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Posted by: forester ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 03:44PM

Has anyone read Tara Westover's book Educated? My friend, who knows I am an exmo, recommended it to me. The reviews are vey good but I am worried that reading it might trigger PTSD symptoms in me. Although my experience was nowhere near what Tara went through, I was abused by my strict mormon family. I am glad she was able to escape and find a new life, and like me it cost her a healthy relationship with her family.

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Posted by: donbagley ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 04:33PM

I read the book, and I recommend it to all exmormons. It's cathartic and empowering. She was stronger than me in many ways, but the end is always the same with devout Mormon family. If you're not Mormon, you're not family. It's why we're here.

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Posted by: Susan I/S ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 05:32AM

SO true Don but you forgot one thing -

If you're not Mormon, you're not family. Until they want something. Most of the time money. Then they just loooove you!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/26/2019 05:32AM by Susan I/S.

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Posted by: Brother Of Jerry ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 09:57AM

LOL! Been there, done that. Or had it done unto me.

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Posted by: looking in ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 05:51PM

I just finished it a few weeks ago. I found it a riveting read. It was passed to me by a friend who had no prior knowledge of Mormonism, and she was shocked. Not only at the experiences Tara had growing up, but at the extreme religious principles that her parents abided by. While I explained that the family in the book were extreme in their understanding of Mormonism, it was obvious that the underlying teachings were beyond anything my friend would have imagined.

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Posted by: Dorothynli ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 07:28PM

Who’s to say what might trigger another person? If you want to risk it, I could not recommend a more worthwhile book. The book’s end is on the jacket—-still, I could not put it down. I’ve also listened to several interviews of Ms. Westover. She’s one of the greatest minds of our time.

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Posted by: gemini ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 07:58PM

I read it. Stunned and shocked me. Knowing it happened in my home state was unsettling to me.

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Posted by: auntsukey ( )
Date: August 25, 2019 11:33PM

It is a powerful book of resilience and courage. Her title "Educated" is more than just a chronicle of her strict, perilous upbringing and her journey to college degrees. It also illuminates the difference between understanding the world through history, science, and philosophy and living a life based on superstitions- eg. faith in the imaginary.

However, as much as I was affected by her story, I'm a little puzzled. Tara's mother is on facebook complete with oodles of family pictures. She owns a company that sells herbals; she does seminars and workshops, and writes books. The comments on her posts from friends and family express sympathy for her and question Tara's presentation of the family.

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Posted by: NormaRae ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 03:04PM

I am reading it for a second time because someone I know in town has asked me to come to their book club discussion next month and speak to the mormon aspect of it. The book club I attend myself will also be reading it in a few months. So I want to be sure I remember the situations and can clarify what behavior is more common and what is more fringe. To me, her father is a conglomerate of my own father, my former father in law, and a couple other Mormon men he brought to mind. Despite his being on the fringe about many things, the underlying control factor in Mormon men is a very common thread.

As far as her family leveling criticisms at her about things they claim are false or that they remember differently, I was actually quite impressed that through her research, she seemed to get that. A number of times she would mention that another sibling remembered an incident differently than she did. This is extremely common in families, especially larger ones where there is an age span and different dynamics with each person. When my mother and I were talking a few months ago about a really horrible incident that happened in our family in my youth, I was shocked that she didn’t remember the part that was the most traumatic for me and affected my later life in so many ways. Because she was right there. I remember what she was wearing. I remember the spring-pole lamp she was standing under. I remember her yelling at my father. Doesn’t change the facts of what happened to me and how I remember it.

When my father passed last year, my daughter posted that she always knew her grandfather loved her. That was her experience and that’s what she believed. I’m happy she felt loved. Yet this was the grandfather who did not give a shit whether his grandchildren had food on their plates or a roof over their heads when I was newly divorced, had no money for food and lowered myself to beg him for help. He had plenty of money and was giving all kinds of help to low-lifes in his ward. But he refused to help me and his grandchildren because I wasn’t paying my tithing. That’s not love that’s control. So my experiences with that man were very different from other family members. Doesn’t mean any of our experiences are wrong, just different. Tara’s family members all had different interactions with her father just due to the family dynamics. Parents, different siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts/uncles, cousins could all give you their recollections about someone and you might not even think they’re talking about the same person. It’s the same with the way different people see us. Martha Beck’s Family lambasted her memories of Hugh Nibley. But those were her experiences. So I look at “Educated” as very credible experiences of one person. And can see the common thread between other Mormons.

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Posted by: munchybotazv2 ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 06:26PM

I read the book, loved it, started googling, and found the mom's Facebook. Dad's face doesn't even look scarred, much less burned completely off. Made me question the whole thing.

