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Jan 08 2012

Do you have religious trauma syndrome?

I don’t — my departure from religion was painless and occurred at a young age. But I know that many people experience great stress at leaving the faith.

Breaking out of a restrictive, mind-controlling religion is understandably a liberating experience. People report huge relief and some excitement about their new possibilities. Certain problems are over, such as trying to twist one’s thinking to believe irrational religious doctrines, handling enormous cognitive dissonance in order to get by in the ‘real world’ as well, and conforming to repressive codes of behavior. Finally leaving a restrictive religion can be a major personal accomplishment after trying to make it work and going through many cycles of guilt and confusion.

However, the challenges of leaving are daunting. For most people, the religious environment was a one-stop-shop for meeting all their major needs – social support, a coherent worldview, meaning and direction in life, structured activities, and emotional/spiritual satisfaction. Leaving the fold means multiple losses, including the loss of friends and family support at a crucial time of personal transition. Consequently, it is a very lonely ‘stressful life event’ – more so than others described on Axis IV in the DSM. For some people, depending on their personality and the details of their religious past, it may be possible to simply stop participating in religious services and activities and move on with life. But for many, leaving their religion means debilitating anxiety, depression, grief, and anger.

Next step: the day will come when religion itself will be recognized as a mental disorder, not just the effects of breaking away from it. You can find more about dealing with the trauma of escape at Marlene Winell’s site.

56 comments

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  1. 1
    IncredulousMark

    I understand that if one is disowned or shunned by one’s whackjob religious family one would feel a great deal of stress. I don’t really see how just leaving the bullshit behind would be stressful. But, then again, I just don’t get the whole religious belief thing at all having realized it was all BS when I was 13.

  2. 2
    Kausik Datta

    For most people, the religious environment was a one-stop-shop for meeting all their major needs – social support, a coherent worldview, meaning and direction in life, structured activities, and emotional/spiritual satisfaction.

    Yes, organized religions have been particularly successful in preying upon the emotionally vulnerable and hoodwinking them into believing that religion, and only religion, could provide all that; in return, it asks merely for a complete, unquestioning obeisance.

    LIARS!

  3. 3
    Ingdigo Jump

    I understand that if one is disowned or shunned by one’s whackjob religious family one would feel a great deal of stress. I don’t really see how just leaving the bullshit behind would be stressful.

    Religions like Christianity, even liberal christianity, tie so much of self worth into the religion that you can be damaged by leaving.

    Even very liberal Christianity that is generally accepting of gays can actually instil in the youth internalized homophobia and sex related issues.

  4. 4
    Glen Davidson

    Those outside of “the fold” just hate God. A convenient way to brush aside the trauma many have at ceasing their dependency, and certainly an excuse to consider everyone not “a part of God’s family” as lesser beings.

    Also why anyone like Giberson, who might either ease the transition, or halt it at some “outsider” status, is the worst sort of enemy.

    Glen Davidson

  5. 5
    llewelly

    Er, why do you have ‘class=”creationist”‘ on the blockquote of Marlene Winell’s sensible words?

  6. 6
    w00dview

    I second llewelly here. I seen the comic sans, read the beginning thinking “No nonsense here, maybe at the end it will devolve into inane blathering”. Reached the end and no bullshit whatsoever. Why the comic sans?

  7. 7
    billnagel

    Isn’t “restrictive, mind-controlling religion” redundant?

  8. 8
    charlesbartley

    This pretty well describes me. The two things that I really miss are the singing and the easy community.

  9. 9
    Frank Asshole

    It’s more similar to widthrawal syndrome. The remains of social dependency.

  10. 10
    platyhelminthe

    I’m assuming the Comic Sans is a mistake?

  11. 11
    Sastra

    I was going to ask about the comic sans also, but see of course that I was beaten to the punch. I suspect it’s a mistake, unless there’s something I’m missing.

    Winell writes:

    In many seemingly secular settings, religious views are still considered ‘normal’ and even advocated in aggressive ways. In medicine and in treatment for drugs and alcohol, professionals assume that pushing religion is acceptable. Yet people struggling with RTS-related substance abuse simply cannot stomach the religious tone of Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, and get very little sympathy.
    In one case, a client of mine who was in a psychiatric ward because of panic attacks due to RTS told me that a doctor told her she needed to get right with God. Imagine giving parallel advice with some other kind of abuse. I also had a call from a veteran who was searching for an alternative because his counselor at the VA said he preferred working with people who believed in hell because he could get them to behave.

