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The Mental Health of Jehovah’s witnesses


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The Jehovah’s Witnesses in scholarly perspective:
What's new in the scientific study of Jehovean movement?
 
April 21-22 2016 - Antwerp, Belgium
The European Observatory of Religion and Secularism
In partnership with CLIMAS, Bordeaux Montaigne University, CESNUR (Turin) and the
Faculty of Comparative Studies of Religion and Humanism (FVG), Bist 162. 2610 Wilrijke
 
This presentation is only a summary. The text in his integrality will be published in FVG - ACTA COMPARANDA Subsidia III in June, 2016.
  Rolf Furuli

The Mental Health of Jehovah’s witnesses
Rolf Furuli, University of Oslo.
 
Abstract
The studies of Rylander (1946), Pescor (1949), von Janner (1963), and Spencer (1975) of the mental health of JW are old, and they have several methodological weaknesses. Therefore, none of these studies can tell anything about the mental health of JW today.
 
Jerry Bergman has published one book and several articles on the mental health of JW. His scholarly integrity can be questioned, both because he is an adversary of JW, and because he presents himself as a psychiatrist, which is not correct. On the basis of his answers when he was examined in two child custody cases, we know that he never has made a scientific study of the mental health of JW. Thus, his claim that Witnesses have  between 10 and 16% higher rate of mental illness than the non-Witness population, and that 10% of the congregation members are in need of professional help, has no basis whatsoever. This means that no published studies exist that give a sound scientific assessment of the mental health of the 13 million JW in the world.
 
In contrast to this, my two empirical studies of the mental health of JW throw some light of the issue. My study of 984 members of 8 congregations of JW in southern Norway in 1993 (published in 2001), shows that the rate of mental illness and severe depression among the Witnesses was less than half the rate in the Norwegian population. My 2015 study is particularly important because the mental health of one third of the Witnesses in Norway was considered (5,457 members in 35 congregations). In order to make the study representative for JW worldwide, 3,283 members in 24 congregations in USA, as well as 1,935 members in 15 congregations in 13 other countries were included.
 
The results are that the rate of mental illness (psychosis, including schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder) among JW is a little more than one third of the rate in the population as a whole, and the rate of severe depression is about one fifth of the rate in the population. These results are the diametrical opposite of the five old studies of the mental health of JW published in scholarly journals, the publications of Jerry Bergman, as well as numerous articles on the Internet. Because the criteria used are simple and clear, and because the group that has been studied is large and represents 15 different countries, the results can be viewed as representative for the worldwide population of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
 

The Mental Health of Jehovah’s witnesses

Rolf Furuli

 

 

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To obtain paper copy of the book:ACTA COMPARANDA Subsidia III
Information on ordering and payment can be obtained at: Antwerp FVG <info@antwerpfvg.org>

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Furuli's method for obtaining the data for his 1993 study was to personally interview congregation members about their mental health. A local elder assessed the mental health of those members who couldn't be there for interview that day and this formed part of the results.

The 2015 study involved sending out a questionnaire to congregation elders and getting them to answer questions about members' mental health issues that they were personally aware of. They also had to categorize what kind of mental health issue the member(s) had, how long they'd suffered from it, and the kind of professional help they had been given.

The many problems with these approaches and how they would affect the results are glaringly obvious.

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@Arauna Well I do know that JWs do suffer with depression because they are restricted so much in their words and actions. They can't even choose how to dress themselves. They worry constantly about being shunned or disfellowshipped for the least little thing. And then they have to 'put on a happy face' for the sake of others. It is such an unnatural lifestyle it makes them depressed. There are so many that are now physically in but emotionally/mentally out because they cannot bear the thought of being totally alone if they leave. 

Now if the GB / CCJW said, 'you can leave and everyone can still continue to be your friend', then I'm sure there would be a massive reduction of 'members of the club'. But of course the GB are frightened to lose members as it means loss of money and loss of 'face'. 

I can fully understand 'pushing out' a person that repeatedly sins against GOD, but that is not what happens in many cases. And the falseness of saying that 'So and so, is no longer one of JWs' instead of saying So and so has chosen to leave the CCJW. It turns the person that leaves into a complete 'sinner' which many are not. 

I also know that quite a few Elders 'step down' from their positions because of depression too. Well here in the south of England anyway. Maybe not in America because Americans love their power over people. 

So yes many JWs suffer with depression due to the rules and teachings of MEN. Of course another thing JWs are taught is 'denial', so you may not agree with my comments as you may have been brainwashed into ignoring those who are suffering within the Org. Like I say most put on the 'happy face' but under that they are depressed. 

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Admin is taking odd comments from different topics and randomly putting them together. BUT the comments do NOT relate to each other.  I know their game but it won't annoy me as I can see through their 'concern' and see how they are working toward getting rid of those people they do not want here. Definitely an Org thing. 

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