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 07:59PM

There are a few things I've heard that don't quite add up.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 08:32PM

Hence my continued assertion that there is no such thing as nonfiction.

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: September 07, 2019 09:56PM

Hahahaha! Probably right!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 02:16AM

Munchy, two things to consider when evaluating Tara Westover's claims.

First, if you read the Facebook page by her mother, LaRee Westover, and specifically looked at the photo of the father's face, you may want to review her comments again. Why? Because LaRee basically confirmed much of what Tara wrote in her book. She says her husband Val lost much of his nose and suffered serious damage to his lips and ears and lower face. It's true that she is reluctant to endorse Tara's account wholeheartedly--because she rejects the book--but she pretty directly says that Val's face was indeed severely disfigured and only recovered so well because she applied her homeopathic salves (conveniently available for sale at her website, Butterfly Expressions). Nor does LaRee offer a before photo of Val to compare with the after photo, which would put to rest Tara's claims. So for whatever reason, LaRee is basically on the same page as Tara.

Second, there is a witness to much of what Tara experienced: Drew, who was her friend and later her boyfriend, and who was in the home when many of the incidents of abuse occurred or were discussed. Drew left his account as a review on Amazon. He wrote:

"In the interest of full disclosure, I'm the Drew from this book, and although Tara and I are no longer together I’ve met all of the key figures in this book on many occasions. Although I don’t have as intimate a knowledge of growing up in the Westover family as a sibling would, I observed first hand everything Tara describes in the third part of the book and heard many stories about earlier events, not just from Tara, but from siblings, cousins, and her parents themselves. I find the claims of factual inaccuracy that have come up among these reviews to be strange for two reasons. First, in a post-James Frey (“A Million Little Pieces”) world, publishers are incredibly careful with memoirs and “Educated” was extensively fact checked before publication. Second, no one claiming factual inaccuracy can do so with any precision. While every Westover sibling, as well as their neighbors and friends, will have different perspectives and different memories, it is very difficult to dispute the core facts of this book. “Educated” is about abuse, and the way in which both abusers and their enablers distort reality for the victims. It’s about the importance of gaining your own understanding of the world so you’re not dependent on the narratives imposed on you by others. I’ve heard Tara’s parents attack schools and universities, doctors and modern medicine, but more importantly, I’ve seen her parents work tirelessly to create a world where Shawn’s abuse was minimized or denied outright. I’ve seen them try to create a world where Tara was insane or possessed in order to protect a violent and unstable brother. I was with her in Cambridge when Shawn was calling with death threats, then saw her mother completely trivialize the experience. For Tara’s parents, allegiance to the family is paramount, and allegiance to the family requires you to accept her father’s view of the world, where violence is acceptable and asking for change is a crime."

So there is substantial evidence--LaRee's words and Drew's observations, that vindicate at least large parts of Tara's narrative.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 02:23AM

In case anyone is interested, Tara's family testifies that mainstream medicine will ruin your health and your soul. Her tinctures, by contrast, obviate any need to visit the doctor or the hospital!

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 11:50AM

I remember page after glossy page touting crystals, ointments, ritual paraphernalia, books, mechanical devices, and classes which would straighten out the color spectrum of my chakra, show me how to discern auras, attract positive energy, spirits, love, and money, lead me into true health, etc. & blah-blah-blah.

Anybody remember Elizabeth Prophet's ultra-New Age "Church Universal and Triumph?" They had bought land in Montana and set up a kind of Jim Jones/Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh/survivalist community. I crashed a talk she gave and passed out Christian tracts. That was a hoot!

The antipathy towards conventional medicine reminds me of the derisive remarks my Christian Science mother used to make about "materia medica," such an interesting in-speak term CS'ists used for doctors, drugs, and surgery. "He would have lived so much longer if he had relied on 'Science!'" (Note upper case, means Christian a.k.a. 'Divine' Science.) Happily, the CS Mother Church in Boston has relaxed its prohibition, and using conventional medicine does not ostracize you like it once did. It's a matter of personal conscience.

Interestingly, back in those days Christian Scientists bought display booths at psychic fairs and such.

On another matter, LW, I'd love to have you in my "Persuasive Placebo InEssential Oils" downline! A mere $10,000 will get you set up with all the starting inventory and promotional material you need. I'll even start you out with the Turquoise Pin (with purple rhinestone).

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 10:38AM

Drew's review of the book is insightful. I especially like this sentence -- "It’s about the importance of gaining your own understanding of the world so you’re not dependent on the narratives imposed on you by others." I think that would apply to just about everyone. And it especially applies to exmos.