    I think it’s about time that psychologists become more explicit about some of the traumatic personal problems religion and religious belief can cause — and stop trying to shuffle atheists into a new and “better” religion (as is too often their wont.)

  12. 12
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Why is this in Comic Sans?

  13. 13
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    My comment was #12 and there were already four ahead of it asking the same question!

    Anyway, I’m by no means a fan of naming new “syndromes,” but the linked article looks interesting and I look forward to reading it.

  14. 14
    Sastra

    By the way, Winell has spoken several times at Atheist Alliance conventions. IIRC, she was at the last one in Houston, on a women in atheism panel. She’s interesting, if a bit verbose.

  15. 15
    Inaji

    I experienced some of that when I left Calvary Chapel. I wouldn’t call it trauma in my case, but it was difficult leaving “family”.

  16. 16
    petzl20

    I agree with previous N people above. The quotation should be sans comic sans.

  17. 17
    dianepatyjewicz

    There are always comic sans on this blog. It appears to differentiate between the what author writes and what another person says or writes.

    I left the Catholic church last year after 56 years. I had doubts, questions, concerns for years and after the sex abuse it got easier to justify it.
    last Feb. I woke up one morning and I could not rationalize my continuation in the church any longer.
    It has been almost a year and I have yet to find a new church.
    I read this blog regularly and I still have faith in God,
    but I have a hard time committing myself to another religion.
    I miss my friends from church, I don’t see them as often. But I know I made the right decision and have no second thoughts.

  18. 18
    georgewiman

    The passage in comic sans accurately describes a real thing that is an obstacle to getting away from religion. Perhaps it should be decomicsansified.

    If you have a lot invested in Christianity – relationships, community, your college major, your early career, your sense of self-esteem and more – it really can be traumatic to leave, and I do so attest. It did not help that the atheist community can be rather piranha-like to newcomers who have not figured out all the conventions yet. (This is not unique to atheists but Christians have had more practice at handling newcomers. On the other hand they do tend to shoot their own wounded, which is not surprising for a religion that believes in hell.)

    It says nothing good about religion that changing one’s mind about it can be traumatic, that’s for sure.

  19. 19
    Sastra

    dianepatyjewicz #17 wrote:

    There are always comic sans on this blog. It appears to differentiate between the what author writes and what another person says or writes.

    No; you must be relatively new here. PZ always reserves comic sans for statements or quotes he thinks are particularly stupid, as an insult. I don’t think he meant to use the font in this case. He erred. It happens.

    I read this blog regularly and I still have faith in God …

    Yes, relatively new. Hehehheh.

    Do you continue to have faith in God because you think God exists, or because ‘having faith’ is a good thing to have?

    As georgewiman suggests at #18, one is more likely to become an atheist when one begins to recognize that there is no such thing as “losing faith” in religion. Instead, one considers the issue and changes their mind.

  20. 20
    paleotrent

    I personally think religion is ridiculous, and I, too, felt relief when I finally realized that I didn’t have to adhere to my parents’ belief system nor foist it onto my own children. That being said, I think it’s a bit much to say that religious belief will one day be labeled as a mental disorder. There has almost certainly been a great evolutionary advantage to ascribing motives/intent to those objects which our ancestors encountered in their environments. This phylogenetic neurological “baggage” can easily be co-opted into religious belief, which I think can and often is manipulated by those in power (there’s my inner Marxist coming out)… but the fact that I yell at my remote control or curse at the Microsoft Office paperclip does not mean I have a mental disorder, does it?!?!?! And (sadly) I am not making this up – I just yelled at the Caps Lock key for “disobeying” me, for goodness’ sake!

  21. 21
    davidgentile

    Sounds very similar to leaving an abusive significant other / family member. People are often terrified of the thought that they deserve better than psychic torture: “The Devil You Know” etc. I’ve been emotionally abused; one problem is you begin to think you deserve it, and another is that escaping it means demonizing someone you may care for, which leads to cognitive dissonance.

  22. 22
    yellowsubmarine

    Gah! You beat me to the punch David. I have one thing to add to that though. The more abusive a relationship is, the more personally invested one becomes in it. When you finally get up the courage to leave, you are admitting to yourself that all the emotional agony and bloodletting you were put through was for naught. The more suffering you went through, the bigger the “failure”. If religion isn’t an abusive romantic relationship, I don’t know what is.

