(Closed) Nervous about my husband's newfound spirituality

posted 7 years ago in Relationships
Post # 122
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263 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

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@beekiss:  +1

Post # 124
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263 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2013
Post # 125
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384 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2017 - Rossino Castle

I’m sorry I’m no help,but I couldn’t cope with a sudden love for religion.Just like you,I find god to be pretty much a character out of a kids novel,just as real as cinderella,and I just can’t force myself to find respect for that.It would be like my very down to earth mother suddenly coming to me and telling me she believes in santa claus or the easter bunny…telling op to change her views won’t help,honestly.Why should she?the fact that her husband suddenly changed his mind doesn’t mean she should too just because it’s convenient for him.She can’t respect the fact that he believes in something she finds as believable as fairytales,and that’s fine!IT’s also fine that he changed his mind.I think op is coping quite well already,to be honest.She’s scared,but she’s trying to see the good sides of this,and to remember she loves this man for plenty other reasons.That’s the best way to go,remember that there are plenty of things that made you love this man,and atheism was only a smll,not as significant part of it.Good luck.

Post # 126
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865 posts
Busy bee

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@Rachel631:  It really is very unfortunate that you were upset by the suggestion that a sudden change in beliefs may be neurological but there is much supporting that as a possibility. Religion is very commomly part of the story for people who have schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.

I don’t think anyone is saying that religious beliefs = mental disorder but if someone who has been strictly athiest suddenly one moment becomes strongly religious, yes you have to consider the possibility of mental illnes or neurological damage.

It has been my personal, anecdotal experience that people with schizophrenia/bi-polar disorder who are non-believers,very often believe in a religious power when they are in an episode.

Post # 127
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1377 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

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@Rachel631:  +1. I’m agnostic and some of what I’ve read (not from you OP, but from others) makes me seethe a little.

I find militant atheists just as irrational and intolerant as the fundamentalists.

Post # 128
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1004 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

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@WillowTreeWade:  I mostly agree.

 

Especially for OP and her husband, I would think they could have that conversation as long as she started it from a place of worry/concern/wanting to understantd.

 

If her husband was formerly an athiest, he should understand how she feels by this sudden change in his beliefs and personality. OP DID say his personality has changed (more patient, gentle, less confrontational) and a personality change is something that could cause concern. In my opinion, he should be trying very hard to reassure her and help her understand why he has changed his mind, instead of just saying “I had an explainable spiritual revelation, and I now see god in every good things around me and want to be a nicer person”. He has to know that she will be skeptical, by virture of recently being a skeptic himself!

 

My family and many other very religious people would find the suggestion of mental trauma highly offensive, but here is the thing for them: if one of their kids or friends started having “visions” they would insist it was from god and not even consider that it could be something neurological. And that is sad, because the person could be having some sort of conscious seizure or have a tumor that might not get diagnosed for a long time.

 

I grew up in the church, and was VERY religious for a period of time in my teens. I wanted to have incredible spiritual experiences and “feel god” and such… and despite being more committed to my faith than my friends, I didn’t feel anything of the sort without knowing that I was initiating it and deciding to feel it, or wanting to feel it and putting myself into that state of mind, if you will. It all felt so manufactured, even though I wanted it desperately to be true at the time.

 

I did also feel a lot of things that I later recognized as emotional manipulation, guilt-tripping, and services/practices designed to make me feel and act certain ways. Being out in nature is still awe inspiring for me, but I’ve never had a huge religious revelation, even while I admit there is the possibility of a higher power. I am very skeptical of people who do have such revelations or who insist of bringing god into every little thing in their lives.

 

I think that a sudden belief and personality change, which even he can’t expain,  could be an indication that some event has happened in his brain. Why not get it checked out, and describe the sensations he felt out in nature that day to a neurologist to get his opinion and possibly a scan? If there is nothing wrong, his new faith/openess to god will be confirmed as a spiritual experience.

Post # 129
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7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@WillowTreeWade:  One question: if this was a thread where a bee posted that her husband had suddenly lost faith in a higher power, would you wonder if it was a mental disorder if no other symptoms were present? I think not.

If OP had posted something along the lines of “oooh, last week my husband had a fall, and now he’s boarded up all the windows of the house and started chanting Buddhist mantras”, everyone would be saying “get him to a neurologist, and fast!” But she has specifically said that nothing else has changed, he’s a peaceful guy, and there are no other problems. No symptoms.

In people having psychotic episodes (and believe me when I say I know what a psychotic episode looks like) then extreme changes in belief are usually accompanied by mood swings, lack of rationality, uncontrolled outbursts and disordered behaviour. In the absence of any of these symptoms, the suggestion that this poor man should see a psychiatrist is really messed up.

But hey, it just confirms what I’ve known for years about what some hardcore atheists think of people with religious faith. They think it’s a psychiatric disorder. I certainly know some of my relatives do.

Post # 130
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7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@MsBlackberry:  “My family and many other very religious people would find the suggestion of mental trauma highly offensive, but here is the thing for them: if one of their kids or friends started having “visions” they would insist it was from god and not even consider that it could be something neurological. And that is sad, because the person could be having some sort of conscious seizure or have a tumor that might not get diagnosed for a long time.”

