Psychology - Articles: Mental health of Jehovah's Witnesses

by AndersonsInfo 19 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • AndersonsInfo

    I'm curious. For the benefit of all, perhaps some who were psychology students in college and are posters on JWN (and anybody else for that matter) would like to comment on the somewhat controversial material I've posted here which was sent to my Face Book page. The short article below in English was originally in Italian and is Google translated. In this recent article, the Italian psychology student who wrote it points to an "... old article by John Spencer (psychiatrist) published in the '75 British Journal of Psychiatry , titled '"The mental health of Jehovah's Witnesses,"' which, the author said, "speaks for itself." Here's the link to Spencer's 1974 article: "

    After reading psychiatrist, John Spencer's old article, do you think his research is more or less relevant today?

    Do you agree with the Italian psychology student's thesis as follows?

    JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES MUST AGREE WITH THE PSYCHOLOGY? # 1 Diagnostic techniques considered contrary to the will of God

    April 21, 2012

    Scientific psychology is a discipline that goes far beyond psychoanalysis, which it has its own branch as a diagnostic and therapy for the treatment of neuroses.

    Jehovah's Witnesses, however, were thrown to the hilt against psychoanalysis, hypnosis and defining clearly the interpretation of dreams as methodologies in conflict with the will of God and related each to spiritualism and divination.

    But what exactly is hypnosis and dream interpretation?

    Hypnosis is a state of high suggestion that can be used to correct bad behavior and trends.

    The interpretation of dreams is a diagnostic technique based on the idea that the dream is a symbolic representation of instincts or fears related to the mechanism of free association, not predicting the future based on what you dream .

    Hypnosis is highly stigmatized by Jehovah's Witnesses, because of the belief that a suggestible mind is more likely to become the subject of demonic possession. In this regard, following this reasoning would be very dangerous to fall into depression, because the suggestion is typical of the depressed and even more dell'ansioso.

    But the witnesses did not speak of this. It 's interesting to note, however, statistics in hand, that the witness for the probability of slipping from depression to psychosis is about four times higher than among the general population. In this regard, point out an old article by John Spencer (psychiatrist) published in the '75 British Journal of Psychiatry , titled "The mental health of Jehovah's Witnesses," which speaks for itself.:

    We can then generalize: depression and its suggestion - in susceptible - this time can precede a psychotic episode.

    What can I say? The witnesses will be accused of psychotic spiritualism?

    Warning! This has happened several times!

    I TESTIMONI DI GEOVA VANNO D’ACCORDO CON LA PSICOLOGIA? #1 Tecniche diagnostiche considerate in contrasto con la volontà di Dio

    aprile 21, 2012 //

    La psicologia scientifica è una disciplina che va molto al di là della psicoanalisi, la quale ne è una sua branca come tecnica diagnostica e come terapia per la cura delle nevrosi.

    I testimoni di Geova, tuttavia, si sono scagliati a spada tratta contro la psicoanalisi, definendo apertamente l’ipnosi e l’interpretazione dei sogni come metodologie in contrasto con la volontà di Dio e relazionabili allo spiritismo e alla divinazione.

    Ma che cosa sono esattamente ipnosi e interpretazione dei sogni?

    L’ipnosi è una condizione di elevata suggestione che può essere utilizzata per correggere errati comportamenti e tendenze.

    L’interpretazione dei sogni è una tecnica diagnostica basata sull’idea che il sogno sia una rappresentazione simbolica di timori o pulsioni correlata al meccanismo delle libere associazioni, non si tratta di prevedere il futuro sulla base di ciò che si sogna.

    L’ipnosi è fortemente stigmatizzata dai testimoni di Geova, per via della credenza che una mente suggestionabile sia più incline a rendersi oggetto della possessione demonica. A questo proposito, seguendo tale ragionamento sarebbe assai pericoloso cadere in depressione, perchè la suggestione è tipica del depresso e ancor di più dell’ansioso.

