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Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 1998 May-Jun;15(3):167-73.

Spiritual terrorism.

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Kanawha Hospice Care, Inc., Dnbar, West Virginia, USA.


Spiritual abuse is the act of making people believe--whether by stating or merely implying--that they are going to be punished in this life and/or tormented in hell-fire forever for failure to live a good enough life to earn admission to heaven. Spiritual terrorism is the most extreme form of spiritual abuse, which in itself is a serious mental health problem. The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be a useful therapeutic modality for countering this problem, provided step two and three are reworded to facilitate cognitive restructuring, therefore enabling victims to develop a positive conception of God. Biblical symbolism can be cognitively helpful if interpreted metaphorically rather than literally. Thus, victims will be able to trust God to restore them to sanity and empower them to be survivors who experience peace of mind, joy of living and freedom from fear.

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