What is Religious Trauma?

Earlier in 2020, the Board of Directors of the Global Center for Religious Research (GCRR), in partnership with independent researcher Maggie Parker of Agnes Scott College, began a massive psychological and sociological study into religious trauma that involves over 30 scholars and researchers.

What is the Religious Trauma Study?

The Global Center for Religious Research has established the world's first and most comprehensive psychiatric research group to study the causes, manifestations, and treatment options for those suffering from "religious trauma" (RT). This scientific study is being conducted by a team of over 25 internationally-recognized specialists in the field of trauma research, including medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, university professors, neuroimagers, and religion scholars. The study will consist of each specialist contributing a chapter of original research to a large-scale textbook that will cover topics such as:

  • why the study of RT is important;

  • historical, social, and cultural aspects of RT;

  • issues in defining RT;

  • causes and triggers of RT;

  • physical, psychological, interpersonal, and emotional manifestations of RT;

  • effective treatments for RT.

Additionally, with enough funding, this psychological study intends to conduct at least ten fMRI sessions with patients suffering from RT in order to look for patterns in trauma-related brain activity that will allow scientists to detect and analyze the effects of RT on patient behavior and brain chemistry.

Objectives of the Study:

The objectives of this Religious Trauma Research (RTR) project include:

  • examining the relationship between fMRI data and symptoms to allow for quantitative predictions of clinical psychopathology related to RT;

  • informing the clinical assessment of trauma-exposed individuals by providing an accurate and objective quantitative estimation of religious psychopathology;

  • providing professional counselors and therapists a better understanding of the neurological effects of religiously-related suffering and how best to treat victims or RT;

  • utilizing a national sociological survey to identify the number of people in the U.S. who suffer from RT;

  • creating a diagnostic tool for use in clinical settings in order to help identify patients who suffer from RT;

  • publishing the results in both textbook and peer-reviewed academic journal formats for wide-spread dissemination and use.

Intellectual Merits of the Study

The intellectual merits of this Religious Trauma Research (RTR) project include:

  • providing the first clinical definition of “religious trauma” from an international committee of experts and practitioners in the field of trauma research, which intends to distinguish it from other diagnosable afflictions, such as PTSD;

  • taking an interdisciplinary approach by involving professional sociologists and religion specialists to elaborate on the historical, social, and cultural aspects of RT;

  • exploring many of the physical, psychological, interpersonal, and emotional manifestations of RT with special attention to differences in children and adult sufferers;

  • examining the role that power differentials have on marginalized groups, such as racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community;

  • establishing guidelines in diagnosing and promoting best-practice treatments for patients suffering from RT.

What is Religious Trauma?

On Sunday, November 8, 2020, the North American Committee on Religious Trauma Research (NACRTR) had come up with an official definition to help characterize the nature, scope, and meaning of "religious trauma." The official definition is as follows:


"Religious trauma results from an event, series of events, relationships, or circumstances within or connected to religious beliefs, practices, or structures that is experienced by an individual as overwhelming or disruptive and has lasting adverse effects on a person’s physical, mental, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being."

Help Support the Religious Trauma Project

If you would like to help fund this scientific research on religious trauma, simply click here to make a donation and share this blog post with all your friends and family across all your social media platforms.

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