I know this won't be a popular post among some
ATS readers and writers on this forum, but I'm going to post it anyway. I recently started a
thread about missionary Pentecostals (and related Evangelical doomsday sects) doing damage abroad.
I know that it makes the most pious of those religions angry - seethingly, condemningly so - but the fact is that many, many people have been
, right here in the US, by authoritarian religions. This article is written by a mental health professional who has discovered that her
'label' for how people deal with losing their religion (or don't) has taken on a life of its own, and makes several very important points that I
ATS will at least read
before launching a flaming pitchfork at me (again.)
I honestly am trying to help this society - call me Progressive, call me a sinner or demon-possessed, call me whatever you like - but DO NOT call me a
liar. I was one of the "less unfortunate" people who was exposed to Christian dogma as a baby and raised in that faith, but it was a faith that
does not condemn people who walk away
(see thread linked in signature to read my story and add your own).
Please note that I AM NOT, AND HAVE NEVER BEEN AN ATHEIST. What I did do, and continue to do, is study the phenomenon of religiosity itself, as well
as investigate MANY DIFFERENT FAITH SYSTEMS, both Christian and non-Christian, and came away much more able to think clearly about these things.
Much, much later, decades after ceasing attending church, I began to learn psychology and counseling, and from there to practice it. Those of you who
hate 'mental health practitioners' and believe they are charlatans will no doubt also flame me - but, the points made in this article are NEVERTHELESS
important - and all of us should be aware of them.
I at first thought "f-it", I don't want to get bludgeoned again so soon by the thumpers, but on the other hand, like MLK, Jr. said and I've repeated
"We begin to die the day that we remain silent about things that matter."
Well, I'm not going to 'start to die today', and in response to a couple of recent threads pertinent to the mentality the following article discusses,
I'm speaking again.
I AM NOT GAY, I AM NOT A SATANIST, I AM NOT A HATER OR DEMON-POSSESSED.
I'm an observer, and a change agent. It's "my calling." From whom? From my indwelling Spirit, I guess.
Now that my defense and disclaimers are preemptively out of the way, here we go:
Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems
Dr. Marlene Winell is a human development consultant in the San Francisco Area. She is also the daughter of Pentecostal missionaries. This
combination has given her work an unusual focus. For the past twenty years she has counseled men and women in recovery from various forms of
fundamentalist religion including the Assemblies of God denomination in which she was raised. Winell is the author of
Leaving the Fold - A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their
Religion, written during her years of private practice in psychology.
Over the years, Winell has provided assistance to clients whose religious experiences were even more damaging than [the article's author - see the
article to read about her struggle with bulimia and faith]. Some of them are people whose psychological symptoms weren’t just exacerbated by
their religion, but actually caused by it.
Bold and italics are mine, as well as the bracketed edit. Now, here is what Winell has to say about this damaging kind of religious
What exactly is religious trauma syndrome?
Winell: Religious trauma syndrome (RTS) is a set of symptoms and characteristics that tend to go together and which are related to harmful
experiences with religion. They are the result of two things: immersion in a controlling religion and the secondary impact of leaving a religious
As Journalist Janet Heimlich has documented in, Breaking Their Will; Shedding Light on Religious Child
Maltreatment, Bible-based religious groups that emphasize patriarchal authority in family structure and use harsh parenting methods can be
...RTS is a specific set of symptoms and characteristics that are connected with harmful religious experience, not just any trauma. This is crucial to
understanding the condition and any kind of self-help or treatment. (More details about this can be found on my
Journey Free; Resources for recovery from harmful religion website and discussed in my talk
at the Texas Freethought Convention.)
There are a dozen or so anecdotal quotes from clients who have been helped by this lady included in the article.
I don't want to be sanctioned for posting more than I should - so, I'll just add two more points, and hope that readers will at least look at the
article and do some thinking about these things.
What do you see as the difference between religion that causes trauma and religion that doesn’t?
Winell: Religion causes trauma when it is highly controlling and prevents people from thinking for themselves and trusting their own feelings.
Groups that demand obedience and conformity produce fear, not love and growth. With constant judgment of self and others, people become alienated from
themselves, each other, and the world. Religion in its worst forms causes separation.
Saying that someone is trying to pathologize authoritarian religion is like saying someone pathologized eating disorders by naming them. Before
that, they were healthy? No, before that we weren’t noticing.
My aim here is to spread this information, to have people notice it, and bring the issue to the table.
Thanks for reading.
edit on 27-3-2013 by wildtimes because: clarity
edit on 27-3-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)