  23. 23
    stonyground

    @paleotrent
    The difference is that you recognise this behaviour as irrational. Of course we are only partly rational, we are nothing more than reasonably clever primates. Those who do not recognise this actually believe that their irrational beliefs are rational. Yesterday I replaced a broken glass panel in my greenhouse. A job that I thought would take an hour or so ended up taking all day, everything that could go wrong went wrong and I ended up swearing quite a lot. The swearing didn’t acheive much but it made me feel better and, in the end, I got the job done. Obviously I am only partly rational but it is important that I realise this.

  24. 24
    Stardrake

    The post is now sans Sans.

    I was lucky enough that religion wasn’t that big in our house, so when I drifted away I didn’t miss much. I feel for those who had it worse–but good for you for being strong enough to deal with it!

  25. 25
    happyrabo

    I expect I probably did have religious trauma syndrome at one time. Since my own father is a (Lutheran) pastor, as well as my aunt, uncle, and godfather (yes, all pastors) religion is much more in my family than something you do on Sunday. When I finally decided I no longer believed, I hadn’t read a single book about atheism, and I didn’t know any atheists.

    I didn’t talk to anyone at all about it. I had no philosophy to “fill the hole” as it were. Ironically, I decided I wasn’t homophobic around the same time, but the only out gay man I knew was… a deacon in the Episcopal church, so I didn’t talk to him either. I became so depressed I stopped going to classes and was eventually kicked out of college, and at one point I was a slight motion of my left hand away from killing myself.

    I’m much better now. One of these days I’ll get around to writing all that up in a “why I’m an atheist” post.

  26. 26
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    From Winell’s site:

    Understanding ourselves with an evolutionary perspective
    July 10, 2011. This online article for a college class at William and Mary is an excellent description of evolutionary psychology, which helps tremendously when trying to understand ourselves and others. Here’s an excerpt – go to the link for the rest and enjoy. MW

    Evolutionary Psychology: A Primer by Leda Cosmides & John Tooby

    Okay…

  27. 27
    aussieseculardad

    …the day will come when religion itself will be recognized as a mental disorder…

    If religion is a mental disorder, than so is pareidolia and apophenia. These are just side effects of how our brain evolved that we must be trained to overcome, just as we need to learn to overcome our desire to eat every heavily-salted high-fat snack food within reach.

    Or do I misunderstand the definition of mental disorder?

  28. 28
    aussieseculardad

    When I read this blog title, I thought that I fitted the bill for ‘Religious Trauma’. But my leaving religion was a fairly painless affair.

    However, religion did cause me trauma in that my then-wife converted to Judaism under the tutelage of a fundamentalist rabbi who twisted her mind and turned her against both me and her parents. I think if I hadn’t stuck around and helped her see what was going on, she would have ended up in a Jewish ghetto with no contact with her family or any of her original friends.

  29. 29
    unclefrogy

    what an interesting question that is something I like about this blog hardly any restriction on subject or question put up for discussion.
    I have never really thought of it in that way before. In fact I never until I started reading this blog ever thought of what I believed or thought of in connection with the “A” word.
    nothing in my life has been restricted to one area or compartment alone so I would have to say yes and no to many of the questions posed here this one is no exception. That my life was difficult before I “gave up religion” as well as during the process of giving it up and even to some degree now is true.
    those difficulties stem from many causes not just one. That religion made them more difficult is undeniable. I rarely felt any acceptance in religion from any of the people I encountered there but that was not really very different from the people I met outside of church.
    The whole question is tied up with my whole experience of people and life in general and not limited to just my own religious experience and my own “searching”.
    Still it was difficult to finally admit to myself that I could not continue to pursue what my family pursued.
    This question will require some more thought on my part.

    uncle frogy

  30. 30
    WhiteHatLurker

    Thanks for putting this post up. I haven’t seen and don’t see this sort of thing. I guess I’m one of the people whom this victim of religion is addressing:

    It is no better when I talk to those raised outside of Christianity. They gently suggest that I’m over sensitive or making a big deal out of nothing or that I don’t understand who Jesus really was or that it couldn’t have been all that bad since I turned out to be such a nice person.

    Why is it so hard for people to understand that Christianity completely messed up my life?!?!?!

    If I had been discriminated against, beaten, sexually abused, traumatized by an act of violence, or raped, I would be heard. I would receive sympathy. I would be given psychological care. I would have legal recourse and protection. However, I am a trauma victim that society does not hear.

