Thursday, March 15, 2012

Psychological Effects of Mormonism

I don't recall exactly how I came across this list, but it truly struck home.  There's an Ex-Mormon meet-up group in the DFW area, and Saturday night I went for the second time. It's been fantastic to have people I can talk with who've "been there, done that" without judging  me.

Anyway, every now and again one of us will ask a question--did you feel this? And everyone who's a former Mormon chimes in with their feelings and experiences.

There are70 items on this list, and I highlighted 51 as being particularly pertinent to me.

  • Feeling depressed (and believing that you shouldn't be depressed because you're a member of the one 'true' church of Jesus Christ).
  • Having nagging doubts about Mormonism and the LDS Church, but feeling/believing that you cannot pay attention to or explore your doubts. Note: when I first started exploring the issues that ultimately led to my departure from the church, I felt almost handicapped because I knew I couldn't ask those questions.
  • Feeling like a stranger to yourself/wondering who the real you is. Note: When I stopped trying to fit into the Molly Mormon mold back in 2000, it was a bizarre experience to start learning who I was. It was also hurtful how many people I considered friends dumped me because they didn't know what to do with me.
  • Feeling that you're just not good enough, no matter how hard you try or how much you sacrifice.
  • Frequently comparing yourself with other Mormons who seem to be more 'blessed'.  And feeling judged by some of those people who were more blessed, more spiritual, more obedient, worthier, blah blah blah.
  • Feeling overwhelmed with the demands of family, work, church, etc.
  • Feeling/believing that you must 'endure to the end' no matter what in order to prove your 'worthiness' to 'God'.
  • Feeling/believing that 'God' is always watching and judging you, and feeling stressed as a result. 
  • Fluctuating between strict ('perfect') obedience and 'sinful' behaviour.
  • Being very critical of yourself/frequently mentally beating yourself up/self-loathing. I'm an expert at self-loathing. Trust me--that's something the Morg taught me very well. 
  • Feeling that 'God' has not forgiven you for all of your 'sins', despite having spent a lot of time praying, fasting, reading the scriptures, etc.
  • Feeling residual guilt for things you've done in the past.
  • Believing that 'Heavenly Father' gives you 'trials and tribulations' to 'test' your 'worthiness'.
  • Believing that you must always be busy/feeling guilty if you start to relax.
  • Feeling immature and naive.
  • Feeling confused when you encounter facts that conflict with teachings of the LDS Church and Mormon beliefs.
  • Living for appearances and to obtain and maintain the approval of other people at all costs.
  • Not communicating what you truly think or feel because you believe that people will disapprove of you and reject you if you did.
  • Fear of confrontation and conflict.
  • Believing that you cannot say "No" to church leaders and other members when they ask you to do something (e.g. 'offer' you a calling).  Like when I was always called to play piano because they always needed piano players, instead of calling me to things that I would have enjoyed and perhaps done better. And accepting callings that terrified me. Or that I was emotionally incapable of performing at the time.
  • Having poor personal boundaries.
  • Having an "I -am-nothing-without-God"/"I-am-a-wretched-sinner" mindset.
  • Having an "I-can-do-nothing-without-God mindset" (poor sense of personal power).
  • Feeling that you must obtain and maintain the approval of your Mormon parents, church leaders, God (as defined by Mormonism), and the LDS community.  And I still can't tell my mother my feelings about the church because her health is deteriorating at a rapid pace. I hate feeling like I have to hide myself from her, but I couldn't bear hurting her. 
  • Frequently being reminded that your obedience is imperfect/inadequate, and feeling badly as a result.
  • Frequently being reminded that you are not doing enough or sacrificing enough for the church, and feeling badly as a result.
  • Repressed unrighteous feelings (e.g. anger, frustration, resentment)
  • Chronic feelings of being sinful/unclean/unworthy
  • Suppressed intuition
  • Emotional volatility/exacerbated manic-depressive (bi-polar) behaviour..
  • Chronic pessimism/joylessness.
  • Feeling that you are missing out on life.
  • Always crying when you bear your testimony/feeling a chronic sadness.
  • Feeling powerless/perceiving yourself as a victim/not taking full responsibility for your life.
  • Looking to God to rescue you from the consequences of your decisions and behaviour.
  • 'Magical' thinking/believing that 'God' or Jesus will make everything better, save humanity and the Earth, etc.
  • Experiencing difficulty thinking critically and rationally.
  • Polarized/'black-and-white' thinking.
  • Experiencing a constant barrage of thoughts/restless mind.
  • Repressed intelligence/intellectual abilities.
  • Using religion as an escape from dealing with life's problems/challenges.
  • Using priesthood blessings as a quick spiritual fix, but avoiding addressing the root problem(s).
  • Feeling pressured to get married and have children.
  • Feeling that you are not fully accepted in the LDS Church because you are divorced, a single parent with children, older than your late 20's and still single, were previously disfellowshipped or excommunicated, etc. I got married a month before I turned 27; never did succeed at having children, which I desperately wanted not necessarily for the LDS purposes, but because I love kids and wanted to have a large family.
  • Believing in the superstitions of Mormonism (e.g. 'Satan' controls the waters).
  • Feeling possessed or tormented by 'demons'.
  • Distrust of your mind, mental processes, and judgments.
  • Feeling shameful about your sexuality, sexual urges and desires, and sexual thoughts.
  • Feeling shameful about sex (involving adults, not minors) and nudity.
  • Feeling/believing that you are 'spiritually impure' and 'morally unclean' because of your sexual behaviour (past or present)
  • Feeling that sensuality/sensuousness is carnal and 'evil'
My husband is disturbed that I describe myself as agnostic. But when you look at this list of what Mormonism did to me, can you really wonder that I'm not in any hurry to find religion? I believe that, if there is a god or divine entity watching over us, that he is bigger and better and more wonderful than anything we can possibly imagine. I haven't found that god anywhere just yet. 

I Moved!!!

I moved my blog over to wordpress, so if you're interested, you can find me at

Hope to see you there!