The Repression and Expression of Anger Among Jehovah's Witnesses

by john.prestor 18 Replies latest jw experiences

  • john.prestor

    Something which I always found surprising when I attended the Kingdom Halls I studied was how angry, even vicious, many Jehovah's Witnesses could become when a Watchtower Study featured some persons and/or institutions the organization disapproved of, say, higher education and educators, Christendom and its clergy, apostates, etc. Many seemed to sadistically enjoy denigrating these persons or institutions when the Watchtower Study Conductor called on them and they were handed a microphone. I wondered for a long time where this anger came from, and I've developed a hypothesis for explaining this.

    According to a book I'm reading by Alice Miller called "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence," children who are strictly controlled and abused (whether emotionally or physically) typically go on to unleash the anger they inevitably felt at their parents, but were never allowed to express, at their children or those around them. In part children cannot express this anger and it remains unconscious because they were taught to perceive their parents as "loving" and as such it was unthinkable to become angry at their parents no matter what cruelty they inflicted upon them. Adults, she argues, have a greater capacity to feel and/or express anger at those who abuse them because, being adults, they can more easily resist or process what's being done to them and deem it or the persons responsible wrong, evil, unethical, etc.

    Consider this: although many Jehovah's Witnesses are in fact adults, like children, Jehovah's Witnesses are not permitted to question the Governing Body and its pervasive attempts to micro-manage their lives and deny them natural pleasures (sex, relaxation, interpersonal connection, love, acceptance, respect, community). Instead, the organization tells Jehovah's Witnesses that the Governing Body is composed of "loving," well-intentioned men who want nothing but the best for them. Jehovah's Witnesses are certainly not allowed to criticize the Governing Body and, if such criticism is detected whether in the public or private sphere, the organization instructs Jehovah's Witnesses to shun and shame them. As such, I propose that many Jehovah's Witnesses will unconsciously experience anger at the Governing Body's micro-management and rather disturbing efforts to control and corral them but will not be able to experience their anger and direct it at the true source of their pain and suffering: the Governing Body, not Christendom, not educators, not apostates. But, of course, these entities make excellent scapegoats upon which Jehovah's Witnesses heap the anger they should feel towards the Governing Body. My conclusions seem confirmed by the fact that many ex-Witnesses on this site express or have expressed, quite naturally and understandably, anger at the Governing Body.

    My hypothesis, then, is this: I believe the anger and viciousness I saw Jehovah's Witnesses express in many Watchtower Studies were expressions of the unconscious anger many inevitably felt and doubtlessly still feel about being denied what they naturally want by the Governing Body, what they ought and deserve to have: love, respect, acceptance, sexual pleasure, community, and so much more.

  • ttdtt

    I agree completely.

    I can tell you I have seen many elders act so cruel to those they were supposed to protect. They live these lives where they control nothing and have been deprived of so much.

    Well, the one thing they can control is the lives of the sheep. Love and understanding and forgiveness got set aside because of the frustration and anger that lives deep inside them, and they took it out on the sheep who needed love and care. Thus I saw how elders instead of showing understanding and mercy for a young sister who - dared to have sex - and then felt so guilty she confessed, called horrible things. Called "hot to trot" and "a sexpot". And funny enough I know that they lusted after her.

    Frustration and anger in the hands of uneducated, power hungry, fearful men is a recipe for disaster and much pain.

    I could go on and on with what I hated when I was an elder.

    Oh, and by the way, I was not immune to these feelings and actions.

  • zeb

    There was a time when it was popular in the wt to bag all levels of education..

    I mentioned an account by an irate mother in the press, who said

    "My son has reached 13 and he cant read or write properly (complain complain complain)."

    I quoted this in the hall during the wt and suggested if this is the case in your family go look in your mirror for the reason.

    This went down like a lead balloon; the silence was deafening....

  • smiddy3

    How can a home schooled child by Jehovah`s Witness parents who have never progressed from a basic education themselves because of their own J.W.parents and who don`t believe in higher education themselves give their own child a good education .?

    It`s an improbability bordering on the impossibility .

  • ctrwtf

    I agree with the OP. So many wits are unbelievably cruel especially when speaking or acting when they think no one is looking.

    I suppose that this behavior pales when compared to the overall teaching that everyone you hate is going to be destroyed and soon. Not very Christian at all.

  • Vidiot
    john.prestor - "...apostates... make excellent scapegoats upon which Jehovah's Witnesses heap the anger they should feel towards the Governing Body..."

    I'd never thought of that before, but I think you may really be onto something there.

  • Vidiot
    ttdtt - "I could go on and on with what I hated when I was an elder."

    I'm sure you could write a book.

    And you wouldn't be the first.

  • EverApostate

    When I was in, I was terrible angry over Chrsitendom for taking off Gods Name from the Bible. Was angry over people who celebrate Birthdays and Christmas. Such a Dumber.

    Its all a result of the hate Propaganda by WT, that starts right from their Bible Study

  • Vidiot

    @ EverApostate...

    Sound almost exactly like the Big-Brother-mandated hostility the characters were required to feel and display towards the state's enemies in Orwell's 1984.

  • john.prestor

    That thought certainly came to mind, Vidiot. Two Minutes Hate, anyone?

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