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Getting Real : Speak your peace

Hypothetical Situation and Question

from anovagrrl - Friday, January 09, 2004
accessed 1622 times

For those people who are agnostic, atheist, nihilist, etc....a hypothetical question.

Did you ever find yourself in a situation where you were really scared, stressed out, or otherwise totally fried by your circumstances? You know, maybe the doc just told you that you have leukemia, and you're wondering whether you're gonna live to see your kids grow up, which is pretty bad because you don't have any health insurance or any other way to pay for treatment, but then your partner walks out on you (maybe leaves you for someone else and decides to let you to raise the kids s/he never wanted in the first place) and your serotonin is so low that blowing your brains out seems like a reasonable, rationale thing to do.

OK, what do you do? Curl up in a fetal position? Start rocking and sobbing? Then what? Do you similarly regress to other coping strategies learned in your childhood--Oh, I dunno, maybe try to make a deal with the devil, god, or some other supernatural force? I mean, when you're really, really scared and your emotions are completely running rampant over your ability to think in a rational way--How do you attempt to regain a sense of control? Have you ever been so desperate that regardless of what you think you don't believe you still cry out in the hope that something someone somewhere in universe will come to your aid?

There ARE atheists in foxholes, but think it's easier to be an atheist in a foxhole if you were raised that way. Under stress, such people probably don't autonomatically regress to childhood coping strategies associated with some form of religious indoctrination. So for those who were raised in TF and are now nihilists, agnostics, etc., I just want to know what goes through your mind when you’re seriously tempted to hope for a supernatural intervention?

Have circumstances ever pressed you to the point that you break down and say, Oh God(dess), help me--?

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from exister
Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - 07:47

The last time I got the urge to ask God for help was 11 years ago when I was at the bottom of a 3,000 foot canyon and unsure if I would be able to find a way out. It had only been 3 years since I left the cult and I was admittedly still a little "fresh off the boat." I had not yet completed the process of slaying all of the gods and demons running around in my head courtesy of my deluded parents.

Fortunately I killed the urge to pray, cooked myself some lentils and settled into my sleeping bag for the night. That night I dreamt that a cute Brazilian guy on a moped pulled up to my campsite at the bottom of the canyon and rattled on in Portuguese for a few minutes before I hopped on to the moped and was spirited out of the canyon.

So I guess the moral of the story is that a hot Brazilian dude on a moped at the bottom of a steep canyon in Mexico makes about as much logical sense as praying to a dead God.

I haven't gotten the urge to pray since.
(reply to this comment)
From Lance
Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 09:42

Oh come on exixster! You know you provisioned a ride from that hot brazilian guy, and the lord supplied!... Praise his name god damn you! (insert sardonic laughter here)(reply to this comment
from gragon
Wednesday, November 16, 2005 - 06:59

Life is pretty much shit for me right now. I do have one great thing going for me! The last thing in my mind that I would think of doing is begging a figment of someone's imagination for help. Sometimes it's the little things that remind you you have actually made progress! Oh shit! "The little things"??????? WTF??? Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! Jesus help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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from Bones
Tuesday, November 15, 2005 - 15:09

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
It is when I have myself in the worst places in my life, scared, and alone, that I have found myself. If you dont take responsibility, more importantly, if you dont take credit for the choices you have made, good or bad, you will always be insignificant and you will remain a mere shadow to yourself. Every time you reach into the dark for help from someone who is not there, you miss a wonderful chance to build your strength so that next time you fall, you dont fall as hard. You see it will always work out and it will always get better, you can either go with your eyes open and realize your destination, or shut your eyes, imagine god, & not know how you got there!
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from Jasper
Monday, March 14, 2005 - 01:21

Where did you ever get the idea that a 'goddess' exists in the universe? Sounds like new age rot to me. Tragedies happen to us all. They are only a matter of all your trust in Christ and don't expect a heaven on earth. The Jews nourished such expectations and look at their tragic history. There is no heaven on earth. Just make do with what you have and the gifts you have been given in your family, friends and cherished loved ones. They are the most important things in your entire life.
(reply to this comment)
From Fish
Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 09:04

No.(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Monday, March 14, 2005, 02:22

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Firstly, the question was asked to the audience about their religious beliefs, therefore the God(dess) was merely trying to remove bias from the question as many do have alternate beliefs.

