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Bad Science: No, Atheism Does Not Cause Suicide

More innumeracy for today: this religious apologist is claiming atheism causes suicide, and he cites a study that supposedly proves this, but both s/he and the study’s authors suck at numeracy and basic logic. I warned about this before (Innumeracy: A Fault to Fix). This is another example of that.

Just excerpting from the study citation and abstract as reported by this author:

METHOD: Depressed inpatients (N=371) who reported belonging to one specific religion or described themselves as having no religious affiliation were compared in terms of their demographic and clinical characteristics.

RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation. Unaffiliated subjects were [also] younger, less often married, less often had children, and had less contact with family members. Furthermore, subjects with no religious affiliation perceived fewer reasons for living, particularly fewer moral objections to suicide. In terms of clinical characteristics, religiously unaffiliated subjects [also] had more lifetime impulsivity, aggression, and past substance use disorder. No differences in the level of subjective and objective depression, hopelessness, or stressful life events were found.

CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.

From: Kanita Dervic M.D. et al., “Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt,” American Journal of Psychiatry 2004.

There are a number of things wrong with both these scientists’ stated conclusions (and study design) and this religious apologist’s use of it to argue atheism causes suicide. I’ll just focus on a few:

(1) The study did not even count atheists. The only nonreligious category was “religiously unaffiliated,” which will include many believers who just don’t affiliate with a sect or church. It is amusing to see the religious author completely overlooking this, and the fact that it completely destroys the logic of his/her argument.

(2) The study’s confounding variables (as even the abstract reports, the “unaffiliated” were very different demographically) suggests the same defect found in other similar studies: they fail to distinguish between having a religion and the mere fact of having a social network (and identifying with any worldview, religious or not). I’ve discussed this before (Atheism Doesn’t Suck: How Science Does Not Prove Atheists Are Less Happy, Healthy, and Sane). This is bad study design. Perniciously bad, in fact, since it leads the study’s author to make a poor recommendation for treatment. This is just like ancient witch doctors concluding shaking a wand at someone makes them feel better, therefore wands should be used more in treatment. In actual fact, just the attention and human company and the belief that they should feel better when wands are shaken at them (i.e. the placebo effect) is what is producing the effect. The wand is irrelevant–and can safely be discarded, for something less expensive and less superstitious (see my analysis in Sense and Goodness without God, IV.2.2.4, pp. 270-72).

Even worse than needlessly costly wands, this analogy calls attention to this study’s authors’ failure to weigh the costs of religious affiliation before recommending it (a fault that would nix this from any peer reviewed journal had they been similarly recommending a drug that likewise they were completely disregarding the negative side-effects of). Those range from adopting a system of false beliefs and the defective epistemology needed to sustain them, to the harm the resulting superstitions will have on the community, society, and polity as a whole (e.g. endorsing sexism, suppressing the rights of homosexuals), as well as to the individual, who will often in result be adopting self-damaging false beliefs about morality (e.g. that their doubting and asking questions makes them evil, or that homosexuality is evil and therefore if they are gay something is wrong with them).

Several psychologists have explored these and many other damaging costs of religious affiliation, which likely far outweigh, for both the individual and society, any of the benefits, e.g. Marlene Winell (Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion), Valerie Tarico (The Dark Side: How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth), and Billy Wheaton (Hooks and Ladders: A Journey on a Bridge to Nowhere with American Evangelical Christians). See also the findings of journalist Janet Heimlich (Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment), historian Hector Avalos (Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence), and my remarks (and cited scholarship) in The End of Christianity (pp. 338-39, with notes on p. 422). And lest one think one can solve this problem by recommending liberal rather than conservative religious affiliation, see also What’s the Harm? and chapters 4 through 7 of Greta Christina’s Why Are You Atheists So Angry.

(3) Another study (see my discussion here) shows fewer atheists get depressed. So even if this study counted the rate of suicide among depressed atheists (and it didn’t), that would not accurately reflect the effect atheism has on suicide overall. Because this study only looked at depressed patients (and patients with other mental illnesses known to be associated with suicide). It did not compare atheists with theists in the general population. It is instead already looking at a known cause of suicide: mental illness. That is the principal causal factor. Not religious belief (or lack thereof).

