Dysfunction and Denial: Faith on Auto-Pilot

by jeanniebeanz 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • jeanniebeanz

    I recently picked up a book that I have seen on the shelves for some time but never really paid it much attention until today. What can I say, it was on sale.

    The title is, "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood, and it is essentially aimed at getting women who bounce from bad relationships to worse to see the root causes which are responsible for their poor choices in men.

    One paragraph that dealt with denial of extreme behaviors in the home (alcoholism, abuse, and abandonment) leapt out at me. It summed up my experience with witness families in their approach to issues with their faith:

    "In a dysfunctional family there is always a shared denial of reality. No matter how serious the problems are, the family does not become dysfunctional unless there is denial operating. Further, should any family member attempt to break through this denial by, for instance, describing the family situation in accurate terms, the rest of the family will usually strongly resist that perception. Often ridicule will be used to bring that person back into line, or failing that, the renegade family member will be excluded from the circle of acceptance, affection, and activity."

    This paragraph stunned me in its similarity to how witnesses treat those who try to point out any issues with the Society. We are ridiculed in an attempt to make us tow the line, and if that fails we are denied acceptance, affection and interaction or activity. When you look at it in this light, the entire organization is one big miserable dysfunctional family, bent on protecting the Society at all costs.

    The writer goes on to say that no one using the defense mechanism of denial makes any kind of conscious decision to tune out facts. Instead, "It all just happens, as the ego in its struggle to provide protection from overwhelming conflicts, burdens, and fears, cancels out information and input that is too troublesome."

    For any of us, who have tried to talk with our families on our reasons for leaving the WTBTS, this sounds very familiar.


  • bikerchic
    "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood

    I have that book, bought it years ago. I thought it was a diet book......misread the title...."Women Who Love To Munch".............sigh.

    When you look at it in this light, the entire organization is one big miserable dysfunctional family, bent on protecting the Society at all costs.


    The WTS is the personification of a dysfunctional system glorified to the highest extreme and worshiped by dysfunctional disciples everywhere, any time and any place world wide in the name of love ....whew I think I covered all the bases. Yep by the time I figured this out it was a no brainer to leave.

  • the_classicist
    I thought it was a diet book......misread the title...."Women Who Love To Munch".............sigh.

    Or perhaps its an exercise book...

  • bikerchic
    Or perhaps its an exercise book...

  • willyloman

    Brilliant observation. I think it was Wayne Dyer who said, "The more you change the way you look at things, the more the things you look at change." Chances are you'd have read this book years ago and not "seen" the message, but now it's clear.

  • blondie

    Good book. I grew up in an abusive, alcoholic family and denial is the name of the game and it is a reflex action. People are comfortable with their unreality and if you don't play the game, they try hard to get you back on track or it's out you go.

    It's the old the Emperor has no Clothes.

    Often I say on this board that JWs live in the Land of Denial. That is the only way the can cope with the cognitive dissonance they see every day. They need their illusions or how could they stay.


  • jeanniebeanz

    Yes, there have been some eye opening stories in the book so far, and many of the women who end up with first class losers do so because they are making subconscious efforts to fix things that were wrong growing up.

    Coming from a family where mom was a dysfunctional loonie and dad was always gone, I saw many of the abuse patterns identified in the book. Denial that the witness faith was a drain on the family, older sisters stepping in and becoming 'mom' when the real mom couldn't face the reality that she didn't want to be a witness and get help, dad turning his attention to the older daughters rather than his wife, everyone denying there was a problem. it's just so bizaare.

    If you substitute the witness faith for alcohol, the cycles that are described in the alcoholic family are almost identical. Sadly, the way that we cope with this past as adult women is also identical. I highly recommend the book.


  • Markfromcali

    I remember hearing about the book from someone studying who was living with a worldly woman. (walking down the street.. worldly - oh sorry) She actually recommended the book to him. I guess what it comes down to is this sticky, codependent dynamic regardless of which side the individual is on.

    It seems to me this can exist in different degrees. After all, why do people have a hard time with family and friends who are still in? Sometimes there is an open dialogue, but it comes down to wanting to maintain contact with them doesn't it? Now I'm not talking about just not rocking the boat, but if the little WTS rules is governing how you relate to your loved ones indirectly, you are still under that influence. In one situation it is serving the relationship between the JW and the WTS, in the other it is serving the relationship between you and the JW loved one, in both cases there is a degree of enmeshment.

  • tetrapod.sapien

    ya, good post jeannie,

    my mom had that book for years too. it's weird how she could so easily apply it to being a woman, but not to being a cult drone-clone.

  • hamsterbait


    Yes - I remember that book it was one of two or three that made me see the dynamics of JWs.

    The other one was "The Adult Children of Alcoholics" (can't remember author - but again the whole process of denial and pretense.)

    Lastly "What do you say after you say hello?" by Eric Bern - I saw how phoney and game ridden the interactions in WTS are.

    I wanted to be real. I wanted to be ME.


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