Secondly, I find it kinda funny that you can rubbish others's beliefs and question how one could have such an idea about a female deity, then exhort everyone to blindly trust in a male version of exactly the same thing offering no further proof of it's existence.

I trust no invisible power to save me from life's ills, if we are to be saved we must save ourselves, surely if our lives have taught us anything it is that. That said I am not an athiest merely an agnostic, everyone is free to believe as they wish, but for some reason I for one have a problem with being told to accept crap and have faith that some God will give me a cookie later. I'm a parent myself and I hope my son will learn to stand up for himself rather than fatalistically accept stuff and rely on me to sort it out.

Besides, isn't 'Just make do with what you have and the gifts you have been given in your family, friends and cherished loved ones' unchristian, the whole bit about using your talents wisely and stuff, where is 'just make do with what you have' in that? If there's a God I'm pretty sure he or she would want us to stand up and think for ourselves, do our best to fight our own battles and not take crap, perhaps heaven on earth is impossible but I reckon he (or she) would respect us more for trying.(reply to this comment

From vixen
Monday, March 14, 2005, 01:52

fuck off!(reply to this comment
from Shaka
Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 21:47


Great question, I was wondering that myself. I'm an agnostic and have been one since I was 13, but sometimes I'll catch myself saying "Oh thank God" in moments of intense relief or when something horrible was narrowly averted. I catch myself when I do it and wonder why, after so many years of having no belief in God, do I continue to say those words when they are totally irrelavant to what has just happened. I think maybe it's just habit but I don't know. I don't do it as often now but I'm still trying to cut the words out of my vocabulary completely. Does anyone else do this? I'm curious to know.

(reply to this comment)

From DamagedDiva
Wednesday, November 16, 2005, 15:28

I find myself thinking exactually the same thing. I also catch myself praying, not calling out for help, just those attomatic prayers that where drilled into us : 'Lord bless us as we go.' Not often only if I'm really distracted :p (reply to this comment
from neez
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 17:04


If I turn my thumb 3 shades of blue with a hammer, I might let out a "jesus christ!" or a "fucken jesus u bastard".. & yes it does seem to help.
(reply to this comment)

From Jasper
Monday, March 14, 2005, 01:22

Blasphemy is not acceptable. It only hurts 'you' in the end. (reply to this comment
From weegirlie
Monday, March 14, 2005, 05:04


Go back to living in Old Testament you old bag!!(reply to this comment

from exister99
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 16:57


Taking a crib note from Townes van Zandt. When the shit hits the fan

"I'll be in my basement room, with a needle and a spoon, and another girl to take my pain away."

I was once convinced that I was 10 seconds from my death. All that occured to me was "What an awesome fucking sensation!" Obviously I pulled through, but in the minutes that followed all of reality lit up like the Vegas Strip. What a rush!

The human condition puts us all in desperate situations. Why make them more desperate by clutching at pointless psychological straws. Just enjoy the ride. Those who freak out rob themselves of the exquisite realization of imminent death.
(reply to this comment)

From Jasper
Monday, March 14, 2005, 01:26

The 'exquisite realization of imminent death?" LOL! Yet you are still here, after all, aren't you? (reply to this comment
from Interesting
Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 09:46

