This vs That
Wow.. a serious post from Animal... who woulda thought....
Anyhow, we discussed something last weekend that needs more discussion. It involves people born into the JW Cult versus those that made an adult decision to join it.
My thoughts were:
Anyone NOT born into the cult have no idea of the mental anguish involved in being brainwashed, from birth, with all the cultisms. Many cannot shake those thoughts, or it takes a long time to shake it. They are raised to believe they will die when the "end" comes, sorta like being raised to believe the shy is black at night.
Those that found the JW's later in life (as adults) and made a choice to live the lifestyle have a different set of issues. They actually studied and made the choice to work hard for the cult.
Now, both types of people are out of the cult. They share info and ask questions, but many times they just dont get it.... how the other person thinks or feels, or how they may react, or how they believe something. This many times leads to inpenitrable walls of defense coming up during a discussion or debate, and stops everyone from continueing.
It all made sense to us. What about you?
Good observations. I would say, though, that all we ever have are ideas of what someone else has gone through in their life, even for those who were raised in the religion each experience is different from another individuals, it's all a matter of degree.
This has been discussed before, but I think maybe I can sum it up this way: I don't have to fully understand your experience to consider you a friend, can you say the same? If we can get past this, what need is there for defense? (provided we don't throw out judgements and stuff like that)
I know this is wrong but ...
I think it is different. I know I only have my own experience and point of view (which is being brought up in it) but why, oh why, don't people check into things more?!
I know there is more to it than that - people being taken advantage of at low points and a compelling message slickly presented but there's a bit of me that thinks "it's not fair, I never had a chance" and jealous of the people that did but also annoyed that they still fell for it.
Maybe it's to do with my own feelings having been brought up in it since birth and uneasy about my parents or grandparents 'joining' it.
Of course, the information was not so freely available as it is now and I probably take for granted being able to research things on the Internet (hell, people go to google before they buy a fridge now ... surely they must do a search before signing up their life to a religion?!)
Hi Animal! Great Post!
I think about this often. I was raised born a JW. Even though I have my doubts, I really am scared to think that I will die at Armegeddon for questioning these beliefs. This is what we have all been taught from the time we can remember. It is definately hard to shake these ideas and more importantly some or most of us are too scared to. There is always that question in the back of our minds "would if they are right? Would if this Organization really has the truth?" . I don't think people who become JW's later in their lives really get this. Maybe some do. For the most part though, I think they only understand a little more than a person who was never a JW. And of course, I am sure there are exceptions.
I agree that people with different backgrounds have different issues to face, but I would not say our differences are so vast that we cannot help each other. I am a never-been JW, but because of my much-loved one, still in, I am forced to deal daily with this dastardly organization.
I can relate on many levels because in the past I experienced manipulation, a mentally ill parent, and an abusive ex-husband. I can smell a rat, early on. The most hurtful thing an xJW told me (ages ago), is that they would have not opened up to me so much, if they had known I was a never-been. There are many parallels in my experience and those on the board. I do feel I have a lot to contribute. I do hope we do not categorize ourselves so finely that we cannot see how our common experience helps us to understand and help each other.
Animal, wonderful post, lots of great points. I know from my stand point being a raised JW, you are so right about the mind control issues. Even when we leave,,,,,,it is damn hard to shake those feelings, and I think it may take me many more years to feel somewhat normal. I can't say for sure, being that we have only been out a year,,,,,,,,but I think we will do ok, it will just take time. I personally have childhood issues that may and may not have to do with my parents being JW, so it all really formed my personality. Which is sad to say,,,,,,my emotional makeup ,,,,,,, is one of doubt,fear, paranoia, and just not sure of my own choices. It is scarey to walk into the real world, and try to make the right choices, it is like I am stunted on maturity in this area. But it is all worth it to be free and I don't have to answer to anyone anymore, so my mistakes I make now,,,,,,well , I chaulk them up to growing pains, life experieces. I at least am learning and growing, so it is better than being brain dead as a JW, and my life is 100% better for it.