    @aussiseculardad – I think that, while the focus on is currently on those leaving religion without support, the trauma of losing loved ones to religion should be included in this disorder.

  31. 31
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Anyway, I’m by no means a fan of naming new “syndromes,”

    Why not, if there’s a recurring pattern in causal events and/or symptoms that’s relevant to understanding and treating the condition?

  32. 32
    clarysage

    Years ago I suffered from the trauma of leaving my religion. Not only are you losing a community (and, in my case, as in many, most of my family), but leaving your religion often means you are leaving heartfelt beliefs behind. I left my church after rational thought and soul searching convinced me that there is no god, all religion is false, and there is no afterlife. Even though I was/am convinced of my atheism, it’s still traumatic at the time to realize that beliefs that you’ve held your whole life simply are not true. My partner doesn’t think that any religious people actually REALLY believe the tenets they profess. But I know he’s wrong because I did. And it’s sad to let go even though it’s liberating too. You also mourn the years of your life that you wasted on religion and you hate yourself for the money you tithed.

  33. 33
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    If religion isn’t an abusive romantic relationship, I don’t know what is.

    I guess in a way the way I approached my marriage was almost religion-like. >.>

  34. 34
    joed

    @8 charlesbartley
    yes! seems you struck a chord here with the easy communion of folks.
    this has been a contention with me too. although never having been a believer i still understand the ease of human interaction. of not having to judge anyone unless they are unkind or violent.
    anyway, you caught my attention with those few words.
    i ask meself now, is this critical conscience a blessing or a curse. hard to say sometimes.

  35. 35
    Susannah

    Marlene Winell’s writing was a life-saver for me when I was processing my loss of faith. I picked up her book, “Leaving the Fold” in a bookstore, read a few chapters then and there, went back the next day and the next, and then decided that I owed the bookstore the price of the book I had just finished reading. I read it again at home, several times.

    She is an MK (missionary’s kid), as I am, raised in China, like my MK mother, growing up as a devout Christian, like my entire family. I found that very encouraging; if she could get free, so could I.

  36. 36
    damonbradshaw

    I personally felt a combination of the above: relief and excitement, but also anxiety, depression, and anger (much of which was a holdover from my time as a religious person). The difference was, with my new level of enlightenment, I knew that I would be able to take care of it myself, instead of relying on mythology and metaphor to fix it.

  37. 37
    Susannah

    I have to add this quote:

    Many ex-believers have anger about the abuse of growing up in a world of lies. They feel robbed of a normal childhood, honest information, and opportunity to develop and thrive. They have bitterness for being taught they were worthless and in need of salvation, yet never able to be sure they were good enough to make it. They have anger about terrors of hell, the ‘rapture’, demons, apostasy, unforgivable sins, and the evil world. They resent not being able to ever feel good or safe. Many are angry that the same teachings are inflicted on more children continuously. They have rage because they dedicated their lives and gave up everything to serve God. They are angry about losing their families and their friends. They feel enormously betrayed.

    (my emphasis)
    Dead on!

  38. 38
    Inaji

    Susannah:

    They have anger about terrors of hell, the ‘rapture’, demons, apostasy, unforgivable sins, and the evil world.

    Being stuck in a Catholic school in the ’60s firmly instilled a terror of hell and the whole mortal sin business, well, that gave me one hell of a bad moment, to say the least, when I was 9 years old and found myself choking on Jesus a communion host. I had been taught it was a mortal sin to touch the host, so…there I sat, trying to work it out. If I stick my finger down my throat, I’ll commit a mortal sin and go to hell, so should I choke to death? But if I allow myself to choke to death, I made that decision, so doesn’t that mean I chose to commit suicide, which is a mortal sin… Obviously, I decided I wanted to keep on breathing, but spent the rest of that day and all night clutching my bible, with tears streaming down my face, trying to deal with now inevitably going to hell.

    Religion, ain’t it grand?

  39. 39
    Susannah

    yellowsubmarine #22:

    If religion isn’t an abusive romantic relationship, I don’t know what is.

    Isaiah 54:5,6, NIV:

    “For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name– the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. 6 The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit– a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.”

  40. 40
    Jadzia626

    The first quoted paragraph describes my relief of leaving religion pretty well. The second does not. I had no other feelings than relief really. Of finally not having to twist my mind and reality to force-fit it into the dogma.