(4) That other study also found differences in extremity of depression for extremity of religiosity: extremely religious people experience more and worse depression than both atheists and less religious people do. Yet this current study makes no distinction for extremity of religious belief. If suicide rate correlates with extremity of depression (and that sure sounds likely), then since the study this apologist is citing did not tease out those two populations (extremely religious from less religious), it may have concealed a higher rate of suicide in the extremely religious. Which makes the study author’s recommendations even more pernicious: as it does not distinguish the greater increased risk of suicide resulting from encouraging (or leaving untreated) extreme religiosity, and thus essentially recommends a dangerous drug without concern for dosage. Just as it also did not consider “wand-free” alternatives to this drug altogether (e.g. a stronger attachment to atheist community, identity, and worldview).

(5) This study actually did not even test religious affiliation’s effect on suicide. Instead, it only found a correlation between “moral objections to suicide” and reduced suicide risk, and then simply inferred that because “moral objections to suicide” correlate with religious affiliation, that religious affiliation is the causal factor, when in fact any worldview (including a nonreligious worldview) that adduces “moral objections to suicide” would have the exact same effect. In their words:

First, religious affiliation was significantly associated with moral objections to suicide. Second, moral objections to suicide was significantly associated with suicide attempt when religious affiliation was statistically controlled. Third, the significant bivariate association between religious affiliation and suicide attempt did not remain significant when moral objections to suicide were controlled statistically. [Likewise] … low moral objections to suicide, and younger age were significantly and independently associated with suicidal ideation. Religious affiliation and responsibility to family were not.

So, religious affiliation actually was shown to have no effect. Only “moral objections to suicide” had an effect. So why, then, does the study recommend increased religious affiliation? No reason is stated. This is why you don’t just read the abstract. Abstracts often simply lie about what the study described actually found.

The take-away for atheists, who generally tend to support moral suicide (euthanasia to escape destruction of the mind or intolerable incurable pain, for example, or self-sacrifice, e.g. jumping on a grenade to save someone else’s life), is that we should consider more openly engaging in philosophical demarcation between moral and immoral suicide (or if it is easier to conceptualize, call it prudent and imprudent suicide).

This is self-evident, but the self-evident is often overlooked: if you are suffering from a mental illness (like depression), your reasons for considering suicide may be irrational (and you may not realize that), and you should have a strong moral objection to taking a life for irrational reasons (including your own); conversely, if you are considering suicide, this may be because you are depressed, and not for any rationally (i.e. morally) acceptable reason on any atheist worldview, consequently you have a strong moral obligation to find out (i.e. see a therapist to determine if you diagnose as depressed, or bipolar, or any other mental illness correlated with irrational suicide). A strong atheistic reason-and-evidence-based worldview is therefore a viable (and much less dangerous) vehicle for producing the effect this study claims to have found for religious affiliation (but only actually found for “having moral objections to suicide”).

(6) Finally, to revisit a point I have made before: as a rule, always look at the effect size and compare it to the margin of error. This study in fact found a correlation between suicidal acts and thoughts and “moral objections to suicide” of just 0.89. Meaning barely a 10% difference (which this study in effect claims is the benefit of religious affiliation for preventing suicide). The error size was around 3 to 4 points, so in fact the effect could have been as low as just 7% (at a p value of .001). That’s weak tea. The number of suicides thus prevented by having “moral objections to suicide” is pretty small.

Sometimes when a study claims to find a significant difference, it’s barely significant at all, and this is one of those times. And when you see that, you have to ask why it is so small. For example, if atheism causes suicide just 7% more often (after subtracting the margin of error from the effect size), one has to ask why its effect is so small. Often that would indicate a confounding factor other than atheism is responsible. Like, oh, let’s say, people driven to atheism by depression (and not reason and evidence). That is already obviously likely, and yet a higher rate of suicide among depressed atheists in that case is entirely to be expected yet has nothing to do with the effect of atheism.

