Monday, July 29, 2013

Post-Cult Recovery and Post-Cult Spiritual Quest

After leaving religious cults, ex-members may need to deal with spiritual issues. I think that dealing with spiritual issues of the post-cult recovery and post-cult spiritual quest are different things. I consider post-cult recovery as the process that has a purpose to completely eliminate damage caused by the cult. It can be compared to recovery from a disease. (By using this comparison, I do not mean that all the ex-cult members need therapy. I consider post-cult recovery as an educational process rather than a therapeutic process.) However, spiritual quest is a process that does not have to do with any damage. It can be compared to physical exercises. A person who is recovering from a physical disease may need to take some medicines and at the same time do some exercises. After he or she is recovered, he/she will stop taking medicines, but may continue to exercise.

I consider that in a similar way, ex-members of cults may feel a need to deal with both post-cult recovery and post-cult spiritual quest. People who have never been in cults, obviously, do not need post-cult recovery, but they may feel the need for spiritual quest. So, post-cult recovery is like getting recovered from a disease, while spiritual quest is a "healthy" process, but both of them may go together.

It may be not so easy to separate spiritual aspect of post-cult recovery and post-cult spiritual quest. For example, after leaving a religious cult a person may have a need to reconsider beliefs. Will it be a part of recovery or a part of spiritual quest? It seems that getting rid of the cult indoctrination will have more to do with recovery, but formation of new beliefs will have more to do with spiritual quest. However, practically, the process of reconsideration of beliefs will probably be one process when a person gets rid of the cult beliefs and substitutes them with new beliefs. Well, in a sense, it may be compared to therapeutic exercises. On the one hand, therapeutic exercises are medical procedure to help a person is recovery from a disease. But on the other hand, they are physical exercises.

My personal process of reconsideration of my beliefs after leaving the cult, probably, consisted of two steps. In the beginning, I examined the cult doctrines and checked them with Christian theology and other (non-cultic) interpretations of the Bible. At this step, I made conclusions that the cult doctrines were wrong and not biblical. But after that, I studied theology, the Bible and Bible commentaries more. I studied various views, various interpretations, and various doctrines. Then, I compared them, considered them, and made my own conclusions before accepting any of them. It was the second step, and it was deeper and required more studies. So, I would consider the first step as a part of post-cult recovery, while the second step as a part of post-cult spiritual quest. However, I understand that for many people both steps may take place together.

In fact, probably, many people never do even the first step. They just reject any religion in total without any careful examination of the cult doctrines. I do not think it is good, actually. Let me explain why. I grew up in an atheist country and in an atheist family. I was a convinced atheist. I became a Christian one year before getting involved into a cult, but I was not a member of any church at that time and obviously I did not have sufficient time to become very grounded in Christian faith before joining the cult. After leaving the cult, basically, I had two options: to keep the cult beliefs or to return to atheism. I chose the second option. Many ex-members of cults do this, actually. However, if later I had felt that atheism does not satisfy me, what would I have done? It would be quite naturally for me to return to the cult beliefs because I had just these two options. Then, it would have been very natural and easy for me to return to the cult. Unfortunately, I saw this quite often among ex-members of the cult I was involved in. Some people were years out of the cult (one person was 10 years out of the cult), but they eventually came back. Why? I think one of the reasons was that their belief system was never changed. When I left, I decided that I did not want to ever come back. It was one of the reasons why I began to reconsider my beliefs.

On the other hand, if I had not reconsidered my beliefs, I would have still had some other problems. For example, suppose I am talking with someone or read something and suddenly I hear or read something about the Bible or Christianity or just about religion. (In fact, I had such situations very often.) How would I have reacted? Any such mention of religious things would have reminded me about the cult. I would have still view the Bible through the "glasses" of the cult interpretation of the Bible. Any mention of Christianity would have brought me remembrance about the cult doctrines and practices. So, any mention of anything that has to do with religion would have been very triggering to me. Well, it was how I reacted very soon after leaving the cult, but I do not react this way now. For example, the first thing I think when I hear or read about the Bible is my current understanding the Bible. If I think more, I think about other views and interpretations. And only after I think more, I may remember about the cult teachings, but they do not trigger me any more.

