I am very perplexed why religion has such a hold on our mids. I have read The God Gene and many other books which say that religion plays some sort of genetic or evolutionary force, but so do a lot of other things that I can CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHOUT.

I have chosen to live without religion but it is like a mental illness. I still find my self praying and I can only blaspheme like a mad person to stop it.

It is mental illness. I have PTSD from my experiences in the church and if religion were not just the norm, any shrink would ALSO consider this nuts.

I know you are all dealing with this in one way or another, but why is this like OCD? Why can't we get it out of our heads? When we leave a relationship it can be bad for a while but if it goes on for a year or more we know we need mental health care. I have borken up with God. Why can't I get over him, especially when he is not even there and never was?!!!

It scares me that my mind could go here, to be obsessed with a thing that is not there. Perhaps I am more prone to being psychotic because of this.

I have know recovering people whose religion DID make them psychotic. GAD this is poison!!!!

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I understand where you're coming from.  My obsession continues to lead me back to the insanity of the bible.  I don't believe any of it, but I find myself spending hours debunking and "obsessing" over how wrong my upbringing was.  One positive is it has opened up my curiosity for geology and other sciences that make xtianity or a belief in the supernatural seem completely insane!


Hang in there, you are not alone! : )

Rachel, I have little wisdom on improving your obsession with God.  I can however, relate to the frustration of prayer and paranoia.  I still find myself praying and even switching from Jesus to the Virgin Mary in hopes of mercy granted to me in some sort of perpetual forgiveness that only a mother could conceive.

Sooooo, while I find neither relief nor inspiration from it, sometimes life can seems so terribly difficult that calling out to an imaginary friend may be all I have... and if in the moment it is helpful, then so be it.

I do not strive to fool myself or indulge in ignorance, yet sometimes the tricks my mind plays on me are just that; tricks.

I look forward to the day when I can put God out of my mind enough to lose the guilt and paranoia, but not until I can feel safe with my own thoughts again. Now is not that time, but it is coming! And, I imagine the idea of God will never completely dissipate from my thoughts.


I share your frustrations. Hang in there.



You are definitely not alone. I constantly look at things throughout the day in a Christian Perspective and it drives me nuts. It's like a constant battle refuting these internal thoughts. I find myself praying to myself before I eat and then I just laugh. There has to be a link with OCD and religion. I obsess as well. I used to obsess about if I was truly saved and now I obsess about "What if..." it's true after all. My intellect says no way, but inside I am uneasy about it. I just can't seem let it go. I think the only way to eventually get over it is to continually barrage your brain with the right information and to surround yourself with this kind of environment (Atheistnexus). For some of us, we are trying to deprogram years of indoctrination from when we were a child. It wasn't just a belief, it was an isolated lifestyle. What's the difference between fundamentalism and cults?

Listen to the podcast Living After Faith.  They talk extensively about religious PTSD.  It is like a song you can't get out of your head, only much worse.  It is actually an infection, one that you have to actively fight until you can break it to so many pieces that it cannot reassemble itself again.  It may take years, but I know ppeople that effectively shed the infection in months. Keep on working and feel free to share with us on here.  Thanks for your post.

Darrel Ray, author of The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture

Rachel, consider that religion creeps into our lives when we're so young and vulnerable. Even before people can talk, they're exposed to sacrificial crosses, sacred hymns and holy ghosts. I'm sure the other major religions have similar signs and symptoms.


How about a congregation of grown-ups holding up their arms in prayer murmuring, “Father, Father,” wanting to be picked up like a two year old. The indoctrination runs deep in the psyche. Realize this and try not to let it get to you.


I was raised as a reformed Jew.  In order to finally embrace atheism, I had to relearn so many thinking processes.  A lot of what we are taught as children is a form of "brainwashing."  Most of it is good, I hope.   When I embraced Atheism, I had to relearn bad thinking habits.  For example, if I'm an Atheist, does the word "luck" apply or is it sirendipity?   think the answer is "all of the above.  None of this exists without supernaturalism?  My problem now is:  who do I "pray" to when I pass a car accident on the hway and I am thanking...who?   Who should I be thankful for that this didn't happen to me?

I climbed out from a car wreck. Mom called it a miracle. I called it a second chance. Some words lose their original meanings or change. Consider 'holiday'. I doubt many people think 'holy day' when they get the day off, especially for the Fourth of July or some other national holiday.


So to me, to count your blessings is not a religious thing, but a cultural one. It just means to be thankful for not befalling the ill you see out there. It doesn't mean we cannot be conscientious or compassionate to those who have had bad things happen to them. Just that we should appreciate the ups a bit. Don't feel guilty about it, either. Not many of us wish harm on others. It's not our fault for their accident we pass by on the road.

Hi Rachel. I hear you totally. This kind of thinking led me to 2 nervous breakdown, a lengthy period of clinical depression resulting in a collapse in the high street due to endlessly worrying about, as Mr Hitchens calls it, the great Celestial Dictator.

I cannot tell you anything which will free you from the shackles in your mind because I think you just have to come to that on your own. I had countless people around me who saw that I was putting myself through misery needlessly but the horrors of religion and church-life had done such a number on me that I couldn't think straight.

One day I basically faced my own fear. I had to have brain scans (due to collapsing) and there was a moment when they felt they had seen something on one of the results so had to have it again and during that time I prayed constantly, bargained with God and promised I would be the best Christian ever if I got through it all and then I had my awakening if you like. I just said "NO!"