In other words, depression causes people to lose faith in things (like religion), so depressed people will exhibit nonbelief more commonly than the general population, but not for valid reasons (they did not arrive at an atheistic worldview philosophically, much less rationally or empirically), and when someone is so depressed they even lose faith in their God, this is already likely to correlate with a higher risk of suicide, but not because of losing faith in God, but because their depression was that bad.

This means recommending to someone who loses faith in God because they are depressed that they should have more faith in God is stupid. It’s exactly like recommending to someone who is sneezing because they have the flu that they should sneeze less. The actual problem (which is actually causing their risk of suicide) is causing their reduced faith in God, so the only way to treat the faith in God thing is to treat the depression. But that means you should just treat the depression and forget this unrelated faith-in-God business, which is just a symptom of the depression, not its cause. So once again, this study’s conclusions and recommendations are lost in the logic of witch doctors, rather than sound reasoning.

Of course, actually, we aren’t even talking about faith in God (which this study did not measure), but in organized religion, because that is in fact all this study claimed to measure, and failed to even then–unless one pretends that didn’t happen and assumes “religiously unaffiliated” means atheist–even though it doesn’t–and that finding no correlation with “religious affiliation” counts as finding a correlation with religious affiliation, by assuming only religious affiliation produces “moral objections to suicide,” even though that assumption is false. Yeah. Talk about irrational.

This study is pretty useless. Badly designed, with conclusions, recommendations, and even its abstract hosed in almost every way. And the religious apologist’s use of it only betrays their inability to notice any of this. And wasn’t valid anyway.

Logic and numeracy. Learn it. Live it.

Comments

  1. says

    “CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.”

    I’m a little confused, where in the conclusion does it claim that atheism cause suicide?

    • says

      That claim was made by the apologist citing that article. I never said the article said that. Read the first paragraph of the post you are commenting on. You seem to have glazed over what I was writing about.

  2. Derek says

    Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post on this article. A couple of years ago at my Jesuit affiliated medical school, I had an ethics course which included this American Journal of Psychiatry article, much to my dismay. I got halfway through it, decided it was horse-shit, and tossed it aside. I wish I had read this post prior to our journal club, as I would have been better able to articulate its uselessness.

  3. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    We do however have a demonstrated case of ‘suicide by snake handling’ after that Kentucky pastor killed himself with a copperhead. OK so he wasn’t actually trying to kill himself but he wasn’t doing much to avoid it either.

    And the kicker is that the bit of Mark that he was following is an interpolation someone tacked on to the end of Mark.

    Though why would someone write such a piece unless waving snakes about and drinking poison etc weren’t part of the schtick for at least some in the early church? Why would people believe the claim of meeting Christ on earth if not backed up by at least some evidence? In an era when some priests were cutting off their genitals, snake waving could be seen a positively mild.

  4. David Olsen says

    Yeah, it’s even more weak when you consider the combination of generalized views of religious affiliation with depression. The study pretty much says “withdrawn people are more likely to be depressed.”

    Apologists go: Let’s call them atheists, screw atheists.

  5. says

    As a person who cleans-up suicide events, I can tell you we see family members/victims of suicide from all religions. Any study can be biased based upon the outcome they want to convey with the findings.

  6. No Way says

    This might not be obvious to someone who grew up without religious indoctrination, but a likely cause of higher suicide rates among atheists, assuming the study has any validity at all, is the conflict between the atheist and their entire emotional support structure. People who grew up in religious families have a tremendous amount of pressure to say they believe in god. I would imagine that the stress is even greater with someone who had faith and then loses it in this environment.

    • says

      That’s a good point to add. (It reminds me of stats similarly skewed for homosexuality: in low-support/hostile communities, rise in suicide rate correlates with homosexuality, but one cannot claim homosexuality causes suicide, that would be a perverse elision of the actual cause.)

  7. blotonthelandscape says

    A good rule-of-thumb for odds ratios is that you want them to be not just statistically significant, but large (I’ve seen recommendations of >2/<0.5). So the idea that "age (odds ratio=0.97, 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.95 to 0.99; Wald χ2=7.84, p=0.005)…and responsibility to family (odds ratio=0.93, 95% CI=0.91 to 0.97; Wald χ2=17.99, p<0.001) were significantly associated with suicide attempt status" is ridiculous.

