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Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Blog: OTD Stories

There's a new kid on the block: A blog that aims to publish interviews with OTD people called OTD Stories. Check it out here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Religious Trauma Syndrome

I vividly remember the day that I bought a non-kosher, milchig sandwich to work. I was just getting used to buy my own, non-kosher, stuff. But I was still anxious.

As I was eating the sandwich, I heard a voice that was similar to the only frum Jew in the company who usually doesn't leave his chair.

I almost got a heart attack. I got such a shock, that my heart was raging.

This fear, despite the knowledge that I didn't believe anymore and therefore kashrut was not an issue for me anymore, shows that leaving religion is not a benign thing.

Marlene Winell, Ph.D. is the author of the highly praised book Leaving The Fold. In this book, she describes the psychological process of 'Leaving the Fold'. In her book, she describes the phenomenon of RTS: Religion Trauma Syndrome. She also has an excellent series of articles about RTS on her site journeyfree.org.

Below, I posted the beginning of the article called Part 1: RTS: It's Time to Recognize It
"I’m really struggling and am desperate never to go back to the religion I was raised in, but I no longer want to live in fear or depression.  It seems that I am walking through the jungle alone with my machete; no one to share my crazy and sometimes scary thoughts with.
After years of depression, anxiety, anger, and finally a week in a psychiatric hospital a year ago, I am now trying to pick up the pieces and put them together into something that makes sense.  I’m confused.  My whole identity is a shredded, tangled mess.  I am in utter turmoil."
These comments are not unusual for people suffering with Religious Trauma Syndrome, or RTS.  Religious trauma?  Isn’t religion supposed to be helpful, or at least benign?  In the case of fundamentalist beliefs, people expect that choosing to leave a childhood faith is like giving up Santa Claus – a little sad but basically a matter of growing up.
But religious indoctrination can be hugely damaging, and making the break from an authoritarian kind of religion can definitely be traumatic. It involves a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, the future, everything. People unfamiliar with it, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create and the recovery needed.

Read it all:
Part 1: RTS – It’s Time To Recognize It
Part 2: Understanding RTS: Trauma from Religion
Part 3: Understanding RTS: Trauma from Leaving Religion