Losing Fear and Guilt with HUMOR
If I had never gone to Bethel I would never have known how arrogant and controlling some of the powers that be are that are there. It only takes a few in key positions. I am not saying that even most of them are that way (many of my elder friends at Bethel were exceptional people), but the ones who want the power seem to find their way to the top in such systems, as with many organizations religious or otherwise. It was similar in my case when I was at Bethel in 1979 and discovered the "underground" of brothers and sisters, often key elders and overseers, who not only did not believe everything the Watchtower said, but knew that some of the big leaders including President Knorr and Colin Quackenbush (then editor of the Awake! magazine) and many others did not believe the whole picture. These are the circumstances that melt the fear of the old controlling men inside you. They are just people! and sometimes poor examples at that. And, if you can see them (after getting over any anger) in a COMICAL light, the cycle is truly broken. Laughter and comedy are a sign that you will not be controlled by these people anymore, and their attempt to control you becomes humorous. If you look at the writings I made during the Franz Incident such as Cabeen's Secret Book and the Pressroom Conversion Tales you can tell I was no longer afraid of them or of dying at Armageddon, and I was still a Bethel elder. If I had not gone to Bethel to live for six years, my exit may have taken a lot longer. Once you really get to know WHO is controlling you and WHY, it makes it all too easy to get the BIG PICTURE.
If you observe people in fundamentalist groups and cults who believe they have the only true church, you will note their lack of humor. Gods and sub-Gods don't laugh, they are here to make sure you obey them. They must maintain the semblance of absolute control and power at ALL TIMES, OR OTHERS WILL NOT WORSHIP THEIR SYSTEM OR THEM. Sort of like the harsh parent who never laughs and plays with its child, because the child might become "too familiar" with the parent to continue to obey all that they want them to do with fear. That is a sign of a larger-than-life ego, and persons like that should be avoided like the plague if possible. Humor them and they will crumble away! They are the dragons without teeth or flames.
SELF HUMOR AS POWER
Humor allows you to make fun of yourself as well, so you don't think you're too important.
If your friends enjoy self-humor, they do not put themselves over you. Humor puts friends on the same level.
Friends who are on the same level will find it hard to try controlling one another.
Religious leaders/pastors who can laugh at themselves will find it hard to control others unnecessarily.
Parents who can laugh at themselves will find it hard to be overpowering in raising children.
Children raised in a home where humor is used daily will be well-rounded psychologically and will be able to see through control scams, as they learn to see the sad building blocks of the super ego in the "psychic vampires" who seek to control them. My family are all Okies (from Oklahoma), and like in the "Armageddon Okies" stories that Gary Busselman has so wonderfully written, we rarely argued over control issues. We are a happy family. Life with my dad is always turned on a positive note when we are together. I HAVE to celebrate that! The greatest gift my dad gave to me is the ability to see life positively no matter how adverse the circumstances.
That is also why it is hard for people who have been heavily controlled by others growing up, either due to religion, bad parenting, sexual abuse or physical abuse, to see through the Watchtower as the cult that it is, because they have learned to FEAR and OBEY such self-appointed authorities. In this case they have to learn about human nature and control mechanisms and then see it at work in the worlds around them for the first time in a different light. THEN they can see it in the Watchtower or the Mormons or whatever.
