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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.

Post Traumatic Church Disorder - Part One


Most people have heard of Post Traumatic STRESS Disorder (PTSD), but I’d like to introduce you to, what I like to call, Post Traumatic CHURCH Disorder (PTCD).

Much like PTSD, Post Traumatic Church Disorder is usually a result of a single stressful event or can occur after a long period of ongoing stress similar to "bullying." PTCD occurs in churches, usually by church leadership, influential members, denominational leaders, etc.

The pain and the abuse of PTCD can be incredible resulting in deep spiritual wounds. Much like PTSD, Post Traumatic Church Disorder is a natural emotional reaction to a deeply shocking and disturbing experience. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal (non-Godly) situation that usually results in sufferers stepping out of their roles and / or involvement in the church.


sudden anger / outbursts (or suppressed anger)
reactive depression
feelings of detachment
avoidance behaviors
nervousness, anxiety
loss of interest
loss of ambition / motivation
loss of spiritual vision
poor concentration
impaired memory
emotional numbness
low self-esteem
lack of trust
feelings of oppression
impaired spiritual hearing
detachment from spiritual gifts
detachment from institutional church


Although some people suffering from Post Traumatic Church Disorder (PTCD) turn their back on God and walk away from their faith completely, I believe this is rare. Most continue to have a loving relationship with God as the foundation of their life. Many even experience spiritual growth and increased faith by recognizing that God would not mistreat them like they were mistreated by the church.

On the other hand, PTCD causes many sufferers to stay away from "the church" that hurt them while seeking Godly relationships outside the walls of the church. While some find a few significant relationships, often their journey leads to a secluded life that only feeds the already debilitating symptoms of PTCD.

In his book Houses That Change The World, Wolfgang Simson refers to the effects of what he calls “church trauma” stating that many who had ministry callings leave their positions of church leadership to go into business or the medical field.
“Church trauma” – a very deep and tricky wound inflicted on (people) by the very institution of healing, the church, which did not live up to its own calling and which – an almost devilish scheme – has badly hurt those whose (gifts and) ministries it needed most.

The tragedy of this is that the church is God’s mission. Someone needs to find (these people), go to them, apologize to them profoundly, heal the “church trauma”, speak to that glowing spark and fan it into a flame, and then recruit them, helping them to see how God sees them and release them into their (spiritual) potential for the building up of the church. [p. 125]
©2007 PEEJOE
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11:34 PM

Hey Paul;) -thank you for shedding light on this...its an issue rarely discussed that needs to be. Im sure your insight will speak to many hearts; & hopefully stir up understanding, compassion & healing for so many who suffer in this way<    

3:26 PM

You know what i think when i hear this...

that church is done poorly and I'm so happy to be where I am... because where the spirit of the Lord is...    

9:30 PM

good one agree 100%    

10:32 PM

I've never heard of this before...very interesting. I can actually identify with it a tad. I think the Church has a bad reputation. My saying is "a reputation HAD is a repuation EARNED". It's time for the church to buck up and earn an awesome reputation    

12:32 AM

@ everyone: Thank you for your comments.

@ matt: You've never heard of PTCD because it is something I came up with myself recently. Based on personal experience, along with countless stories of "church trauma" that I've heard firsthand, I decided it was time to pen my thoughts on this virtually unexplored topic. It is time for healing in this area.

I have a lot more to say and will post at least two more parts in this series. I appreciate everyone's feedback.    

7:09 AM

Good post...thanks    

10:57 PM

You'll walk a long way before you'll find a nonjudgmental human in a church pew. You'll find one faster in the gutter ... anywhere they are totally aware of their own human frailty and their need for the God who IS love. Most people and church leaders don't really think they are sinners 'anymore'

All our self righteousness smells of filthy rags ... bacteria laden and needing cleaning.

All the hiding of the sin is what pollutes our gatherings. Noone asks for help because they actually fear the finger pointing they see around them towards others. We are to confess our sin to one another that we may be HEALED ... but we hide it instead or just ignore it until we hurt someone or ourselves. There are precious few gatherings that have the presence of God in them anymore because God is with the publican and the sinner ... not in the white washed churches of this continent... He sits with those who are grateful and love Him in return.    

1:04 PM

so THAT'S what i've got...    

1:42 AM

Thank you Dr. Paul. I've been looking for a name for what I have and now I know what it is I've got.    

12:47 PM

Been looking for part 2, anytime soon?    

12:58 PM

@Nate - hopefully soon.    

5:59 PM


3:12 PM

ohmygosh - I think I've experienced this....thank you for posting on this topic. Found you via runnningfree...    

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