Episode 263: Mormonism and PTSD

13 comments on “Episode 263: Mormonism and PTSD”

  1. Jordan Reply

    Can you hear the sighs and visualize the eye rolling from some of your listeners? Even with the disclaimer at the beginning, this is far-fetched and a bit sensationalized. I’m not sure which definition of PTSD you guys managed to scrounge up, but all the ones I could find had to do with traumatic disorder affecting a person’s ability to function normally in life, when associated with *warfare, *death, or *physical and *sexual abuse. Not even most of the panelists sounded like they were fully committed to the idea of actually having a traumatic *disorder* caused by leaving the church. What you guys are talking about is more of “shit happens and you try to deal with it.” Leaving mormonism was hard. It caused some pain, some depression. I’m sure it’s much worse for some than it was for me. But the need to put a label on things to make them more official and thus validate you and give you a reason to circle the ex mormon wagon for a few more years is strong, I suppose. And John’s comment about how leaving the church can be more traumatic for some people than a soldier losing his legs in a war? Yeah… that was pretty disgusting/embarrassing/had no basis for validity.

    I miss the days when Mormon Expression had a few voices of reason on it to push back against the crazy shit John sometimes spouts off. You know, Glenn, Heather, Tom, Brandt, even Mike T had his moments of lucidity when up against sensational statements from John. Now they go unchecked and I’m just rubbernecking every Monday to see what’s next.

    • Chad Reply

      Wow Jordan. That was kind of a douche response.

      Especially when considering it is offered as a free podcast.

      I do miss the days of Glenn, Tom and Mike T…. but your response was way over the top and pretty dickish IMO.

      • Jordan Reply

        You’re entitled to your opinion of the “dickishness” of my response, and you certainly don’t have to agree with me. But I stand by it. And saying it’s a free podcast, so I should offer no criticism is ridiculous. When you put yourself out there, you sign off on letting other people have opinions about what you say. That’s part of the reason there is a comment section, unless the podcasters would only like for this space to be exclusively for ego-stroking and nodding heads? I think better of the podcasters than that. They can handle a little honesty from listeners. Maybe my statement or tone was too harsh for your taste (although calling me a douche and a dick seems to imply that you don’t have a problem with being harsh yourself).

        • Jenny Morrow Reply

          Hi Jordan,

          Thanks for your honest thoughts. The PTSD definition we used in the podcast came out of the DSM-V (the diagnostic manual…most recent edition, used by mental health professionals). We didn’t take the time to delineate the differences between PTSD and Complex PTSD (which is in response to a trauma that was continuous over a long period of time). Many of the symptoms are the same, but complex PTSD is…more complex (and often more psychological in nature, due to how it confuses someone’s thinking over time).

          While I do not mean to minimize the trauma of those who’ve been in war or experienced sexual abuse, I do actually see PTSD symptoms in SOME of my clients who’ve left the church (just like I see them in some of my clients who’ve been sexually abused). Many people loose more than just their faith in Mormonism. They also loose jobs, spouses, even relationships with children. I myself was surprised to experience the level of disorientation I did when I left the church, and especially when I learned about Church history. It was helpful for me to know about PTSD at the time, because rather than getting even more panicky about the suicidal thoughts, the physical dizziness, or the random bouts of anger, I was able to watch it and see it for what it was. A trauma response. That was very helpful for me. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and I knew that getting some help (even though I was a therapist myself at the time) would be helpful, and it was. If I talked “lightly” about it on the podcast, part of that is that I really am in a better place, and in reflecting back it has a sort of humorous flavor. But when I was in the middle of it, it was really real.

          This podcast was truly not meant to be sensationalized. It was meant to be helpful for those who could relate, even if it was on a more subtle level. And you’re right, sometimes labeling something is not helpful. Each person has to decide for themselves, and if better understanding PTSD or Complex PTSD helps them to feel less afraid of what they’re going through or to realize they can get help, that may be worth the information.

          I’m glad to hear you didn’t experience many trauma symptoms yourself. And, I do appreciate your thoughts. Hopefully this clarifies a little more as to why I decided to do this topic on Mormon Expressions.

