A Ministry of Misery - Mental Illness Amoung JW's - Part 1

by BrendaCloutier 19 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • BrendaCloutier

    Found on a pro-JW site. Excellent read - enjoy. -BLC

    A Ministry of Misery - Part 1Mental Illness and the Jehovah's Witnesses

    "Happy is that people, whose God is the LORD" Psalm 144:15. This indicates if a person's God is the LORD, Jehovah, he will be happy. If his God isn't Jehovah he may not be happy. If he is miserable, certainly his God could not be Jehovah. If people are following God in the right way, they will be characterized by happiness. The mental health of the Jehovah's Witnesses speaks something of their relationship with God, or lack thereof.

    Psychiatrists have an important tool they use to diagnose mental illness. For a parallel, consider medical doctors. They use tools like the thermometer and the stethoscope. If a person has a lot of germs in his body, the temperature will rise. A thermometer helps detect the problem. The doctor can also tell a lot about a person's physical health by the stethoscope. Psychiatrists likewise have a simple tool they use.

    Question. The psychiatrists tool is a simple question. That question is, "Are you happy?" If the person says, "No. I am miserable," he has revealed the chief indicator of mental health problems. If a person is happy and is honest, we cannot really say he is sick. Mental health does not look at any disease process in the body tissue. It primarily looks at, are you happy?

    Let's ask that question of Jehovah's Witnesses. "Are you, as a Jehovah's Witness, happy?" Dr. Jerry Bergman's experience from working with hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses and congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses for over 20 years is, they are miserable people with very few exceptions! They know they are not happy. But are they going to tell you that? Obviously not. They are not going to sit down and tell you their problems. Doctors have an advantage from doing therapy with the Witnesses year by year. Naturally, when they are coming for help, they are going to tell what is wrong and what their problems are. That is why they pay doctors to help them. The patients know they have to be honest and tell how they feel in order to be helped. Imagine going to the doctor and the doctor says, "Well, how to do you feel?" The patient responds, "It is none of your business!" That patient could not be helped very much. Doctors have found a large number of Jehovah's Witnesses to be very unhappy people. They are miserable!

    Depression. What are some of the problems the Witnesses have? All kinds of mental diseases could be listed. Essentially, the main problems are depression, feeling of helplessness, worry, doubt, and conflicts in the congregation. The elders try to enforce extremely rigid rules. For a few years wire-rimmed glasses were condemned. If a person came into a Kingdom Hall with wire rims, that individual would have to sit down for a conference. He would be told, "We notice you are wearing wire rims. You are falling out of the truth. We are concerned about this. We think you need help." It becomes absurd after a while. And as you can imagine, trying to enforce this much rigidity and this much conformity, creates problems. When one really believes the Watchtower is God's organization, the elder becomes God's representative. In a sense, what he says is almost like God saying it. Therefore, if an elder says a person is immature because of wearing wire-rimmed glasses, that is like God saying you are immature because you wear wire-rimmed glasses! This causes people to feel depressed and to say, "I'm a bad person! I'm terrible!" And naturally they feel guilt, worry and doubt.

    Impressions. Of course, Witnesses try to paint a picture to outsiders that they are happy people to give a good impression of the Organization. They want to convey the idea, "We are all happy. Join the Watchtower Organization." Psychiatrists, psychologists, researchers and other sources have much to say about the emotional problems of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Hundreds of Jehovah's Witnesses were contacted including a number of high-ranking officials in the Watchtower. The leadership typically responds, "But we do not know what to do!" Then they reject solutions. While the Witnesses lack happiness, they are obligated to pretend as if they have it.

    Contradictions. "Well," you might ask, "How do they rationalize this? How do they go around believing, 'We have the truth. God is with us. He is using us. And yet we are miserable'?" Some of the Witnesses conclusions sound rational even though they are false. First, they believe those inside the Watchtower Society are God's people. Everybody outside the Watchtower Society is of Satan. They reason, Satan would try to do everything he can to be nice to those outside of the Watchtower because he has all of them. They consider those inside the Watchtower to be Satan's failures. Therefore, Satan would try to make everyone inside the Watchtower Society miserable. The Witnesses reason that their general unhappiness, thinking the people on the outside are possibly happier, proves they are God's people. If you reason through the problem with them in this way, they would probably say, "No, not quite." But in conversation you can see they really believe it.