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Posted by: memikeyounot ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 12:03AM

I'd like to read this book but I don't generally buy them so I'll have to wait.

Both of the libraries here in the Salt Lake area have holds on both e-books and audio-books (150+ for each one) and the actual book version has at least 50 holds each.

So I'll be waiting a while.

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Posted by: Father of some girls ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 12:29AM

I read the book.
Pretentious title.

Her father is crazy, her mother is half-crazy and one of her brothers, killed a beloved pet to keep her quiet.
Bright girl, but how can she not be harmed by all that crazy?

I asked one daughter to read it so we could discuss.
Although my daughter came out of graduate school with some disappointing leftist views, my daughter was concerned Tara had wholesale, adopted views from the progressive political spectrum, and had wholesale, dropped anything good from her upbringing.

If Tara were my child, I would counsel her to avoid her new echo chamber. Lord knows, her parents’ echo chamber was also out of balance.

Incidentally, my daughter said the read was “gripping.”

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Posted by: donbagley ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 01:25PM

Bright girl? Are you trying to damn with faint praise? I admire her intellect and courage. She's a woman, by the way.

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Posted by: sd ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 05:03PM

"leftist views" are bad? Progressive thoughts to be condemned? I think Don got you right. The echo chamber might well be that space between your own ears.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 05:12PM

I'm really pissed that that post was left up. My reply, much along your lines, was eliminated. We all know who Father Of Some Daughters is; he posts this stuff all the time, always under new fake names.

I don't know why he gets to violate the rules against sock puppets and against politics. But he does--with every misogynistic, patriarchal, reactionary post.

It isn't right.

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Posted by: elderolddog ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 06:42PM

I am not ashamed to say I have reported you!

I found the word "politics" in your post!!!

Get thee behind me, Satan's Wife!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 08:18PM

Better me behind you than vice versa, you libidinous old Laminate!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/24/2019 08:18PM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: ExAmmon ( )
Date: February 15, 2020 12:39AM

Hi. I only post here every few years. I had been putting off reading this book because I didn't want to trigger myself, but since I'm in therapy and basically having to think about my parents with regularity these days, I thought I'd go for it.

I am so glad I did. It wasn't an easy read for me, or painless, but throughout I was deeply comforted by such an articulate, brave portrayal of an upbringing with parallels to mine. My Mormon parents are quite orthodox but compared to hers they come off as more liberal. I've never felt more seen.

I last posted here in late 2018 after my father tried to ambush me, having hired a private investigator to find my address after previously threatening a restraining order in 2015. It was traumatic for me to have my parents attempt to insert themselves back into my life (or even my thoughts) after almost 7 years of intentional estrangement (my choice).

Tara's book helped me interrogate more deeply what the church, my parents, and other family members put me through. I have felt pressure to somehow at least confront my parents from a place of power, to put to them a complete list of my grievances as an exercise in empowerment of some sort. I've been unsure if this would in fact be pragmatic or risk opening a new Pandora's Box of new anger and disappointment. Hearing Tara's story helped me reason that while writing such a letter may be beneficial for me, sending it or having any future contact with them would be a waste and only bring more harm to me.

I read hundreds of reader reviews for the book and was surprisingly comforted by some of the incredulous reviews. I feel less alone in how some people disbelieve my story, if someone as articulate, brave, an celebrated as Tara can be well then I'm in good company.

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Posted by: knotheadusc ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 01:20AM

I read it. I thought it was very interesting and kind of inspiring.

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Posted by: exminion ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 02:07AM

I was tortured as a child, through pets, and could not bear to go through any of that horror again, so I choose to not read about it. I have PTSD, and I'm careful what movies and TV shows I watch, too. I can't tolerate any movies about dogs, because most are heart-wrenching. Biographies about famous people are inspiring and interesting, and usually don't contain detailed violent acts of abuse. (Well, you choose your subject.) Poetry, great literature, historical novels are fine, and there are so many books to choose from, these days, for those of us with PTSD.

I enjoyed Cheryl's book, BTW!!! I highly recommend that!

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Posted by: hgc2 ( )
Date: August 26, 2019 08:11PM

Read it. Liked it. Also watched her interview with John Dehlin.

I grew up near where she did and find her story plausible. She still has a whole life ahead and I am very optimistic for her.

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Posted by: robinsaintcloud ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 12:42PM

I enjoyed reading the book. Quite an amazing story. Must have been hell at times (most times) growing up like that. My wife has ten siblings spread out over 25 years. They are always coming up with different versions of their recollections. Often depends on whether you were an observer or if you were a direct participant in the story.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 09, 2019 01:48PM

This is getting close to what (I think) EOD was saying.

