Religious Trauma Syndrome has two essential parts. The first part of the trauma response occurs due to the chronic abuse and mistreatment during the overwhelming indoctrination into a dogmatic or fundamentalist religion. The second part of the traumatic experience begins when trying to leave that religion.
The symptoms of RTS fall into several important categories.
Most cult or fundamentalist groups threaten those that leave. Those that leave are typically separated from their families and shunned by their close support network. Many with RTS are struggling with the impact of feeling socially isolated and rejected for their decision to leave the unhealthy religious environment.
The are many ways in which the brain is trying to make sense of a really upsetting experience. Those with RTS might feel confused, easily overwhelmed, dissociative, or numb. They might struggle with their identity , decision-making, or feeling stable in their self of self worth.
Those with RTS might struggle to function or live as they would like. They might feel physical symptoms in lieu of their mental symptoms, or experience terrifying nightmares and flashbacks. We also see those struggling with RTS having issues with substance abuse, addiction, pain disorders, and eating disorders.
Unfortunately, rigid religious environments can cause delayed emotional development across the sexual, emotional, or identity development. When someone is oppressed or repressed while in their groups, they might struggle with immaturity when it comes to relating to others, themselves or making healthy decisions for themselves without the staunch rules to keep them in line.
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