    I'm willing to bet that they treated age as a continuous variable as well; rookie mistake.

    They performed so many statistical tests on 300 observations, I wonder if they did a proper post-hoc.

  8. Carlos Cabanita says

    Some time ago I was severely depressed and beginning to atempt suicide and I know it is a very strange singularity point where rationality is very difficult. The depression, not a rational force, battles the survival instinct, not a rational force either. I survived seeking external help, which is a form of emergency rational rescue. But amidst all my turmoil, I of corse had my moral objections to suicide, in my ethical atheist worldview. My main objection to suicide was this: should I kill my daughter’s father? My mother was 94 and delusional, but should I kill her son? Should I kill my grandchildren’s grandfather? Or my friends’ friend?
    Suicide may be valid under other extreme circunstances, but I’m happy thay my survival instinct and my moral objections to suicide kept me alive for enough time to seek help.

  9. Geoff Barrett says

    The author refers to a directional cause and effect relationship between variables that is not supported in the analysis:

    “Therefore, religious affiliation may affect suicidal behavior both by lowering aggression levels and independently through moral objections to suicide.”

    That there is a correlation between religious affiliation and lower aggression levels does not necessarily mean that religious affiliation causes lower aggression levels. It could mean that people with lower aggression levels are more apt to affiliate with a community of like-minded believers. And, as you pointed out, “moral objections to suicide” and “religious affiliation” could be controlled by social networks.

    Here’s another interesting train of logic:

    “Responsibility to family was inversely related to acting on suicidal thoughts. Most religions stress the importance and value of family. Thus, consistent with previous reports (5, 6, 30), a commitment to a set of personal religious beliefs appears to be a more important factor against suicidal behavior than social cohesiveness per se.”

  10. jay says

    Richard wrote:

    [R]eligious affiliation actually was shown to have no effect. Only “moral objections to suicide” had an effect.

    The authors claim that they hypothesized that religious affiliation would reduce suicide risk by increasing moral objections to suicide, and they claim that the results support their hypothesis:

    Moral objections to suicide mediated the association between religious affiliation and suicide attempt as all three stipulated conditions were met (28). First, religious affiliation was significantly associated with moral objections to suicide. Second, moral objections to suicide was significantly associated with suicide attempt when religious affiliation was statistically controlled. Third, the significant bivariate association between religious affiliation and suicide attempt did not remain significant when moral objections to suicide were controlled statistically (F1).

    They are correct in a sense. If their hypothesis is correct, and furthermore, if moral objections to suicide is the only mediator of the effect of religion on risk of suicide, then they should get the results that they did; and, I suppose, that if they really formed their hypothesis before looking at the data, then their results actually support their hypothesis. Support, but not prove, since I doubt that they have a firm enough theory to justify such a strong assumption. Additionally, social scientists often practice HARKing—Hypothesizing After the Results are Known—in which case their “hypothesis” could simply be a post hoc rationalization of unexpected results.

    • says

      You do realize that would almost be a tautology, right?

      “People who have reasons not to commit suicide, commit suicide less.”

      Really.

      Can you imagine a scientific study proving “People who have reasons not to buy hamburgers buy hamburgers less”?

      And then acting like you’ve discovered something revolutionary?

    • jay says

      Richard, is the above comment actually a response to my comment? It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with what I wrote. I said nothing about reasons not to commit suicide. My post is about the authors’ claim that their results show that religion decreases risk of suicide by increasing moral objections to suicide.

    • says

      Yes, and (among other things) my article is about how religion isn’t the only thing that does that.

      So either (A) they erred in assuming it was or (B) they were making the tautological discovery I just described.

    • James Away says

      Expect that’s not the claim you make in the title. My bouts with suicide were directly related to my rationalism. Was never any kind of theist and still not. Fuck your selective ignorance, especially when you’d punish people for considering any kind of ignorance as a mechanism for escaping a never-ending nightmare.

    • says

      Ignorance can be manipulated by cults and demagogues, and breed self-defeating behaviors. It can never be recommended.