    Ma di questo i testimoni non parlano. E’ tuttavia curioso osservare, dati statistici alla mano, che per il testimone la probabilità di scivolare dalla depressione alla psicosi è circa quattro volte superiore che fra la popolazione in generale. A questo proposito segnalo un vecchio articolo di John Spencer (psichiatra) pubblicato nel ’75 sul British Journal of Psychiatry, dal titolo “The mental health of Jehovah’s Witnesses”, che si commenta da solo.:

    Si può quindi generalizzare: la depressione e la relativa suggestione – nei soggetti predisposti – può tal volta precedere un episodio psicotico.

    Che dire? I testimoni psicotici verranno accusati di spiritismo?

    Attenzione! Questo è avvenuto più volte!

  • wasblind

    Thank you Barbara,

    By their " fruits cakes " you will know them

    the sane folks left this mess

  • ABibleStudent

    AndersonsInfo - After reading psychiatrist, John Spencer's old article, do you think his research is more or less relevant today?

    Hi Barbara, Thanks for the articles. Since the WTBTS has become more of a dangerous cult than it was back in the 1960's to 1970's, John Spencer's statistics might be a little on the low side as to the annual rate per 1000 JW population now. My feeling is that cognitive dissonance is greater in JWs today than ~ 40 years ago. To me both articles support what many JWN members believe that the WTBTS is harming JWs, and could be used to justify that the WTBTS is a dangerous cult.

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,


  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer


    I have published an article highlighting the 1975 study conducted by author John Spencer and published in The British Journal of Psychiatry. His findings are reason for great pause regarding the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And it not just him. One of Watchtower’s own appointed elders who is a licensed psychologist has also found an alarming frequency of mental health problems among Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    My article is titled Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mental Health and is available at:

    Marvin Shilmer

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    I think that hypnosis, dream interpretation, and psychoanalysis don't even begin to touch the true mentall illness of JWs. I think it goes far deeper, as JWs plant seeds of such a distorted worldview that grows and chokes out a person's true self, leaving nothing but a shell of the individual that would have been, at the very best. It is surprising that ANY JW is sane even in the most generous sense of the definition.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Very complex subject and most interesting. I would like to see more recent articles. It seems that extreme religosity and isolation are hall marks for mental instability. I don't think only Witnesses share this trait. Excessive relgiosity is a symptom of many illnesses, including studies of father rapists. The statistics for father rape are quite high in terms of religiosity. This shocked me when I first read it.

    I always wonder why with all the various denomin ations people consciously choose such harsh, unforgiving systems. It seems as tho they are masochistic.

    There must also be studies that negate this view.

  • Sunflower Samurai
    Sunflower Samurai

    "Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger, arising out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members - particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult - when the flood did not happen. While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to "put it down to experience", committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members). "

    attitude change cognitive dissonance

  • TheOldHippie

    The author of the original article is not particularly neutral from the start off, is he - he is not exactly on Jung's side, it seems he is more is a firm supporter of the Marxist view of religion as opium for the people. But that put aside, and the findings are as they are - just a question: I remember a discussion of this article around 1980, and there were some psychiatrists - among whom a priest (!) - that critizised the study and stated it was poor from a methodology point of view. That it was flawed. I do not remember the particulars, but remember there were some discussions about it. And it was also stated that the JWs in Western Australia were not respresentable of Australian JWs as a whole, because the young male JWs refusing military service were sent to isolated outposts or prisons in Western Australia and so suffered isolation for a longer period, resulting in mental problems. I repeat I am not trying to say the results tell something dofferent from what they do - but it sould have been interesting to see the tabulations or figures broken down by age and sex, and if the younger male group was predominant, the isolation because of imprisonment would be a contributing factor. That point of view, as I recall, was the major point of critisim against the study.

    Such a long time has elapsed sice the 70s that it probably is far-fetched to believe anyone else has a slight recollection of this, but there might be an oldtimer or two remembering it ................

  • TheOldHippie

    Faulty translation:

    "The witnesses will be accused of psychotic spiritualism?"

    This does not mean anything. It should be: "A psychotic witness accused of spiritualism (or possession)?"

    And then he goes on to say that this has happened many times. (With which I agree).

  • 00DAD


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