This is an interesting question, and when I read it, I was reminded of the story that was read to us as teens when I was still in TF about the guy who had survived that huge air crash in Tenerife. One of the things he mentions in his story is watching people die and their reaction to it. He said some people (while burning to death) were crying out to God, others were cursing him, others were just crying or cursing. His conclusion was that people die as they live, if they believed in God they call out to him, if they didn't, then they don't. I believe in God, and a while ago I was in an accident with someone else. It was scary, and I did yell out for God to help me. The other person didn't believe in God, and they just yelled out. Funny thing is, we both came out just fine, ha.
(reply to this comment)
from Sonderval
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 10:28


Yes to your first question, no to your last, I have found myself in that situation a few times in my life, most recently when my wife was in labour with my son, there were several complications (won't go into them here) and things weren't really looking peachy, don't think I've ever been so completely shit scared and helpless, any guys who've been with their wife/partner through even a normal delivery will know what I'm talking about to some extent.

What happened to me was what always happens in times of extreme stress, ever since I was a kid, if I find that emotion is getting in the way of what needs to be done (in this case staying calm and explaining things to my wife and helping where I can, mostly just being there and not panicking) I dispense with it, I evaluate the situation, I determine what needs to be done, I do it, when my son was finally delivered he was a 'blue baby', he was not breathing and his chances weren't fantastic, as soon as I saw him I realised that the only thing I could do at this stage was reassure my wife that everything was going to be fine and if things weren't then she'd be suffering a lot more than me and she'd need me to be ok, so I was ok, I told her that they had just taken him away to clean him up and make sure everything was ok, he might need a little treatment etc but things were ok, she'd done great, everything was going to be ok, etc.

At this point of course I felt like a walking corpse, but I've learned through hard experience that there is nobody there to catch you when you fall, so don't fall, I didn't, Seamus was in a ventilator for two weeks recovering, he is now the healthiest baby you could ever hope to see, I do not thank God, I thank medical science, if it was God then it's a little strange that a lot more babies like ours are being saved now than 100 years ago, or maybe he's just more powerful now or something, but for me I'll thank the incredible team of doctors and midwives who helped us through this and leave it at that.

Incidentally, of course after leaving the delivery room I broke down and cried like a child at the first opportunity (while my wife was in the shower) and after she'd recovered somewhat and was able to deal with what was going on and knew what the situation was we cried a lot together, but we helped each other through it, looking back I can't say that I ever cried out to God for help, I'm afraid I don't believe in him/her/it and if I need help I'll get it from someone who actually can.

Wow that was tough to type, relived it a little there, think I'll go now, good thing I have my own office or people would really be looking at me weird for crying over my keyboard, oh, this reminds me, it's about time I went and gave blood again, if anyone out there feels like doing something morally worthwhile then please go and do the same, people like us thank you.


(reply to this comment)

From anovagrrl
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 09:09

Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Sonderval, this is an awesome response to my query. I asked my hypothetical question after reading through the comments and responses to "My Hero. " I noticed that many of the agnostics, atheists etc., were guys, and some of their discourse seemed like macho posturing. Belief in a higher power can be very rational & functional, even if there's no way to objectively prove the existence of such a being. I see no need to bash those who find comfort believing in a diety as weaklings. At the same time, people who have a secular humanist world view have ways of coping that are truly human--like turning to other humans or the insights of existentialism. Clearly, you believe in something. People who say they believe in nothing seem a bit naive to me.(reply to this comment
From frmrjoyish
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 10:40


I am one of the many agnostics on this site and I'm a woman. I've read statements by some of the men on here and I don't see them as macho posturing, simply strong views on something totally contrary to what we were raised to beieve. I agree with your statement that belief in a higher power can be functional, but I question your reasoning behind it being rational. Perhaps it's my being in science that makes a belief in what has not been proven seem irrational.

Having once had a very strong belief in a higher power, I understand the comfort people get from such a belief. While I wouldn't call people who believe in a higher power "weaklings", I do think that it takes a certain inner strength to throw off the security blanket of what you were raised with as a child and accept what is newly apparant even if it means having to give up the comforting notions religion can give.