Life and history are a series of discrete events. People see them and interpret them differently, so any history is either biased, or a compromise between somewhat incompatible sources, or both.

But it goes further. Memory is imprecise. Eye witness identification is notoriously unreliable, and people's memories of events change demonstrably over time. Part of that stems from people's trying to understand themselves as their personalities evolve, part comes from an unconscious desire to emphasize the good and de-emphasize the bad. If there are not journals (themselves subject to distortion) and photos and videos to anchor memory, people's recollections of facts change dramatically with the passage of time.

So no matter how objective a writer may try to be, her work is inevitably subjective and, to that extent, fictitious.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: September 11, 2019 05:43AM

I agree. Recently, my brother has written his memoirs and he kindly sent me the parts about our childhood for my opinion. He writes extremely well so it wasn't that much of a chore ;-)

However, our recollections (or non-recollections) of many events are often very different - and I couldn't say whether either of us is "right" because we were obviously coming from different perspectives. In other words, we're different people! We don't/can't contest the other's memories because we each had our own specific context which colours everything.

Tom in Paris

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 24, 2019 05:19PM

I can honestly say I have never recommended that anyone watch anything Oprah has done. I admit to a visceral bias against her, stemming probably from the nonsense she did in her early years. A lot of people find her very good, and her commercial and political acumen is beyond doubt. So I should not be so hard on her.

With that as preface, last night I watched her interview with Westover. It was brilliantly done and, I think, important for anyone who wants to evaluate Westover to consider. I therefore invite all to partake.

I think you will be impressed.

ETA: I correct my spelling of Oprah's name. There is probably something Freudian in my initial failures to get it right.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/24/2019 05:22PM by Lot's Wife.

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Posted by: forester ( )
Date: September 27, 2019 01:53AM

What I find interesting in some of the comments here and what I have observed in my own life is the tendency people have to discredit the victim of abuse and defend the perpetrators. I do it myself when I hear of an instance of abuse committed by someone who appears to be decent. I don't know why we are programmed this way but I think it is one of the reasons why abuse continues in society.

My sister was standing right next to me when my mom hit me in the face several times, splitting my lip, yet she either denies it happened or says I was exaggerating. My mom was a spiritual giant in our ward (over 400 people came to her funeral when she died) and nobody would have believed for a minute that she beat me.

I used to be desperate for someone to believe me but after many years I have decided that I am the one that needs to believe what happened and stop cramming it deep inside where it does far more damage. By bringing it to surface and acknowledging it, I can work through the pain and allow peace to enter.

I decided not to read the book right now but maybe someday.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 27, 2019 02:30AM

You may be interested, forester, to learn that Tara Westover's older brother, the violent one, was excused by their parents on the grounds that he was a spiritual giant, chosen by God to do great things. His temper and violence were supposedly a result of Satan's efforts to undermine such a great man.

Perhaps that sounds familiar.

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Posted by: forester ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 01:37AM

My dad said I deserved the beating when I yelled out to him to make my mom stop. He also told me one time that I brought an evil spirit into the house. So yeah, I can relate!

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 01:45AM

I thought you might. These patterns. . .

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Posted by: Devoted Exmo ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 10:00AM

People aren't necessarily defending the abuse when they say things don't seem to add up in her account.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 02:54PM

True, of course.

Westover is open about the variability of memory and differences of perspective. Hence the footnotes and other indications of uncertainties about different events.

There were passages I found difficult to believe, or rather susceptible to exaggeration or other distortion, such as when she spoke of a broken wrist or other injuries. I suspect she was describing what she experienced and thought at the time, which would make sense.

My point in defending her is simply to say that there is a lot of evidence supporting most of what she says. Drew's testimony goes a long way in that direction. It's also worth noting that in LaRee's (Tara's mother) Facebook posts she says generally that Tara is wrong but offers few specifics and with regard to Val's burns she reluctantly confirms Tara's account. LaRee and Val are not in my estimation credible witnesses: they are trying to sell "essential oils," want to deny or excuse their own misbehavior, and are determined to protect their family's reputation.

I view Tara's account as much more credible, overall, than the denials from (half of) her family.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 07:27PM

I don't know of Tara's account, but having broken a number of bones I would have to say that a wrist is one of the easiest bones to break. You can break it easily by putting an arm down to break a fall (I've done that.) Or if someone else twists your wrist it can be broken that way.

In my martial arts training, I was trained to twist a wrist just short of breaking it. It is one of the easiest defenses to an attack.

