How Brainwashing Affected My World View

I am pretty sure, that I am not alone in my connection to the ‘church’. I grew up a JW {Jehovah’s Witness} and it affected me deeply, the one thing that affected me the most and still does was the book Revelation, It’s Climax at Hand. For those who don’t know this book, I will save you the trouble. Its the typical God wins, Satan Looses narrative with you know the typical world destroying itself via a mix of human interventions and God just being done with the place. It mirrors and reflects the same views as most Christians have the End of Days but not nearly as funny as the movie with Schwarzenegger or Good Omens. This is like God on a really bad day. So, that left its scars and I have a hard time now seeing the world through a lens of normal. It informs the picture in my mind and does that thing that prophecy is good at. It makes you think that what your experiencing is exactly what was predicted. The reason for this was mentioned in Penn and Teller’s show Bullshit in which they took a hard look at why this is. I believe it was in the segment with magician James Randi that Penn and Teller reveal that this is because you that is the person reading the prophecy is already going to believe in what your saying because all you have to do is slightly convince them. Its the whole I convince you by basically providing a possible vague statement that could be true (why everyone right now thinks The Simpsons predicted the future, by showing Trump as President). They are not clairvoyant, its more that they are thinking of our worst nightmares and that can be just about anything.

I believe that cults of any kind are the real reason we develop these tendencies to cling onto certain views, instead of it informing us, it prepares a world that seems to have a supernatural order that cannot be questioned or examined. I was raised in this cult like view, and I can tell you that asking questions was not something we were encouraged to do. Even now, free from my former life, it still haunts me. The reason is because of the cult trick of associating visuals, vague related passages in history, culture and religious texts that frame the current state. For example, and this is where this post is going to get a bit weird, as I will be referencing a lot of the book I just ironically said not to read.

Growing up we were told the power would rise in very specific countries, at the time, the art inside Revelation, It’s Climax at hand it showed that there would be climate change, a rising of kingdoms against one another, war and persecution. All of these items I have lived through and I am only 43! As a child who grew up with legitimate fears of the cold war, the red scare, the fear that we would be persecuted played strongly in my mind. This affected me to the point of creating extreme moments of fear, fear that I would be ‘next’ that any minute now the end would come and I would go with my people to whatever promise land there was. I still to this day live with this fear. When I see what happens in the world I can’t help visually recalling the images inside that book and seeing parallels.

“A destructive cult is a pyramid-shaped authoritarian regime with a person or group of people that have dictatorial control.  It uses deception to recruit new members and does not tell them what the group is, what the group believes, and what will be expected of them if they become members.  It also uses undue influence to keep people dependent, obedient, and loyal.” This is exactly how the JW’s operated and this has stayed with me. Despite my raising a young woman who will tell you that woman should and can do what they want and that she is a free-thinking independent little person, is a miracle. I use that word loosely, but exiting a cult is no joke. It stays with you like this little tick in your brain. It is difficult still for me to speak out, and to fight, part of me sometimes misses the community I had, but I realize that I have idealized that community beyond what it was. It was not a community that cared for me, they wanted to control me, smother me, and snuff out my free will.

They used isolation, depression, and fear to keep you in the cult was rampant. The biggest of these was the removal of your family. Disfellowshiped JW’s are not allowed to have contact with the family at all, not even if there is a family death. Trust me it sucks, and it’s the hardest part to resist, even though I am never going back, its hard to not want to have your father, your one sister, your uncles, aunts, etc back. If you were close to your family you get it. It’s difficult to feel like a ghost. I think that part of me still lives in some form of isolation, I don’t do ‘people’ well and have personal struggles with communication. As my sister who also out likes to say, we don’t have the blueprints on how the world works. It feels like that, that there is some book of how-to and mine was blank.

I was lucky to get out of my cult, but it left lingering scars. As a proud heathen today, I find myself happy in the knowledge that I have the freedom to question, to explore, to be myself. I am fortunate to have a supportive family and have remained at least partialy whole and only slightly broken from my experiences. I am fortunate to have a different world view now, but that brainwashing despite how much I have quieted it, replaced it, reoriented it, sometimes rears its head, and when it does, and the PTSD rides in to make physical memory of those years, I hold my breathe, and imagine a world in which none of these facts are true, I remind myself, that is not what you believe now, and after a good cry, I lift my head up and go on.

Brainwashing affected my view of the world, but it does not have to. It made me very afraid of others, but I broke that with a new view. My view now is informed by a blend of what I feel passionate about. I blend my faith, my love of art, my foundation of good people, good food, grounded in the reality and duality of nature. I explore new thoughts in reading books from authors that give me pause, that remind me of what I rose from. In particular right now, I find myself deeply engorging myself on poetry and reflecting over life and love with a cup of coco in my hand. I still think though one of the positive things of my past if anything is that it certainly provides my writing with plenty of fodder from which to draw on and that I think is a common thread on those of us who grew up and abandoned cults.

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