Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses/Beginning on the Road to Recovery

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QUESTION: This isn't a question, just a comment. I've read where it's been said that JWS don't acceptt blood transfusions. After taking Bible studies with a JW sister, I know that that is not EXACTLY true. They don't accept blood, but do accept alternative solution(saline solution or such). But everything else you've mentioned is true. They do use mind control and fear tactics to enlist and control their "slaves".I've gotten contradicting views of Life on Paradise Earth within the congregation such as my late husband and I won't be reunited as lovers because the men will be eunuchs in the "New System" lol. When my mother told an elder I wasn't coming back (I was never baptized, thankfully), he tried to use a fear tactic and told her to tell me that I would miss the opportunity to be resurrected with my husband. I also will not let any organization tell me what I can or cannot do in my spare time (what tv shows I should watch). They view Non Witnesses as "worldly", meaning evil, and blame EVERY little infraction on Satan. As I noticed these things, I decided that life wasn't for me. Unfortunately, I can't get my mother to open her eyes (she's a non baptized Witness so we still talk) , but she's a staunch believer of their's. She will not listen to any kind of research I've done and says it's all the work of, you guessed it,Satan. Didn't mean to go on like this, but thanks for letting me get this out :)

ANSWER: Dear Lesley,

Thanks for making your comment public so that others can learn from your experience, and perhaps circumnavigate some of the heartache you have suffered.

Please let me know if you would like any help in dealing with your mother.

Healing and joy,
Andrew

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Andrew
Thank you for your offer to help with my mother, but unfortunately the  saying ''you can lead a horse to water ..." Comes to mind when it comes to her.

I'd like to ask you a couple of questions. I don't know if I will make sense, but here goes.
Did at anytime during your 30 yrs as a Witness  were you "always happy", or did you find at times that your personal life had become exceedingly burdensome( financially or such). I know we all go through rough periods in our lives, but I found my life getting worse not better while I was with the Witnesses. My mother told me that Satan attacks only those who "follow the True God, Jehovah'', and Jehovah's way of testing my faith in him. Since I've left, my life may not be 100% better, but it' s certainly easier.

And do you think it would be wrong for me to want to continue using Jehovah's name  if I keep worshipping Him on my own without the benefit of a human organization? The Witnesses have almost turned me completely against religion, but I don't really want to stop learning about who God really is . What do you think?

Answer
Dear Lesley,

The Witnesses use many tactics to control minds, as you have already discovered. One of those tactics is to reframe unrelated life events as being an indication of God's (dis)pleasure. For example, when things are going well for us, it is either because God has blessed us or because we aren't fighting the devil hard enough and therefore he isn't putting obstacles in our way as he should be. The converse can also be framed: When things are going badly for us, it can be framed as being abandoned by God, or that we did well and therefore are experiencing the wrath of the devil. This kind of reframing can go on ad infinitum, and has everything to do with the agenda of the coach, and nothing to do with the observed events or any real cause and effect. It is strictly an agenda-driven control tactic. While there is a kernel of truth in every good lie, that doesn't mean we should give the lie credence; so "painting with a finer brush" is my answer to that tactic.

In my personal life path behind, of course there were easier and harder times. But what I know about myself in my bones is that I was never in it to please my fellow Witnesses, or even the Witness leadership (elders at various levels in their hierarchy). For me it was always between me and God; and the Witness teachings were only a false lens through which I saw God temporarily. So my moments of real happiness were true because I was actually connecting with God despite the Witness lens. (Those who have chosen a non-spiritual path, please feel free to replace with the word "Higher Self" or what have you.)

When we leave the Witnesses and begin a path of recovery, our lives can get better because we can begin to develop healthier social skills, unconditional relationships, a more integral relationship with the core of our being, overcome sick mind games like judgmentalism (outwardly) and shaming (inwardly), and best of all we can begin to discover the real meaning of love, which is always unconditional (there is no such thing as "conditional love").

But that beneficial outcome depends on whether we are actually working our recovery. Most former Witnesses never recover because they don't work at it, imagining that "time heals all wounds", which does not apply here. I think a helpful rule of thumb is to plan six months of concerted effort in recovery for every year you spent under the influence of the Witnesses. It takes that much time of active effort (reading books, meeting with others in recovery, seeing specially-trained therapists, etc.) to discover and gradually remove from your mind most of the tentacles the Witnesses place within the minds of their followers.

Your relationship with God is and should be whatever you determine it to be. You should be absolutely free to discover God (your Higher Self, etc.) in whatever way you are inspired to. After a long period of being told aggressively what to think about God, it will be a challenge to switch to a dynamic of instead listening to your heart, your soul, the whisperings of heaven, etc. That is a worthwhile challenge to meet.

In the short term, you must absolutely avoid anyone who would tell you what to think about God, as there are many such people, and all of them have an agenda having nothing to do with your well-being. That would only be replacing one sick dependency with another. If it is authentic to you to use the name "Jehovah", then by all means do. It is YOUR decision, and if there is any external divinity, it is between you and that divinity what you call him. Listen to your own heart and soul, or listen for God's direct inspiration, not the words of human beings, for guidance on this. You can do it, though it will take time.