Over the last decade as I've come to learn how to reason for myself and queston the world around me, I've come to describe myself as an agnostic. Learning about the natural world and it's various processes such as matter cycles, energy flow between systems, and the delicate balance that supports all life on earth, I see nothing less miraculous or spectacular in these phenomena than in a belief system based purley on anecdotal and historical tales without any sort of concrete proof or evidence. In my mind, it is not only far from naive, but very rational to chose to accept what is evidenced, rather than accept what is taught without any offer of proof.(reply to this comment

From Wolf
Friday, January 16, 2004, 06:04

I agree.

I would ask those who say they don’t believe in anything to answer the following questions: Is there anybody who loves you – a lover, your child, etc.? How do you know they love you? Do you have goals or dreams? What good are they if you don’t have faith that you’ll reach them?

These questions may be cliché but they do bring out the unlikelihood that anyone truly believes in nothing.
(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 06:23

I do not know, anyone who truly thinks they know what someone else is thinking is naive, but I trust her based on past evidence, we have been friends for a long time and I understand her, as much as anyone can understand someone else. Trust has grown over a long period of time, I love her, that I know, and I trust that she loves me, because she shows it daily in many ways, so if it is faith it is faith based on my personal experience of reality, which is as close as we can come to true fact.

As for goals, I have many, I also have a solid plan to reach them, what use would faith be in this scenario if it was not practical, idle belief that you'll make it someday will leave you in the gutter, we've had this discussion about faith in the 'My Hero' thread, let's not have it again here, I'd prefer to just say that there are many kinds of faith, and not all of them rely on religious belief.

'Believing' in nothing IS hard (although I prefer to phrase it as not believing absolutely in anything, for clarity), maintaining objectivity is hard, it requires a lot of discipline to prevent yourself making rash assumptions about the world you live in, but this discipline has allowed me to keep making what have been so far very good decisions, both financially and personally, to keep a very tight grip on the risks I take, both personally and financially, and to be properly prepared for whatever goes wrong in life, it's been a long time since I was surprised by anything (negatively surprised that is, for some positive things in my life I refuse to analyse what the future holds, it's more fun that way ;)).(reply to this comment

From Wolf
Friday, January 16, 2004, 07:59

“There are many kinds of faith, and not all of them rely on religious belief.”

Absolutely. That’s what I’m getting at.
(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 08:20

Great, but we're discussing belief here, so surely this is a diversion. ;-p(reply to this comment
From Wolf
Friday, January 16, 2004, 10:20

No diversion. By one definition faith is “anything believed”.

faith n.

1 unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence
2 unquestioning belief in God, religious tenets, etc.
3 a religion or a system of religious beliefs
4 anything believed
5 complete trust, confidence, or reliance
6 allegiance to some person or thing;

(reply to this comment
From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 11:31


definitions five and six, there is more than one meaning to the word, and the level of trust (ie whether faith infers absolute belief or only confidence) differs from dictionary to dictionary.

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
Online Dictionary

  1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
  2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief. See Synonyms at trust.
  3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
  4. often Faith Christianity. The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will.
  5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
  6. A set of principles or beliefs.

And in my post above I said I trusted that my wife loved me, not had faith, there is a subtle difference, so if we're going to discuss semantics let's get right down to brass tacks, faith seems to be a word that's hard to nail down, trust is easier and it's the one I use by choice to describe my relationship with my wife, the kind of faith that you're talking about here (eg absolute belief or belief in the absence of incontrovertible evidence) is not something that I do. I trust that my wife loves me because she tells me so and because she acts in a manner consistent with that, and has done so for years, therefore in the absence of evidence to the contrary we can be fairly sure that she loves me, but that's not something I dwell upon as how I feel about her is based upon MY feelings, and how I act in our relationship is based upon my love for her, so I'm good to her (I think).

Find the 'belief' in our relationship please, everything I see is based upon evidence.

