Christian Science Gaslighting

In the chapter on Christian Science Practice in Science and Health, Ms. Eddy presents an “allegory illustrative of the law of divine Mind and of the supposed laws of matter and hygiene, an allegory in which the plea of Christian Science heals the sick” which runs from p. 430 – 443 (the end of the chapter – 1). Ms. Eddy explains

  • A man is charged with having committed liver-complaint. The patient feels ill, ruminates, and the trial commences. Personal Sense is the plaintiff. Mortal Man is the defendant. False Belief is the attorney for Personal Sense. Mortal Minds, Materia Medica, Anatomy, Physiology, Hypnotism, Envy, Greed and Ingratitude, constitute the jury. The court-room is filled with interested spectators, and Judge Medicine is on the bench. (p. 430)

The trial quickly disintegrates into Ms. Eddy’s limited 19th century understanding of medicine: the witnesses, Coated Tongue, Sallow Skin, Nerve,  Mortality – Governor of the Province of Body, and Death are all called and eventually

  • Judge Medicine then proceeds to pronounce the solemn sentence of death upon the prisoner…. The prisoner is then remanded to his cell (sick-bed), and Scholastic Theology is sent for to prepare the frightened sense of Life, God, — which sense must be immortal, — for death. (p. 433).

Not all is lost!

  • Permission is obtained for a trial in the Court of Spirit, where Christian Science is allowed to appear as counsel for the unfortunate prisoner. Witnesses, judges, and jurors, who were at the previous Court of Error, are now summoned to appear before the bar of Justice and eternal Truth. (p. 434)

What happens next is esoteric Christian Science reasoning at it’s finest:

  • The plea of False Belief we deem unworthy of a hearing. Let what False Belief utters, now and forever, fall into oblivion, “unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.” According to our statute, Material Law is a liar who cannot bear witness against Mortal Man, neither can Fear arrest Mortal Man nor can Disease cast him into prison. Our law refuses to recognize Man as sick or dying, but holds him to be forever in the image and likeness of his Maker. …  The Supreme Bench decides in favor of intelligence, that no law outside of divine Mind can punish or reward Mortal Man. Your personal jurors in the Court of Error are myths. (p.441-2 emphasis mine)

I find it interesting Ms. Eddy uses both Man and Mortal Man on p. 441-2. On p. 468 Ms. Eddy is quite clear that

  • There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual. (emphasis mine)

By putting MORTAL MAN on trial, she is violating her own laws of man as a spiritual idea of God. In Ms. Eddy’s view Mortal Man is no more real than his complaint about his liver. Ms. Eddy’s insistence that mortal man be spared through Christian Science is in direct contradiction to her own ideas about the true Spiritual nature of mankind.

I have no desire for mortal man to pass on before his time, however, as long as he is occupying his mortal (and material) body he should take steps to look after it. Ms. Eddy never claims that mortal man will have everlasting life — that is reserved for Man as a Spiritual Idea of God. Ms. Eddy may mean well as she grants Mortal Man a reprieve, but what about the next time Mortal Man has a complaint? Will Christian Science triumph again, or will Mortal Man succumb to some other complaint (2)?

There are plenty of documented cases where Christian Science failed to “save” Mortal Man – or mortal children (3), yet Christian Scientists are gaslighted by well-meaning fellow Christian Scientists into thinking these failures are their own fault: You’re not material, you’re spiritual! There is no sensation in matter. You must not have prayed enough. You’re bitter. Your faith was shaky. Instead of questioning the religion, they question themselves and thus begins a deadly spiral of ignoring the problem, and praying for a solution.

You feel crazy, defective, and like a bit of a wreck. You turn to Christian Science even more fully in an attempt to find answers.