Well, I would not say that post-cult spiritual quest is mandatory for ex-members of cults. In fact, I even would not say that post-cult recovery is mandatory. Everyone is free to decide: to recover or not. However, I believe that post-cult spiritual quest and spiritual aspects of post-cult recovery are very beneficial.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Psychology and Theology (1)

Are psychology and theology (or religion) related or not? If they are, in what way? This is an interesting question.

Article Secular and Sacred Models of Psychology and Religion by Dr. John D. Carter published in Journal of Psychology and Theology, Volume 5, no. 3, Summer 1977, pp. 197-208, gives eight models of psychology and religion, four of them are secular and four are Christian. This article was later republished in Psychology & Christianity Integration: Seminal Works that Shaped the Movement, pp. 210-219, edited by Daryl H. Stevenson, Brian E. Eck, Peter C. Hill (2007). These models were also reposted in Biblical Counseling Seminar Materials, pp. 47-50 by Dr. Edward Watke Jr.:

I. Four Secular Models of Psychology and Religion.
A. Psychology Against Religion
1. Science or the scientific method is the only valid means of truth.
2. Truth claims other than science are destructive.
2. Religion is a myth rather than truth, and is destructive.
3. Religion's destructiveness is its prohibitive or inhibitive effect on its members and on society.
4. "Scientific" (valid) psychology is the solution to individual problems.
Examples: Ellis and Freud
B. Psychology of Religion
1. Man is a spiritual-moral being (at least, in a humanistic sense).
2. Religion, technology, science or society which denies man's spirit, and thus his nature, creates pathology.
3. Most or all religions have recognized the spiritual-human quality of man and thus have the right approach.
4. The particular cultural-social-theological definition of man must be discarded in favor of a truly psychological definition of human functioning.
5. Good psychology translates the valid insights of religion into psychology and uses them for human good.
Examples: Fromm, Jung, and Mowrer
C. Psychology Parallels Religion
1. Religion and psychology are not related.
2. Each exists in its own sphere. One is scientific and the other is not.
3. Religion is a personal (and social) matter, while psychology is intellectual and academic.
4. Both religion and psychology can be embraced. There is no conflict since they do not interact.
Examples: Thorne
D. Psychology Integrates Religion
1. A unifying or integrating view of truth in religion and psychology is both possible and desirable.
2. The truth or insights from psychology or religion will have some correspondence with the other discipline.
3. The truth or valid principles of religion and psychology are in harmony and form a unity.
4. Religion as socially manifested may be pathological but its intrinsic nature is not.
5. Valid religion and religious experiences are helpful in transcending the pains of existence or in assisting in the maturing process of growth.
Examples: Allport, Frankl, and Guntrip

II. Four Christian Models of Psychology and Religion
A. The Scripture Against Psychology
1. Basic epistemological assumption: Revelation is against reason, i.e., the Scripture is contradictory to human thought both rationally and empirically.
2. Soteriology and the Fall are stressed so as to eliminate and ignore creation and providence.
3. Basic psychological assumption: The Scriptures contain all the precepts of mental health.
4. All emotional problems are spiritual problems because they result from disobedience.
5. All problems can be solved by obedience to Scripture if the individual is confronted with a relevant passage of Scripture.
Example: Adams
B. The Scripture of Psychology
1. Basic epistemological assumption: Human reason is more fundamental, comprehensive (technical), and contemporary than revelation.
2. Creation and Providence are stressed so as to ignore or eliminate soteriology and the Fall.
3. Basic psychological assumption: Psychology has discovered the basic principles of emotional health, maturity, and good interpersonal functioning.
4. Emotional problems can be solved by consulting a therapist or applying the principles of emotional maturity and good interpersonal relations.
Examples: Relational theology
C. The Scripture Parallels Psychology
1. Basic epistemological assumption: Revelation can never be reduced to reason nor can reason be reduced to revelation.
2. God requires obedience to both revelation and to reason. Hence, there is an implicit tension existing in the approach.
3. Both Creation-Providence and soteriology are stressed but they belong to different spheres.
4. Spiritual problems should be dealt with by the pastor; emotional problems by a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Examples: Clement (Isolation) Meehl (Correlation)
D. The Scripture Integrates Psychology
1. Basic epistemological assumption: God is the author of both revelation and reason because all truth (and truths) are God's truth and thus ultimately a part of a unified or integrated whole.
2. Creation-Providence is stressed equally with soteriology.
3. All problems are, in principle, a result of the Fall but not, in fact, the result of immediate conscious acts.
4. Since values are significant both for the Christian and for therapy, a genuine Christian therapy is necessary.
5. Paraklesis is the pattern for this type of therapy.
Examples: Crabb, Hulme, van Kaam, Wagner, Carter, & Mohline

