Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

Christian Science isn’t really into the hellfire, brimstone and apocalypse, but it does manage to instill a deep distrust of doctors/medicine, and some dangerously unrealistic ideas that you can heal yourself through prayer alone — and when that fails, it means you’ve failed, so you have to pray harder… Not a healthy cycle to fall into.


Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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2 thoughts on “Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

  1. anonymouse says:

    My daughter is a devout (obsessed is a better word) long-time Christian Scientist, and she’s also anorexic. I’ve often wondered what the connection is between CS and perfectionism and anorexia. I also had a friend that died in a Christian Science nursing facility from anorexia.

    • kat @ kindism says:

      During my time at Principia college there was a sign on the bulletin board at the entry to the Scramble Room (cafeteria) sign paraphrasing Matthew 6:25 “take no thought for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink.” As Ms. Eddy points out we are Spiritual, not material, and when we reach a high enough level of understanding we will be as the Angels. These were lofty goals that not even Ms. Eddy managed to attain. NOT HELPFUL.

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