Pastor or Pastor's Kid with FM/CMS?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by brightsidedone, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    I'm wondering if anyone has looked at the incidence of symptomology for members of families serving in some capacity with a very strict religious background?
  2. skierchik

    skierchik New Member

    Not sure what you're asking? Can you expand on the religious background?

  3. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    I am a PK from a very conservative background. I recognize that there are basic patterns to look for in the ancestory of someone diagnosed wtih FM/CMS, but after reading the post on Gulf War Syndrome I'm wondering if someone who takes their upbringing very seriously may be more susceptible to a diagnosis. We moved a lot when I was growing up and I saw numerous families struggle. I also took on responsibilities that were not my own. I know of others in my "circle" who are now having to manage a life wtih FM. This is the best answer I can give you.
  4. karatelady52

    karatelady52 New Member

    Are you saying because of the "false guilt" or legalism that is many times preached from the pulpit (not to confuse with true conviction which is gentle and loving) that pastor's kids have a lot of pressure on them which can cause stress and anxiety?

    I'm not a pastor's kid but I sure can relate to "taking on" and internalizing condemnation.

    I'm sure these things can cause the immune system to be supressed which can be a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.

    So are you wondering if there could be a pattern in this type of environment?

  5. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

  6. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    I'm not a PK, but certain members of my family were raised in a very strict religious home -- some took it on and repeated it with their children, and some rebelled and moved far, far away.

    My father was raised in a religious home, but he was one of the rebellious ones, running away from home at 15. Even so, I think all his life he struggled, preferring the 'easy way' out of telling people what they wanted to hear instead of telling people the truth -- mostly out of fear that he would be rejected for anything short of perfection. He died in 1985 of a heart attack, but he had many health problems, and lots of aches and pains. I wonder, now, if he would have been diagnosed w/some form of autoimmune disorder if he were alive today.

    Probably as a result of this, I've always been hypersensitive to even a vague whiff of toxicity in the way people practice their faith. My mother-in-law has her overboard moments as well (we are not of the same faith background, so she has said several hurtful things in the past out of pure ignorance), but I remember the way I've been treated by others and thinks she does it out of fear as well.
  7. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    If anyone is interested in any books on the subject of spiritual abuse or toxic faith, I offer the following titles (from my own collection -- see? I told you this was an issue for me!):

    TOXIC FAITH: Understanding and Overcoming Religious Addiction by Stephen Arterburn & Jack Felton, 1991.

    WHEN GOD BECOMES A DRUG: Breaking the Chains of Religious Addiction & Abuse by [Anglican] Father Leo Booth, 1991.

    HEALING SPIRITUAL ABUSE: How to Break Free from Bad Church Experiences by Ken Blue, 1993.

    I'M SO TIRED OF ACTING SPIRITUAL: Peeling Back the Mask by Melinda Fish, 1996.

    Each has its strengths and weaknesses. TF is probably the most comprehensive, WGBAD the most personal from a man's 'high church' perspective, HSA more based on scriptural descriptions of healthy spirituality, and ISTOAS the most personal from a woman's over-busy point of view.
  8. Pianowoman

    Pianowoman New Member

    This is quite interesting. I'm a PK too! In my case, I don't believe it was as much the type of preaching as it was the pressure to be perfect children. We lived in a small town and the preacher's children had to behave! I was the oldest and I believe I took on a lot of the expectations of my Father who was strict, although I know he loved his family.

    I will be following this one
  9. CarolK

    CarolK New Member

    I've read a number of the books you suggested... and I found the one on "Toxic Faith" very interesting.

    I think there is some connection to being "performance driven"... whether it is in connection to your faith/religion or being driven in any other area of life.

    Fear of not measuring up, or just fear of rejection because you did not perform ... is a very mean task-master indeed! Everyone wants to be accepted... no one likes rejection!!!

    I finally had to leave the church I was attending for 15 years due to "performance pressure". It hurt terribly to leave so many wonderful people... but I had to do it. Years of stress came about cause there was so much pressure and focus on your "do" rather than "who you are in Christ".

    The FM came on while attending this particular church. Now I am not saying it was anyone elses fault... I was the one who made the choices! But now I am free to just sit at the feet of my Lord and start all over in a fresh new relationship with Him.

    I have been learning new skills of life in regards to being performance driven... I am learning to accept myself, flaws, mistakes and all! I allowed so much stress in my life... and along with the church issues were some family issues as well. Actually the family issues started long before the church issues... I think the word "CODEPENDENT" sums it all up! And yes!!! I have seen a lot of codependent people in the church who are sick!

    Blessings... CarolK

    PS.. there are a lot of believers here with FM/CFS.. I think a lot of people who are deep loving, caring people have allowed stresses to build up in their lives... causing a breakdown in their immune systems.