In his book Effective Biblical Counseling, Dr. Larry Crabb gave somewhat funny names for the four Christian approaches:
1. "Separate But Equal" (the Scripture parallels psychology);
2. "Tossed Salad" (the Scripture and psychology are integrated with the tendency to view both of them as equal);
3. "Nothing Buttery" (the Scripture against psychology);
4. "Spoiling the Egyptians" (the Scripture integrates psychology; the Bible has preeminence, and only the components of psychology that are consistent with biblical teaching and principles are integrated). This approach is between the second and the third ones.

For a long time, I considered psychology and theology to be two completely different things and dealing with two different subjects, that is, my approach was "The Scripture Parallels Psychology" or "Separate But Equal." However, eventually, I came to conclusion that my approach was not correct.

The Bible does have a lot to say about psychology. Systematic theology includes parts that have to with psychology - anthropology, hamartiology (the teaching about sin), and some part of soteriology (the teaching about salvation). There is such a thing as Biblical psychology, which is rather a part of Christian theology than a part of secular psychology. This approach is presented, for example, in A System of Biblical Psychology by Franz Delitzsch (notice that this book was published in German in 1861 when, for instance, Sigmund Freud was only five years old), in Biblical Theology by Prof. Herman Hanko, in Christian Psychology by Dr. E. C. Bragg, and in many other works. Such approach is based on the Bible, not on the secular psychology. In fact, it existed long before modern secular psychology came to existence. Then, there is a branch of theology which is called pastoral theology. It includes pastoral care and pastoral counseling. Again, these things existed long before modern secular psychotherapy.

Well, supposedly, psychology deals with psychological problems and theology deals with spiritual problems. But it is not so easy to make a distinction between psychological and spiritual problems. For example, such things as anxiety, depression, irrational fear (phobia), sense of guilt, and a number of others are usually considered as psychological problems and many people go to therapists with them. However, the Bible has a lot to say about these things too. Of course, the biblical solution and the psychotherapy solution are different, but the point is that both of them deal with the same kind of problems.

As far as I understand, Sigmund Freud is considered to be the founder of modern psychotherapy. He used some ideas of Johann Heinroth who was a Christian psychiatrist and used Christian approach (Johann Christian August Heinroth: psychosomatic medicine eighty years before Freud by Steinberg H., Herrmann-Lingen C., Himmerich H.). Well, of course, Freud took away all the religious elements from Heinroth's works because of his anti-religious bias. Anyway, my point is that modern secular psychology has not appeared in the end of the 19th century out of nothing. It did use some things from Christianity, which had existed long time before.

Thinking over all this, I came to conclusion that it is not very correct to view psychology and theology as two completely different things ("The Scripture Parallels Psychology" aka the "Separate But Equal" approach).

I do not think that psychology should be rejected completely ("The Scripture Against Psychology" aka the "Nothing Buttery" approach). On the one hand, it seems that most people who prefer this approach use so called "Nouthetic (that is, admonishing) counseling" promoted by Dr. Jay Adams. Originally, this approach seems to be an extreme reaction to various unsupported ideas from the secular psychology, including the tendency to reduce people's responsibility for their socially harmful actions and view them as mental health disorders, such as Antisocial personality disorder aka Dissocial personality disorder. Adams rejects the concept of mental disorders and views all the psychological problems as the results of sins committed by people who have these problems. Counselors who use this approach first try to discover the sins committed by their clients and then tell them that they should repent and confess their sins and change their behavior. I think it is quite obvious that this approach may lead to spiritual abuse. In addition, this approach presents the Bible and Christian teaching in a very legalistic way. It neglects Bible passages on God's love, acceptance, support, comfort, consolation, encouragement. Christian religion is religion of grace, not religion of law. So, this approach misrepresents the core of Christianity. Therefore, I disagree with this approach. On the other hand, although I do not agree with anti-religious position of many secular psychologists and their philosophical premises, I do not think that psychology (or any other science) should be rejected.