    On the other hand, they teach the opposite. They teach the only ones who are truly happy are those within the organization. They say those outside are miserable because they are not in God's Organization. The contradiction is somewhat upsetting to the Witnesses; but they should at least think about it.

    Many Jehovah's Witnesses are aware of the serene contentment of godly Christians. This can cause them some paranoia. Psychiatrically, the most common mental illness among Jehovah's Witnesses is known as paranoia schizophrenia. Most studies show that it is at least four times higher among the Witnesses than among the non-Witnesses.

    One can understand how they would become paranoid. They see people outside of the Organization who seem to be happy while the Witnesses are not happy and they know they aren't. When a Christian talks to them about their error, it often makes sense. How would you expect the Witnesses to react? Frightened! It is frightening to people to feel they are wrong. At this point they can either change their beliefs or they become paranoid or crazy with mental illness! The Witnesses commonly refuse to acknowledge any value from what other people have to say.

  • BrendaCloutier

    A Ministry of Misery - Mental Illness Amoung JW's - Part 2

    Condemnation. The Witnesses constantly point to the worst in everyone else. They are the biggest pessimists in town. When something happens somewhere in what they call "Christendom", they immediately grab on to that and exaggerate it. Witnesses constantly talk about food shortages and people being laid off. They are constantly worried about droughts and earthquakes. When something like this happens, they all talk about it. What would you expect from such a negative view of life? People become depressed. Many times Witnesses go home very depressed after talking about all these things. It frightens them. Many school age and preschool Witnesses have nightmares from what they hear. When parents talk about the tragedies in the world all the time, how would you expect young people to react? They become very frightened and very insecure.

    Suspicions. In pointing to the worst in everyone else, the Witnesses have a distorted view of people. They are suspicious of everyone. They tend to feel everyone else is bad and out to get them in one way or another. They feel that a large percentage of non-Witnesses are homosexuals, sexually promiscuous, thinking only of material things, and are really the lowest sort of people. How do they respond to others? If you felt that everyone out there was a homosexual, a murder or a cheat, you would be pretty careful about associating with those kind of people. Should you be friendly with them? "You'd better not! They might be homosexuals!" Jehovah's Witnesses are fearful of associating with other people.

    Alienation. The Witnesses ideas about other people causes them to isolate themselves. They live in a world of their own. They live in constant fear of everyone else. How difficult to believe "My friends at the Kingdom Hall are the good people, and I wonder about them sometimes. But everyone outside is bad and trying to get me." Therefore, they really can't enjoy other people. They really can't help other people. They are afraid people are going to ensnare them in something, in all kinds of things. This fear in psychiatric terms of alienation is called "anomie". A separation is established. Psychiatric problems are a very significant factor in developing mental illness. If a person has plenty of friends and can satisfy this need for company, affiliations, associations and to feel at one with man, he will go a long ways toward avoiding mental illness.

    Isolation. It would help if the Witnesses could satisfy the need of trust within the congregation. In other words, "O.K., everybody out there hates me, and I hate them, but at least if I have my brothers in the congregation I'll be all right. I'll have friends." But what happens? What happens when you have a list of rules that travel without end, condemning incredible things? For example, calling a bulletin board a "bulletin board" is taboo. The term is improper because the Roman Catholic church calls it a bulletin board. Therefore, you have to call it an "information board". If you slip up one day and call it a bulletin board, people would look at you and say, "You are immature. You are not very well grounded. You must be falling away." What a difficult situation to be in! Then people inside the congregation go around and condemn each other. They are suspicious of each other. If a person slips up, they may stay away from him and avoid any unnecessary association.

