There ought to be a course in the training of psychiatrists about Christian Science

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about seeking therapy after leaving Christian Science.

These comments are an education. There ought to be a course in the training of psychiatrists about Christian Science and the processes involved when former adherents leave it.

– Marion

I find most people I talk to sort of slide out of Christian Science slowly and not violently. I also had a very long and painful exodus from Christian Science. Every year that goes by it gets easier, though. I never thought I’d make it to the point where I could even have a sense of humor about it, but here I am! Ultimately, I sought out one of Los Angeles’ only ‘exit counselors’ for therapy—someone skilled in helping people break away from cults. She hadn’t actually worked with a Christian Scientist before, but was well acquainted with the religion. It was great to talk to someone who understood about the mind control, fear of being struck by a bolt of lightning once you left, etc. The unspoken damage is the personality disorders, depression and anxiety that being in this kind of cult leaves behind. Rarely do people even make the connection.

– Hilary

One of the corner stones of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is teaching people to abandon fixed thinking (the tyranny of the ‘shoulds’). This is especially important for ex-Christian Scientists, because all our training growing up told us to ignore what we can see and feel and concentrate instead on what we should be seeing and feeling until it happens.

– Anonymous

My psychotherapist has helped me with PSTD, trauma issues, and survivor’s guilt issues related to my upbringing in Christian Science. We are indeed survivors.

– Nancy

14 Replies to “There ought to be a course in the training of psychiatrists about Christian Science”

  1. In India we have a story which goes like. A very hungry Fox found a sweet grape vineyard and started eating to its herat’s content and once full, it saw still there was so much grapes around her and she felt so sorry that she could could not eat all the grapes. And after much repenting It consoled itself saying to itself that the grapes are sore and he does not need them and it left the place. [NOTE: this comment was edited for punctuation and grammar clarification.–The Ex-Christian Scientist editors]

  2. I discovered a wonderful group of therapist and went on one of their retreats last year here in Colorado, but they have therapist all over the United States and abroad. The group is International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), and they deal specifically with religious cult survivors. FINALLY I went to see a therapist who was familiar with what third generation Ex-Christian Scientist is dealing with, without having to explain what the religion was about and get looks of confusion or horror from the person! It is amazing and I am making great strides as I move through all of the residual CS crap in my brain – instilled there as a child when I did not know any better…or at least knew I better act like a good little Christian Scientist or I would be rejected from my family pack. Anyhow, they have a website that lists various events, a book list, and several recorded speakers and professional papers. Give them a look if you believe as I do – that CS is a cult with 24/7 mind control and denial of reality.

    1. Yes I love your statement of a 24/7 mind control and denial of reality cult. That is where my mother lives and why I can’t have a relationship with her!

    2. I am so thankful for discovering this site. I have been out of the CS cult since age 12, decades ago; am now realizing how this has affected me as an adult. I have wanted for so many years to tell my story to someone who would really understand. I have had counseling in the past and dealt with low self esteem and other mental injuries. I would like to tell my story, looking back I see the hand of God freeing me from this pagan cult. If I have the opportunity to do this, it would be appreciated.

  3. Sue:

    Thank you for your post. I relate entirely to what you have written. I know well the feeling of the mind control of this religion…and the feeling of being unique, odd, and isolated, when trying to explain it to a professional person. Despite their training, they’ve never really worked with a person seeking remedial treatment from the effects of their having been in Christian Science. There are aspects of their training with which they can apply to working with you, but only in fragments, in bits and pieces. And I know their looks of confusion when you try to explain it to them. I’ve been there.

    And that’s just with professionals. Try explaining it to the ordinary, non-professional individual, who is sympathetic to what you’re saying, and you’ll find they won’t know what to tell you. Disheartening and frustrating, in both examples.

    Like you, I was raised in Christian Science. I was an unwitting captive, as it was preached and pounded into my head by a very unstable mother. Her instability made for what became a truly nightmarish home life, but I was fully accepting of Christian Science. In fact, in my early 20’s, I first joined a branch church, and a year later, I joined the Mother Church. Within less than two years, I was beginning to feel depression and confusion on a daily basis. Christian Science wasn’t “healing” it. Christian Science was, in fact, the cause.