I prefer more balanced integration approach, that is, "The Scripture Integrates Psychology" aka the "Tossed Salad" or the "Spoiling the Egyptians" approach with more inclination toward the latter approach because it gives priority to the Bible. There are many different approaches within the integration position. It seems that one of the most popular approaches within "Spoiling the Egyptians" approach is the view on Biblical counseling promoted by evangelical psychologist Dr. Larry Crabb. Actually, his views changed over the years. In his early writings, he paid more attention on right thinking, right behavior, and right feelings, but in his later writings, he changed his emphasis to acceptance (like in his book Connecting: Healing Ourselves and Our Relationships).

In chapter 5 of this book, he writes that secular psychologist Carl Rodgers promoted connection through unconditional positive regard. Rodgers "offers acceptance without the atonement and understanding rather than forgiveness. In his thinking, there is nothing terrible in us that requires forgiveness. The problem is merely disconnection, a state of detachment that is the result not of rebellious independence from God but unfortunate psychological development. The atonement is therefore irrelevant. Unconditional positive regard is the total answer. <...> Rodgers sees no need for the atonement. In his mind, there is no sin to forgive." Crabb, being an evangelical, does not agree with Rodgers' rejection of the existence of sin and need of atonement and forgiveness. However, he strongly agrees with his concept of acceptance. He writes, "Why then do I feel so drawn to the kind of community that Rogers envisions, where acceptance supplants judgment, where we continue calling out the good in each other in spite of whatever ugliness we see? Why do I want to see some of Rogers's thinking rub off on pastors and on me?"

Well, this is a good example of integration approach when Christians use good things that secular psychology can offer. However, Rodgers was not the first person who promoted acceptance. Jesus said in John 6:37 (NIV): "All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." He said in Matthew 11:28 (NIV): "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He also said in Matthew 9:12b-13 (NIV): "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Jesus accepted all the people who came to Him. In Romans 15:7 (NIV) Paul wrote: "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." In Romans 14:1-3 (NIV) he wrote: "Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them." Acceptance is a biblical principle. It is not just something invented by Rodgers. And just like many Christians fail to practice what the Bible teaches about acceptance, I do not believe that many secular psychologists who like Rodgers' ideas really practice them.

His ideas actually seem to be quite utopic. As far as I understand, his main idea was that any human being is good, but this inner goodness cannot be manifested because of outward restrictions, and he viewed this as the main cause of psychological problems. His solution was that all the outward restrictions should be removed in order that this inner goodness may be manifested. It was in this context that he promoted complete acceptance of a person as totally good. Well, I guess it is quite clear what will happen in any society without any laws, any cultural norms, without government, police, and so on. In fact, the Bible gives an example of it. Judges 17:6 and 21:25 (NIV): "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit." I do not think that many people would like to live in a society of chaos described in Judges. My personal attitude to Rodgers' ideas is similar to Crabb's. I agree with Rodgers' idea of acceptance, but disagree with his philosophy of secular humanism.

I do not agree with everything written by Crabb (and as I have mentioned, he changed his views over the time), but I definitely like his emphasis on acceptance and connection. In my opinion, this approach is much better than legalistic Adams' Nouthetic counseling (often called "Biblical counseling"). Actually, both Adams and Crabb call their approaches "Biblical counseling," but their views are completely different.

Well, there are many approaches in the secular psychology and there are many approaches in Christian psychology as well. I do not agree with everything there just because it is Christian (or supposedly Christian). However, I do believe that the Christian approach can be more effective than the secular approach.

