

For myself, I can state that the more I pushed away my beliefs of the non-natural, the more my tendency to perform even my minor OCD rituals, also was vanquished.

So Xray', it sure seems you have brought to our attention, just one more HUGE reason for xtians to give up their god superstition.

Excellent Post, and one that is sure to make a lot of folks do some thinking !!!!


ATF (Who had a pet black cat as a boy; and is still here to talk about it...haha)

Phant said...

Black Swede Said:
"It is quite evident that Stushie is a xtian. One only has to click on his profile to see he's a "Scottish preacher living in Tennessee"

Why am I not surprised? Another dumbass Xtian from my state.

On behalf of the state of Tennessee I apologize to the rest of the world for all of the backwards, redneck, christian dumbasses who live here in Tennessee.

It just reminds me why I cannot wait to get the hell out of this area and go out West away from all of the bible beating hicks who live down here.

xrayman said...

Hey Stronger Now,

Thank You for mentioning "The Atheist Experience." I found the archive of videos last night and started watching one. These guys are very good. It's a public access show out of Austin TX.

For those interested just log onto www.google.com click the "More" selection on the top left. A menu comes down. Select video and type The Athesit Experience in the search box.

xrayman said...

ATF said,

"Firstly, I think it's partially genetic in nature. Meaning, one's brain is wired physically towards such tendencies.
Secondly, I think they are rooted in fear, and also, offer a direct means to *seemingly* control aspects of the world; as it applies to our lives.

Once some ritual becomes established, we then fear not doing it, because we think something bad will happen if we don't. So, we then get trapped in this superstition and don't dare 'tempt fate'."

Great summary of the disorder my friend. What I find very interesting and proof of the fact that it is genetic is the fact that I would perform these same silly rituals as other people even though I had not yet heard of OCD or the associated symptoms.

I find it ironic that I exhibit the exact symptoms of OCD as other people having never heard of the disorder, yet no human will ever know of this all powerful Jesus guy without some other human telling them about him.

Hey Bloviator,

Thanks for sharing your list of rituals. Do you still suffer from the disorder? I can really relate to your laundry issues. To this day I am the most perfect clothes folder in the world because when I suffered OCD the clothes had to be folded just perfectly. When I folded a pair of pants and the seems weren't perfect, I had to make them that way or my day couldn't continue. I can also relate to you spec of shit in the cereal.


If I would have found Jesus I would have been and out of control Christian for sure. For some reason even though I got down on my knees and begged Jesus to come into my life, the born again experience just never happened with me. THANK GOD !!!!!!!!

stronger now said...

The Atheist Experience website:

http://www.atheist-experience.com/

You can go through their Show archive and choose a video to watch and it automatically links to google video for that episode.

1 Sweet Rock said...

xrayman-

I enjoyed reading this letter and the comments too. It's great that you can share your experiences and be open to this conversation here.

Your insights offer up a real alternative to their "12 Step Program" by providing an honest way of examining and dealing with these disorders that often find roots in irrational beliefs.

We need only look around us to see how terribly distorted reality becomes when it is forced to be viewed through the dark and narrow scope of ancient superstitions.

The connections between OCD and religious cults can be found everywhere. They all have strange tribal rituals that are usually related to appeasing their god in hopes of being favored. Why these cult followers don't even question this obvious hoax is beyond me.

Oh, that's right! They think they are supreme and specially chosen!
They don't WANT to know any different as it suddenly makes them only human, like the rest of us. Good job xrayman, for showing them the prop and circumstance!

trancelation said...

Stushie no doubt thinks that he/she/it is being clever. He/she/it is not. YOU'RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY, ASSTARD. FUCK OFF.

freethinker05 said...

I agree xrayman, the link that Stronger Now provided is very imformative. Thanks Stronger Now

Ricky said...

Great testimonial! I can imagine how hard real OCD is. I had some mild forms of it, myself. For example, my prayers would get longer and longer every night until I kept myself up more than 30 minutes extra just praying. First, I just prayed for victims and such, and said the main prayers (Our Father, Hail Mary). Then, I added prayers for everyone who will suffer or has suffered. And I repeated it every night, even though you'd think that saying it once would be all I needed to cover everyone, of every time period. If my mind wandered at any time during the prayers, I thought that it was an offense against God, because I wasn't paying attention, and repeated the group of prayers I was on. I ended up with a mild case of insomnia for years, even lasting after I gave up religion. I'm pretty much better now, but every once in a while, I catch myself doing something mildly OCD-ish, such as if one hand pets something, then I have some desire to make my other hand also pet it. Sort of strange, and I think that religion was one thing that sort of got me there, and losing religion was one reason I got over it.

Bloviator said...