    But that’s a very odd, and uncomfortable, place to be. The very religion that was supposed to be helping me, was, in fact, making my life daily mental hell. And all the programming that went with having studied the religion all those years, you know, my mental anguish was simply “Mortal Mind running away with itself”, or, the condescending attitude of other Christian Scientists…”you’re only going through a phase”, etc. But where do you turn when the religion you grew up in is a daily nightmare?

    There was a time, when, if you had these issues, you were really on your own. There was no Internet. No way to Google “recovering Christian Scientist”. Pre-Internet, around 1978 (the worst year of my life), I actually heard about an organization which dealt with people who had been in cults. I contacted them, but they had never worked with anyone from Christian Science.

    Anyway, I had to make my way out of the religion on my own. I feel like I’ve freed myself from it pretty well. But your link does look interesting. I’m glad there were people there who were really understanding, and were able to get you the help you needed, professionally. I’m glad that, with time, there is more understanding of the harm that is inherent in this religion, and how it can be treated. Thanks for the post.

  4. I seem to have anguish (depression and guilt turned inward) about the mind control facet of Christian Science as a religion. Marrying into a Christian Science family has been challenging to say the least. As a therapist seeking therapy for PTSD as a result of childhood abuse, I have realized that CS ironically supports not moving forward in healing, nor in being realistic. (Ignoring the problem completely, as if it’s not really there). Therein lies the problem. I began to find that my PTSD treatment that helped me with childhood abuse was a factor that led to my involvement with CS. It is natural for abuse to lead to more abusive relationships if you are vulnerable and not strong enough to stop it. Mind-control is abuse. Another confusing facet of CS is the pedestal of arrogance associated with its community and practitioners. That in itself demonstrates condescension. Mental Health is not necessarily visible in people. In this day and age, mental health needs to be taken very seriously. Ignoring the issue makes it worse. The ability to heal and be healed through professionals is documented and real. The lack of expertise in ‘practioners’ does not help or heal, yet hinders growth and success. I know many people conflicted sick over CS to the point of taking their lives. That becomes a bigger mental health issue. There is no doubt that it is becoming a dying religion. Practioners may in fact, be the pros at mind control, but the studied mental health therapists are the pros at in-doing it. They are the true healers. Anyone considering leaving or have already left the CS community would benefit from seeking help from a therapist.

  5. I’m pretty sure Mrs. Eddy referred to Psychology as “mortal mind’s tragic plaything”. Can anyone verify that?

    1. Quick google search for “mortal mind’s tragic plaything, christian science”… Not MBE, but I found something similar in the following CS Lecture:

      Christian Science: The Good News of Spiritual Healing

      Lowell F. Kennett, C.S., of Louisville, Kentucky
      Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
      The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

      “Healing comes in Christian Science when the patient is willing to place himself in God’s hands, with no concession to material beliefs such as medical diagnosis, drugs, and psychoanalysis, which are the tragic playthings of mortal mind.”

      Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 28, 1958.

  6. Giving my copy of “fathermothergod” by Lucia Greenhouse to my various therapists and psychiatrists, and also telling them about this blog (along with my secret identity) has been hugely helpful for me, personally.

    Sharing my story on here, enables me to not feel like I have to re-share all of it with everyone I come across. I have had 4 therapists and 1 psychiatrist. 2 of the therapists were fantastic. But they were either far away or my insurance didn’t cover it. But it’s great not to have to start over & share all over from the beginning.

    If you are considering therapy, please know that a good therapist will make you feel SAFE in their office. If you don’t feel safe there, they aren’t the right therapist for you. Seriously.

    Also, take in a copy of Lucia Greenhouse’s book, “fathermothergod.” Tell them it’s not an easy story, but it’s an easy read. Many folks can’t put it down once they start, and it takes maybe 4 1/2 hours to read it, beginning to end. After they read it, they will much more easily relate to whatever you say about christian science and how much it has affected you.

    I am so glad all of the folks who come & read this blog have found it, and that we can all help each other overcome the damaging mindset!! Help us ALL know that: WE ARE NOT ALONE.

  7. Is this website still active? I have not been a Christian Scientist for 40 years yet still find I believe some of the basic tenants and if I don’t i will somehow be punished.

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