About one month ago, I got interested in Christian approach to psychology, that is, the integration approach. I began with two books by June Hunt Counseling through the Bible: Biblical Counseling Keys and Counseling through Your Bible Handbook. I liked in her books that she presents an integration of psychology and theology. She identifies some problems and gives some information about them from psychology. She also gives Bible verses and spiritual principles of dealing with these problems. So, her counseling is based on the Bible and centered on Christ. When I was reading, studying, and considering over some chapters of her books, I prayed a lot and also read the Bible. In other words, I had not just human resources to deal with my problems, but I turned to God. It was really helpful for me, and I got rid of several problems. For example, I think most people heard very negative things about the Soviet psychiatry. I encountered it when I was a child. Actually, they did not treat me. They just examined me and did not find any problems, but the way how they examined me was very traumatic for me. This childhood experience affected me more than all my cult experience. Sometimes, I got help from other people for dealing with some of the problems that had to do with that childhood experience, such as phobia of mental health professionals. However, it was only recently that I got recovered from my childhood trauma completely. After I worked through and prayed through my childhood experience, I noticed that not only I do not feel any pain anymore when I think about it, but I even do not understand why this experience was so traumatic for me and affected my life so much. God has healed me from it. Completely. When I think about this now, three weeks later, what I feel is great joy, praise and thankfulness to God. Christian psychology works. It really works. God does heal psychological problems better than any human psychologist.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Psychological and Spiritual Post-Cult Recovery: Reconsidered View (Part 2)

According to my observation, it is easier to identify post-cult psychological problems that are manifested in the secular realm (in daily life activities, work, and so on) than those that are manifested only in the religious realm (in religion-related activities). There are, at least, two reasons for this: 1) the literature on the post-cult recovery mostly pays attention to problems that affect daily life rather than those that affect religious activities; 2) since problems that are manifested only in the religion-related activities are usually not manifested in daily life, it is harder to notice them and people who completely reject religion after leaving cults may never notice that they have problems.

However, there may be cases when religion-related psychological problems may cause problems in the secular realm. In Chapter 2 of Releasing the Bonds, Steven Hassan writes,

In the Jehovah's Witnesses, a person can have a severe phobia against merely walking into a church building. I remember hearing about an incident involving a young Jehovah's Witness who refused to participate in an emergency evacuation from a public school into a church. The ten year old boy, absolutely would not enter the building, and had to be carried in crying and screaming, because he thought the church was filled with "devils." 

Well, in principle, a phobia against a walking a church building is a phobia usually manifested only in the religious realm. It is one of the problems that I previously considered as spiritual and not psychological post-cult problems. Indeed, many atheists (among ex-members of cults) may never have a need to enter a church building and never learn if they have this phobia. Usually, it is only when they decide to go to church that they may discover that they have this phobia. However, in the case that Steven Hassan described, there was an emergency evacuation into a church. In this case, religion-related phobia was manifested in daily life. So, even if ex-members of cults completely reject religion, their religion-related problems may eventually become manifested in non-religious realm. This is one of the reasons why I think it is important to deal with these problems also, even if ex-cult members are not going to come back to religion.

I do not know how many ex-members of cults have or had a phobia of going to church. I had it, and it took me a very long time to discover it. For a long time, I had a kind of irrational fear when I was thinking about going to church and felt uncomfortable if I did go to church. I could not really understand the reason. I invented various explanations and excuses, but I did not understand that it was a phobia indoctrinated by a certain cult teaching (it was not a JWs teaching, I have never been a JW). When I realized it, identified that teaching, and identified that irrational feeling as a cult-induced phobia, I got rid of it. Two days later, I went to church and felt just fine there. This experience took place in the middle of December last year. Since that time, I did not have any religion-related post-cult problems. Well, at least, I have not been aware of their existence.

It was 10 year after I left the cult that I discovered that I had the phobia of going to church and got rid of it. It took me a long time because I did not have any desire to go to church for a long time. If I had not decided to start going to church (at least, sometimes), I might have never discovered it. One year before that, I discovered that I had a phobia of celebrating Christmas, which was also induced by a certain cult teaching. Again, I discovered it only when I thought about celebrating Christmas. Otherwise, I might have never discovered it. Likewise, I discovered that I was triggered by some things in the Bible when I began to read it. If I had not read the Bible after leaving the cult, I would not known that I had this problem. There were also other similar cases. It was only when I began to do some religious things (reading the Bible, celebrating Christmas, going to church, and so on) that I discovered that I had some psychological problems related to these activities. So, it took me quite a long time to discover and identify them and probably I would have still had them if I had remained an atheist after leaving the cult.

Previously, I considered that I had finished my psychological post-cult recovery in April 2009 (that is, by that time, I had finished dealing with psychological post-cult problems that are manifested outside of the religious realm). And I considered that I had finished my spiritual post-cult recovery in December 2012 (that is, at that time, I had finished dealing with psychological post-cult problems that are manifested only in the religious realm). Moreover, I considered psychological post-cult recovery mandatory and spiritual recovery optional. So, I considered that had I finished my post-cult recovery in April 2009 because I finished the mandatory part of it.