No. If my child was having visions or seizures, or doing and saying things because “G-d told me to” I would be taking them to the hospital immediately. And this is coming from someone who believes the Lord speaks to believers.

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@worldtraveler:  Thanks. Nice to know I’m not alone. Sometimes I come to these boards and what I read (from both sides, it must be said) makes me cringe.

Post # 131
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1004 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

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@Rachel631:  I can’t answer for anyone else, but as someone who grew up in a very religious christian family, and for a period of time was very devoted to faith…

 

I would consider some kind of mental trauma or event, if someone leaving their faith/belifs of many yeasrs as suddenly as OP’s husband found his, and without being able to explain it rationally other than “I out walking and I just suddenly felt there is no god, everything is meaningless, and I don’t beilieve in being spiritual anymore”

 

At the very least, we would think that person was depressed. And usually depression does not come on suddenly, or with a revelation.

 

Usually people leaving a faith have very rational reasons for doing so, or very specific emotional reasons (feeling manipulated, feeling that their faith is too judgemental, or a specific event that happend with a religous person, etc) . They would be able to talk about it and explain why. So, there would be no reason to assume anything neurological.

 

However, for someone who previously was not open to spirituality, having a spiritual revelation out of the blue is a change to their personality. The religious community would say, “that’s just how god works!” and a skeptic would say, “I’m not sure that we can rule out other possible causes right away”.

 

Just because some people are skeptical of a sudden spiritual revelation and personality change, doesn’t mean they think all regligious people have a mental disorder.

Post # 132
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1004 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

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@Rachel631: In my family and religious community as a child, a mild neurological event would have easily been overlooked, especially if the person having it described it as a spritual event.

 

I’m glad that you would not blindly accept claims of “visions” or otherwise strange, out of the ordinary feelings/sensations, but there are many religious people who would.

 

It was quite common to hear people say, “god spoke to me”, or “I was overcome by the spirit and felt weak” or something.

Post # 133
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7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@MsBlackberry:  “At the very least, we would think that person was depressed. And usually depression does not come on suddenly, or with a revelation.”

You said it… depression does not usually come on suddenly. So why would I assume that a sudden loss of faith results from depression or some other type of disorder? It makes no sense.

“Usually people leaving a faith have very rational reasons for doing so, or very specific emotional reasons… They would be able to talk about it and explain why.”

He has given an emotional reason… he had a strong emotional reaction to the beauty of the world whilst on a hike. In the same way, if a family member dies and someone loses their faith over that, that is not logical or rational either. That is emotional. OP’s husband has also been able to explain why, and I think they should keep talking about it.

I also really don’t like the underlying assumption that religious faith is illogical, and losing one’s faith is logical… or the assumption that atheists are simply more logical people. I know those aren’t your words, but that’s the nasty little gremlin sticking out underneath.

EDIT: Also, as someone who has had religious experiences, seen my mother’s extensive mental breakdown, and also taken lots of exciting recreational drugs in my youth, I can tell you that a real religious experience, one that results from hypnosis and manipulation, a hallucination you experience after eating exciting mushrooms, and a mental disorder are all VERY DIFFERENT. I definitely could not mistake one for any of the others.

Post # 134
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1004 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

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@Rachel631:  What I was getting at with the depression scenario, is that I would not assume that leaving previous beliefs out of the blue was a reasonable choice, for someone previously devoted to a faith.

 

If the feeling of depression, disbelief, and inability to feel spiritual came on suddenly, out on a walk one day…  I would not blindly accept that person’s desire to leave their faith. Even as skpetic, I would tell them to go to a doctor and see if it was a physiological problem before discarding their beliefs. 

 

And to take it a bit futher, some of their religious family and friends might simply tell them that they “need to get right with god”, automatically attributing the sudden change to a spiritual cause.

 

Well, of course people who are not spiritual will see that as unwise. It is not that they think you are crazy, they just can’t agree with you. They don’t believe there could be a spiritual cause, or are at least skeptical of spiritual causes. They might insist on a doctor based on their personal beliefs, out of concern for the person.

 

 

Post # 136
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7976 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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@MsBlackberry:  The thing is… you need actual, real symptoms to diagnose a mental illness or neurological disorder.

If it’s a matter of someone saying “I don’t believe any more”, but they have no other symptoms, I think we can safely rule out depression. If they are refusing to eat and sleeping all the time, that’s more of a concern.

Likewise, unless OP’s husband starts showing any actual symptoms which are a real cause for concern, I don’t think they need to see a doctor, psychiatric or otherwise.

I mean, if psychotic illnesses made a person more peaceful, relaxed, and happier, but had no other consequences (as OP reported), we wouldn’t medicate for them. Hell, if that was the case, we would all want one of our own.

Increased urination could be caused by type 2 diabetes, but if I went to my doctor and said “doctor, I’ve noticed that need to pee more often lately! Tell me, do I have diabetes? I don’t have any other symptoms!” then my doctor would say that I was a hypochondriac and send me home.

When you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras. The fact that people on this thread have, metaphorically speaking, heard the hoof beats and thought “OMG! It’s a herd of ZEBRAS!” says a lot about what they secretly think about zebras, IMO.

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