Hey X,

Yeah, I still have a few 'left-overs' in terms of behaviors. For example, if I am ironing a shirt (I am the designated laundry person in my household), it has to be PERFECT or I will redo it. Sometimes my wife will call down "what the fuck are you doing down there, it's only a shirt!", but I just can't seem to let it go. I don't have many others left, but truth be told, I put in a herculean effort to be aware of my rituals, and then constantly asked myself "do I really need to do this thing?" Inevitably, I lost the need to continue the behavior. I guess I can say the same thing about religion. ;}

xrayman said...

Hey Ricky,

Wow you really had the same type of prayer habits I did. I too would sometimes have a wondering mind during my prayers(I would also sometimes fall asleep) and feel totally guilty and have to start over or go extra long. It's funny you mention Our Father's and Hail Marys because I used them often in my prayers. I am not even Catholic nor did I ever aspire to be, but when I was first dating my wife she was in highschool her dad would often make me take her to Sunday mass for the privledge of taking her out on a Saturday night. I learded alot of the Catholic repetative nonsensical rituals and later worked them into my nightly prayers.

Hey Bloviator,

You just made me laugh out loud when you qouted your wife with the "What the fuck are you doing down there" line. My wife used to utter similar words all the time to me when I was doing my incesent tapping on doorknobs and lightswitches. I used to tap on everything. My final manouver of the night was tapping my toothbrush repeatedly on the sink. It was always in sets of seven taps.

Like you said I find myself slipping once in a while but I often just laugh and stop myself immediately. It will probably never go completely away.

A lot of good did come out of my OCD I must admit. I am a complete neat freak now (in a good way) where as before the ailment I was such a slob. I do really pride myself on the perfect laundry folding business. Sometimes when my mom is visiting she will think she is doing me a favor by folding my stuff, but she is not because she does a sloppy job which I must do over for the most part. I also do dishes very well in a very thorough kind of way. I hate it when people do a half ass job on dishes. When I have guests over to our house I refuse all offers to do my dishes because only I can do them to my standard.

ex judeo catholic said...

I suffered from a religion induced version of autism. Wish I had more time to write but here is the viral code as best as I can understand it.

10 Be born into a shame based religion, Your very birth should be shameful, so "original sin" religions work effectively for churches and governments since it keeps the masses humble and sacrificing.
20 Loop the religion induced virus consciously and subconsciously that there is something so wrong with your being, your very existence needs apology and forgiveness
30 Continue this looped shame cycle while imagining that one day if you do everything "just right " you will be found worthy of being, worthy of existence
40 If you do everything just right, you become worthy of existence and qualify to go to Super Magic Happy Land

My OCD was autistic withdrawal because I couldn't figure out why my prayer to God IL Jong wasn't working. Why wouldn't Dear Glorious Fearless Leader answer my prayers? The priesthoods of all the Judeo Catholic derivatives told me live and on TV that I just needed to do something the RIGHT way and I would suddenly be blessed.

I couldn't figure out why Dear Glorious Leader wouldn't bless me as well as beer companies bless their consumers in TV ads ( you know , drink this beer and you get hot babes, great friends, lots to laugh about) You would think God would have a deal like that “Believe in me and you will get hot babes, great friends, lots to laugh about." Unfortunately I got none of that action. So I'd pray harder (there is an OCD for ya) and I'd retreat to my own little OCD for hours that was the equivalent of biting my fingernails because it was at least SOMETHING I could do right.

Most people I work with would regard me as an intelligent humorous and productive, they would never suspect I would have any OCD in my private life as I would hide it well (or so I hoped). As the religion toxins are flushing themselves from my system I notice a proportional reduction in OCD and A.S. habits. Huge difference.

PS
In “Healing the Shame that Binds You” , author John Bradshaw distills shame to its simplest form :
Guilt is “I did something wrong” ; Shame is “ I am something wrong”.

Nothing crueler than a religion that infects you at birth with “ I am something wrong”. That’s what original sin does. When you start to recover from that malicious Bible code , you will at least have access to a life with less OCD and AS and more enjoyable participation in this life. This is my very real experience. I hope it helps support the healing of someone out there

AtheistToothFairy said...

xrayman said...
Sometimes when my mom is visiting she will think she is doing me a favor by folding my stuff, but she is not because she does a sloppy job which I must do over for the most part
---
This rang home with me.
For several reasons, I became a 'perfectionist' as I left childhood and became a young adult.

In many tasks, both at work and home, I would take them on myself instead of giving them to someone else, all because like you said, they wouldn't do it as 'perfect' as I needed it them be done.

This tendency went on for a couple decades.
It was only because of a couple bosses I had worked for, that I learned to manage to balance how perfect something needed to be, against a reasonable/expected time factor to complete said task.

While I hadn't cared what those in my personal life thought about my desire to get things done perfectly, such a trait can be quite costly to the company you work for, when you over-do something in an attempt to get it perfect.

