Religious Trauma Syndrome

arroganceIf you ever need an excuse for being a heathen, look no further. Marlene Winell and Valerie Tarico have the perfect excuse. Conservative Christianity makes you depressed, obsessive and at times post-traumatic.

Marlene Winell, an atheist with a doctorate in Human Developing & Family Studies has, so far unsuccessfully, tried to create a niche for herself with a new mental illness, Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS).   Her coauthor, atheist Valerie Tarico, is a psychologist in Seattle Washington. Valerie also happens to be a feminist who hates men and Christians with equal animosity. You might remember her claim last year that God raped the Virgin Mary. She also believes that abortion is a blessing and that pro-lifers represent antiquated and brittle concepts of God and the crumbling illusion of biblical and ecclesiastical perfection.

In their article, The Sad, Twisted Truth about Conservative Christianity’s Effect on the Mind, they claim that certain aspects of Conservative Christian beliefs and life styles can set up multigenerational patterns of abuse, trauma, and over time, create habitual thought patterns that alter brain function making it difficult for people to heal or grow.  

Note they only pick on Conservative Christians because Liberal Christians don’t believe in anything anyway except exploiting the poor, boycotting Israel, and advancing anti-Christian values such as same-sex marriage and abortion.

According to Winell, her made-up Religious Trauma Syndrome is but a supplemental code to assist in describing an underlying pathology. Unofficially, “scrupulosity,” is the term for obsessive-compulsive symptoms centered around religious themes such as blasphemy, unforgivable sin, and damnation. While each of these diagnoses has a place, neither covers the wide range of harm induced by religion.

Now we get to the crux of the situation. “Religious trauma” is difficult to see because it is camouflaged by the respectability of religion in our culture which allows parents the right to teach their own children whatever doctrines they like, no matter how heinous, degrading or mentally unhealthy and this MUST change so that suitable methods of treatment for this mental illness can be established.

This brings to mind C.S. Lewis’ prophetic essay, The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment. Lewis believed that punishment in the future for real or perceived crimes would be more like therapy. Therapy could be used as a deterrent to real crime. When a victim is urgently needed for exemplary purposes and a guilty victim cannot be found, all the purposes of deterrence will be equally served by the punishment (call it ‘cure’ if you prefer) of an innocent victim, provided that the public can be cheated into thinking him will be so wicked.

In reality, Lewis writes, we must face the possibility of bad rulers armed with a Humanitarian theory of punishment. A great many popular blue prints for a Christian society are merely what the Elizabethans called ‘eggs in moonshine’ because they assume that the whole society is Christian or that the Christians are in control. This is not so in most contemporary States.  The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish.

And when they are wicked, the Humanitarian theory of punishment will put in their hands a finer instrument of tyranny than wickedness ever had before. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call ‘disease’ can be treated as a crime; and compulsorily cured. For our masters will not be using the concepts of Desert and Punishment, but those of disease and cure.

We know that one school of psychology already regards religion as a neurosis. When this particular neurosis becomes inconvenient to government, what is to hinder government from proceeding to ‘cure’ it? Such ‘cure’ will, of course, be compulsory; but under the Humanitarian theory it will not be called by the shocking name of Persecution. No one will blame us for being Christians, no one will hate us, no one will revile us. The new Nero will approach us with the silky manners of a doctor, and though all will be in fact as compulsory as the tunica molesta or Smithfield or Tyburn, all will go on within the unemotional therapeutic sphere where words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ are never heard.

And thus when the command is given, every prominent Christian in the land may vanish overnight into Institutions for the Treatment of the Ideologically Unsound, and it will rest with the experts to say when (if ever) they are to re-emerge. But it will not be persecution. Even if the treatment is painful, even if it is life-long, even if it is fatal, that will be only a regrettable accident; the intention was purely therapeutic.

There are plenty of targets to shoot at within Christianity but the problem is with the people, not with the faith. It was Jesus that reserved his harshest criticism for the self-righteous hypocrites within society. Ultimately, it was that same group of self-righteous hypocrites that had him killed.  

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