Tartarean Paradise: Religious Trauma in Childhood addresses the practices and teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watch Tower Society), and in particular “the often devastating effects these have on the developing minds of young children.”
The author, Marie Swan Black, was raised amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses, but was disfellowshiped (excommunicated) at the age of 16.
Written as a thesis for a Bachelors of Arts degree, Marie introduces her insightful article as follows:
As fundamentalism saturates the globe, research into the processes in which developing minds become paralyzed by dogmatic beliefs is crucial. This is just a small piece in the ever-growing body of work on this subject, but there is so much more needed.
This particular piece is a journey into the lives of fifteen individuals, including the author, raised within the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Written as a senior thesis for a Bachelor of Arts degree, the author took a survey of fourteen random others from within the ex-Jehovah’s Witness web community with educated curiosity of what their experiences might have been.
The main intent of the piece is to expose the practices and teachings of the sect–which hides behind a misleadingly soft persona–and the often devastating effects these have on the developing minds of young children.
The piece has a focus on adolescent girls, although men raised in the sect were also surveyed. It has been called important research by Leslie Williams, former executive director of the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, who, at one point guided the author into personalizing the piece for non-academic publishing. It is especially suggested reading for teachers with Witness children in their classroom, counselors with Witness or ex-Witness patients, and anyone who has lived it or has a loved one in or becoming involved in the sect.
– Source: Marie Swan Black, Introduction
, Tartarean Paradise: Religious Trauma in Childhood
The title of the thesis refers to a quote from the book, The History of Hell:
Hesiod tells us that Erebus and Tartarus, the upper
and lower realms of Hades, were born, together with Night and Earth,
itself, from the primeval Chasm. . . . A guarded bronze wall runs
around Tartarus, surrounded by Night. Within it is the Abyss, where a [child]
could fall for a year and not touch bottom.
– Source: Alice K. Turner, The History of Hell