Religious Trauma Syndrome

A few days or weeks after the film viewing, I came into the house and mom wasn’t there. I stood there screaming in terror. When I stopped screaming, I began making my plan: Who my Christian neighbors were, who’s house to break into to get money and food. I was 12 yrs old and was preparing for Armageddon alone.

No. Not me, personally. It was a patient of Dr. Marlene Winell, a “human development consultant” in the San Francisco Area and author of Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion

I didn’t suffer this kind of trauma until I was in my thirties, married, and had two young children. That just meant it affected the whole family, of course, although I think I was able to control my terror of hell pretty well in their presence. It took me another ten years after that to realize it was all fiction, and I didn’t need to be afraid. Some people never get to that point, and have the terrible dread of burning in hell forever as long as they live.

I was brainwashed from birth and wasted 25 years of my life serving Him! I’ve since been out of my religion for several years now, but i cannot shake the haunting fear of hell and feel absolutely doomed.

 That’s a terrible way to live.

What’s worse is the lack of help. At least, now people have the internet where they can find support groups, counselling, and new friends. Not so 42 years ago when I left the comfort of my fundamentalist Independent Baptist Church. I no longer had anything in common with my former friends, who could not understand my apostasy. And the new cult I struggled to fit in with for ten years was not much help. They taught we had to “stop sinning,” and I couldn’t. From the frying pan into the fire! Literally, I sometimes thought. (Of course, the Baptists also taught against sin; but they taught a more liberal forgiveness while one struggled to stop sinning. The World Wide Church of God taught you were to stop sinning first, and only then could you be forgiven. Fearful for somebody who can’t seem to stop sinning!)

This article by Dr. Valerie Tarico does a good job of uncovering the trauma and terror that religion is capable of creating.


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