Gaslighting
A common form of brainwashing in which an abuser tries to falsely convince the victim that the victim is defective, for any purpose whatsoever, such as making the victim more pliable and easily controlled, or making the victim more emotional and therefore more needy and dependent. (4)

Christian Science excels at gaslighting: I was on a phone call with a CSP who was telling me that my badly twisted ankle, which was swelling up and throbbing in pain, was “unreal” and just “mortal mind.” There was more than one night I spent trying to pray about fever-induced hallucinations knowing they were only aggressive mental suggestion trying to put me off my true spiritual path. The “unreal” mountains of kleenx that littered my dorm room as I suffered from the “unreality of the flu.” I couldn’t call in sick, I had to call in because I was “working on a demonstration.” Women’s menstrual cramps were not related an ovarian cyst, PCOS or nutrient deficiency, they were God’s way of punishing them for having impure thoughts. At the end of the day all our suffering was self-induced because our thought strayed from God.

Christian Science Gaslighting
a religious form of brainwashing in which a follower of Christian Science, tries to convince the victim/patient (usually a fellow Christian Scientist or “lapsed” Christian Scientist) that the victim/patient is God’s Perfect Child and is spiritual, not material, and therefore any problems the victim claims to have are simply mortal mind, erroneous thought, or aggressive mental suggestion. The end result of this is usually the victim/patient feels like a failure as a Christian Scientist and redoubles their efforts to heal themselves by spending even more time with the Authorized Literature often to the detriment of their physical health and mental well being.

An excellent example of “Christian Science Gaslighting” comes from a CS Nurse’s response to the question of “how do i leave christian science” (5) when she states:

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 7.38.41 PMI have no problem with encouraging someone to see the more positive side of the issue, but the attitude that when someone can be “held back by their lack of healing” that it is okay to ONLY “continue to see them the way God really made them” is harmful on every level. Serious maladies which could/should have been remedied have been overlooked because people were taught to believe that mortal life is unreal: they believe that understanding the spiritual universe created by God results in physical healing (6).

Ms. Eddy has a fair bit to say about working out your own salvation (7), and while not standing in agreement with mortal mind may help a CSN or CSP sleep better at night, it does little for the person suffering.


End notes

  1. http://christianscience.com/read-online/science-and-health/%28chapter%29/chapter-xii-christian-science-practice#anchor.1.12
  2. It is worth noting Ms. Eddy eventually died, and her body was buried http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Baker_Eddy#Death
  3. http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20915F7345911738DDDAC0994D0405B8985F0D3, https://emergegently.wordpress.com/tag/deaths-in-christian-science/, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA081EFC355E12738DDDA10A94DF405B848DF1D3, https://cs.uwaterloo.ca/~shallit/Talks/cs.html, http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/flashbks/xsci/xscilett.htm – you can do a quick google search and turn up even more
  4. jebrown.us/Relationshop/Definitions/gaslighting.html
  5. http://time4thinkers.com/forums/topic/how-do-i-leave-christian-science-behind/
  6. http://secular.org/heywoodtestimony
  7. http://kindism.org/2013/06/02/suffering-is-oft-the-divine-agent-in-this-elevation/, see also http://kindism.org/?s=salvation&submit=Search

More reading on Gaslighting

  • http://thestir.cafemom.com/love_sex/159299/10_signs_your_man_is
  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gaslighting
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

This post originally appeared at kindism.org, it has been republished here with permission.

One comment

  • Contributor Chrystal

    Thank you so much for this post. This is a thorough post, and yet, the gaslighting that we all endured is even worse than words can describe. Because it was endless, and about EVERYTHING growing up. Imagine being taught to gaslight yourself!! Yourself!

    “My toe is probably dislocated, but it’s not dislocated, it’s only my thought that is dislocated. I can’t walk on it, so I should walk on it to prove that it’s not really hurt. It hurts so badly I am crying out in pain, but I will force myself to keep going because it’s not real…..”

    Egads.

    Also – the enjoyment of food. There is no joy in food. We eat only to stay alive, because we haven’t demonstrated an ability above needing food ….

    It’s exhausting!!

    Thank you again for this post. Seriously.

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