      Coping with reality is ultimately what we all must do, even when it’s difficult. Running from reality is what leads to losing control over ourselves and our enjoyment of what life we are lucky to have.

      If you are having difficulty with that, then you are experiencing a medical problem, and you need to make an appointment with a psychiatrist.

      There are people who will gladly help you with this at the Lifeline.

    • James Away says

      “Ignorance can be manipulated by cults and demagogues, and breed self-defeating behaviors. It can never be recommended.”

      A naked probabilistic fallacy, regardless of the fact that I’m allergic to all forms of anti-depressants and would gladly trade places with any number of cult members.

      “Coping with reality is ultimately what we all must do, even when it’s difficult. Running from reality is what leads to losing control over ourselves and our enjoyment of what life we are lucky to have.”

      A comment itself ludicrously ignorant of the very existence of people who never do any such thing, happier and more effective then many who do. Specious truism.

      Nope, let’s carry on, making absolute certain that welfare is never a priority over veridicality. Anyone reading, get out of this post-hoc hell if and while you can.

  11. James Away says

    And where is this data that magically deduces out the possibility that people can be happier then those with more knowledge then them?

    For that matter, are you even capable of differentiating a value assertion from a fact claim? Or is the very concept of someone needlessly suffering for pointless veridicality something you can’t even comprehend? Or is it so anathema to the comfortable tautology you’ve constructed that it would cause you to have a catastrophic breakdown?

    • says

      And where is this data that magically deduces out the possibility that people can be happier then those with more knowledge then them?

      The entire literature database for the science of psychotherapy.

      is the very concept of someone needlessly suffering for pointless veridicality something you can’t even comprehend?

      Ask any experienced and well-trained psychotherapist and they will tell you precisely why denying the truth through a delusion (which entails avoidance and denial behaviors, among other things) never leads to sound mental health, whereas millions have no insurmountable difficulty coping with truths (even very harsh truths) without such a tactic. Denying you can, too, is simply a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why you need to see a therapist, if you actually think you need a delusion to avoid reality. Because science says otherwise. And they’ve been studying this a lot more than you, and have thousands upon thousands of test cases to go on.

      But at this point I am starting to conclude you are just a troll, and you don’t believe a word you are saying, but are just fucking with me.

      If that’s the case, go away. This is a waste of everyone’s time, and we are just rolling our eyes at you at this point.

      But if you are sincere, then please, see a therapist. Seriously. It is vitally important for your future happiness. And probably the happiness of those whose lives your life most substantively affects.

    • James Away says

      “The entire literature database for the science of psychotherapy.”

      Did you miss the concept of “deduction” in that sentence? Because I can’t imagine you’re actually implying that psychotherapy implies that it’s impossible for a person to be more knowledgeable but of less sound well-being.

      “Ask any experienced and well-trained psychotherapist and they will tell you precisely why denying the truth through a delusion (which entails avoidance and denial behaviors, among other things) never leads to sound mental health”

      http://www.psychosocial.com/IJPR_17/Depressive_Realism_Hypothesis_Hussain.html

      See “Empirical support for depressive realism”.

      See also any number of studies in treating depression with hallucinogens.

      And Science says absolutely nothing of the sort that life is worth living or that we would find it so without our subjectivity, and you know that. Those “millions have no insurmountable difficulty coping with truths” are exercising exactly that, coping methods, not factual deductions. What are the odds that those who have a circumstantial psychology or social/material wealth that allows them to override deductive impulses or ignore their implications with relative ease would promote and enforce a social order that commodifies endless deduction? One in which hypocritical material/social/psychological “haves” parasitize “have nots” that actually have to do what they promote as infallible, for their own social currency and limbic gratification?

      Don’t wonder, it’s already happened. You’re just talking to the first one to pipe up because there’s nothing left that you can do to him.

      You also know that not only is a psychological account nowhere near to final and formulaic, but that what actual empirical study of the efficacy of psychotherapy there is (Wampold) observes that there is literally less attributable effect to method then there is to the belief of the client in the method and the therapist. (And sorry but yes, many of which involve constructing or modifying core beliefs).

