Sunday, July 3, 2016

Why Being Told You Are Special And Called Out Has Devastating Consequences On Your Mental Health

One of the things things that so many who leave the Living Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God or other Churches of God experience is how devastating it can be.  Due to the continual bombardment by church leader with cliche sayings that make the membership fell special and set apart from the rest of the heathens around them, it is a devastating blow to find you were  nothing more than pawns in the manipulation of men like rRd Meredith, Dave Pack, Bob Thiel and James Malm. 

The last time you shared a nice steak dinner with your family, or if you are more adventurous, went on an exciting hike, or maybe did some exhilarating sky-diving, chances are, you were not thinking about a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger in your brain, called dopamine. In a normal human brain, dopamine affects the brain processes which control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience both pleasure and pain. It has been found that illicit stimuli, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can temporarily increase the amount of dopamine in the synapse, or gap between one’s nerve cells, thus causing euphoria, or a prolonged sense of pleasure. The unfortunate consequence of this temporary pleasure enhancement is that the use or abuse of such drugs will ultimately disrupt the balance of dopamine in the nervous system, by desensitizing the nerve cells to what would be considered normal levels of this neurotransmitter. So, when an addict is in recovery, as the brain attempts to normalize, there is usually severe depression in the initial stages. The recovering addict is caught in a state where he or she, until normal living skills are re-learned, temporarily finds little or no pleasure in life. Regaining normal brain balance and function often requires years, during which the addict knows that a false sense of relief is just a snort away. I have observed the day to day struggles of such individuals, and although I’ve never been an addict myself, believe that I understand the struggle these folks must go through.

The Worldwide Church of God parallel is self-obvious. The enslaving teachings of one Herbert W. Armstrong have acted as a type of spiritual dopamine inhibitor in most of our brains, and many exiters have had to deal with very real, severe depression along with cult-recovery. Herbert W. Armstrong, if nothing else, was a brilliant salesman, and he had the dope for you! He knew the classic sales formula, which is, expose a need, magnify the need, and then offer a solution. To create or expose the need, he first smashed everything in your little world which you found to be of value or pleasure. With great authority, from the power of his radio microphone and TV camera, he told you that the world as you knew it was coming to an end. There would be war, famine, disease, pestilence, and you couldn’t do a thing about it, period! From a standpoint of sheer shock value, what could be more devastating to your feeling of happiness and well-being than this? Talk about altering neurotransmitters! Suddenly, nothing in this world was worth your time, because everything you saw around you would soon come to an end. While you were attempting to recover from the disorientation of this all, he came in for the kill. He told you that now that you had this special knowledge, you were having your chance. Your life could never be the same. You had an opportunity and needed to act immediately, because you see, if you repented, accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, and were baptized into His church, you could be spared the cataclysmic events soon to descend on the world. You could not have become part of the Worldwide Church of God without undergoing this painful initiation.
This part of the reason so many have difficulty in leaving the church, even though they know they are being abused, such as what Rod Meredith does to most of his members.   Then, once you make that incredible freeing leap, you quickly how sick and debased the leadership of the church was, which then sets into string of realizations that  your life was truly incomplete.
A good salesman often will re-sell the value of his product to you, and Herbert W. Armstrong was no exception. Every Bible Study, every Holy Day service, and every Sabbath service, he or his henchmen resold you on the product. The magazines and booklets were a constant reminder to you of what was soon to transpire, and he even had you reselling yourself on the product thru your daily prayer and Bible Study. You sat there in Sabbath Services, waiting anxiously for your fix! It’s the only thing that made it all work. If you just had the so-called knowledge of the end of the world, without the system of religion, you would have been totally depressed. Of course, you didn’t find this out until you began painfully considering leaving, or had that choice made for you. Upon exit, you were hit with the impact of your actions from years previous in which you had gradually alienated yourself from your blood relatives, old friends, and neighbors, as you became ever more enmeshed in this dastardly cult. Worse, when you left or were disfellowshipped, you even lost your surrogate family, as the brethren could no longer associate with you. At about the same time, you began to realize that your health might not be what it was supposed to be due to years of not seeing your doctor, your career had languished because the effort you might have put into it all went into the church, your children had become nerds because you had sheltered them so severely, you had no retirement savings, your house had been mortgaged to finance a Worldwide Church of God emergency, and all of your clothes were hopelessly out of style. See the parallels with recovery from substance addiction? If you’ve never volunteered at a mission or halfway house, try it sometime. The homeless and recovering addicts are facing these same challenges, brought on, of course, by an entirely different type of addiction.

