Post Traumatic Religious Syndrome (PTRS)

Symptoms can be described as follows:

Dramatic/Traumatic loss of self identity

Feeling of having been mentally abused

Social isolation as a result of having been cut off from all contact with the outside world

Difficulty in finding the way back into a normal social surroundings

Depression as a result of the loss of ones own identity

Recurring nightmares

And the list goes on …


PTRS usually arises in that aftermath of:

having left a religious sect or cult

being excommunication by a religious sect or cult

end of a religious sect or cult

rescued from a religious sect or cult

being unwilling forced into a religious sect or cult as a child or spouse


Discovering that someone suffers from PTRS is often very difficult. In almost all cases the individuals can hid their experiences behind a world of indifference. Most people avoid contact with religious sects and are therefore immune to the idea that they can be so harmful, it’s what I call public indifference. You could almost say they feel ashamed to have been part of an religious sect, raped by it, and they just don’t want to talk about it. It’s difficult for a victim of this abuse to “Out themselves” since society cannot imagine that it’s possible to suffer in anyway as a result of bad religious practice. Religious sects and cults do damage to people, it’s a fact that nobody want to believe.


The buried emotional state of mind of a PTRS victim results in some very strange behavior that is often misunderstood by family, friends, and the world in general. The outing process is difficult, often with an imagined stigma, that isn’t all to imagined but very real. You get labeled, therefore you begin to hid even more behind a facade of underlying emotions. These can often span throughout the whole of a life span. Younger victims can have lasting side effect right up till their deaths.


It takes a lot of persuasion for a PTRS victim to connect back into the main stream of daily life. Detoxification is a form of deprogramming that requires a willpower that would seem for others as super human. Most give up, since the effort is simply to big. The result is a return to another religious group in most cases a little less extreme. The sheltering effect is returned and the stigma not so hard to bare. For those who do discover the can make the jump back the experience is almost intoxicating, a new found self, a world of freedom and hope for a self defined life.


It goes without saying that although there are no statistics with respect to suicide rates of victims of PTRS, the number of deaths whether mental or physical are there. For an outsider to pick up on the trauma that is brewing under the surface that is so well hidden, very difficult and almost impossible for an untrained eye. We live in a world where shutting out anything thing that isn’t in the norm is the norm. Discussion seems useless since for most the idea of being tricked into joining a sect or cult is out of the question. How can anyone fall for this trap? Therefore discussion is out of the question. Faced with a world of indifference the victim of PTRS is now even more isolated then before. Breaking the isolation is the most important step to escaping to a more balanced way of life, a way of accepting the past and putting an end to it. Only then can a Victim truly live a normal life and avoid the depressions that can lead to suicide.


I’m not sure how help groups would function with this problem. The programing by religious sects is often very difficult to decode. The brain is not easy to wash clean from years of indoctrinated programming. The coding is so deep in some instances that it would be nearly a miracle (if you believe in miracles) for someone to walk away without having permanent side effects. I would go so fare as to call it a form of Programmed Brain Damage, or PBD. 


Since we are in life designed to be influenced by ones self and by others the question is, who is to be taken account of for the influences we experience? Is it the person who’s been misguided, or the persons who are misguiding? Our brains are hard-wired to accept new programing, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to evolve through life. This in itself is proof enough that nothing is static in our world and that we can influence change in more ways then one. Religions can use this instinctive human drive to grab at anything that will provide a victim with a satisfactory answers to their basic instinctive need to understand why we are. Religions plug in on and transfer their idea directly into the victims mind, burring it deep inside, with roots that grow deeper the longer the exposure.


It’s is strange but educating people about the dangers of cults and sects is of little priority in our world. Religions get to much freedom to act without any form of self control that truly puts the facts on the table. We’ve simply rule out any form of self critic with respect to the abuse of peoples rights when it comes to sects, cults and religions. Without allowing for critic there is no way that you can make any of these organization accountable for their actions today. There is not real policing of religion, it’s taboo to question.


So in the coming years the explosion of religious extremes in America will continue, and many more children and adults will suffer from PTRS should they leave the closed surrounding of a religious sect or cult. As long as America and the rest of the world tolerates the spreading of lies under the disguise of religious freedom, we shouldn’t wonder why there is so much social unrest and division within the populations of the world. 



