Mental illness among JWs: cause or effect?

by kid-A 23 Replies latest jw friends

  • kid-A

    There is compelling, published evidence (see link below) to suggest higher rates of mental illness among JWs compared to other religious sects, and the general population. What is your opinion, is this because people with "susceptibility" to mental illness are more likely to be attracted to the lifestyle and psychology of the WTS, or after joining and being an active member for years, the JW psychology and lifestyle are simply enough to push any psychologically healthy individual into psychopathology?

  • Bryan

    It's a good piece by Dr. Bergman.

    My theropist says these people are attracted to the type of life structure the Tower offers.


    Have You Seen My Mother

  • daystar


  • sonnyboy

    Maybe someone has to be slightly mentally ill to join up (or at least stick around) in the first place?

    I knew many mentally challenged people at the hall, but most were like that before they joined. Many people join because they hope to be 'cured' in the new system and finally live a normal life.

    My cousin has MD, and all his mother talks about is how Josh will be able to walk after Armageddon. It's sad when people are so desperate that they'll believe anything to get their hopes up.

  • kid-A

    Thats an interesting point, perhaps the WTS serves as a form of 'self-medication' for these people.

  • M.J.

    I think the answer is both. But that's not to say that there aren't a whole lot of perfectly 'normal' people who join.

    But I can see how it would be a cause, as demonstrated by someone I know of. He was raised in a heavily strict and guilt-laden JW household. He's got real mental issues which is deteriorating his marriage and was forced to go to therapy. His issues have been attributed to the environment in which he was raised.

  • lucky

    My mom and my aunt are identical twins. My mom has been a witness for most of her adult life. My aunt is not and has never been a witness, although she is deeply religious. They both have some fairly serious, although slightly different, mental problems. The twins were not raised in a religious household, but both chose to major in religion in college and they have both chosen to lead very religious, although different, lives. I think there is an inherent personality trait that attracted them to religion.

    I think it's a whole different story for those who were raised in the truth, though. I think I'm inherently unreligious and now I'm stuck with all this mental baggage leftover from 24 years of brainwashing.

  • BrendaCloutier

    Lucky, I'm in a similar life-raft....Born-raised in. Left at 19-20.

    However, I have inherited my mental illness and alcoholism, it was compounded by the JWism and their not acknowledging either as illness, instead as either moral issues or demonism.

    I can see how JWism can be compelling to either the lonely, or the mentally unstable providing stability and hope.

  • Will Power
    Will Power

    is it easier to convert someone with an affliction or handicap for the reason? that WT hope?

    many handicaps are invisible.
    and come in all kinds of dressed up pkgs.

    they prey on the vulnerable.

  • hillbilly

    Both. Bergman's work is kinda old... and a few folks have questioned his methodology and data.

    That being said I think any one who has hung around JW's for awhile will see that the general trends Bergman describes are spot on.


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