Blessings,
Andrew

Critics of Jehovah`s Witnesses

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I don't object to Witness theology, but rather their use of social pressure & deceptive manipulations to undermine family ties and control minds. (This may seem contradictory to Witnesses, who draw no distinction between spiritual belief and organizational policy.) I do not engage in theological debate. I support persons impacted by an experience with the Witnesses and advocate early education for everyone so that they can protect themselves from cults by understanding what to watch out for. (It's not what most people think.)

(Ex-)Witnesses: I know how upsetting it is to experience doubts (or anger) about your experience. Time does not heal this wound until you first remove the splinter, which takes more time and effort than you may realize. So, unless you have already put in that time and effort, don't be surprised if you are deeply affected long after the experience. But there is good news! You're NOT an enemy of God for doubting or for failing to meet the requirements of a human organization. An organization that lies cannot be the exclusive spokesman for the God of Truth. Tell me where you're at. I'll understand. I can show you how to begin or continue your recovery and make a life for yourself worth living.

Non-Witnesses: Describe your experience with your friend/relative who is (becoming) a Witness. I can help you understand the Witness indoctrination and social dynamics that are affecting him or her. I can help you put your options into perspective. Keep in mind that people do make their own choices (even though they may sometimes do so under outside influence) and you may not be able to affect this person's choices, even though they impact on you. After all, you do not have the arsenal of tactics that a cult does (and wouldn't want to). A few people manage to save their friend/relative, but don't count on it. What you can count on is navigating the maze more successfully by becoming more informed about your own options.

Experience

I was a Witness for 30 years, and a volunteer at their headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, for a year. I have attended meetings with many Witness congregations across the United States, a thorough cross-section, carefully observing patterns of behavior. Although being a Witness was difficult, and I gradually had more and more doubts about Witness teachings--I was a true believer, so I kept trying to make it work somehow. I stopped attending meetings in 1997 only after receiving an answer to a prayer about doing so, and have since been actively involved in recovery. This includes both my own and supporting others in theirs. Recovery can include reading books, communicating with others in recovery, and participating in support groups and/or therapy. It always involves reclaiming one's own mind and discovering the other sides of the issues that you have been blinded to in the past.

My gradual awakening was socially, psychologically, and spiritually tumultuous. I lost everything from my former life. My suffering was substantial.

But I have gained everything, so it was worth it. Only after beginning my recovery did I gain social, psychological, and spiritual healing and growth, peace of mind, and self-respect. Only then did I discover who I am; and--for the first time--the meaning of real brotherly love.

For more resources on this topic, try these web sites:
http://freeminds.org/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/freedomofmind/



Education/Credentials
Like most Cult Recovery Counselors, I am a cult survivor. I have life experience, not professional training. Also I feel no need to apologize for that. People with professional training cannot understand what it is like to survive a cult unless they have been through it themselves, which few professional therapists have. Understanding what really happened and what works in this unusual social context is as important as psychological training. Most professional therapists are not specifically trained to support cult survivors. Those who are represent a rare and precious resource.

I sometimes refer people to professional therapists regarding deep personal issues. But surviving a cult is a broad experience with other dimensions. Professional therapy can be very helpful as part of your recovery process, assuming that you choose the right therapist. When choosing a therapist, remember that you are the client and they are a service provider. You are the one who holds authority about the relationship. You get to interview the therapist and decide which one to employ.

Be sure to ask what specific training and experience they have around recovery from cult mind control. Most therapists do not have relevant training. Some carry serious misunderstandings about what cult mind control is; and therefore will misunderstand your struggle. So it pays to be selective as a consumer of professional therapy services.

Past/Present Clients
The Witness organization is not like other churches. Most non-Witnesses really cannot imagine what it is like to be a Witness. The organization has unimaginably extensive rules and monitoring that affect every aspect of life, so there is no privacy and no sense of personal independence. "Independent thought" is considered their greatest "sin".

The organization insists on absolute conformity, and claims to directly represent God; so dissent is not tolerated, and authority is totalitarian. Being a Witness is more like living in China or the former Soviet Union than being a member of a religion as you know it. It was the research of Robert J. Lifton, who was studying--not religions--but totalitarian governments, who first began to illuminate the problem of religious cults around the world, which employ exactly the same tactics as totalitarian governments. His work remains a cornerstone for Cult Recovery Counselors still today. (This may be why many governments are tolerant of cults, to avoid exposing their own control tactics.)

Witnesses often experience unusually dysfunctional lives and an extensive array of personal problems stemming from broken family ties, stunted social development, inner unrest resulting from repressed doubts, inability to defend boundaries, and an extreme, persistent feeling of irrational shame. I can help people impacted by an experience with the Witnesses by revealing in detail the policies and social dynamics in the Witness organization that cause these problems.

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