There are no absolutes in my mind other than that of my own existence, no belief in which I am certain, this is a concept alien to you, that does not prove that it is impossible, it only proves that this is not how you think, you cannot build a rigid workable construct on top of this foundation, so I have built a very flexible one that is largely just a method of weighing up the evidence and never coming to a fixed conclusion (except in mathematical abstracts) rather than belief in facts, one huge benefit to this is my problem solving ability is better than most, simply because of my thinking habits.

I have no problem with belief, many people find it a very useful tool, I do not, surely that is my prerogative.

And can we please not argue semantics about whether I do or do not have 'faith', the post above is about religious beliefs, it's very clearly stated, all this is completely off topic and achieves exactly nothing except a few hits for online dictionaries.(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 14:34


Well I wouldn't call myself a believer as such, can't really think of anything that I believe in as such, class myself as an agnostic, but I do have values and morality, would argue about those things requiring beliefs. But one thing I don't want to do is turn this thread into a duplicate of the 'My Hero' one, that sucked.

But I totally agree with you that there's no need to go bashing people with different beliefs, probably because I'm an agnostic rather than an athiest, you'll find it's the atheists and nihilists who have something to prove, all an agnostic is really saying is that he doesn't know, pretty hard to get all riled up about, I don't mind anyone's beliefs as long as they don't try and tell me what I should believe.(reply to this comment

From Alf
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 14:33

I am a nihilist. I believe in nothing. Nothing.(reply to this comment
From Wolf
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 14:56

You don’t even “believe” you’re good in bed? Sounds pretty sad.(reply to this comment
From Alf
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 16:33

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Good in bed? I dont believe in Bed.(reply to this comment
From farmer
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 17:54

Good in bed?He/she who sleeps, doesn't sin ; )(reply to this comment
From neez
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 18:14


I but you had 'em rolling in stitches with this joke back in the cult eh?(reply to this comment

From Joe H
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 15:19

I can't speak for Alf, but I can say that I don't "believe" I'm good in bed either - I know. (reply to this comment
From Wolf
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 15:25

Your “knowledge” is no doubt based on interpretation of signals from your partners. Until “Brainstorm” or “Strange Days” become reality, “knowing” you’re good in bed will require a certain amount of belief.(reply to this comment
From Joe H
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 18:38


Listen buddy, you're going to have an easier time convincing me that Santa is real than that I'm bad in bed ok?(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 17:43


Strange Days rules, great soundtrack too.

And if you're an existentialist, there is no possible evidence for anything beyond existence itself, therefore everything requires belief if we're going to get silly about it.(reply to this comment

From Bella
Thursday, January 15, 2004, 18:54



Could you please elaborate on your comment concerning existentialism?(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 02:31


Alright, modern existentialism owes it's founding principles to Rene Descartes, he had two basic principles on which he based his philosophies, the first was that the thought proves the existence of the thinker, in some form, therefore consciousness offers the only incontrovertible (to each individual) evidence of anything.

The second basic founding principle of this philosophy is that EVERYTHING else is open to debate, the evidence of our sense we know to be fallible, madmen who see things that other's cannot see prove this, as do concepts such as virtual reality, how is it possible for us as humans to separate that which is 'real' from that which we detect with our senses, and as every form of evidence available to us is filtered through these senses it becomes impossible to accept any evidence as absolute proof of anything, except of course the 'one fact' stated above.

This philosophy can be taken in many different directions from this starting point, and there are many different views on it's worth, but one thing it does is force the truly rational observer to keep an open mind, absolute certainty is the enemy of rational thought.

PS, Philosophy joke, "I am therefore I think, or is that putting descartes before the horse" heheheheheheh. :p(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Friday, January 16, 2004, 03:58


Decided to qualify existentialism a bit further, for a start a lot of the above thinking was around back in greek days as well, but Descartes brought it into the field of modern philosophy. Existentialism usually moves past the above and starts making statements based on the impossibility of absolute knowledge about the external world, it states that in the absence of absolute proof the first task of man is to define himself, as we are not inherently defined beyond the fact of our own existence. This usually goes in the direction of rejecting outside influences as well, and thereby stating that morality and 'essence' are concepts that man should form for himself depending entirely on his own internal voice. This bit is what most people who consider themselves existentialists associate with the school of thought, the rejection of externally imposed values and morality.

