Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Ben's Story

The main belief of the group I grew up in (Christian Science) was that we should not use doctors or medicine in order to maintain our health. As a child, this became a frightening situation to be in, as I gradually realised the danger this presented to my health.

My father left the group when I was six. Shortly afterwards, when my brother broke his arm, my mother initially refused to take him to a doctor. My brother cried while my parents argued over the action to take. My brother was treated the following day, when his tears did not stop. My parents' difference of opinion was a continuing source of conflict for many years, that almost led to divorce.

Apart from a very painful and persistent bout of earache that went untreated, I was fortunate enough not to suffer any major illnesses that might have put my life at risk. Our family was, however, isolated by the extreme nature of our beliefs, and by the absolute denial of illness which the group expected from us.

Membership involved Bible study and the study of the group's own texts (Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy). We were expected to study for more than an hour each day. Occasionally, I heard conversations that alluded to the deaths of people in the group who were sometimes younger people or children.There was a constant feeling that I was not properly protected.

As a teenager, I refused to attend the group, which led to enormous conflict with my mother, for many years. My mother eventually died in hospital, after initially refusing medical treatment for a heart condition. It has been very disturbing to realise, as an adult, that my childhood medical neglect was an abuse of parental power.

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