Lawrence Onoda, Ph.D., Jehovah's Witness Psychologist

by Maryo 19 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Maryo
    In about 1980 I came to know of and meet one time with Lawrence Onoda, Ph.D., a Jehovah's Witness psychologist [also I think elder] in Southern California. I was shocked to know there was such a thing in view of the WTS traditional stance against JWs consulting such a person! He had been one of JWs for six years at that time, I recall. He became a psychologist before becoming a JW. Upon meeting with him, he told me all of his patients were JWs. Also, that he was an advisor to the Watchtower Society. More shock. After some of the things we discussed, I wondered how anyone could think the WTS was God's channel. Does anyone out there know anything about him? I wonder if he has remained one of JWs ... 35 years later?
  • All for show
    All for show
    Yes. I know him. Have met and went to him. Along with most my family and group session for family. Crazy. He was great, but now, I don't understand how he believes at all.
  • Maryo
    When did you and your family see him? Do you have knowledge if he is still a witness until this day? I agree with you… I do not understand how he believes at all!
  • careful

    He was a professor at Cal State Northridge, but retired some years ago. His private practice was (is?) all JWs. He is not the only JW psychologist either, though they are rare. He was mentioned in some early posts on this forum, though they do not seem to have survived the transition to the new board here. Another Witness psychologist once told me that he and Onoda were backed up with Witness patients. Now why is that not surprising?

    As for him still being in, he puts faith in the org, and thus compartmentalizes his critical thinking ability. As a loyal one, he would not apply such thinking to the org. That would be playing into Satan's hands in his mind.

  • smiddy

    Another point to consider : Why cut off the hand that feeds you ?


  • AudeSapere

    He was an elder in my hall in Thousand Oaks (WLV / Conejo Hills Congregation) and my bookstudy conductor for quite a while.

    Last I heard, his wife moved out of state. Don't know if he went with her or remained in their Thousand Oaks home.

    He played a big role in my leaving the org as his apparent contradictory methods got me to see major flaws in JW proceedure.

    A friend of mine knew a young girl that was a victim of child sex abuse and wanted to help this young woman get the help she needed. So, looking for advise, my friend reported to Larry what the young teenager had told her. Larry was LIVID. He yelled at my friend because, in his paid professional capacity, he was a mandated reporter. However, if she had brought the matter to any other elder, they could deal with it on just a congregational level (or at least within the org). That's all I remember about what my friend told me about this conversation so I cannot elaborate any further.

    Same friend told me of another conversation with him... This friend was going to school to be an alcohol/drug counselor. She kindly went to him to discuss how to reconcile the direction to spurn advanced education AND psychotherapy versus the WTS direction to seek first the kingdom as 'more service' is the cure for all personal and emotional woes. If the 'cure' for depression is 'more service', then what is the benefit of (expensive) therapy? If therapy *does* help heal people, then why is the WTS so forceful in it's vilification of professional psychotherapy? And why does he remain in the field? She said he was agitated and openly avoided her after those conversations.

    LIke I said, it was one of the very first WTF moments for me. One that forced me to see cracks in the WTS fascade.

    I feel compelled to add, however, that he was always acted kind to me. Kind and thoughtful in helping me through some very difficult points in my life. (Was he misguided, deluded by a publishing company, or complicit with them and fleecing a beaten flock?? I many never know.)

    Those 'difficult things' completely disappeared shortly after I got up and walked out of the Kingdom Hall one Sunday, long, long ago.

  • Bonsai
    Now there is a lucrative job - a psychologist for JWs. You'll never run out of clients and they'll only keep increasing in droves from here on out. No wonder he couldn't leave.
  • cha ching
    cha ching

    Thx AudeSapere, that is an interesting insight... "Dang! Now I have to report it!"...... Not, "Ahhhh, poor child, how can I help?"

    Yes, it helps see the priorities the Borg has programmed into the loyal ones.

  • Maryo

    Very interesting, AudeSapere! Did your friend go on to become an alcohol/drug counselor? How does she feel about the "truth" now?

    More about me: learning about and meeting with Lawrence Onoda was why I disassociated from Jehovah's Witnesses. Here is the background: I was raised around Jehovah's Witnesses and became baptized when I was 14 (in 1966). As a child, I had experienced several molestation episodes by my stepfather (when I was seven years old) and later by my mother's boyfriends. I found life in general and sex in particular very confusing. When I was about 16, I was feeling very "depressed". One of my favorite songs was by Janis Ian "insanity comes quietly to the structured mind." And, I was sleeping a lot … sometimes like 16 hours a day. So, [being the resourceful person that I am], I located a County of Los Angeles counselor [a social service provided by the county for low-income people], called to make an appointment, and took the bus over to the appointment. There I met with a counselor, Mrs. Brown. I tried to explain to her what I had experienced. She said this had happened to many girls and was not so unusual. I found that reassuring. I believe there was a second appointment with her too … and plans for future appointments and more conversations about this. I felt somewhat better already. Before the next appointment, one of the elders (Charles Simonis of the Huntington Park congregation) came to make a shepherding call on my grandmother, with whom I was living at the time. I must have mentioned something about going to see a counselor. Brother Simonis said in no uncertain terms that going to worldly counselors was not for Christians. We had God's Word the Bible, and we did not need any worldly philosophy to help with our problems. I felt unhappy/distressed about this … but nevertheless telephoned Mrs. Brown to cancel our next appointment. I said that it was against my religion. [To be continued.]

  • AudeSapere

    Maryo asked: Did your friend go on to become an alcohol/drug counselor? How does she feel about the "truth" now?

    Fair question, but I'm not comfortable answering this in public and prefer to wait before responding at all. I hope you understand.


    There I met with a counselor, Mrs. Brown. ... I found that reassuring. ... I felt somewhat better already.

    I can sense your relief in these sentences and am saddened to hear that this glimmer of hope was crushed by a 'shephard' who should have been much more sensitive and sympathetic to your very real needs.

    As cult-free adults, we now see that these elders were poorly trained and had no business getting between a person and their (mental) health care provider. That was a bad, bad move - whether he was sincere and kind, or not.

    Looking forward to hearing more of your experience. Thank you for sharing as much as you already did.

    -Aude Sapere (meaning: Dare to Know; Dare to Have Wisdom/Understanding; Dare to Think for Yourself)

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