However, I changed my views regarding these things. I no longer believe that psychological recovery is mandatory and that spiritual recovery is optional. I believe that they both are necessary. In addition, I no longer believe that psychological and spiritual recovery should be separated. I believe that they are parts of one process of post-cult recovery. This means that I have to admit that I did not finish my post-cult recovery in 2009. At the best, I finished it only in the end of the last year. However, I am not sure that I have no other post-cult problems that are usually manifested only in the religious realm because it was quite hard for me to discover them. This means that I have to admit that I do not know if I am fully recovered from my cult involvement or not.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Psychological and Spiritual Post-Cult Recovery: Reconsidered View (Part 1)

Previously, I made a distinct separation between psychological and spiritual post-cult recovery on this blog. Eventually, I came to conclusion that I should not make this distinction.

First, let me give some definitions. I define psychological post-cult recovery as recovery from post-cult psychological problems, which are manifested in the secular realm, though also might be manifested in the religious realm. I define spiritual post-cult recovery as recovery from post-cult psychological problems, which are manifested only in the religious realm.

Let me give an illustration. Some of the common post-cult psychological problems are triggers and phobias. Among the problems that I had to deal with after I left the cult, were: 1) being triggered when I read the Bible; 2) phobia of celebrating Christmas; 3) phobia of going to church. These problems (triggers and phobias) were post-cult psychological problems, but they were manifested only in the religious realm, that is, only when I tried to do some religious activity: to read the Bible, to go to church or to celebrate Christmas. These problems were not manifested outside of religion.

Previously, I considered dealing with such kind of problems as spiritual recovery. I considered dealing with other problems, which are manifested outside of religion, as psychological recovery. I believed that in order to recover from cults, it is necessary to get rid of the psychological problems that are manifested outside of religion, but I considered that it is optional to get rid of the psychological problems that are manifested only in connection with religion.

I do not think it was a correct approach. Triggers and phobias are still triggers and phobias, regardless of whether they are manifested outside of religion or not. So, I believe that anti-cult psychological problems should be dealt with regardless of where they are manifested.

The reason why I made a separation between them was that secular mental health professionals in the anti-cult field usually do not pay attention to the post-cult psychological problems, which are manifested only in connection with religion or religious activity. Many books on post-cult recovery neglect these problems completely.

Paul Martin, the founder of Wellspring center, addressed both the post-cult problems as I considered as a part of psychological recovery and those that I considered as a part of spiritual recovery. In Chapter 10, Post-cult Recovery: Assessment and Rehabilitation in the book Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse (edited by Michael D. Langone), he described how both kinds of problems were dealt with in Wellspring program of recovery. He did not make a separation between these two kinds of issues, and now I agree with his approach much more.

A number of ex-member of Bible-based cults and abusive churches leave religion completely. It is not a secret that most of them leave it because they feel pain from their former cult involvement, feel that religion triggers them, and have other post-cult psychological problems related to religion. They think that their leaving religion will help them. Secular mental health professionals who counsel ex-members of these groups usually see nothing wrong with their leaving religion. Some mental health professionals even promote atheism or secularism as a safe and better option.

The problem with this approach is that some post-cult psychological problems never dealt with. They are simply put away and forgotten, but not got rid of. So, it seems that people who never deal with these problems never fully recover. They still have some post-cult psychological problems that they never dealt with. The problem here is not that these people left religion. The problem is that they still have some post-cult psychological problems, which they neglect completely.

When people had carefully dealt with these problems and then decided to leave religion, it is a completely different situation. But I do not know if there are such people. According to my observation, when ex-members of Bible cults and abusive churches deal with post-cult psychological problems related to religion, they eventually restore their faith in God. When they do not deal with these problems, they remain atheists or agnostics.

Although I previously believed that it is necessary to deal with post-cult psychological problems that are manifested outside of religion, but not necessary to deal with those that have to do with religion, I think it was a wrong idea. I believe that both kinds of problems should be dealt with in order to be fully recovered. I also think now that these two sets of problems should not be separated, that is, I believe that psychological recovery and spiritual recovery should not be separated. It is one post-cult recovery, not two post-cult recoveries.