Spiritual "Protection" - a Menace on Psychological Development

by Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho 56 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • jp1692


    Thank you for starting this very thoughtfully written thread on such an important topic, one which is really relevant for us that have left the cult. Really, anyone that has left any cult will likely go through a similar process.

    The trauma of realizing that our entire belief system was a fraud is profound and can lead to a total psychological break. Then -- just when we are at our weakest and need support the most -- we are also usually abandoned by everyone we love.

    The betrayal is profound. It is deep.

    The mental, emotional and psychological damage can be long-lasting. Many, maybe even most, of us fail to seek appropriate help from mental health professionals, usually due to the indoctrinated fear of talking to them. (The cult's effects are strong and pernicious.)

    I completely agree with you that, as part of our healing process, we need to develop our critical thinking abilities.

    This is something which I have given much thought to and devoted a great deal of time to researching. Coincidentally, I wrote about this very subject just a couple of days ago in another thread here and again here.

    People often talk about "critical thinking skills" as if they were a single set of tools that one can acquire, learn how to use and then apply universally to any and all situations. Unfortunately that is not the case and it is important that we understand and accept that if we are to be able to learn how to think critically. 

    Thinking critically is really a way of thinking -- a mindset or an approach to how we attempt to understand things and solve problems. It is NOT simply a set of skills such as learning to identify logical fallacies.

    The particular skills or techniques we learn and employ are almost always content or subject specific. What that means is that the kind of thinking we learn to use in one area (such as chemistry or geometry) is not readily transferable to other areas (such as historical analysis or argumentation). Learning to balance an equation for the combustion of methane will NOT help you identify logical fallacies in rhetorical discourse.

    There are certain specific skills that will help us learn to untangle the knots the bound us in the cult indoctrination. Some have already touched on a few of these such as learning to recognize logical fallacies and other rhetorical methods of propaganda and manipulation. We can and should learn these and learn them well. 

    We should also learn to develop our confidence. For us that have left a cult, simply learning to ask questions -- good, well-thought out and clearly formulated questions -- is a big and important step.

    In your OP you wrote that we "have been groomed to possess inherently lazy thinking abilities." I would respectfully disagree and say it's actually much worse than that: we were actively discouraged from thinking. How many time were we told to "avoid independent thinking"? I know I lost count decades ago.

    Here's a typical quote from the first WT that came up in a Google search:

    In modern times, a very small number among God’s people have become disgruntled with some aspect of Christian teaching and have murmured against the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization. Why does this happen? Such murmuring is often caused by a lack of understanding of God’s way of doing things. The Creator progressively reveals the truth to his people. Hence, our understanding of the Scriptures is bound to be refined from time to time. The vast majority of Jehovah’s people rejoice over such refinements. A few become “righteous overmuch” and resent the changes. (Ecclesiastes 7:16) Pride may play a role, and some fall into the trap of independent thinking. Whatever the reason, such murmuring is hazardous, since it can draw us back into the world and its ways. - [Emphasis added] -(Watchtower, July 15, 2006, pp. 19-23)

    You were much closer to the mark when you commented that our "Intellectual responsibility is frequently delegated" and our "thinking skills are outsourced." This is so true.

    We need to reclaim our intellectual responsibilities and no longer let anyone else do our thinking for us. For many of us that can be a scary process. But it is something that we all can learn to do and learn to do well.

    It takes time, it takes effort, but it can be done. In fact, it must be done if we are to fully recover from the trauma of being in a cult.

    Thank you again for taking the time to write this thread and start this discussion. It has been a pleasure to see how much you have grown in the time you've participated in this forum. When you first joined you were a weak and very scared little girl that was completely unsure of herself and didn't know what to do. You are now a strong, determined, and obviously very intelligent and confident young woman.


  • stuckinarut2

    You make some great points JP.

    Thanks for your input on this thread.

    It is thread discussions like this that make this forum a refreshing and mentally stimulating place to hang out together!

  • Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho
    Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    @jp1692: "we were actively discouraged from thinking."

    Total light bulb moment for me. We were NEVER THINKING as fully fledged Witnesses! That is the scariest thing I've just come to terms with. And the most shocking part is that it's dressed up as a badge of honor to be so "humble" and babe-like. The amount of Jehovah's Witnesses I have encountered (either by feigning interest as a worldly person, or trying to stir some thoughts in the otherwise thoughtless minds of my former congregants) who recoiled at the idea of even attempting to understand WT's scriptural ambiguities and doctrinal disasters! It's unbelievable. ALL of these Witnesses, who haven't even met one another, used the same backhanded slur against me: Jehovah doesn't favor the wise and intellectuals. Just the mere hint of an inquisitive mind was something that actually repulsed them enough to look down on me in disgust. Ironic since haughtiness and pride is what they associate with the "intellectuals". Yet I could see their stupidity just brimming with unfounded arrogance.

    You also wrote: "It has been a pleasure to see how much you have grown in the time you've participated in this forum... You are now a strong, determined... young woman."

    @jp1692 You were one of the first people to reach out to me via PM on here and I've never forgotten our exchanges. When you first started commenting on my introductory thread, I was quaking in my boots because I thought the "JP" stood for James Penton and I was dealing with a knowledgeable heavyweight. Turns out, you're a knowledgeable heavyweight who happens to be named John Proctor. It's an absolute honor to have grown under your watch and guidance on this forum.