    I felt no emotional support in religion, just plain frustration. I never accepted anything claimed, I had to test everything. That naturally led to me having nothing confirmed. God didn’t talk to me, he didn’t answer prayers, sick people didn’t get better and so on. There was never any comfort in a God who weren’t there anyway. So yeah, accepting that he probably didn’t exist at all was a relief. Then everything made sense.

  41. 41
    Patricia, OM

    Clarysage – I agree with you, lots of people that have left their flavor of religion believed in it wholeheartedly. My old sect has shunned and cursed me. Even though this has been several years ago now, they continue to threaten me with hellfire calls and leaflets. It was one of the most agonizing decisions of my life to leave gods house .

  42. 42
    Azuma Hazuki

    In regards to the original question…yes. Horrendously so. I was always an anxious and panicky girl, and having attended CCD under the tutelage of some very scary “charismatic” Hispanic Catholics did not help.

    My imagination has always been much much too powerful, and I still have screaming nightmares involving hellish scenarios: some of the least unpleasant of these can be described as “eternal industrial accidents in a red-hot factory full of evil, sentient machines.”

    I’m more or less free of the Abrahamic religions, thanks in no small part to philosophers and actual researchers. All the years of philosophical research were nothing next to a few simple posts by Richard Carrier on the actual background and real meanings of the texts. Bart Ehrman’s books have been tremendously helpful as well. Maybe uniquely among us, I am emphatically an “Old Atheist” and science played little to no part in my deconversion; this is especially ironic as I am a geologist by training.

    I’m not very sane any longer. I lost a lover at least partly due to her inability to deal with some of the issues this was causing me. I’ll probably be okay, but it seems like purely secular strife will cause my death somewhat soon in any case. I am preparing for death; the idea of death doesn’t bother me one bit, which is ironically one reason hellfire threats were so effective (I see nothing threatening in oblivion, so my paranoid overheated brain says “There is NO WAY it’s that easy”).

    This has not been a happy road. I wish I had never had issues with this. There’s so little light or happiness in my world any longer. But in all, I know deep down it’s worth having been through this.

  43. 43
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    If I had been discriminated against, beaten, sexually abused, traumatized by an act of violence, or raped, I would be heard. I would receive sympathy. I would be given psychological care. I would have legal recourse and protection. However, I am a trauma victim that society does not hear.

    Ok, I understand what this person is saying. I get it. I don’t want to in any way shape or form diminish or dismiss what some people go through leaving religion. However, this really, really bugged me because people who go through discrimination, rape, etc aren’t always heard or believed or are offered help or get legal recourse or sympathy. Most often are not heard and are dismiss and squashed. We see it all the time here. I think it would be more appropriate to include religious trauma in those groups because they are often similarly dismissed etc.

    Maybe its simply because religious trauma is newly recognized and groups will band together to support those whose suffer this. Maybe I just have a hair trigger about it since I’ve been raped. I dunno. I just don’t see how this is any different. Maybe that’s because I’ve seen the damage religion does and wouldn’t dismiss people with religious trauma syndrome before it even had a name.

  44. 44
    Inaji

    J_A_L:

    Most often are not heard and are dismiss and squashed. We see it all the time here. I think it would be more appropriate to include religious trauma in those groups because they are often similarly dismissed etc.

    An excellent point. I think I understand though, because the person who wrote that felt that if they were a victim of what is commonly understood to be a terrible crime, someone would pay attention. I think a majority of people would tend to dismiss the trauma of leaving religion, with a “pfft, what’s the big deal, it’s just church, man.”

  45. 45
    hongjie

    Sigh.

    Yes, I am one of those who suffer much psychological pain from leaving theism. As such, I try to cope by still attending church services without believing any jot or tittle of it. I oftentimes identify myself with liberal christianity in an attempt to be “christian” but without all the rubbish.

    I had left charismatic christianity in 2002 and have been a secret atheist since 2009 and am still recovering from the trauma of religious indoctrination as a child and a young adult.

    Sigh.

  46. 46
    Inaji

    hongjie, remember that you aren’t alone. That should help a little bit, I hope.

  47. 47
    Cipher

    For what it’s worth, which I know isn’t much, I’m sorry for how you’ve been hurt, Azuma, and I’ll be sorry to lose you, whenever we do.

  48. 48
    SmartLX

    Some time ago I coined a term for the emotional component of this trying time. I called it faithdrawal.