So if Tara was pushed, and was trying to break a fall, or someone put some torque on her wrist, it could have happened in that manner.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 08:29PM

Agreed. There were a few instances, however, including both the wrist and the ankle; and since the family didn't go to doctors, I'm not sure how Tara would have known for sure. But from the perspective of a person being beaten or dragged, it's easy enough to see how an injury like that would seem very serious whether or not it was actual.

I do think she may have wittingly or unwittingly have embellished some of those injuries (everything feels more intense while happening). But a LOT of what I found questionable is confirmed by others, so I tend to think the book is closer to 90% correct than 60%. As EOD wrote, there is no history that is not in part fictitious. I think Westover's memoir is credible due to both the confirming statements by others and her own frank discussion of problems with her recollections.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 08:32PM

>>I'm not sure how Tara would have known for sure.

You know when you've broken a bone. There is no "if" about it. The pain is some of the most intense pain that you've ever experienced -- even for a finger or a toe. In the case of a wrist or an ankle, you would definitely know. IMO.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 28, 2019 09:15PM

(Disclaimer: I haven't read Westover.)

I grew up in a cult that eschewed medicine that was practiced very rigorously by my Christian Science Practitioner (later, Teacher) mother. We became very adept at denying symptoms until (most often) the body healed itself. This included all sorts of run-of-the-mill childhood diseases, sprained joints, skin conditions, and so on. It was wrong to get even a diagnosis, because that would reinforce the "false reality of the material senses."

Westover's belief system was completely different, but I suspect a similar mental self-manipulation may well have been at work. Also, since the mother was a "healer," it would be difficult to repudiate the efficacy of such a family authority's "treatment."

There's a lot of gray area in all this. To be sure, many CS'ists experience ailments their metaphysical mind-mojo cannot cure. But in many cases, it does, or seems to. Add to this the confirmation bias of both current experience and decades-old memories, and you get a mythology both personal and shared of what happened.

Regarding a broken wrist: if not treated, were there problems with it later in life?

Lastly: as I posted mid-thread, the Christian Science establishment has relaxed considerably on the extreme prohibition of medical science. Several children's deaths forced this. Also, Mary Baker Eddy allowed four broad exceptions optometry (but not ophthalmology)(she needed glasses), obstetrics (too many dead mothers and babies in early CS), orthopedics, and dentistry (Eddy lost most of her teeth in old age).

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: September 29, 2019 09:19AM

>>Regarding a broken wrist: if not treated, were there problems with it later in life?

I can't speak for Tara. I would think that you might or might not have future problems depending on the severity of the fracture. In some cases, if you immobilize the bone and let it heal, that would be enough for full functionality down the road.

Denying that you are hurt, or being told that you are "healed," does not make the pain of a broken bone magically go away. It is an angry, insistent, demanding, pain -- 10/10. I once passed out from the pain of a broken toe. And I otherwise have excellent pain tolerance.

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Posted by: Anziano Young ( )
Date: February 17, 2020 12:19AM

summer Wrote:
> You know when you've broken a bone. There is no
> "if" about it. The pain is some of the most
> intense pain that you've ever experienced -- even
> for a finger or a toe. In the case of a wrist or
> an ankle, you would definitely know. IMO.

That's simply not true--it all depends on the person. I broke my first bone in a bike race 13 years ago; I went down and, it turned out, snapped the end of my collarbone off. I didn't know it was broken until three days later when it wasn't feeling better and I finally hauled myself in to a doctor's office. I've broken several bones since then and they've felt pretty much the same--sure, they hurt, but I wouldn't have known they're broken or not just based on that. Everyone's pain tolerance is different.

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: September 29, 2019 09:36AM

In Christian Science, I became very adept at suppressing pain, i.e. mentally brainwashing myself.Out of CS for decades, I have a very high pain tolerance. Maybe I'm some kind of neurological freak?

Mastering pain was a crucial part of CS "healing." Of course, this can be accomplished only in certain cases, butone accumulates sufficient experiential "data" to reinforce confirmation bias. This 1) bonds you to the belief system, so that 2) your "faith" is reinforced for the next illness or injury, and 3) provides you with a testimony to share with the group, which in turn 4) reinforces their faith.

It works in reverse, too. As you listen to other people's testimonies, your faith is fed, so that you can suppress symptoms, including pain. Thus, it is a combination of personal and group mind over matter.

My guess is that something like this was involved in the Westover anti-medicine mindset, factoring in a psychological obeisance to the parents.

Lastly: it puts the burden to heal on the individual. If you're not getting healed, then it's your lack of faith (or in CS, metaphysical understanding). Then, some people exaggerate, or even create out of whole cloth, testimonies in order to establish their spiritual bonafides.

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