  2. Amy Reply

    For some, PTSD and Mormonism is a very real issue. Some have been sexually abused by their leaders and have been threatened with physical and spiritual harm for disclosure. John’s comments that for some seeing chapels, temples, and other “excrement” the church has flung around the world can be triggering is true for some. I appreciate this examination of Mormonism and PTSD. I hope it will help those that have been truly damaged by some of the PEOPLE within Mormonism.

  3. WD Reply

    There are some exaggerations for effect sure. But no one has any use for 100% safe and technically correct discussions. Entertaining has a lot of value and is much more difficult, and sometimes are more prone to be guilty of taking sides and extremes.

  4. Karen Reply

    I am dismayed by one of the replies as I have left Mormonism and have been diagnosed with complex PTSD after leaving. 2.5 years on I am only beginning to stop having the tightness in my chest and be able to function normally. For a couple of months I experienced flashbacks, nightmares and the most terrifying fear. Even though consciously I was certain of the false nature of Mormonism it has taken much time for my sub-conscience to realise I am safe.

    I have had two years of therapy plus NLP visualisation course. Additionally, some CBT to try and re-program my brain. Mormonism caused me anxiety, depression and distress throughout my involvement (38 years). I tried to leave many times but emotional blackmail from parents and friends, and at one time my husband stopped me from leaving. The last few years were dreadful. I had panic attacks just walking through the door. I frequently sobbed in there.

    I feel so deeply grateful for all the support of the medical profession, good friends, my best friends, two community priests (who don’t advocate any specific belief system) a knowledgable professor, a long lost cousin and a husband (who finally also saw the light) for getting me through it. I am looking forward with optimism. The happiness I feel somedays is something I thought was never possible for me.

    PTSD is live and kicking in Post Mormon and even active Mormon life. Lets show compassion to all who are having difficult experiences caused in my case by sexual, emotional abuse from church leaders along with years of cognitive dissonance. Even at the age of 4 it never made sense but because I loved my Mum and Dad I tried to make it work for far too long and was damaged in so many ways because of it.

    I survived. I am grateful for that and hope that things will just continue to get better as I work hard to heal, let go, move on. And accept that life isn’t fare – we just have to do the best we can.

    Best wishes to all. A wave across from the UK. Thank you for the podcast. It is most appreciated.

    • Jenny Morrow Reply

      Thanks for your thoughts Karen! I just left a message under Mimi’s comment below that also might connect to some of what you were saying, but wanted to say thanks for sharing! While we did focus on some of the more moderate and subtle ways this can play out, the more extreme cases are also very real. I see many of them in my therapy work. I’m so glad to hear you were able to find good resources and help! and glad to hear that things continue to get better 🙂 Much care!

  5. Mimi Reply

    I appreciated the podcast but wish there was a wider range of experience on the panel. I had severe PTSD because my dad believed he was being lead by the spirit to practice polygamy, I was the one who finally turned him in and he was excommunicated, fired from BYU and abandoned our family. After years of panick attacks (physically and emotionally breaking down in public or in private) in the temple and reading scriptures and attending church I finally left, which then triggered the PTSD again because of the severe response from family and friends. I wish there was more research done to find someone to be on the panel that had a true severe reaction or experience…not to negate those that had a less severe experiences with leaving the church. Also more information about how In depth therapy and medication need to be addressed and used to aliviate PTSD.

    • John Larsen Reply

      Rather than try to use PTSD experiences, we were focused on the therapeutic approach. The three panelists where therapists who have experienced dealing with PTSD clients.

    • Jenny Morrow Reply

      Hi Mimi,

      Yes, you’re right…we didn’t have anyone on who was able to express an experience of the their PTSD from a real extreme place. It definitely would have been helpful in that it would have better represented that angle, which is very real for some people (depending on their experiences). While I do personally know some people who have extreme physical and emotional symptoms related to the abuse and trauma that was threaded into their religious experience, I wasn’t able to get any of them on the panel. I’m glad you mentioned it in the comments though. There’s such a range within which people may experience symptoms and while I didn’t want to minimize the extremes that can exist, I realize we did focus more on those whose symptoms were more moderate. Thank you for your thoughts and suggestion! Since we were discussing PTSD it’s helpful for people to understand there are those who’s symptoms are as severe as for any other kind of trauma.

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