7.30.2012

Superego to the Rescue!

It's been two years since my last post. No, I haven't been on a mission. In fact, I've come out, left the Church, lost my faith, gone to college, and questioned more or less everything. It'd be hard for me to record everything that's happened, but a little follow-up might be interesting for anyone who stumbles across this blog.

I sent in my formal letter of resignation of my membership in the LDS Church about a year ago. Though I went to great lengths to ensure that it was worded to legally obligate the Church to remove my name from its records, I have not received any confirmation that that has happened. And, contrary to my plans, I haven't done anything about it. Though I consider myself ex-Mormon -- I have from the moment I dropped the envelope in the mailbox -- I haven't taken the last step to ensure that the last tie is severed. As a psychology major interested in psychoanalysis (to the bewilderment of pretty much everyone), I can't chalk this up to sheer laziness -- I suspect something deeper, an unconscious part of me that's still hanging onto my Mormon identity.

More than identity, even -- living in Utah County for the summer has reminded me of just how Mormon I really (still) am. I'm still avoiding coffee and drugs, but more for direct health reasons. Still pretty chaste, though more because of the lacking dating scene where I'm at. And I cover up the past year's depression (from which I'm recovering) with a mostly cheerful, almost involuntary Goody Two-shoes facade -- and it doesn't get more Mormon than that.

After some reflection it seems easily possible to me that my reasons for these behaviors are simply pretexts hiding the fact that at least unconsciously I am still striving to meet the Mormon standard of worthiness I grew up with. In other words, I am rationalizing my 'virtue.' As Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said, speaking of Dostoyevsky, "As you know, the father Karamazov...says, if God doesn't exist...then everything is permitted. Quite evidently, a naïve notion, for we analysts know full well that if God doesn't exist, then nothing at all is permitted any longer. Neurotics prove that to us every day." Lacan scholar Slavoj Zizek elaborates:

What characterizes modernity is no longer the standard figure of the believer who secretly harbors intimate doubts about his belief and engages in transgressive fantasies; today, we have, on the contrary, a subject who presents himself as a tolerant hedonist dedicated to the pursuit of happiness, and whose unconscious is the site of prohibitions: what is repressed are not illicit desires or pleasures, but prohibitions themselves. "If God doesn't exist, then everything is prohibited" means that the more you perceive yourself as an atheist, the more your unconscious is dominated by prohibitions which sabotage your enjoyment. [Slavoj Zizek, How to Read Lacan]

This certainly seems to hold true for me, and I have undergone the cultural shift Zizek describes from prohibited believer to inhibited 'rationalist' in a matter of months. Considering the toxic attitudes toward sex to which all Mormons are exposed, it's no surprise how sexually repressed we -- er, I am. Which means it's no surprise, perhaps, that I am drawn to psychoanalysis and its champion, the scientist of sexual repression as prevalent in LDS culture as it ever was for the Victorians.

...Or, going deeper again, is it simply another unconscious attempt to return to my Mormon ways, to "follow the prophet" and dogma of a different "religion," as psychoanalysis is sometimes mockingly called?


The point of this meandering post is that I'm coming to the realization that I'm still Mormon enough to warrant maintaining this blog and working through the many Mormon feelings and thoughts that are still very much with me. The hardest thing about leaving the Church (which I'll blog about later) has been the loss of community, and though I've found other forms of community, this is one way to stay connected to a part of my past and a family I've always been grateful for.

5 comments:

Trev said...

Yay! I'm excited to read about all this.

postmormon girl said...

Getting out of the Mormon mindset is really tough - there are so many aspects to the Mormon experience that you don't realize are there. I had the same issue with resigning, although in my case I tried three separate times! I am still pretty conservative in my actions, although I am very liberal when it comes to social values (and I have turned into a raging coffee snob!)

But it gets easier, I promise. You will be surprised at how easy it can get - I sometimes have a hard time remembering the Mormon girl I used to be.

David said...

Good to hear from you again :)

Mister Curie said...

Good luck with the continuing journey! Thanks for the update, I remember reading your blog from when I started my own journey, which also continues . . .

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, and sorry for the delay (I forgot about my comment moderation settings).