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Organized religion = mental health issues?


silvia

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Great analysis about the connection between certain types of religion and mental health problems: awaypoint.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/religious-trauma-syndrome-is-it-real/.

The whole thing is worth a read, but these quotes (bolding mine) drove home why it can be so difficult for people like the Duggars and Sarah Maxwell to leave the culture in which they were raised:

"Leaving a religion, after total immersion, can cause a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, and the future. People unfamiliar with this situation, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create."

"Religious groups that are highly controlling, teach fear about the world, and keep members sheltered and ill-equipped to function in society are harder to leave easily. The difficulty seems to be greater if the person was born and raised in the religion rather than joining as an adult convert. This is because they have no frame of reference – no other 'self' or way of 'being in the world.'â€

Does this ring true to those of you who have made the transition out of a religion like this?

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When I stopped going to the church of Christ I still had a fear of Hell and wondered what if they were right. And it was no where near Fundamentalism.

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Hell. Yes. I have been to four therapists, all who have looked at me blankly when I described my experiences, told me I seemed articulate and self assured and to pat myself on the back and move on. I have anxiety, depression and I cry every day over my past life. Churches are major triggers and I am obsessed with researching religion, spirituality and philosophy.

When I figured out that I no longer believed the thought was so powerful that I, a usually well put together young woman, collapsed in the middle of campus and sobbed my guts out for an hour. And that was just the beginning.

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Wow. That article is awesome. I'm so glad someone is finally paying attention to this. Thanks for linking.

This, exactly this, is what I experienced when we were kicked out of our Catholic charismatic community many years ago. Back then (late 70s-early 80s) there was a lot of talk about "deprogramming" people who had been Moonies and such. But we didn't fit the profile of crazy people worshipping Charles Manson. Those people were Catholics--a perfectly respectable religion! And the leaders seemed like such nice young men! No one would believe the level of control and deprivation they'd created. If I tried to talk to anyone about what it was like, they put it back on me. "Why would you do crazy things like that? Why would an intelligent person like you bother with such crazy thoughts? Why can't you just forget about it? Just be normal! Oh and by the way, don't forget to go to church, because God is still watching you!"

Hestia, you have my deep sympathy. You're not crazy. You've been subjected to mind control. it's abuse, it's wrong, and it totally makes sense that it hurt you. I was encouraged by this quote from the article:

These are people for whom ethics, integrity and compassion matter a great deal. I find that when they get better and rebuild their lives, they are wonderfully creative and energetic about new things.

I believe that you will get better and that you will find these good things in yourself. {{hugs if you want them}}

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Thanks for sharing this article! I don't know if this term applies to me or not, but I know I certainly was OCD about a lot of faith-related things, including trying not to sin or disobey my parents when I was younger to an unhealthy point. My emotionally/psychologically abusive father would use Catholicism in a way that helped him to maintain control over us kids and my mom, and my mom would justify it also using faith.

We weren't necessarily fundamentalist Catholics, wearing skirts and scapulars, but dad's interpretation of it was definitely hurtful. I'm Episcopalian now for reasons unrelated to my family, but right now I'm still very hesitant about becoming too faithful for fear of going down that OCD religious path again.

I will have to read more about it--this is fascinating.

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Wow. That article is awesome. I'm so glad someone is finally paying attention to this. Thanks for linking.

This, exactly this, is what I experienced when we were kicked out of our Catholic charismatic community many years ago. Back then (late 70s-early 80s) there was a lot of talk about "deprogramming" people who had been Moonies and such. But we didn't fit the profile of crazy people worshipping Charles Manson. Those people were Catholics--a perfectly respectable religion! And the leaders seemed like such nice young men! No one would believe the level of control and deprivation they'd created. If I tried to talk to anyone about what it was like, they put it back on me. "Why would you do crazy things like that? Why would an intelligent person like you bother with such crazy thoughts? Why can't you just forget about it? Just be normal! Oh and by the way, don't forget to go to church, because God is still watching you!"

Hestia, you have my deep sympathy. You're not crazy. You've been subjected to mind control. it's abuse, it's wrong, and it totally makes sense that it hurt you. I was encouraged by this quote from the article:

I believe that you will get better and that you will find these good things in yourself. {{hugs if you want them}}

Thank you! Your kind words are really appreciated. It is hard when something seemingly "normal" or "good" still hurts you profoundly. I can imagine it would be even harder for you because catholicism is so mainstream.

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I have two friends who left the convent after 25 years. They had both gone in right after 8th grade. They were in different orders, and before Vatican II. Their teens, 20's and 30's were spent in the convent where they basically didn't have to make any decisions for themselves. The only time they saw a man was when a priest said Mass. It was extremely hard for them when they left the convent. They both remained Catholic but they had to learn so many things about life outside the convent. And both sought therapy.

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Thanks for sharing this article! I don't know if this term applies to me or not, but I know I certainly was OCD about a lot of faith-related things, including trying not to sin or disobey my parents when I was younger to an unhealthy point. My emotionally/psychologically abusive father would use Catholicism in a way that helped him to maintain control over us kids and my mom, and my mom would justify it also using faith.

We weren't necessarily fundamentalist Catholics, wearing skirts and scapulars, but dad's interpretation of it was definitely hurtful. I'm Episcopalian now for reasons unrelated to my family, but right now I'm still very hesitant about becoming too faithful for fear of going down that OCD religious path again.

I will have to read more about it--this is fascinating.

Interesting that you should mention OCD. My dad went to a strict Catholic school growing up (nuns/ priests paddling kids, the whole bit), and while he renounced his Catholicism later on, he retained a very black-and-white way of thinking about moral issues. Either something was wrong or it was right, period, end of story. Shades of gray didn't seem to exist in his moral universe, and for the most part, they still don't.

While I'm not religious, I believe my dad's mindset has worn off on me in that I feel like I have a kind of morality OCD at times. I worry inordinately about making mistakes or doing things that are "bad" or "wrong," even though I know intellectually this is silly. Is there such a thing as a second-generation religious hangover? ;)

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Probably like any addiction. Sounds like your dad was what in AA they all a "dry drunk." Too bad there isn't RA (religion anonymous)

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Probably like any addiction. Sounds like your dad was what in AA they all a "dry drunk." Too bad there isn't RA (religion anonymous)

Maybe. He's not Catholic anymore, but he has become more and more fundamentalist of late, at least in his own personal views. Thankfully, he hasn't really tried to impose those views on me, so we are able to have a pretty cordial relationship. I just try to avoid explosive topics for the most part...

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Thanks for sharing this article! I don't know if this term applies to me or not, but I know I certainly was OCD about a lot of faith-related things, including trying not to sin or disobey my parents when I was younger to an unhealthy point. My emotionally/psychologically abusive father would use Catholicism in a way that helped him to maintain control over us kids and my mom, and my mom would justify it also using faith.

We weren't necessarily fundamentalist Catholics, wearing skirts and scapulars, but dad's interpretation of it was definitely hurtful. I'm Episcopalian now for reasons unrelated to my family, but right now I'm still very hesitant about becoming too faithful for fear of going down that OCD religious path again.

I will have to read more about it--this is fascinating.

Except for the abuse thing, my dad grew up in a strict Catholic household and resented having that church forced on him. While he quit practicing as soon as he left home and raised my brother and I without religion, he still has some of the residual Catholic guilt and is OCD about things like eating healthy. It's so bad that he can't even enjoy holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. He recently started developing high blood pressure, which is one thing that happens with age, as well as dealing with a mentally unstable relative, but he blames himself for eating any salt. This is despite having at least one ancestor living to 102 and that my grandma is still around at 90.

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