Sarah Waldron Brinton
Hayley Labrum Morrison
Katelyn Field Garcia
Kindia du Plessis
Alyssa De Arman
Hilary A. Brown
MUSICIANS AND DANCERS
Eliza Mei Pedersen
Macy Smith (dancer)
I Am Bound Upon a Wheel of Fire
December 2022 • Writ & Vision • Provo, Utah
All of us—the participants of this art show—have had our lives deeply affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This is not a quirky preference for alignment or symmetry. This is a debilitating disease of fear, doubt, and spiraling terror.
OCD is an overactive survival instinct that demands certainty that our worst fears won’t come true. We are bombarded by intensely convincing thoughts about our fears, followed by strong desires to perform compulsive actions that will prevent the things we fear. But this is a lie. Performing a compulsion does not prevent the fear from coming true. It only makes the intrusive thoughts come back stronger. And then the compulsions come back stronger. And thus, we are bound upon a wheel of fire.
Scrupulosity, or religious OCD, is a flavor of obsessive-compulsive disorder specifically focused on religious and spiritual fears. Fears of breaking commandments, of not being worthy, of displeasing God, of being cast down to Hell. The compulsions can be rigid adherence to commandments, excessive praying, repeated confession to spiritual leaders, repeating scriptures or hymns to “cleanse” impure thoughts, and more. We never feel clean “enough”, worthy “enough”, or righteous “enough” when we perform these compulsions. We may suffer in silence for years, certain we are damned. We may reach a breaking point and leave religion entirely.
The only way to break free from the wheel of fire is to stop performing compulsions. In the moment, it feels like allowing our fears to come true. To invite death and hell to take us. But then our brains learn that the worst didn’t happen. We learn to accept uncertainty. We begin to heal.
In this art show, more than 25 artists and poets depict their experience with OCD and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormon religion. Some suffer from scrupulosity. Others explore how other OCD themes interact with their religious beliefs. A few have a family member with OCD. All of us want to share with you what it’s like.
Welcome to our wheel of fire.
OCD Understood App Demo
Intrusive Thoughts Simulator
Put on the headphones to get a taste of real intrusive thoughts submitted by many of the artists & poets whose work is displayed in this gallery.
Everyone has intrusive thoughts, but most people simply brush them off. For people with OCD, these thoughts feel very real and urgent and get stuck in their minds. As you listen, imagine how you would feel if every thought you hear was certainly going to come true unless you did something to stop it.