    [This Message was Edited on 01/04/2006]
  10. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    but I was raised in a strict religious household. We were taught that only by being perfect 'in our worship,' could we gain the favor of God.

    There was a lot of pressure from my mother for us to be perfect, perfect, perfect. We had a very stressful childhood. My best memories are those where I'm with other children or alone, not with my mother or other adult members of the religion. I never believed in this particular religion, though I was forced to practice it, and at sixteen, I made the decision to not be baptized.

    I think this upbringing gave me many of my current and lifelong symptoms:

    Anxiety, low self-esteem, fears of failure, fears of rejection, desire to be invisible, desire to please, inability to deal with conflict, etc., etc. Aggrevation of these psychological symptoms can bring on a painful flare, but I don't believe that my physical symptoms are solely somatic. I think my body's defenses were just worn down by stress at an early age, leaving me open to the worst.

    Is this the sort of thing you were looking for?
  11. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    I want to distance myself from anything that appears to denote what I know to be true and positive about my faith. The titles of some of these books troubled me a bit. I'm leaning more toward the cultural aspects of PK upbringings and "man's" interpretation of what people of faith should or should not look like. I may be jumping the gun a bit, but I'd hesitate to look at one of these titles until I knew more about the author (s). Thanks.
  12. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    I think you're take on people we find sitting next to us in church today is probably right on target. Acknowleging that we are no different than anyone else may be the beginning of finding a healthy outlook and something that we can use to be help ourselves deal with daily aspects of FM/CMS. Thanks.
  13. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    I don't think you'd have to be a PK to appreciate the interest that I have in this topic on it's own, as compared to other studies that have been published. However, I am very interested in knowing if there have been studies done that directly correlate the strict cultural aspects of appropriate behavior not necessarily in worship but in everyday life, to our symptomology. If there aren't any studies out there, someone should gather some data and put something concrete together. I'm looking for something that is non-biased - either pro or against faith based religion and that promotes a healthy/helpful regard for personal goal establishment. I think we all know that any trauma or experience built up over a period of time can wear us down. I'd also like to hear from people who are from similar backgrounds as me and what positive things they may be doing or have done with their lives since learning why they may have FM.
  14. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    You may be correct. The titles made me a bit weary.
  15. zielskawoman

    zielskawoman New Member


    I am also a PK and always felt like I was growing up in a glass house. Also, I always was told "what you hear in this house stays in this house" if my father had counseled anyone at home. A great deal of responsibility was put on my behavior. I was always aware of everything that I did could reflect on my father. I had rheumatic fever at the age of 10 and I have never been healthy since. I was officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia four years ago.

  16. risinforce

    risinforce New Member

    I believe that any kind of social stress as a child can make a person succeptable for autoimmune illnesses. It can't be just limited to Pastor's children. Take for instance the children of life long Politicians or famous people. They are to act a certain way at all times I'm sure. Even ordinary people sometimes end up in controlling families.

    I, as a first born child, bore the responsibility of taking care of my younger sister my whole life. I still carry this feeling. When she was in my mom's stomach I referred to her as mine, insisted on carrying her home from the hospital and have since been the one to watch over her the rest of her years. As a teenager I made sure she got home safe. As an adult, I'm the one making sure she is ok.

    The feeling of responsibility never goes away. Maybe it's my disposition. My mother remembers me crying at 17 because just once I wanted to do something irresponsible. Who knows. I did not grow up in an incredibly strict household. But I always felt an underlying pressure to be the "responsible" one. Still do to this day and I'm 35.

    I'm the one w/FMS, my sister is healthy and so is my older 1/2 brother. He did not live w/us though.

    It would be an interesting study, start w/a child and follow them through their life. Take all walks of like, different cultures, tax brackets, families w/10 kids, families w/one kid, famous kids, Pastor's kids, normal kids, kids in Cities, Kids in the Country, See what happens. See who gets FMS, CFS, Lupus etc.

    That's my take on it. I understand the Religious thing though. Some are not healthy.

    Hugs :)
  17. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    Hmmn. Sounds very familiar. Thank you for speaking up. I wonder how many of us out there have had similar experiences and what we have done individually/collectively to move beyond that in a positive way? Or, have some experiences been so bad that we never really recovered?
  18. brightsidedone

    brightsidedone New Member

    Yes, the description you give sounds very very much like my own and to this day, I have a difficult time with trust because I feel like others still control my external environment to some extent. I'm getting better at addressing some of these issues as they arise. I had a breakdown before those closest to me realized that I wasn't Wonder Woman and that kind of makes me mad. Time goes by, we get older and we learn to disassemble or disguard the things that get in the way of our goals. Eventually, we are able to just let go of the things that we have control over but don't need in our lives.
  19. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    B, I didn't grow up in your faith (I don't even know what it is), but I was never unadventurous when it came to reading. That said, I never take anything I (and I mean ANYTHING) unquestioned -- the more questions asked, the better.