I feel I would never have joined the JWs as an adult. But being raised in it practically from birth, I had three decades of brainwashing before a stubborn Bible study debated with me long enough to where I was finally forced to look at the *entire* history of the Watchtower. If he hadn't pushed so hard for me to look at the material he brought, and if I wasn't so convinced I had the truth and had nothing to fear, I may very well be "stuck" in the JWs still.
The people I witnessed becoming JWs as adults struck me as having similar characteristics that were negative. But look at how many people believe pro wrestling on TV is real, or that faith healers on TV are real, or spend money calling the psychic hotlines.
The adult JWs I know that have heard "both sides of the story", as it were, stay because they are too psychologically overwhelmed to accept that possibly they have believed a lie for so long. That and/or they have family ties which would be too much for them to lose. Calm patiently-explained logic makes rank and file JWs, elders and Watchtower officials angry and accusatory to the point of shouting, or panicky and too fearful to continue the conversation or prove their point. At least that is my experience.
Everyone is different. We all come from different backgrounds. Two children could be raised by the same parents and view their upbringing in a totally different way. A "born in the truth" JW has a different vantage point than a person that accepted the beliefs of JW's later in life.In the case where both are out of the organization, one person's issue might not be another's, or, it might. For example, a person that cannot talk to their own flesh and blood because they have been disfellowshipped, feels the same pain whether or not they were born in the religion or not. But in a different situation, a 3rd generation Witness may have never known what it was like to have a "worldly" friend. If all they ever knew was the JW community, they might not be able to fully relate to a person that complains that their "worldly" in-law said "this or that". In view of our different backgrounds we should all strive to get along with one another in "love".
JG... no one said anything about divisions, and the post was not meant to be divisive. My point is to learn that each person has a different way of thinking things thru, vs those that react without thinking due to the brainwashing as children. Personally, I think it is a major difference in the thought process and the interaction process. Plus, I do think that non-JW's will never fully understand it no matter what. Am I wrong, maybe. Maybe not. That doesnt matter, all that matters is that all of us understand and get past it all.
I have not been around a JW-type for about 30 years until this last weekend. The discussions, especially with the ex-elders, were not only interesting but opened thoughts I hadnt thought of for years. This was just one of them.
A couple of things come to mind for me. The first is that the thought that other people can't understand you (regardless of the issue) exists in your own mind, doesn't it? Whatever understanding they actually have exists in theirs, and unless we're psychic or something then it just follows that we don't know exactly what that is. As for what it is like, the depth of the emotional experience and such, I won't ever say that I fully understand what someone else has gone through, I just don't know. But there is a difference between seeking to understand and seeking to be understood, even if my understanding is limited in some way I would be interested to have a better understanding. If someone is willing to talk to me about it, I can only assume they atleast don't believe that it is impossible for me to gain a better understanding.
This gets into my second thought, which is that I'm more interested in possibly helping you to get past it than to understand the problems which you may have. Of course having insight into the situation always helps and to that end I would be interested in having a better understanding, but the point is it's possible to help even if you haven't been in that same situation. A lot of us here consider psychotherapy helpful, of course we think it's more helpful with one that's been a witness, and I guess for some even more so if the therapist was raised as a JW. Now suppose you know a therapist who was raised a witness, but someone who's still dealing with those issues himself - he's still suffering from it as much as you are. Compare this with someone who was a witness but not raised as one, but they have moved on and have a happy life - which would you choose? I mean, if the first witness flat out tells you that "I haven't got this thing figured out" - whereas the other one finds evidence that he can help you and is living a free life, why would you go to the first? Now obviously I'm not saying people who are raised as witnesses can't get past certain things - I know of a therapist who was raised as a JW actually - but the point is there is a difference between being with someone who understands, and being with someone who can help. The two are not mutually exclusive of course, but the question is: Which are you more interested in?
By the way, if you've decided you've gotten as far as you can with this and so you're not interested in help, I say okay. I don't say this to be some kind of exJW saint or something, that's why I said 'possibly help.' But besides that, we all just make up our own minds about stuff. You can tell me "Intro, I think you're full of shit" and I couldn't get too worked up about it, because even if I do try to explain myself ultimately it's just what you think, it just so happens it's a negative thought about me. All we can do is throw the ideas out there, everyone else will think whatever they think about it.