I’ll just be honest. I have to wonder if what I am not struggling with is some sort of PTSS. I know it sounds odd, but several events over the weekend have convinced me that something else is going on. There are things which set it off – that internal insecurity so intense, so horrific. There is also regret that I participated in some of this – where I was the one forcing hell or some practice upon some which have no doubt left them wounded, sick and sore.
Cults have become a phenomenon in our world today. There are thousands of members in the United States alone. Ex-members exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress due to the use of mind control techniques which are used within the cults. 10 ex-members of cults were sought out through the internet to participate in a survey which was designed to assess whether ex-cult members suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The 4 page survey consisted of three parts; history, symptoms, and treatment. Age of involvement was usually early twenties and thirties. Subjects reported having a religious preference, several had close friends and most had up to 3 years of college education. The majority of subjects experienced a predominant loss prior to joining the cult. A few had traumatic experiences preceding membership. Subjects did not display post-traumatic stress disorder prior to joining a cult unless they had experienced a trauma. Ex-cult members clearly showed that dissociative symptoms are central to the cult experience. Almost all subjects sought multiple treatments for recovery. These included; psychotherapy, individual and group, medication, pastoral counseling and exit counseling.
Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing
- Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
- Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
- Loss of interest in activities and life in general
- Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
- Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
Symptoms of PTSD: Increased anxiety and emotional arousal
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
- Feeling jumpy and easily startled
I know that it may appear as a weakness, but there are some things which just set some of the above symptoms off. But I look around and think – for 32 years I was convinced that a question was sin, and that a sin would send me to hell. My world was pretty secure, and oddly enough, secured by that fact.
One of the things about the blogosphere is that we can hide our insecurities and weaknesses, but why should we want too?
It wasn’t a Jim Jones cult, but it was a cult nevertheless.
I used to laugh and chuckle at the lady who lost her mind. She had set in the congregation for 25 years and become convinced that Christ would come back before her long-time pastor died. He died. Bam. Christ didn’t come back. She was so wrapped up in what the pastor said that when he died and Christ hadn’t return, she lost her mind. She operates now as a shell, medicated, and sometimes completely distant. Now I look and pity her and think how many others are so heavily invested, mentally, into that particular sect, cult, congregation, that it is no longer just a matter of faith faltering, but of real mental damage if something doesn’t come ‘true.’
(Then, secretly, I wonder what will happen 22 May 2011)
It is difficult not to, when you have grown up for so long in such a way, not to look at other fundamentalists with anger.