While I'm not a software writer, it's often been said that 90% of the code takes 10% of the time to write it, and the remaining 10% of the code, would take 90% of the time to finish it, if one were to allow such perfection.

One has to reach a compromise in life, between an innate desire to make everything perfect, against the time/cost to do so.

I also think my former desire to make everything perfect was greatly tied into my fear of someone finding a flaw with the task I performed.
To counter that aspect of things, one has to develop a self-confidence that doesn't care about the little flaws but only about the more important flaws instead.
One can always find a flaw in someone's work, if one searches hard enough.
The bottom line would be, is that flaw important in the big picture or is someone just looking for ANYTHING wrong, just to be a pain in the ass.


To Ricky:
"...such as if one hand pets something, then I have some desire to make my other hand also pet it"

This was one 'OCD' habit I could relate to here, from my past.

However, it had nothing to do with bad/good luck, but more 'sensing' a BALANCE between opposing sides of one's body.
It would have been much like a two cylinder engine having one dead cylinder, if one felt a unique sensation on one side of one's body, but not the other.
So I think it was more an attempt to make things FEEL balanced again, that I would make sure both hands had petted the object.

I can't even say that this 'OCD' of sorts, is one that is totally gone these days, as there are rare times when it does raise it's head again. I think those times would mostly be when I'm very nervous about something in life.
So to me, I guess it's more a "NERVOUS" habit, rather than a true OCD.


ATF (Who wonders if one hand just typed more letters here, than the other....LOL)

xrayman said...

ATF said,

"In many tasks, both at work and home, I would take them on myself instead of giving them to someone else, all because like you said, they wouldn't do it as 'perfect' as I needed it them be done."

I guess the by product of 25 years of OCD is a 45 year old perfectionist. Because I am such a perfectionist my kids get out of doing a lot of shit around the house because kids have a tendency to do things half assed. For instance a job like cleaning the cat litter box which the kids should be doing. I won't let anyone do it because only I can do it right. My house isn't going to smell like cat piss because someone busted up all those urine ball clumps. And as I mentioned earlier the dishes. I don't let my kids do the dishes because I don't want food stuck to a pan. It drives me nuts. Sometimes my dishwasher really pisses me off.

It just drives me beyond nuts when I reread one of my posts and find a spelling or gramatical error which I found in my last post. I found a mistake in my original testimonial also which really sucks. My proofreading skills suck but I always find my mistakes way after the fact. I wish we could go back and edit. I notice people are always critical of the Christians who misspell words. I do notice when you use the Moxilla Firefox browser an automatic spell checker runs with this forum but I always forget and I am now using internet explorer.

As you said ATF I think I am now wise enough to know when it is futile to strive for too much perfection where the time needed whould out weigh the benefit of the improvement.

At work I am always the gold stardard my coworkers use for a job done right. Taking xrays involves precise angles and postitions. They will always ask me things like, "If this was your xray would you do it over?" If I say no they know they've done well. I really like being that guy : )

One strange ironic twist to my life of perfection is the fact that I don't really care about my car. The house has to be spotless but the car, no. I am at the age where car vanity is out the window and I drive a very basic off white Chevey Impala. It gets washed when it rains, and as long as I am not wading through junk I don't worry too much about the inside. It drives my fellow neat freak wife nuts. I also couldn't care less if someone ran a shopping cart into the door and made a little dent. I would take former cars to the body shop to fix a scratch and spend $200.

Brother Jeff said...

What a glorious story, xrayman! I too prayed for my psychological disorder (bipolar disorder) to be healed by God many times back in my fundie days. It never happened of course, but now that I am an atheist my suffering is much less intense than it used to be! It's glorious to hear that atheism has had such a profound positive effect on your life! Glory!

xrayman said...

Hey Brother Jeff. I also suffer from bouts of depression. I wish I could say it has gotten better since the deconversion, but it remains the same. I guess it's nice not dealing with depression and OCD : ). I guess the reason being is that OCD is all superstition based where depression has a whole other cause.

Rational said...

To AtheistToothFairy:

Yeah, for me, too, it's a sense of balance between the hands. That's it exactly. Similarly to what I said before, if I accidentally brush one arm against my side while running, I will have a desire to brush the other arm against my side...again, for that sense of balance.

Ricky said...

Oops. That last comment by "Rational" was actually by me. I just came up with this alternative name recently.

-Ricky

Cougar said...

THIS CONSTANT TALK ABOUT OCD IS BORING!!!!!!

Cougar.......Grrrrrrrrrr.......

Tony the Tiger said...

Cougar wrote:
"THIS CONSTANT TALK ABOUT OCD IS BORING"

Anyone know who this 'stray cat' is here, that chose to pounce into our space?

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