If I live I'll just be in fear all the time, if I'm told I'm going to die I'll spend the remainder of my life fearing the end and **** that for an idea. "No, I won't do it. I don't like the God I've heard about so take me now. In fact, bring it on, I'll spend the rest of my life having fun cos you know what? I can't remember the last time I actually had any fun!" I had the tests, I worried about them but just knew from that point on that what was going to happen was going to happen. The tests came back okay and I've got on with life.

But the spell was broken when I looked my fear in the eyes and genuinely said "come on then, I'll take you on." God is a human mind construct and it's used to keep us from daring, from aspiring, from being. It's a way we can feel grateful for being alive without ever really being joyous about it and what good's that? Life is great, this world is stunningly beautiful but when you close your eyes for the last time, that's it. Curtains. Dwell on that. Dwell on that total non-existence of the self.

The fact you're here at all (at Atheist Nexus) is because you are astute enough to know that the end is coming for you and that's all you're ever gonna get. Embrace it, see it as a gift and life will open up. Also, take a look at the people who profess a belief, I mean really look at them especially in their faces and around their eyes and ask yourself "do you have anything that I actually need or want?" Then look at those who view the world rationally and ask the same question. The answer you need is there.

The latter group of people go through all the same experiences in life, the same joys, the same hardships and sometimes it is tough. The difference is they don't need a prop and such a heinous one at that who makes you beg and plead and bargain for the very thing it promises to grant you. It's spiritual sado-masochism basically except the safe word within the role-play, is the name of whatever God you believe in. The hardest thing for most to accept who finally wriggle free is the knowledge that it was all in their minds to begin with. No one enters this world a believer and if religion wasn't force-fed to kids at the earliest ages they'd grow up normal and if it was then introduced at a later date we'd see it for the crock of you-know-what it actually is. I'm here if you need me x

What a response!

Two things that really stood out......

"It's spiritual sado-masochism basically except the safe word within the role-play, is the name of whatever God you believe in."

This is so true. And even because we never consented. We never learned the safe word. We never learned that we can say no. We never learned that it was optional.


"The hardest thing for most to accept who finally wriggle free is the knowledge that it was all in their minds to begin with." 


This is what hurts! It's all in my head. The more I tear it apart the more I realize it is a mass psychosis. I had a friend with schizophrenia. When he was having delusions about  things that other people thought was off balance, it was called psychosis. But when he had delusions about things that were accepted, such as god talking to him, seeing angels, etc., then it was NOT considered an illness. This made him much much worse.


He ended up shooting himself in the chest with a rusty shot gun, which tore me apart! We were both seriously suicidal over our religious traumas, and then he did it, he really did it.


I will always hate even the name of god over that alone. I have to keep talking to this non existent being, reminding him over and over that his name will be one day in the same rank as Zeus and oh, I cannot wait.Like a crazy person, I remind God of his demise. His name WILL be as foolish sounding as if I were to pray to Zeus in all earnestness.


In fact, Jesus is the last "hero" of myth status and we are living in a time when this is still going on, like people who really though Heracles was real.


Yes, it is madness and a kind you cannot talk to a shrink about, because chances are they are a believer of some kind.


Thank you for the post- I very much appreciated it and sharing your suffering about all this. I am glad you have found a way to live with the damage and hope that you will one day be totally healed! :-)

I am the same way.  I feel like my sense of safety and reality have been stolen from me. 


It is hard to talk to a psychologist about it, you are right.  Fortunately my psychologist is awesome, and if they specialize in trauma, then they will help with trauma of any kind. 


But yeah, I can totally relate to feeling like I am in chains.  A prisoner.  A slave.  I don't even practice any religion anymore, but I feel like all of it still exists and I am a target for evil forces.  To me it feels like the bad exists and the good does not.  Because when bad things happened to me, there was no god to protect me and save me.  It just felt like the bad forces were making all the bad things happen.  As if the good did not even exist.


I'm really sorry to hear about your friend.  That's so tragic.  I wish there was something comforting I could say other than I wish he hadn't been brainwashed with religion.


Yeah, I wish there was an easy way to undo all the imprinting in the brain.  It's so easy to logically accept reality.  It's hard when we keep slipping into that emotional part of the brain.  Ugh.




Rachel, I have embraced my atheism within the past year.


A good thought experiment which was helpful to me is to imagine yourself looking upon yourself from the vantage point of an all powerful, all knowing, all loving, all understanding and loving father. Being a father myself I know that I have nothing but love , good intentions and complete affinity and feelings of tenderness for my children ... complete love with no strings attached.

Ask yourself if you would allow disease, injustice and suffering on such an indiscriminate and large scale if you have the power to eliminate it.. .. I'm sure the answer would be a definite no!


Now look at the deity of your former religion. Would he be so understanding so loving so forgiving so caring ...unconditionally? Did he put a stop to the things you would have put a stop to? ... You know the answer is no so have confidence in the fact that the petty god of our past is nothing more than the sick fearful  projection of people who want to control us.


It takes a while to free yourself from the spectors of religion, but that is all they are. In short order you will feel much better about your decision.  





John- long ago, this idea really helped me on some level to at least begin a rational conversation with myself. I said if there were a father who could stop suffering and chose not to, one who sat back and watch his daughter get molested by a priest, he would be up on charges. So this "god" has a different set of morals? And we accept that?


That is when it started, when my mind began to descend into the "bad" place which was really a good place.


Of course, it got all scary and weird and other xers would try to argue me down, but they could not. I only hope that I was able to take a few with me into this inexplicable insanity/sanity. In the long run, I believe it is best.


Thanks for the post!




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