Now I understand why my self-esteem was so bad...
Yeah, being raised as a JW really does a number on your self-esteem. I know it has to me and I can really see it in my sister.
This is a great thread. In my immediate family and in my extended family this is what I have observed.
1. The absolute disbelief and horror that you could have allowed yourself to be fooled for approximately 25 years. I very much think that my father was struggling with this realization when he died suddenly. I'm not sure that he ever came to grips with it.
2. Structure. Tuesday Night, Thursday Night , Sunday. You know where you're going to be and what you'll be doing. Add to that your weekly field service time and maybe even a JW social event.
3. Support. If you remain an active JW and do all the right things you are pretty much guaranteed support and "friendship" through life's trying times. Deaths in the family, births, sicknesses. It's a ready-made support group. Many, many people are in and stay FOR THIS REASON ALONE.
4. Fear. There is no doubt for the people that truly believe they live in fear all the time. Fear of God and his wrath and of dying in Armageddon. There is also a tremendous fear of being disfellowshipped and shunned and ostracized by all your family and friends and support network. Even for those that don't believe the JWs teachings in their hearts, they will walk the walk in order to avoid disfellowshipping or other punishment.
5. No education- Just like in countries like Afghanistan that keep their people down and ignorant by not allowing education, the WTS excels at this. People are ignorant, unable to get a decent job, not prepared for retirement, unable to think for themselves.
For those that are active it becomes their entire life. They have nothing else. What would they do if they left? What would they do on Thursday nights? Who would be their friend? Where would they get help to pay their bills?
It's a horrible, horrible, psychic damaging organization.