Basically from there on in it get's messy, and existentialism starts shooting off in every direction possible, but the basic tenet is one of hyperbolic doubt, you start from a position of certainty with the knowledge that this is the only certainty possible, the certainty of your own existence, from here it is inevitable that most of the philosophies growing out of this way of thinking focus far more on the internal world than the external one, because doubt tends to breed mistrust and you therefore turn to the one thing you are taught can in one sense at least be trusted, yourself.

My personal take on existence is somewhat different, although I work from the same basic foundation of hyperbolic doubt I have gone in a different direction, but I'm afraid I don't have time to go into them here fully, so I'll simply sum up them somewhat by saying that it is necessary to make some basic assumptions in order to function in the world as we find it, and to function effectively you need to be able to distinguish between practical doubt and paralysing doubt, in order to achieve anything in the reality we accept for ourselves our actions must be confident, so in the absence of proof you need to be able to make decisions based on the most likely factors.

Bah, hard to explain, my personal philosophy and morality has taken a long time to evolve and it can be hard to explain, will sit down and scribble it out sometime, although I might need to get it published and send you the book rather than post it as a comment. ;)(reply to this comment

from Aita
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 09:51


To answer your question...Yes.

For example, when my son had a very rough accident and I had to rush him to the hospital to get stitches. At the beginning while he was crying and screaming I remember just blanking out and then I found myself praying, "Oh God, please help him to be alright, please." Then I though, what am I doing? He will be all right. It's just a cut, maybe he'll get a scar, but he'll be ok.

I guess it's sort of a reflex from the past and I don't think it reflects what I feel or believe. Especially because it only happens during very tense, stressful situations, not like right before I get out the door in my car, or right before a other words, it isn't part of my daily routine. And it's been happening less and less now.

I'm at a point right now where I don't know what I believe in or if I even what to believe in anything. I'm doing a lot of research and reading and finding things out for myself. I know for sure that Christianity is not for me, but on the other hand it has been a part of my life for a long time, and you know what they say about bad habits...

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From anovagrrl
Saturday, January 17, 2004, 09:30


The Jesuits used to say, Give me a child for the first six years of his/her education, and s/he'll be a Roman Catholic forever. There's some truth to that, inasuch as it's very, very difficult to shake off childhood indoctrination or a particular set of values that were ingrained very early in life. Research by developmental and social psychologists suggests that the basic personality structure and the values a child has by age 9 or 10 are pretty much what stays with him/her for life.

Considering you all were raised as a social experiment, I wonder how much research based on mainstream or normative conditions holds true for second gen. There's a good possibility many of you successfully resisted the indoctrination in Family values from a very early age. The question then becomes, what influenced the development of your ethical reasoning?(reply to this comment

From roughneck
Saturday, January 17, 2004, 12:22

(sigh) parochial schools aren't all they used to be, thankfully.
(reply to this comment
From wounded for life?
Saturday, January 17, 2004, 11:04


You have brought up some very interesting questions, some of which I'm sure many of us have asked ourselves. While I do believe that there is some truth to the intense influence of childhood indoctrination, I also think that when something very dramatic or painful has happened in your life that would cause you to want to break from the values that you were raised with, that factor can be very strong. For example, my neighbour was sent away from his mother when he was a baby to a Catholic boarding school to a totally different country, and spent the rest of his life until 16 in Catholic boarding schools. At 16 he left to start his own life, and has become very successful. But he is also an agnostic, hates all and any religion, and really doesn’t seem to have any traces of Catholic influences at all. I think many of us can relate to that.