  • jp1692

    Wake-me: You were one of the first people to reach out to me via PM on here and I've never forgotten our exchanges.

    Nor have I.

    I just took a look at your introductory post again. Do you remember writing this about a year ago?

    Look how much you've changed in a relatively short period of time! I am very proud of you. You show what can be done in reclaiming our lives once we leave the cult. No one can continue to make us feel weak or bad about ourself without our permission. And we're not going to give it to them ever again. Never again.

    You're no longer a "feeble nobody," a "toddler with a water pistol," you're a bad-ass women that can take care of herself. A real force of nature.

    I said it then, but it bears repeating: It takes courage to live an authentic life. But it is worth it. Once you've awaken, there's no going back.

    Well done!

  • Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho
    Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho

    @Wake Me Up Before You Jo-Ho: "...threatening [the elders] with legal action will make me feel like a toddler going head-to-head with an armed bank robber, threatening to fire a water pistol at them."

    *CRINGE* I can't believe it was me who wrote that! Well, I guess it really was someone else who was writing those words a year ago: my cult persona. Thanks for that awkward, albeit empowering, throwback, @jp1692.

    @jp1692: "...you're a bad-ass woman that can take care of herself. A real force of nature."

    *Bows* Thank you, senei.

  • stillin

    Very nice set of thoughts. Thanks for getting them out for me. I like what one poster said about success being our best revenge. Not "success" in any particular way, but success at being the person who we are rather than being on auto-pilot all of the time.

  • stuckinarut2

    I love reading these interactions!

    It shows the genuine and sincere support we all have for one another.

  • AllTimeJeff

    Read this earlier today and have been chewing on it a lot.... The following is just random stream of consciousness stuff...

    I came on this forum when I left in 2006. Posted a bunch of stuff and opinions, most of which I still have, some thoughts and opinions have evolved. It is necessary. Of all the things that have turned the internet into a cess pool these days, the fact I had two forums (this was one of them) to just say shit and work stuff out was huge. I have a mind of my own in large part because I could express it for the first time here.

    I posted once on how they took away our first names. You know, that pesky thing that was replaced by "brother" or "sister". You could literally spend an entire weekend at a CA/DC and just call everyone "brother/sister". Then get that same damn thing back. Each time, chipping away at what is you.

    It matters to me more in some respects then it did just because I am now capable of owning me, if I care to. If my JW experience didn't give me such superpower skills as hiding who I really am, getting people to think I am something I am not, being able to parry, duck, dodge, and dive out of the way of the shadow of my own potential legacy.

    It's a sad fact that this world IS predatory if you come from certain places. It can be a great place if you come from different places. I was a born in JW, so owning Apple wasn't in the cards for me. However, I refused to give into anger at first. Didn't want to do the self destructive thing. But I learned I had to feel and express the anger, grief and loss. I had to learn to not be ashamed of where I came from. And sometimes, I still am.

    Let me repeat that last part on shame, because it IS important if you are reading this: Shame is a HUGE tool, a control tool, of the Governing Body. Ashamed of your thoughts and opinions. Ashamed you had an original thought at all. Ashamed that you have a dream, a talent you know you can express and give. Ashamed of your sexuality. Ashamed that you disagree. Yeah, shame. Take a breath, and dig in on that. You'll need to deal with it.

    I had my post traumatic moment when my grandfather died a few years ago, an elder for over 50 years. I hadn't been in a KH since I sent in my resignation letter. And I sat in the front row, after being ignored by my "in" family. And the funeral talk started. And then I couldn't breathe. Couldn't even move. No moisture in my mouth. I felt paralyzed by fear. ME. Who had worked so hard for them to have no claim over me. And boy, did they f*cking have it. For 10 minutes I sat there. Stuck in a bad science fiction stun ray, unable to move. Finally, I got enough composure, started to breathe, and walked out before they sang a damn "song".

    I think this post is important because the world is tough, and you have to fight through. And you need people most of the time. Somehow. And it isn't a guarantee that you'll find someone when you leave. Ironically, you'll need "faith" that someone, or something, will help you along.

    Not everyone has the same resources, but get help. And if you are having issues, and the answer from some on this forum seems to be an overly simplistic "get professional help", get it. I wish I had the reserves to help more. I do enough for me. I hope to heal enough one day to help more people here or somewhere if I Can.

    By the way, great post.This one rocks.

  • jp1692

    Wake-me: Thank you, senei.

    You're welcome! But in all honesty, I merely saw in you what was always there, and I just helped you see it for yourself.

    BTW, I'm really loving the way you're "paying it forward" of late. This is how it should be done.

    What is that picture from? It looks like Rachel McAdams, but I can't place it.


  • jp1692

    ATJ, great post. Really, really thoughtful.

    I too, many years ago, have had the experience of an indoctrinated phobia paralyzing me when I returned to a KH after thinking I'd got it all worked out.

    The trauma that the cult experience wreaks on our psyche is profound. It seems that it is worse for some of us than others, but it is never good.

    Thank you for your encouragement to seek professional help if we aren't coping on our own. From my own experience and the anecdotal accounts of the few that have shared with me theirs, it doesn't seem like we need a long, protracted series of therapy sessions that never end. But most of us need something more than we can do on our own.

    I have always appreciate your posts and (in case I've never said it before) you were one of the ones that helped me when I began posting here years ago.


Share this