17 Replies to “Post Traumatic Religious Syndrome (PTRS)”

  1. Good god, the picture is traumatic enough to send people to the cardiac unit at the hospital. How do you come up with these ideas?

  2. Armstrongists have become so jaded that they won’t even bother to read articles of truth unless there is some extreme shock value associated with it.

    After all, if you are looking forward to the Great Tribulation with glee with all the blood and gore associated with it and the Day of the Lord, followed by blood up to the horses’ bridles with burying dead bodies for eight months, you aren’t going to be swayed by some cutesy picture.

    No, indeed!

    To get through to the Armstrongists, you need SHOCK value!

    And even then, they probably won’t listen.

    After all, Scripture demands that the false prophet be put to DEATH!

    But the Armstrongists just live with the false prophets and all the damage they do without so much as “by your leave”.

    Sure, they can see that Harold Camping was so wrong, but they are blind concerning their 700+ groups led by absolute abominable rotten false prophets under the death penalty.

    As the Christian believers say, there’s power in the blood.

    Unfortunately, it’s not the blood of the false prophets.

    They get a free pass.

  3. Radical Jack, I hope that you never lose your sensitivity as many have: Too many have become totally desensitized to the violence (even within the Cult of Armstrong) to the point that they participate in the most cruel behavior to others, even their children, all because they have come to believe that the end justifies the means.

    And we could have you scroll down below the picture, but then, there is that Bible splattered with blood.

    I suppose that many people are not going to get it, just how these cold blooded predators can even exist in something that poses that it is “Christian”. For a time, I was involved with a couple in United trying to escape the oppression of a man in the church stalking them — with the support of the Senior Regional Pastor and the man was also supported by an elder, two deacons and a deaconness at trial while the couple was trying to get a restraining order. No one seems to care about the absolute TERROR of a woman in the church look out and see a stalker from the church in the parking lot of her apartment complex — who drives away when he sees her looking at him.

    Then there’s the terrible tale of the boy in the box who was confined to the equivalent of a wooden crate for several years by his mother in the church.

    Sodom and Gommorah have nothing on the Armstrongist churches of God, generating cash and ego stroking for the reptilian cult leaders having cold blooded appepetites regarding their membership as little more than prey.

  4. “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion…” Whom?The rest of the quote pertains to those who will be “damned” because they ‘take pleasure in unrighteousness”.

    Most people, in fact, we might say every person on earth, takes pleasure in what s/he defines as righteousness, even though others can clearly see it for the bullshit it is. However, no o ne has a privileged, authoritative position on truth. Therefore, we are all pleasure seekers, but we do not seek unrighteousness. We seek to feel both pleasant and righteous. But these are feelin gs, not facts. All religions base their “truth” on feelings, even Armstrongism. If you reach the point where you are expected to accept individual freedom, the tendency is to reject it for som e form of collectivism. Very few take the leap to individual freedom.

  5. Dear All,

    I created PTRS in the hopes that one day in a future world people will truly understand what sects and cults can do to people. The virtual or real blood loose is hidden to most and isn’t a joking matter. We are in some way born with blinders on, a natural way of not seeing the things we don’t want to see. It’s hard to believe but I guess if you go out an shout it long enough maybe one day people will listen.

    Are America and the world ready to confront religious groups that have manipulated people for so long and bring them to justice? Religion once had a completely different value, but in a world where power and money play such an important role it’s difficult to imagine the problem going away any time in the near future. Declaring war on religious fanatics and groups that promote intolerance is a loosing battle. The majority of the world isn’t that religious, but we have become religiously indifferent when it comes to dealing with sects and cults.

  6. RIC,

    “Are America and the world ready to confront religious groups that have manipulated people for so long and bring them to justice? Religion once had a completely different value, but in a world where power and money play such an important role it’s difficult to imagine the problem going away any time in the near future.”

    Some in the EU, such as Germany are doing just that with the scientologists. They are an “illegal/outlawed” group.
    In America there are no outlawed groups. That would be an infringement on religious liberties under our constitution. It is a matter of conscious. Otherwise, it is up to the individual to seek out the answers, truth, etc.

    “Religion once had a completely different value, but in a world where power and money play such an important role it’s difficult to imagine the problem going away any time in the near future.”