So it’s hard to put it into a box, because on the other hand you do have a point. Why did it take so long for some of us to leave? Many factors to be sure, but probably one of the major ones would be that childhood indoctrination. But it also scares me to think that “the basic personality structure and the values a child has by age 9 or 10 are pretty much what stays with him/her for life.” So what about those of us who were abused? I know in the psychological field they will say that an abused child will often grow up to be an abuser (or self-destructive). So will we, as an entire generation (or, as you called it, a social experiment), grow up to be either abusive or self-destructive? Is that our destiny? That would be extremely depressing to think that could be even partially true.

While I have seen that many second generation ex-members do go through a self-destructive phase, we also are healing ourselves, and doing well at it, considering. Though there have been some suicides, as a whole, I wouldn’t call the second generation that have left TF self-destructive. And we are anything but abusers. It seems that most of us, particularly the ones who are parents, are passionate about keeping our children from any harm whatsoever, almost to the point of being obsessive. So are we different from mainstream in this? I don’t know, it might be a good question. Maybe that is part of our “childhood indoctrination” that still stays with most of us: we were always taught that anything could be overcome, that all things are possible, and that nothing is out of our reach. I guess we’re proving that everyday.

(reply to this comment

From Sonderval
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 13:38


Hrm, some extremely good questions here.

My thoughts on this are that we are not the only children who were raised in the family, we are the children who have questioned how we were raised and thrown off what we were taught believe, so surely we have a better chance of dealing with our choices with open eyes.

I think most of us struggled when we hit the outside world, but let's face it, we've already been through so much crap inside that the majority of us who've left pull through that self-destructive angry bit and turn into decent people, I reckon we're the best of a generation, we've all been tried by fire and come through ok, yes there's an increased statistical risk of victims turning into abusers later in life, but I reckon if we were gonna do that shit we'd have stayed inside where it's safer, I think we've all proved we don't just lie down and take whatever life throws at us.

If I had an aim I'd insert it here now that I've whipped you into a rousing frenzy, shame really. *coughs and walks away*(reply to this comment

From anovagrrl
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 08:24


When I talk about the sequelae of childhood abuse, I try very hard to make a distinction between causality and risk. People who were abused as children have a higher statistical risk of becoming self-destructive or abusive adults, BUT you cannot say this statistical association means the experience of childhood abuse will CAUSE the victim to become a victimizer or self-destructive. The causes of adult behavioral adaptations are very complex and cannot be explained by a single factor, such as abuse.

It has been my experience (as I age) that I have been less successful at totally breaking away from some of the things I learned as a child that I tried to reject as a young adult. This doesn't mean I'm doomed to repeat dysfunctional patterns of behavior based on values and beliefs that are more or less in the bedrock of my character. It just means I've had to accept some personal characteristics I acquired as a child (and don't care for) by keeping them in check.

It's like being an alcoholic. I don't quit being an alcoholic simply because I don't drink. I'm still an alcoholic. Through abstinence, I am able to keep the disease in remission. Do I wish I could drink like normal people? Absolutely. But I've also accepted that given my past experience and current physical constitution, this is not a possibility for me.

Maybe the difference between being 20 or 30 something and 50 something is that I've concluded (for me at least) that all things are not possible. I'm OK with that.(reply to this comment

From cheeks
Sunday, January 18, 2004, 17:22

My husband struggled with alcohol abuse for many years. I have to be honest and say it was the hardest thing I went through with him. During his abuse he was diagnosed with liver cancer and he was only thirty! Now after a few surgeries and chemo he is able to drink responsibly. But I still worry that he may relapse. I think if one is prone to certain habits or diseases they must be on the look out for things that cause those habits to reoccur and avoid those situations. I do not for one minute belive because I was molested I will molest, nor do I believe that is a good excuse for anyone to use. Ultimately you make those choices and you must decide reguardless of you childhood or your upbringing how you want to live your life and who you want to be.(reply to this comment

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