Religious Trauma Syndrome

Category Christianity

This syndrome, which deeply affects millions of people (including me) and which causes a tremendous amount of suffering, should have a prominent place in the new DSM V. I have diagnoses of bipolar disorder and most recently of BPD in addition to that, but I have have always known that much of my suffering from mental health issues has been directly caused by my involvement in the fundamentalist Christian cult. The brainwashing and the indoctrination and the false and harmful beliefs I was subjected to for 15 years of my life has done permanent damage. Christianity destroyed my life. A harmless belief system? Divine Truth? HARDLY. Fundamentalist Christianity is a dangerous cult that destroys the lives of many of its victims  and harms them all.

Symptoms of RTS:


  • confusion, black & white thinking
  • difficulty with decision making
  • negative beliefs about self-efficacy and self-worth
  • perfectionism


  • Depression
  • anxiety
  • grief
  • loneliness
  • difficulty with pleasure
  • loss of meaning


  • Loss of social network
  • family rupture
  • social awkwardness
  • sexual difficulties
  • behind schedule on developmental tasks


  • Unfamiliarity with the secular world
  • “fish out of water” feelings
  • difficulty belonging
  • information gaps (evolution, modern art, music, etc.)

Causes (etiology)

  • Authoritarianism coupled with toxic theology

Dr. Marlene Winell has written an excellent article — which I highly recommend reading — on Religious Trauma Syndrome. It was recently published on