I think it's interesting that, despite their friendship, James Penton disagrees with Jerry Bergman in Apocalypse Delayed and questions the validity of the statistical evidence used to show that rates of mental illness are higher among Jehovah's Witnesses. (see pages 288-292)
Just on a side note. Is that not one of the reasons France is trying to stop Jehovah's Witnesses in their country because they see such mental health problems among the members?
Why, yes you may use them, but they're only my observations, nothing profound. But, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a Witness say to me, Well, I'll wait to do that in the New System,no time now. These are simple things, like gardening, having a pet, learning to play the piano.
And then, on the other end is the ones that are obssessed with the state of affairs in the world. It's all negative, because they're hoping this really is the sign of the last days.
It is simple. You deprive a child of all joy--like play time, holidays and birthdays, vacations, and the like. You threaten that they will get destroyed unless they conform. You tell them that others that are not witlesses are bad associations (or worse), and that such people are out to ruin their chances of everlasting life. You keep hounding them to not listen to real music or watch TV or play games. They waste all their school off time pio-sneering. There is no college, just pio-sneering. All the while, impending violence and disaster is put in front of them to scare them into submission. They are not prepared for anything but going from door to door preaching a dead work.
Now, throw in a little stress. They are late from work or field circus, and someone can't find their jacket. So, a child gets beaten 160 times with an electrical cord. Or, the present life is devalued to the extent that children are deprived of needed blood in an emergency, or just plain killed (or eaten, as was the case of one baby about this time last year). And pedophiles, many of whom molest children simply because they get their kicks out of ruining their lives and not because of being sexually attracted, are let on the loose in the congregation--and the victims are silenced, especially if the pervert did it because he got his kicks out of ruining the child's life. And the endless "You could be doing more"--I believe that is not conducive for people to develop a sound mental state.
Throw in that they are recruiting more from prisons and mental institutions, and you have the perfect setup for mental trouble. You expect that from a day treatment program for mentally ill people, not from a religion.
Great thread and research ! Thankyou everyone.
A medical model of mental illness would probably not find that being a JWs causes mental illness. Brain disorders must occur randomly in the population. The genetic link is strong. I do believe certain temperaments are drawn to the Witnesses and other cults. I am amazed at the popularity of New Age relgions among the well educated. I do believe the cults rob you of resilience. People who are overly deferential are not as likely to see that they can affect their fate. Indeed, I see fatalism as very strong in my family. Life just happens. You are not an actor. There is little that you can do. Indeed, the world is always evils o why try. On the other hand, I miss the camraderie of Witnesses. The self righteous feeling. Things were so black and white then.