Read the entire article here:

Dopamine, Depression and Disfellowshipment


Redfox712 said...

What a terrible thing HWA and his imitators have done to us.

Anonymous said...

If they didn't mind twist and abuse members, if they gave members a good map of reality by magnifying Gods laws, as is found in self help books, it might have been OK.
According to a Armstrong quote by a Dave Pack booklet (presumably taken down since) from a ministerial report, he tells the ministers that they can be 'kings on thrones now.' This is approval to behave like murderous thugs. He knowingly unleashed minister scum on church members. Yet many members believe that Tkach is the only traitor. There's no way Herbie will be in the kingdom.

Steve D said...

Does the message work best on certain personalities? Perhaps dependent personality are more susceptible to this type of message. Insecure people need someone to tell them what to do, when to do it, etc. It seems that both the narcissistic leader and the dependent personality benefit from this sick relationship.
One who hasn't accomplished much in life will probably, or has little or no confidence in himself, might be attracted to the idea that someday they will be ruling others. Members pay their tithes and can buy into a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't just the way the church was operated which was abusive. Neither was it just the doctrines which by there nature where abusive. It was the whole package of administrative abuse and the doctrines that told us we had to "qualify" for salvation. Even the teachings of the UCG are confusing. They teach that the law can't save us but we can become "unsaved" if we neglect to keep the law. How confusing is that? Putting it another way, "we cannot qualify for salvation but can unqualify for salvation if we are not diligent enough in obeying God". Simply put even the UCG still in a round about way teaches the abusive doctrine of salvation by works.

Ed said...

The most damaging aspect of being duped into thinking that we had to earn salvation was never knowing how good we had to be to be good enough. Sadly many loyal members who died still clinging to Armstrongism had no idea that their efforts where good enough to qualify for salvation and took their last breath with the fear that they where headed for the lake of fire. So the question is, "how good is good enough?" If you believe in salvation by works there is no way to answer that question but to live in fear of condemnation thinking that your efforts in the end may not have been enough to earn you salvation. This I believe is the most damaging aspect of Armstrongism. The fear of condemnation has a powerful effect of destroying our mental health and robing us of happiness. They is no way to measure what God expects from us in order for us to qualify for salvation. Therefore we all lived in fear and dread of being condemned. What an awful way to live your life!

Ralph said...

on July 3, 2016 at 11:00 PM
Anonymous wrote:-

"There's no way Herbie will be in the kingdom."

With all due respect and definitely not condoning any of his past actions; you don't really, really know that.
Unless of course you claim to be a prophet. But we don't know that either, do we?

"2Pe_3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance." (Bolding mine)


Anonymous said...

Ralf, the book says 'you shall know them by their fruits.' so no prophet abilities are required, just the scientific method. God 'not willing that any should perish,' does not mean that non will perish. God wants everyone to succeed, but it doesn't mean he will not allow failure. 'Choose life or death,' remember? The bible talks of weeping and gnashing of teeth, remember?
The body of evidence is overwhelming in the case of Herbie.

whatmeworry said...

Good comment Ralph. As much as I would love to know that Hitler and Charles Manson AND HWA, as well as many other nefarious creatures would never breathe another free breath, it is not my job to assume to judge what will become of these sub humans. I would not, however like to be standing nest to any of them on judgement day, if you get my drift.

Anonymous said...

Ralph and whatmeworry are still drinking the kook aid while someone washes their feet