  49. 49
    ibyea

    When I admitted to myself I was an atheist while attending mass, it felt weird. I felt like, “so, now what…” But as I got thinking the next few days, I realized that being an atheist doesn’t change who I really am, and should keep living the way I like living. At the same time, I felt free, since that means my ethics, behavior, and thoughts weren’t constrained by archaic stone age ideology. Best of all, every church thing I did before were meaningless time wasters. Seriously, those menial activities were the key to living a full, purposeful life and eternal salvation? What a joke. If that is true, then life is very cheap and meaningless.

  50. 50
    Patricia, OM

    Azuma – Speaking as a recent widow, I can say I know how it feels to lose the one you love. My loss was through sudden and awful illness, so not the same as yours.

    I know it sucks, and hurts worse than anything. I’m resolved to take it for another hour.

    Come sit by me.
    Patricia

  51. 51
    strange gods before me ॐ

    aussieseculardad,

    If religion is a mental disorder, than so is pareidolia and apophenia. These are just side effects of how our brain evolved that we must be trained to overcome, just as we need to learn to overcome our desire to eat every heavily-salted high-fat snack food within reach.

    Or do I misunderstand the definition of mental disorder?

    You understand just fine. There are no reputable mental health professionals who propose that religion is a mental disorder.

    The relation to pareidolia is probably part of the story. Pascal Boyer in Religion Explained gives a plausible account for the origins of varying religious doctrines. Where several doctrines compete, a person’s belief in one over another is probably explained by motivated social cognition.

  52. 52
    carlie

    My first feeling on realizing I had become totally an atheist (it was a long slow process) was overwhelming relief and peace, followed by a huge helping of outrage at the parts of my life that had been taken from me in the name of religion.

    Dealing with the people, well, it’s been a few years and I’m still trying to navigate that.

  53. 53
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    The only real trauma I have from leaving Christianity is the fact I feel like I wasted my entire life pretending something that wasn’t true. If I had come to terms with transgenderism when I was younger, I think I would be likely already transitioned, well on my way to becoming who I am inside. Christianity told me I was perfect, but I never felt perfect. Far too many nights were spent crying to a god who never responded, asking why I was made the way I was.

    So now that I’m free, the sorrow of being not who I am is replaced by the terror of having to admit it to a family I love whose reaction might be disownment.

  54. 54
    Algernon

    No, but I have abusive religious people being nasty to me syndrome?

    I mean, how can I miss something I never had? I guess this is why it is so different to me. It’s always been about what other people want from me, never about what I wanted. So my choices are lie and avoid punishment, or tell the truth. But the truth was never negotiable. It was either going to remain a secret (and be the wedge that deep secrets always are) or not. Sooner or later I came to the realization that people who don’t want the real me are keeping me in ways I don’t want to be in, and that their love is too conditional. It’s scary to be alone, but not torture, and you can’t find anyone who will accept you if you can never be yourself, because how could they know you if you are a secret from them?

    “I’m not very sane any longer. I lost a lover at least partly due to her inability to deal with some of the issues this was causing me. I’ll probably be okay, but it seems like purely secular strife will cause my death somewhat soon in any case. I am preparing for death; the idea of death doesn’t bother me one bit, which is ironically one reason hellfire threats were so effective (I see nothing threatening in oblivion, so my paranoid overheated brain says “There is NO WAY it’s that easy”).”

    You sound really seriously depressed, and say that you have always been “panicky” though. As some one who seriously has had problems with depressive episodes and anxiety (I say that to make it clear I’m not trying to be unkind) have you considered you might have some underlying issues that need to be treated?

    I am only saying this because what you say sounds near-suicidal to me and I am concerned.

  55. 55
    tamaratemple

    I see no reason for naming a new syndrome. This is another form of trauma, and the descriptions of it sound no different from PTSD or C-PTSD.

    The danger of naming something religious anything trauma/syndrome/whatever is this:

    Next step: the day will come when religion itself will be recognized as a mental disorder,

    This implies that those who perpetrate the traumas associated with splitting from religion, and the traumas extant within the religion, are incapable of choosing their course of action; they, themselves, become victims.

    Religion is a culturally learned and accreted thing, it is not a mental disorder, and to attempt to cast it in that light does damage to those who do have mental disorders.

  56. 56
    georgewiman

    Religion is a culturally learned and accreted thing, it is not a mental disorder, and to attempt to cast it in that light does damage to those who do have mental disorders.

    I dunno, @Tamaratemple; for not being a mental disorder it does a pretty good imitation of one. Culturally induced or not.

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