Mental illness among JWs: cause or effect?

by kid-A 23 Replies latest jw friends

  • lucky


    My mom majored in religion before she converted. She was baptized when she was 26 or 27. She was living across the country from her family and lonely and not too happy with her marriage and pretty vulnerable. I think that she was really drawn to the "black and white" aspect of the witnesses. Thirty years later, she's still lonely and not happy with her marriage and is suffering from depression and anxiety as well.

  • Es

    I would say a bit of both, i know of many unstable people who have joined the religion only because they have finally felt welcomed in something....this tho causes many problems for elders down the track. But i know myself mines a result of being in the religion being brought up a JW. As i have only been like this since i left. es

  • Ingenuous

    From Apocalypse Delayed by M. James Penton:

    ... As with many missionary-minded religions, they openly boast that they attract individuals who have suffered severe social and psychological deprivation and those who have been alcoholics and drug addicts. So it is not surprising that some of those persons bring the effects of their old problems into the Witness community....
    In addition, there are factors characteristic of Witness life itself which undoubtedly bring about a degree of mental illness. Zealous pioneers have on many occasions sacrificed both their physical and mental health out of a spirit of devotion. The Christian doctrine of self-sacrifice, admirable as it no doubt may be, causes some serious mental stress among the most devout Witnesss of Jehovah. At the same time, attitudes of super-pietism also have a detrimental effect on some of the persons manifesting them or, additionally, on a number of those who are objects of their 'over-righteousness.'
    All this is well-known to the governing body of Jehovah's Witnesses. Over the last decade a number of Witness lawyers, physicians, and other professionals have held annual closed meetings with representatives of the governing body to discuss legal and medical questions.... Dr. Lawrence Onda, a California psychologist...: "I would like to consider another reason why Jehovah's people have mental problems, but I want to be cautious that some do not misunderstand the following statements. I have tremendous love, respect, and devotion for Jehovah's true organization, but it can contribute to or accelerate an existing problem rather than making it better. What Biblical teaching contributes to making a problem worse? It is guilt. Jehovah's people are confronted with a higher standard and thus have greater psychological pressure. The 'world' says, if it makes you feel guilty, get rid of it. But we have to maintain the high level of Christian conduct in our families, daily lives and personalities. We cannot think a wrong thought without feeling guilty. If the Witness becomes unbalanced, he/she may become overly despondent and feel like a failure because perfection cannot be attained in mind, body and thought. In essence, some of the 'Friends' try so hard to please Jehovah that they become mentally ill.

    Notice the interesting statement about "super-pietism" having a detrimental effect on those on the recieving end.

    Also interesting is how Brother Onda has to carefully qualify his statements so he isn't accused of criticising the Org and how he describes "guilt" as a "Biblical teaching."

  • stillajwexelder

    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?

    BOTH - definitely both are factors

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