    In essence the situation is, as a whole the Jehovah's Witnesses cannot satisfy these needs within the congregation. They cannot feel at home and as one with those inside the congregation. It's hard for them to respect each other, because they are constantly breaking these minor taboos, and occasionally, some of the major ones. What happens? They feel alone in the world. They feel, "I am the only one! I am all by myself." That is a very difficult feeling to live with. This condition is incredibly strong in developing mental illness. People with a lot of friends do not tend to develop mental illness. Rather, the people who do not have many friends are the ones who are quite susceptible. Every psychiatrist recognizes this law of behavior. You need friends! It's like the law regarding food. If you do not eat after six months, what is going to happen? You are going to die! If you do not have friends, if you live by yourself and isolate yourself from other people for six months, you'll suffer mentally. Various scientific terms describe this. A person literally withers away without friends. The hermit, in contrast, may do all right because he makes up imaginary friends. He talks to them and has fun with them. Or animals become his friends. Since animals do not fully replace people, a hermit tends to act a little strange after a while. The stereotype is that he will become mentally ill and talk to himself. But, why would he talk to himself? He does not really have friends. Isolation is a very important factor which influences the development of mental illness among Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Expression. Another contributing factor leading to mental illness is that eventually the Jehovah's Witnesses become afraid to talk to each other. For example, if you and I were both Jehovah's Witnesses and I told you all my problems, what may happen? Consider the problem the Watchtower Society had with wire-rimmed glasses and colored shirts for a period of time. If I sat down and told you I secretly wanted to wear these, what may happen? You may listen and you may understand and try to help me. But you might not. You might go and tell the elders of my sins. Then what? My sin, or my contemplated sin, may become a subject of gossip in the congregation. This commonly happens. The first, second or third person I confide in may not expose me, but it will happen. When a Witness confides in another, that person might listen and seem to try to understand or he may condemn the individual. Then the problem shared in confidence becomes the subject of congregational gossip. What happens next? You would not confide in another Witness again! Then what happens? Again, isolation!

  • BrendaCloutier
  • BrendaCloutier

    Dangit - the system wont let me post any more of it. Not even under a differen thread...

    I y'all want the full text, PM me with your email and I'll email it to you. It's worth the read.

  • schne_belly

    Brenda - I'm so glad you posted this. I first came across this table at http://www.rickross.com/reference/jw/jw72.html in 1998. I belive it is what eventually led to my leaving.

    Table I

    Admissions for schizophrenia 1973

    Totalrate perJehovah'srate per
    All diagnosis7,5462.54504.17
    Neurosis (300)1,182.3910.76
  • BrendaCloutier

    Thanx Schne - Ive added that to the word doc I have the whole article in.

  • rebel8

    hmmmm.......I have some questions.

    How can there possibly be accurate, randomly sampled data regarding the religion of people with mental illness?

    Re the article, I guess I'm missing something. It starts out saying stuff that, frankly, is a steaming crock of you-know-what. Example:

    Mental health does not look at any disease process in the body tissue. It primarily looks at, are you happy?


    Then the article goes on to expose some jw issues related to mental health. Is the first part supposed to be a joke or something?

  • schne_belly

    Even when in - I would bring up this study up to others.

    Then ask the question - do JW's cause the mental disorder or do they attract those with a mental disorder?

    Looking back - I never did get an answer.


  • jgnat

    Pure guesses on my part:

    Attract: obsessive compulsives, neurotics, depressed

    Cause: psychosomatic disorders, autoimmune disorders, depression

    I thought the only proportion studies was done on inmates, and I don't think those would be representative of the population.

  • becca1

    I have long noticed that we have a lot of "oddballs" among JW's. As an elder my dad has often been a magnet for them, a father confessor of sorts. I've always asked him why he thinks that is. He has no clue.

    Personally I have always wondered if my depression and anxiety issues were genetic or environmental (caused or at least triggered by my goofy JW childhood).

    The fact is pretty clear though, we have a huge problem with mental and emotional illness and the elders have no right to play doctor of therapist with these vulnerable people.

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