Samuel

Being taught to have a relationship with one’s self

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I was wondering if anyone had a similar experience of being taught to have a relationship “with god” but which was really with themselves. 

 

I went through this experience. And the effects of this have been one of the harder parts of my deconversion. Both my parents were oddly spiritual as you might call it and into their “personal” relationships with the deity. They were part of the reason I believed in the normalness of trying to carry out a relationship with the god in my head.

 

Id love to hear what other people have to say. But I’m also curious about this from a psychology stand point: isn’t this the weirdest sort of cultural thing a human being could be taught, with possibilities of sparking all sorts of mental illness? 

 

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I don't view it as though I had a relationship with myself, I had a false relationship with a made up being. In the movie Castaway Hanks' character had a relationship with himself because Wilson was a personification of himself, and all of Wilson's thoughts and personality came directly from his own mind.  In Christianity, god and jesus' characters are already fabricated in the Bible.  I think we did hear our own thoughts when we thought God was speaking to us, so in that aspect yes, we were listening to ourselves.  But for the most part I don't think it was myself that I had a relationship with.  I'm actually just getting to know myself lately, having been dx autistic and ADD last year at age 36 and this year losing my religion (insert REM song here).  If anything, I feel like my own personality has been shoved down over the years with all the "be like Jesus" crap.

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Having some "insight", or basic understanding of who you are is healthy, but that doesn't sound like what your religion was promoting.  From what you describe, it sounds like they were attempting to develop "robots", not healthy human beings.  Sounds like you are developing some good insights.  This is a good place to find encouragement and information.   HANG IN THERE!

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10 hours ago, Samuel said:

I was wondering if anyone had a similar experience of being taught to have a relationship “with god” but which was really with themselves... 

 

... isn’t this the weirdest sort of cultural thing a human being could be taught, with possibilities of sparking all sorts of mental illness? 

 

 

I can see it fracturing a personality into two parts:  An unattainable ideal, and a being so flawed from birth that there's no way to reach the ideal.  That is a recipe for psychological disaster.

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I've heard the "relationship" described by a psychologist as something termed an "introject", a survival aspect of our minds that creates a virtual parent when we are children. That virtual parent speaks with the imaginary voice of the actual parent to remind the child of warnings the actual parent gave. If the parent said "Don't go out in the jungle alone, there are tigers that will eat you" this comes back in the form of an imaginary parent relating similar things and helps the child survive when the parent isn't actually there.

 

So when believers are told "Don't do _____ because DEMONS and TORTURE IN FLAMES", the virtual god shakes his finger at them for normal things like lust, anger, ambition, and so on. I remember having arguments with this virtual god over "sin".

 

Almost all believers have this internal friend/sadist/parent-figure which they think is the holy spirit. It isn't. It is a misprogrammed survival area of the mind doing what it naturally does, trying to keep us out of harm. Our minds can seem to have multiple personalities simultaneously, and we tend to only notice this when someone manifests them outwardly. I've noticed it while doing introspection about my own desires and motivations. Authors of novels often say that their characters seem to take on a life of their own, even correcting the author about storylines or suggesting a better angle. The mind is a fascinating thing, and humans made their place in the world by having minds that are great at abstractions like this. Abstraction also gave us language, math, science, philosophy, and sadly religions in the thousands.

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