Humor is destroyed by the cult or oppressive family environment, because they are creating a super ego, one that they are making sure will not be mocked, but will be seen as THE TRUTH. This is the way it works:
A person with low self-esteem or depressed or handicapped, etc. that FEELS low in themselves, and is desperate to FEEL GOOD about themselves like others, will be drawn to a group of people who have a collective super ego (like Witnesses). All they have to do is to give up their own "self" and ego concerns, and identify with the organization, and Presto! they have adapted into the collective of a giant SUPER EGO (in this case run by old men in Brooklyn who are power-hungry for followers). THEY ARE PROUD OF THE ORGANIZATION THAT MAN HAS CREATED. Why do you think so many Witnesses can be so arrogant when it comes to treating other family members who are not Witnesses so badly? Why so arrogant to the public (who will die at Armageddon for not being in their SUPER CLUB)? It is not their inherent ego, but a substitute ego, one that is unconsciously fostered by the organization! Just take one of these type OUT of the organization and they lose the benefits of the super ego. Many disfellowshipped persons are angry because they once had this power as well, and want it back. Never underestimate this fact. Even odder is the Disfellowshipped person who STILL DEFENDS the organization because it is the TRUTH, which indicates they still worship the ORG and really want to experience the incredible ego boost that it offers. Look around at all the disaffected JWs you know and see how this fits in. They often still feel BETTER than "worldly" people and would only want to associate with others like themselves.
Knowing this also helps to free persons from the Watchtower effectively. Sure, some will get out by talking doctrine, the Bible or rehearsing poor treatment or experiences they received in the organization. Showing the false prophecies and doctrinal flip-flops and all the hypocrisy will really dent their super ego (if they will listen to you). But the key to getting many out is to IDENTIFY this super ego effect, and learning that it is not good for them, and they should not pursue it in a religion or elsewhere. It is a key to their MENTAL HEALTH. It may be necessary for a mental health worker to spend time with them to see the full extent of the problem.
Trying to get a Witness or other cultist out of their religion raises a potential threshold of pain in their minds (Oh, no, I CAN'T get disfellowshipped, my life would be over!). In effect, the super ego will be over and they will have to live as others and make their own decisions. The thought is simply TOO PAINFUL.
OVERCOMING THE PAIN OF LOSS OF THE SUPER EGO
Of course, not all in the cult will feel like they have that super ego. They are aware it exists all around them in the arrogance and self-confidence of their fellows, but never managed to feel it much themselves. Getting such a person out means that they need to be educated about authoritarian groups and how they work, and that being a part of them is truly self-destructive to their own mental health. Reading books like Steven Hassan's "Combatting Cult Mind Control" or "Releasing the Bonds" or Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" can be very helpful. A few visits to a mental health practitioner who is acquainted with cults would be great. Pointing them to another super-ego organization will do nothing to change their real problem. Reading the Bible can help a lot if they are able to grasp it apart from any organization or authority figures seeking to use the Bible to control the person. But in the end, they need to start life over, perhaps where they left off when they joined the group, or start a new life if they were always in it, learning to enjoy normal things like sports, the arts, personal talents and people skills. This is a slow process and requires loving, helpful persons to hold their hands at times. Finding a support group online or in person may very well facilitate this process in a way the victim might never have known, freeing them from years of needless guilt, fear and suffering.
Other helpful articles:
Absolute Certainty and the True Believer NEW
Leaders and Undue Influence NEW
Active Force Behind the Watchtower; Holy Spirit or Deceptive Spirits?
Children: The Introduction Of Phobias (Deep Rooted Fears) And Other Development Traits In The Jehovah Witness Child
Choosing A Therapist (Guide for ex-JWs)
Coming Out of the Watchtower: Why Is It So Difficult?
Eight Marks of A Mind Control Cult
Families Broken Apart by Jehovah's Witnesses: Can They Be Restored?
Father Images in Cults
How I helped my family leave Jehovah's Witnesses
Indoctrination: A Psychological and Sociological Examination
Influence: Ethics of Influence; Education versus Cult
Joining the Club (how cults are like clubs)
LIES My Mother Told Me
LIFE After Leaving the Watchtower
Love of Structure or Love of God
Mind Control or Brainwashing? and Fear of Apostasy
Opening the Closed Mind: How to Talk to JWs
Punishment Vibe: Use of psychological punishment in controlling cult members
Questions to Ask BEFORE You Join a Group
Understanding Watchtower Phobias: How and Why the Watchtower Uses Fear to Control Its Members
UNITY: Why Only the Cults Seem to Achieve It
Why Some Can't Leave the Watchtower and Why Disfellowshiped Persons Often Defend the Watchtower