    At one time, say a century ago, religion did serve a different role, at least in some groups. There have always been the full blown charlatans who use people for financial gain. In the past two century’s religion was community and community was small town America. Church drew people together. Call it one big social club and you would be right.

    As time went on we got the IRS, churches were incorporated in order to receive tax exemptions, (government control) and society grew wealthy thanks to the Federal Reserve and the end of the Bretton Woods system.

    “Declaring war on religious fanatics and groups that promote intolerance is a loosing battle.”
    Its up to the individual to do their own D&D. One thing that is helping America into the post Christian world is the Internet. You can Google anything to learn more.

    “but we have become religiously indifferent when it comes to dealing with sects and cults.”
    And it will remain so. People go into religions for different reasons. What they don’t do is go into them with both eyes open and a open or discriminating mind. As long as people join the cults they will not cease to exist. As long as there is some asshole with an “interpretation” of the bible/koran or any other “holy book” this crap continues. So it will continue to go on until man evolves out of the mindset in which he was born unto. That mindset is religion/magical thinking that takes us out of reality and places us into the world of fantasy.

    I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  7. Hi James

    Indifference is everywhere, and lobby groups try to get our attention and awareness to something that could prove important for your community and society. I suppose we could look at ourselves and a kind of warning sign for those who would like to inform themselves as the pitfalls that lie ahead if you keep going down the same road.

    The banning of scientology in many European countries isn’t because of their religious practices but more as a result of their illegal practices, and dangerous political involvements. This group is getting very actively involved in trying to promote their form of suppression in some very nasty ways. In europe we’ve gone a different path and that has happened a couple of times in the past few centuries, not surprising that so may faiths escaped persecution as they would put it and left for America, a country that tolerates these practices and groups. That doesn’t mean it was always done with good intentions on the European continent, but this place as been the battle grounds for some very nasty religious wars.

    The perversion of religion over the past thousands of years is in my opinion obvious and yet not so obvious. On the one hand religion doesn’t have any real economic value. I’m not talking in dollars and cents, but in terms of it putting a roof over your head or food on the table. You don’t need it for that. However over time communities grow and the collective decides to support it’s belief with places of worship. An infrastructure of this kind doesn’t survive without the collective support of a group, ready to sacrifice some of it’s “resources” to maintain the structure. The structure grows, gains power, and uses this power to get even more support, just like any other organization or business. Without this support it dies. Since an organization of this kind is run by people and these people do not want to loose their status or the wealth that goes with it, their ability to corrupt the original idea behind the structure is almost unstoppable. It’s almost impossible not to resist manipulating people when it comes to saving your own lazy skin.

    Resources are what keep cults and sects alive. HWA was very good at collecting the resources of his members and this to support his jet-set lifestyle at the cost of many members living at the poverty line.

    I suppose we could say that we can only inform, and bring to light the many lies that tricks sects and cults use to manipulate people into joining. In the end you decide for yourself what is right or wrong for you.

    However, children should be protected from this mindless act. And how do we protect them form parents that can’t see the damage they are doing?

    The moral dilemma (with our without religion) is programmed, hardwired into our personal and emotional state of mind. We cannot only function rationally, otherwise we wouldn’t be Human. Therefore it will always be difficult to usurp religion form it’s moral high ground. For many it’s hard to resist the light, it’s so bright.

    All the facts that science has brought us over the years to disqualify religious explanation for our existence isn’t enough to dull the feelings of there is more out their, and when someone comes along to offer an answer it’s often very difficult for some to resist. Ignorance is one factor, but I think it’s still the indifference that is the major factor.

  8. Religion is the device to build an empire if one is clever enough. Those men who lack integrity and honor use religion as the driving force for personal wealth. It is easy enough to do if you have a vision or imagination and are able to drive people into a frenzy of fear.

    Take all this hocus pocus bullshit about the Mayan calendar. There are authors who sell this to the public in order to make a profit off the emotion of fear. These are the users. They are not useful individuals within the frame work of society. They are destroyers of human beings.

    The great driving force behind humanity is fear and not love. Fear is what empowers churches and countries. Fear is what sells books and doomsday movies. Fear motivates action. Fear destroys the “self” and replaces human sanity with illogical thought processes. And finally, fear destroys ones decision making process and leads them down a road that they would not have traveled if not for the “motivator” that started the process in the first place.

