How Some Organized Religion Leads to Religious Trauma Syndrome


From Raw Story: “Religious trauma syndrome (RTS) is a set of symptoms and characteristics that tend to go together and which are related to harmful experiences with religion. They are the result of two things: immersion in a controlling religion and the secondary impact of leaving a religious group. The RTS label provides a name and description that affected people often recognize immediately. Many other people are surprised by the idea of RTS, because in our culture it is generally assumed that religion is benign or good for you. Just like telling kids about Santa Claus and letting them work out their beliefs later, people see no harm in teaching religion to children.

But in reality, religious teachings and practices sometimes cause serious mental health damage. The public is somewhat familiar with sexual and physical abuse in a religious context. As journalist Janet Heimlich has documented in Breaking Their Will, Bible-based religious groups that emphasize patriarchal authority in family structure and use harsh parenting methods can be destructive.

But the problem isn’t just physical and sexual abuse. Emotional and mental treatment in authoritarian religious groups also can be damaging because of 1) toxic teachings like eternal damnation or original sin 2) religious practices or mindset, such as punishment, black and white thinking, or sexual guilt, and 3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally. […]

Leaving a religion, after total immersion, can cause a complete upheaval of a person’s construction of reality, including the self, other people, life, and the future. People unfamiliar with this situation, including therapists, have trouble appreciating the sheer terror it can create.”

Article →


  1. I am not sure that followers of “mental health” church have anything to say about the dangers of religion.

    I return the compliment to them:

    “DSM-based psychiatric hospitals that enphasize patriarchal authority in medical structure and use harsh psychiatric methods can be destructive.

    But the problem isn’t just physical and sexual abuse. Emotional and mental treatment in psychiatric hospital also can be damaging because of 1) toxic teachings like incurable mental illness or genetic defects 2) psychiatric practices or mindset, such as punishment, electrochocs, or chemical castration, and 3) neglect that prevents a person from having the information or opportunities to develop normally. […]”

    Very few sects use such brutal and barbaric means as the church of “mental health”.

    Report comment

    • Psychiatry is a religious cult.

      Instead of Original Sin, the priests of Psychiatry teach you you are guilty of moral defectiveness encoded in your DNA. As penance you must take massive quantities of drugs even if they ruin your reading ability, make you vomit everything you eat and seize every day. Stricter forms of penance include sequestration in the cell they provide and mortification of your gray matter via ECT and other bizarre surgeries.

      Black and white thinking occurs when psychiatrists neatly divide the world into the MI and the normal telling the latter the former are defective/murderous and deserve to suffer for being born.

      Psychiatry destroys all hope of an adult life. Mothers/fathers who don’t want kids to be permanent adolescents in their basements forever should think twice before getting them psych treatment. When shrinks have had their way with the kid he will wind up institutionalized or dependent on you forever. (A few live in HUD slums if they’re lucky. Or live under bridges since they’re too messed up to work just like the voluntary drug addicts.)

      Report comment

      • Psychiatry is a religion, is correct. And they have their very own scientifically “invalid” “bible” to prove it.

        Although the “mental health professionals” work in cahoots with the religions, the seminaries even teach the DSM??? So it’s sort of odd to see them speaking out against the religions. The primary function of our “mental health professionals” today is covering up the rape of women and children for the religious leaders and their wealthy.

        Learning this about my childhood religion was rather appalling, some could call it traumatic, although that’s because psychiatrists tried to murder me to cover this up. Although, I have no doubt my childhood religion is NOT in charge of God, so they won’t be involved in judging my soul. And they’ve gone off deep end on many topics, according to many people, other than I. It’s a shame for them, however. They’re totally blind people suck in a satanic system.

        Report comment

  2. “Authoritarian religious groups are [sub-CULT-ures] where conformity is required in order to belong. Thus if you dare to leave the religion, you risk losing your entire support system as well.”

    This goes beyond “religious groups.” This is cult mentality, and it is a norm in our society–corporate, poltical, academic–which translates into: 1) fear-mongering, 2) conditional acceptance, 3) shaming, 4) marginalization, 5) discrimination, 6) oppression (sound familiar?), and I’m sure much, much more–all designed to empower an “authority figure” and their chosen “elite group,” as per some made up dogma which serves the top echilon at the expense of the community at large, even though this is not seen clearly through all the smoke and mirrors. Playing on people’s fears and need for belonging is the most common way to amass “followers.” That’s generally the problem which can seem insurmountable to change.

    These extremely dysfunctional communities can be ruthless in their need to maintain power and control over others. The author calls it “toxic,” with which I would agree. It does require healing once one separates from this, which to me would signal a courageous and empowering awakening to one’s true self, separate and apart from this kind of brainwashing.

    Best way I can think of to disempower toxic, abusive, and traumatizing social dysfunction is to separate from it and heal to a new sense of self, which is natural evolution, and which is also a challenging journey which requires a lot of internal shifting and deep self-discovery–aka humility. But it does eventually lead to freedom once we can claim it and own it. That is profound change happening in the moment.

    Report comment