A concise list for my therapist...any suggestions?

by Straw Man 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • Straw Man
    Straw Man


    Been a lurker here for a long time. I am just now starting to deal with the issues from my witness upbringing. It's been about 10 years since I was df'd.

    Just recently I started to see a therapist and I am trying to get across the depth of the effects of growing up a witness. But she doesn't seem to understand how much it means to me or how totally my life is affected.

    In an attempt to help her understand I am giving her the pages for therapists off of Bonnie Ziemans site, which lists some of the treatment a person might experience while in a high control group, as well as the symptoms experienced by former members of these groups. The problem is that my therapist doesn't seem to know that the witness religion is a high control group or cult. I get the impression that she thinks its just a normal religion like any other.

    So my question is this: does anyone know of a concise list that shows a comparison between the characteristics of a cult and then gives a short blurb about how the witness religion fits each of these?

    I was hoping for something maybe a page long and not too in depth as this will be going in my file. I looked on here and a couple of other places and a lot of what I found was quotes from the watchtower etc. and they were very long and detailed. I was hoping for a short overview.

    My next appointment is July 24th and I hoped to have something for her by then.

    If anyone knows of anything like this I would be very grateful for the help. Thank You.

  • berrygerry


    People who have been subjected to manipulation, isolation and thought control in cults and who work up the courage to leave, do so with many psychological and emotional wounds. Many of them seek out therapy to help recover from the damaging after-effects. Unfortunately, cult victims often report that therapists just do not seem to 'get' all that they endured in the cult, and all the challenges they face now out of the cult. In fact, many cult victims abandon therapy, feeling that their therapist just did not understand the the degree to which they had been controlled, repressed, exploited and abused. Many recount that they felt their experience seemed to be discounted as something they just needed to put behind them. Due to the advent of the Internet and the easy access to information it provides, more and more cult members are discovering just how much they have been deceived, coerced and abused. As they make their exit from high-control groups, extremist religions and cults, a whole new psychotherapy client population is looking for help to recover their emotional well-being, intellectual independence and ability to function in the world outside of the cult. Since most psychologists and psychotherapists do not receive much, if any, instruction about cult dynamics and the destructive effects of such intrusive dynamics on cult members, therapists may be ill-equipped to truly understand and help this unique and growing client population. With this book, Bonnie Zieman, a former cult member, a recently retired psychotherapist, and the author of four other books on recovery from high-control abuse, provides a useful reference tool for therapists who need to inform themselves about cult abuse and its aftermath. This one-of-a-kind book offers a summary outline of typical cult controls and the probable resulting effects on those subjected to them. Therapists can use this book as a primer to bring themselves up to speed on the topic - until such time as they decide if they want to take more formal training in order to help former cult members reclaim their authentic self and rebuild a self-directed life.

  • AudeSapere

    StrawMan - Welcome to JWN. I hope you find the info and support you need and desire.

    Here are a couple of old threads that may help you with your succinct list:




    It's nice to have you with us. Please post more details of your journey when you can.

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

    PS: I think BerryGerry's suggestion for your therapist to get the cited book is a good one. You should not have to spend too much of your pricey therapy visit explaining all the details of why JWs are a cult. They are clearly a 'high-control group'.

  • AudeSapere
  • zeb

    Tell her about the wt policy of telling lies and not telling the truth-the whole truth- the policy is called

    theocratic warfare. Tell her the elder/high ups from the Sydney Branch Office denied knowing anything about it.

    This denial is on a par with senior Nazi officials saying they knew nothing of the planned holocaust.

    Your counselor has some reading to do.

    Suggest "The Gentile Times-Reconsidered." by Jonsson. Read this not to see doctrine but to see how the wt in NY treats anyone who says "This aint right."

    Tell her of the brothers from Ireland who flew to NY to speak with the gb re concerns of doctrine and organization and the gb refused to see them.

    Suggest strongly she view the ARC sections dealing with the wt. You should view it together and you can correct them when they misuse accepted terms.

    Tell her to look up Barbara Anderson and the site jw victims.org

    Best wishes.

  • Giordano

    Here's a site that identifies what an ex witness can experience.

    Religious Trauma Syndrome, a PhD raised in a high control religion (Maybe a JW) who feels that therapists are misdiagnosing what an ex JW experiences.


    Part 1: RTS – It’s Time To Recognize It

  • wallsofjericho

    I’ve really been around the block with this religion and am very self aware in my midlife

    JW or not, it’s usually the parents that screw up the kids. Yes the religion plays a part obviously, but non-JW parents screw kids up too

    no doubt the isolation experienced as a jw kid in school can have a lasting affect on ones self esteem.

    but as an adult I see so many non-jw adults with all kinds of similar problems and life struggles.

    No matter how we were raised, we have to find our own purpose in life whether or not it aligns with that of our family jw or not. Hopefully your therapist helps you start a new journey instead of rehashing a previous one

  • dubstepped

    If she's open to listening to things you could give her my podcast called This JW Life (thisjwlife.com). I made it in part to help outsiders understand what goes on in the cult. I'd say that episodes 4-7 really hit a lot of the psychology of what goes on, what is taught, etc., through the lens of my life and observations. I've received lots of good messages about it and from many on the outside that finally understand what we were up against. If nothing else, it might help you to listen to the podcast and to process some of your own stuff.

  • OnTheWayOut

    Try researching Steven Hassan's BITE method to identify dangerous mind-control cults.

    Here's a start:


  • Wild_Thing

    What OTWO said. The BITE model is the best way to measure whether a group is a cult or not.

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