    These motivators are your cult leaders, politicians, and perhaps your employer. It is what you need to know to keep your mind free of those hazards that can change your life in a way that transforms you into someone or something you’d rather not be.


    Off topic here. You wrote:

    “An infrastructure of this kind doesn’t survive without the collective support of a group, ready to sacrifice some of it’s “resources” to maintain the structure. The structure grows, gains power, and uses this power to get even more support, just like any other organization or business. Without this support it dies. Since an organization of this kind is run by people and these people do not want to loose their status or the wealth that goes with it, their ability to corrupt the original idea behind the structure is almost unstoppable.”

    You just described the United States House of Representatives and the spoilers (lobbyists) who corrupt them. Prostitutes, all of them!

  9. Usually, banning anything causes a surge in its popularity. Making it illegal drives it underground. Best thing you can do with bad philosophy is expose it, debunk it, and show the basic badness it produces in peoples’ lives. Then, hopefully, it dies a quiet death. Unfortunately, said death experience is long in the making.

    I’m constantly amazed at the layers upon layers of damage that exposure to Armstrongism causes. In one way, I feel fortunate to have been involved in it “ONLY” from age 8 to age 28. But, that was enough to cause anomalies in thinking, personality, behavior, world view, self-image, concept of God and of Jesus Christ, in the planning of my life, education, marriage(s), career, family, relationship to authority figures, view of and interaction with colleagues and contemporaries, and many other areas. The list goes on, and on, and on. Some have stated that their lives would probably have fallen into similar patterns regardless as to whether they had been exposed to Armstrongism, and they may well be correct. In my case, I know that life would have been completely different had my parents never become part of the early “Radio Church of God”. There are most certainly some action patterns which are seeminly inate. However, indulging in these normal patterns with Armstrongism as a catalyst or modifier caused vastly different results than what we might have experienced in a more nurturing, or positively mentoring group.

    I used to say that I arrived at AC in 1966 with PTSD, and frankly that was probably correct, given the horrid WCG homelife of my formative years. And, AC was not exactly therapeutic itself. It requires years, and even therapy to shed PTSD, regardless of the initial source. In some ways, it never completely goes away, but I’m glad to report that in my case, it has dissipated considerably.


  10. Herbert Armstrong was certainly the cause of catastrophe for many when it came to retirment.

    We all trusted that we would be in the Kingdom of God and not have to worry about retirement in this world.

    It has been a terrible experience for those who were not at all prepared.

    Lies cause such damage.

  11. Hi Bob

    I agree with you in most cases people who get involved with a sect/cult are looking for answers to questions that can’t be answered. HWA didn’t reinvent the wheel with WCG. He said he had the answers and had the proof (I never found any) that he was right, and people want to believe. It’s easier to believe then to have to find evidence for something, or admit you don’t have an answer. Not having an answer for some is a “No-Go”, ergo create an answer and call it the truth.

    I would even go so fare as to say that people under 40 or even a little younger are very likely to get involved with extreme groups. They are often more open simply because they lack the experience it takes to judge carefully as to what the outcome could be if they do get involved.

    The most amazing part about the WCG is also the LAYERS of lies that where created. Added to all the contradictions, false predictions etc … I mean if you add up all the lies you kind of wonder why people fall for it.

    I guess the more HWA lied the more people where ready to believe.


  12. Yes, Douglas, the presence of these indigent retirees constitutes an undeniable fact which counters the contentions of the extreme groupies who still insist that HWA never set dates, was right about prophecy, and never mislead anyone. I mean, why would all of these people have responded to the church’s counsel, voluntarily opting out of Social Security, had HWA not set dates? That, and the three math equations we were taught in Bible class at AC present some pretty convicting evidence.


  13. Toffler said it in 1970 in “Future Shock”. Technology breeds cults and sub-cults because it increases the options we have and creates uncertainty. We join groups that reduce options and give us meaning.

    Technology, especially the big Pharma drug companies, give us an idea of “freedom” which tells us basically “Do what you like, regardless of consequences, and we can make you feel good in spite of it”.

    And they wonder why we have a drug epidemic. What we generally view as religion is basically a desire to have meaning, and if others share our worldview, we derive meaning from them. HWA touched deeply on our sense of dismay at the changes in the world, and he made us understand that the religions that grew up around that society weren’t really sacred. He then became the “default religion”. We now should realize none of them are true.

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