      “The most effective therapists know the research and have a dynamic approach to treatment options. The research indicates that effective therapists form a strong therapeutic alliance across the range of patients seen in therapy. They are able to form a bond with their patients, regardless of the patient’s characteristics, and induce the patient to accept the treatment and work collaboratively with the therapist.” – Bruce Wampold, PhD: ‘How Psychotherapy Works’ Feb 6, 2010

      But of course you would annihilate an entire range of options for any client a priori, because it contravenes your personal construct, elevating the possession of facts and reductive rigor from a potential tool to singular, infallible value.

      Worse, you would never genuinely absorb the possibility of that very phenomenon causing someone to become that way in the first place. Even if they were screaming it in your face. In fact you would probably knowingly attempt harm them, to silence and punish them through their aversive social brain functions, “everybody is rolling their eyes at you”. No Pleistocene motivations there. No Socratic self-deconstruction warranted for that. Not ever.

      Free thought indeed.

    • says

      I can’t imagine you’re actually implying that psychotherapy implies that it’s impossible for a person to be more knowledgeable but of less sound well-being.

      It’s “not impossible” to smoke all your life and not die of cancer.

      That is not a recommendation to smoke.

      If you don’t know how to reason from risk factors, you need to learn.

      But I see there is no point in arguing with you. You have now resorted to lying. You claim hallucinogenic therapy’s aim is to give patients beliefs contrary to reality. That is a lie. And you should know it.

      We are done here.

      Go away.

    • James Away says

      You know quite well that I never made that claim. You have now resorted to ad hominem diversion. Not only should you know that was a lie, but you do.

      What I did is demonstrate viable success in your area of pretended concern directly violating and unconstrained by your worship of deductive veridicality. That not only would you and your other dependent co-eliminationists would never even dream of considering the risk factors of your own dogmas, but would handwave an actual certitude of excruciating pain unto total self-destruction it meant an alternative against your will.

      But by all means, don’t worry.

      I’m done with you.

  12. Alex97PR says

    I believe atheism could be a factor for suicide at least in my situation. Ever since I became an atheist I have become so unhappy, fearful, numb and angry. I probably won’t commit suicide just because I am so terrified of death but I am so unhappy I have started cutting doing drugs. It all started when I became a non-believer Imwish I had never known the truth.

    • says

      Can be a factor, and must be a factor, are not the same thing. Just FYI. “Being a man” can be a factor in suicide (a much stronger predictor of suicide in fact, so as a causal factor, worse than atheism by far). But it does not follow that there is any logical step from “I’m a man” to “I should kill myself.” There obviously is not.

      We also have to watch out for confounding. As I point out in the article, e.g., suicide can be caused by depression which can (non-rationally) co-cause atheism, making correlation not causation.

      If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression (and it sounds like you are), you need to see a medical professional. Your problem is not atheism. Your problem is a medical condition that requires treatment.

  13. James Away says

    Will admit it “can be a factor”, but will never admit that violating it “can be a solution”.

    What he and his cohort will never imagine is, of course, that their own -ism is itself dependent on (and enormously employs) the “be a man” harangue. Hell, that’s how it started for me. Professional eliminationists like Mr. Carrier not merely positing factual deductions but ridiculing the weak, pathological, morally failed readers who dare to consider anything remotely otherwise.

    Alex, by all means, if there’s a pill that will help you, find it and take it. But what Mr. Carrier will never tell you is not only how expensive but how incredibly controversial his proposed panacea is.

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/head-quarters/2013/aug/15/antidepressants-depression

    To give you an idea, that article is a DEFENSE.

    Ironically, the only thing that cured my death anxiety was my suicidal ideation.

    They will never give you permission to be happy on your own terms, Alex.

    Even if they ever admit that they’re not even close to a full account of psychology or psychiatry, they will never give you leave to think outside of their box, to even conceive of a novel solution. They will, without exception tell you to “be a man and take the suffering”.

    Take my advice: break their narrative, know for certain that they are not exempt from being the oppressive influence that you need closure with.

    Let go of the lie that you can’t let them go.

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