A strict religious upbringing may cause obsessive-compulsive disorder. This was discovered by Claudio Sica at the University of Parma in Italy who surveyed devout Catholics and found they were more likely to have symptoms of this disease than less religious people.

Patients with OCD become caught up in repetitive mental cycles. They have to have to wash the dishes thoroughly before putting them in the diswasher. They may be convinced that everything around them is filthy, and spend eight hours a day cleaning. They may obsessively wash their hands, like Lady MacBeth.

The disorder effects 5 million people in the U.S. but its cause is unknown. Some possible causes are genes, upbringing, head injuries and emotional trauma. Now Sica and his team have found that extremely religious people are more likely to show symptoms of OCD.

The researchers compared nuns and priests with lay Catholics who attended church, as well as non-religious people. The devout Catholics reported more severe symptoms of OCD than the others. Lynne Drummond, a psychiatrist at St. George’s Hospital in London, thinks a patient has to have a genetic predisposition to develop such symptoms. However, she?s aware that many OCD patients have a strict upbringing where actions are considered either right or wrong, with no gray areas inbetween.

But being religious may not bring on OCD?it might be that people with OCD symptoms feel drawn to a religious life.

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