High Control Religions - RTS support
Religious Trauma Syndrome, identified by Winnell (please see link at bottom)
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 group. The Religious Trauma Syndrome label provides a name and description that affected people often recognise immediately. Many other people are surprised by the idea of Religious Trauma Syndrome, because in our culture it is generally assumed that religion is benign or good for you. However in reality, religious teachings and practices sometimes cause serious mental health damage. The public is somewhat familiar with sexual and physical abuse in a religious context but the problem isn’t just physical and sexual abuse. Emotional and mental treatment in authoritarian religious groups also can be damaging because of:
1) toxic teachings like eternal damnation or original sin.
2) religious practices or mindset, such as punishment, black and white thinking, or sexual guilt.
3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally.
Authoritarian religious groups are subcultures where conformity is required in order to belong. Thus if you dare to leave the religion, you risk losing your entire support system as well.
"I lost all my friends. I lost my close ties to family. I’ve lost so much because of this malignant religion and I am angry and sad to my very core. . . I have tried hard to make new friends, but I have failed miserably. . . I am very lonely".
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, symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety and stress can all be part of or mimic the symptoms of religious trauma syndrome.
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.
Due to my own personal experiences in this sensitve area I am well placed to provide a calm and supportive environment for you to discuss issues, understand that you have done nothing wrong and to equip you with thought strategies and support your new lifestyle and to move forwards towards positive outcomes.
Religious groups that are highly controlling, teach fear about the world, and keep members sheltered and ill-equipped to function in society are hard 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.” A common personality type is a person who is deeply emotional and thoughtful and who tends to throw themselves wholeheartedly into their endeavors. “True believers” who then lose their faith feel more anger and depression and grief than those who simply went to church on Sunday.
I urge you not to suffer or worry on your own. Contact me through the contact form at the top of the page and we can start to work together to improve your life and your future.
Reference: Marlene Winnell: http://journeyfree.org/rts/rts-its-time-to-recognize-it/