Is it strange that a person – whose religious community strongly discourages or even vehemently opposes the use of hypnosis – would end up in my chair within months of leaving the church?
Religious Trauma Syndrome. I didn’t know it had a name when I started seeing my first few clients. Yet, the more clients I began to see, the more I realized just how pervasive this is in fundamentalist and cult-like religions and how few supports exist for this sub-population.
Isolation, shame, guilt, fear, self-hatred, feelings of abandonment, embarrassment, humiliation, distrust of self and of others, anger, depression and yes PTSD. All of this will be part of the journey to heal from the cumulative effects of this seemingly unshakable trauma.
For some, it will feel like awakening from a dogma-induced coma having fast forwarded through some of life’s best parts; for others, like an escape from Alcatraz where no one expects them to make it off the island alive. Or perhaps a bit of both.
One female client was told to always keep her head down – amongst her religious peers or in public – to remain subservient and humble in her faith. Another was told she had a choice – to remain (unhappily) married to an unfaithful man and dutiful in the eyes of the church – or file for divorce and be completely cut off. I could spend hours recounting the stories of unreturned phone calls from church elders and friends who disowned a member for leaving, the parents who publicly condemned their own child in front of their church community for “ungodly” behavior or the women married at 14 years old who was periodically beaten in the name of “god.”
Some of my clients left, or escaped, of their own accord; others were asked to leave. Either way, there would be nothing simple about this transition. It would take tremendous courage and strength to recalibrate the mind to the energy of the Higher self. And incredible resilience to assimilate into a secular existence leaving behind everything they once thought true.
This is the sort of Group Trauma Bond that happens when one comes to believe they cannot be trusted to think for themselves. Or when one must humble themselves before “god” having been born into sin irrevocably unworthy, unrighteous, irreverent, or black-hearted – and whose only promise of salvation is strict adherence to the laws of the church.
Like a vision quest, hypnosis will become a sort of rite of passage or a sacred space of transformation where one can safely shed this artificial, prescribed identity and call forth the deeper wisdom of the Divine self. And the Chair will become a test site for learning and acquiring the rules of this foreign outer world.
There will be many things to overcome – mentally, cognitively, spiritually, and physically – as this kind of indoctrination must be released not only from the mind – but energetically at an even deeper cellular level.
On the bad days, a client may begrudgingly miss their old life for its rules and predictability, as well as the camaraderie and feigned support. On the good days, they will cherish this newfound freedom having connected with their own resiliency and inner strength.
But even still, the journey from where they were back into the free world will be an arduous one – as the old, codependent, fear-based narrative creeps in and the feelings of loss and rejection run so deep you can barely hold your head up.
Insomnia, addictions, emotional dysregulation, issues with intimacy, sexuality, self-esteem – there will be many parts of the authentic self that will need to be dug up and pieced back together.
Do you struggle with Religious Trauma Syndrome and need support? Schedule a free consultation here: Sensorium Hypnosis, LLC (timetap.com)
Wondering how hypnosis can help you remove unwanted thoughts and behaviors? Click here: (1) How to Remove Unwanted Behaviors Without Months or Years of Talk Therapy. My Three Program Secrets. – YouTube
Click here to review some of the frequently asked questions about hypnosis: Most Frequently Asked Questions about Hypnosis – Sensorium Hypnosis, LLC
- How Childhood Abuse and Neglect Tampers with Our Motivation as Adults - October 18, 2022
- How to Navigate a Bad Break-Up: Tips and Strategies for Being Single - September 13, 2022
- The Bully Who Lives in Your Head - June 13, 2022