I've been a life long atheist who would like to know what 'symptoms,' 'side-effects' or 'issues' a person might experience when de-converting. If there is a discussion that already describes this please help me to find a link to it.

Although this should perhaps be a separate discussion, I would also like to know if the DSM-IV or DSM-V might deal with or consider something like this. Thanks!

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No need to apologize beautifully barren. This is a discussion that is definitely helping to clear my thoughts and drum up new ones. Your input is very much appreciated.

Although religion is currently too common to be listed as a disorder the manual does tend to change over time doesn't it. Homosexuality was listed until just recently. Wouldn't the irony be sweet if religion took its place.
Roo, it would be fantastic irony - especially if they removed a few of those useless sexual 'philias' and replaced them with religion .. ahhh we can hope
The best fit from DSM-IV-TR to fit what we see in religious people would probably be Delusional Disorder.
I've heard the deconversion process likened to the stages of grief.

Denial and Isolation.





I'm not sure that lines up perfectly, but it seems to hold some truth.

I went from feeling very angry to depression to acceptance.
Sounds somewhat accurate. I think those were the things I went through. Add some rationalizing and self punishment, confusion, etc.
I think it depends on the extent of one's investment in religion--as the answers of others have alluded to. I de-converted suddenly at the age of 13. I felt a sense of wonder, relief, and excitement. Those who have spent a great deal of their lives believing probably feel some combination of depression, anger, and resentment (maybe even embarrassment?). I should add that I was living in one of the most religious parts of the US, and it was soon made very clear to me that atheism was not acceptable to most people. So, add social isolation as a potential "side-effect".
Adjustment Disorder would account for most of the symptoms, I think.
In response to the question about if/how DSM-IV-TR might deal with such issues, I would suggest that the vast majority of de-converting atheists experience no real symptoms and would be classified under what are referred to as the v codes. Essentially, these are not psychological disorders but ways of coding the focus of treatment. V62.89 Religious or Spiritual Problem or V62.89 Phase of Life Problem would be likely candidates.
I deconverted twice and both times were most traumatic times I ever went through (that's saying a lot) and it was almost completely against my will but my logical brain wouldn't let me get away with it anymore. It was terrifying, drawn out, and painful. But when it was over I felt incredibly relieved and happy, as if suddenly the world was huge and friendly and full of possibilities and things to learn. The weight of keeping it from my family along with the new-found fact that I was gay was troubling enough to put me in the loony bin for a few days but I never felt as lost and confused as I did leading a Christian lifestyle. Things fell into place over time and things got better. Now I am generally happy despite the usual ups and downs of life.
PS I had a gf who had a degree in psychology and told me I had some symptoms of a person who leaves a cult would have. Guilt, self doubt, etc. I don't think I suffer from those things now, years later. You might look up studies of people who are members of cults and leave. That is basically what every religion is anyway.


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