    Each of the books I listed deals with a different aspect of the same issue. Because titles cannot tell much, I will put the flyleaf or back cover information here from all four books -- though I might break them up so I can make supper!

    TOXIC FAITH -- Stephen Arterburn, Jack Felton, Foreword by Michael Doucette, M.D.

    "Toxic Faith has nothing to do with God. It has everything to do with men and women who want to invent a god or faith that serves self rather than honors God.

    "Well-meaning but misguided people can turn religion into a harmful addiction, an addiction that can be used to avoid commitments, avoid pain, avoid reality, avoid fear, and avoid growth. This type of faith is toxic.

    "When religion becomes a means to avoid or control life, it becomes toxic. Many people are susceptible -- people with low self-esteem; people raised in shame-based families; people who havebeen emotionally, physically, and sexually abused; people with addictive personalities; and people with faulty belief systems.

    "Lack of balance is the key; are you allowing your relationship with God to free you? Or are your thoughts and beliefvs being controlled by a religious group, leader, or practice?

    "Arterburn and Felton distinguish healthy faith from misguided religiosity and provide the balance between the destructive extremes of being dependent or being independent. They point the way to recovery with a step-by-step process of redefining your understanding of God and religion, rebuilding your relationship with God, and repairing family relationships.

    "Among the topics:
    - Differences beetween God-centered and addictive religion, or conviction versus addiction
    - Authentic faith versus hollow caricature
    - Methods used to draw people into addictive religion -- control, power, promises of fame and fortune, sexual manipulation, instant relief of life's pain
    - Rigidity and how it affects a child's development
    - Control dynamics in the family of a religious compulsive personality disorder

    "Toxic Faith includes a short test to help readers decide whether they are religious addicts or whether they were raised in a dysfunctional religous home.

    "Stephen Arterburn is the founder of New Life Treatment Centers. New Life is a comprehensive program that treats adults and adolescents with emotional problems and addictions. Mr. Arterburn is the author and co-author of seven books including Hooked On Life, When Someone You Love Is Someone You Hate and Drug-Proof Your Kids. He and his wife Sandy live in Laguna Beach with their daughter Madeline.

    " Jack Felton is founder and director of Compassion Move Ministried, Inc., founder of Counseling Services of Orange (California), associate pastor of Living Hope Community Church, and membwer of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists."
  20. Juloo

    Juloo Member

    I should start off by saying that one of the secondary titles of the book is "Attaining Healthy Spirituality".

    There's no flyleaf on my book, so I'll include some comments from reviews on the back cover and a bit from the foreword...

    "Father Leo Booth believe that religious addiction, like alcohol addiction, is a disease that can be treated. In this book he adapts the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous to the particular problems of this dysfunctional behavior, and offers a step-by-step program of exercises and affirmations that help turn religious addiction into a healthy relationship with God.

    "A major breakthrough that speaks to the soul as well as the mind. Exposing the fallacy of rigid religious doctrines that promulgate unworthiness and fear, Booth helps the reader to uncover a spirituality that is gentle, loving, and ecumenical.

    "Father Leo Booth is the vicar of St. George episcopal Church in Hawthorne, California. He specializes in recovery treatment programs and is the author of 'Meditations for Compulsive People', "Say Yes to Life', and "Spirituality and Recovery'. He lives in Long Beach, California."

    (part of Foreword)
    "....My definition of addiction is the following: a pathological relationship to any mood-altering person, thing, substance, or activity that has life-damaging consequences. Father Leo makes it perfectly clear that the insidiousness of the religious addict is his delusion about the life-damaging consequences of his behavior. There is no addiction that covers up the addict's core of toxic shame better than religious addiction. The religious addict stays delusional by saying things like: 'Are we not supposed to give our all in relation to God? How could one be doing something wrong by giving his life to God? By taking care of others? By sacrificing one's life for God?'....

    "Moses was told by God that his name was 'I am who I am.' Every child is born with a sense of 'I am who I am'. The job of the family and the church is to orchestrate life so that the sense of 'I am' can grow and expand. Chapter 5 painfully outlines how children raised by religious addicts have the 'I am'ness ripped apart -- how their sense of wholeness is split. This is a far cry from religious promise of at-one-ment...."

    "As Freud pointed out in 'The Future of an Illusion', one of the assumptions of dysfunctional faith is that one loses faith by questioning faith. It takes courage to go against the terrors of hell and judgment that our wounded child fears. Only by questioning our faith can we emerge with a mature faith."

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