Also, young humans are wired to obey authority because they are dependent on their caregivers just for survival. Children at this have a tenuous grip on reality. They often have imaginary friends; dreams are quite real; and fantasy blurs with the mundane.
The problem is that many of these teachings are terrifying. Even decades later former believers who intellectually reject these ideas can feel intense fear or shame when their unconscious mind is triggered. One requirement for success as a sincere Christian is to find a way to believe that which would be unbelievable under normal rules of evidence and inquiry.
Others experience the threats and fear too keenly. For them, childhood can be torturous, and they may carry injuries into adulthood.
Still others are able to sincerely devote themselves to the faith as children but confront problems when they mature. They wrestle with factual and moral contradictions in the Bible and the church, or discover surprising alternatives. This can feel confusing and terrifying - like the whole world is falling apart.
Delayed Development and Life Skills. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-Christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at church instead. Children miss out on crucial information— science, culture, history, reproductive health and more.
The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian
When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development. Religious Trauma Syndrome. While each of these diagnoses has a place, neither covers the wide range of harms induced by religion. Though related to other kinds of chronic trauma, religious trauma is uniquely mind-twisting.
The logic of the religion is circular and blames the victim for problems; the system demands deference to spiritual authorities no matter what they do; and the larger society may not identify a problem or intervene as in cases of physical or sexual abuse, even though the same symptoms of depression and anxiety and panic attacks can occur.
RTS, as a diagnosis, is in early stages of investigation, but appears to be a useful descriptor beyond the labels used for various symptoms — depression, anxiety, grief, anger, relationship issues, and others.
It is our hope that it will lead to more knowledge, training, and treatment. Leaving the Fold. However, for many reclaimers making the break is the most disruptive, difficult upheaval they have ever experienced. Individuals who were most sincere, devout, and dedicated often are the ones most traumatized when their religious world crumbles.
Why so many conservative Christians feel like a persecuted minority
Rejecting a religious model of reality that has been passed on through generations is a major cognitive and emotional disruption. For many reclaimers, it is like a death or divorce. It can be like losing a lover, a parent, or best friend. Churches vary with official doctrine about rejection.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the combination of denigration and subservience takes a psychological toll on women in Christianity as it does in Islam. Not only do women submit to marital abuse and undesired sexual contact, some tolerate the same toward their children, and men of God sometimes exploit this vulnerability, as in the case of Catholic and Protestant child sexual abuse. But most of the damage is far more subtle: lower self-esteem, less independence and confidence; abandoned dreams and goals.
Why Harm Goes Unrecognized. What is the sum cost of having millions of people holding to a misogynist, authoritarian, fear-based supernatural view of the universe? The consequences far-reaching, even global, but many are hidden, for two reasons. One is the nature of the trauma itself. Unlike other harm, such as physical beating or sexual abuse, the injury is far from obvious to the victim, who has been taught to self-blame.
The second reason that religious harm goes unrecognized is that Christianity is still the cultural backdrop for the indoctrination. While the larger society may not be fundamentalist, references to God and faith abound. The Bible gets used to swear in witnesses and even the U. These lend credence to theistic authority. Religious trauma is difficult to see because it is camouflaged by the respectability of religion in culture. To date, parents are afforded the right to teach their own children whatever doctrines they like, no matter how heinous, degrading, or mentally unhealthy. Even helping professionals largely perceive Christianity as benign.
This will need to change for treatment methods to be developed and people to get help that allows them to truly reclaim their lives. Buy Now, Pay Later. Already a Subscriber? Log In Here. Please sign in with Facebook or Google below:. If you have an older Salon account, please enter your username and password below: sign in Forgot Password?
Log Out. Stocksnapper via Shutterstock The sad, twisted truth about conservative Christianity's effect on the mind Some religious beliefs may alter brain function, making us more prone to anxiety and depression In , the Supreme Court ruled against school-led prayers , even if they were supposedly voluntary.
Most attempts fail in court. The momentum is in the direction of justice, and as gay rights proponents said from the beginning, Christian conservatives are, as with most things, on the wrong side of history. Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon. She's on Twitter AmandaMarcotte.
Some religious beliefs may alter brain function, making us more prone to anxiety and depression
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