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Have you ever tried to tell someone how you feel, and their response was as almost as if you were the one with the issue and that it was your fault for feeling a certain way? That is something called “mind rape,” as was coined by Mark Laaser. Not to minimize the seriousness of a person who is sexually raped, the term is harsh and jarring, but it fits the description. Mind rape is the type of abuse in which a person does not allow someone to feel their feelings (Laaser & Carnes, 2004).

The term might ignite some defensiveness. However, there’s a reason why we might engage in mind rape, which we might commit unknowingly, even ourselves. In mind rape, what the person is saying is not necessarily incorrect or wrong; it might even come from loving intentions. Still, it is the timing when said to stop people from feeling their feelings because of their very own discomfort (Laaser & Carnes, 2004). In other words, certain feelings don’t bring the best experience, e.g., anger, sadness, hurt, etc. Suppose I’m uncomfortable dealing with those emotions within myself. What would you expect if someone were to come to me with those feelings? If I’m avoiding them within myself, then when friends or family come to me with those feelings, I’ll do anything to prevent them from feeling. Including minimizing the very reasons or situations which led them to feel the way that they do.

When a person does not listen to or accept the validity of someone else’s feelings, the results are destructive. A person “begins to think it is bad, immature, irresponsible, weak, unfaithful, or otherwise unacceptable to have those feelings. But somewhere inside these feelings remain buried” (Laaser & Carnes, 2004). When we bury our feelings, they will come out in other ways because we try so hard to avoid that discomfort. We begin to self-medicate.

Instead of facing truth, we seek counterfeit solutions, trying to avoid the neediness and vulnerability so often found with the truth. We drink to excess. We seek pharmaceutical solutions to avoid emotional problems. We pursue status, power, and achievement. We use religion and ego-centered spirituality as a drug. We pray for God to stay away so that we can hide from the truth. We furiously erect walls around our hearts. We actively pursue behaviors that we believe will silence our hearts without listening to our hearts’ calls for gratification. We leave our hearts unexplored, and they become corrupted by the very things we do to satisfy them (Dodd, 2014).

We think that feelings are wrong, that they are not something we should use and should avoid at all costs. It is not feelings that are bad in and of themselves, but what we do with those feelings. It is when we are irresponsible for our feelings in which we become destructive and wreak havoc. “Feelings are not impulses that need to be controlled; they are tools that we need to learn how to use well so that we do not behave impulsively and act out without the ability to take responsibility” (Dodd, 2014).

There is nothing “unchristian” or “unorthodox” about feelings. Christ, Himself expressed emotion. Think about the hymn “O Only-Begotten Son” (Omonogenis). This hymn is impressive in so many ways. It’s musically beautiful but is also is full of theology and spirituality. The specific line that was on my mind was, “Holy Mighty, Who by weakness showed forth what is greater than power.” We are often led to believe we can’t express emotion openly; we have to be “tough all the time”; we can’t be weak or soft. However, we see the opposite with Christ. Holy Scripture records many times where Christ expressed emotion; in fact, the shortest verse is “Jesus wept.” He experienced joy (John 15:10-11), exhaustion (Matthew 14:13, Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16, John 6:15), anger (Matthew 23), disgust John 2:13-17), sorrow (John 11), compassion (Matthew 9:20-22, Matthew 20:34, John 8:1-11, and many more), frustration (Matthew 17:14-20), agony (Luke 22:42-44), and empathy (John 4:1-11). During the week of Pascha, we meditate on how Christ suffered for our sake. Although He is God, He did not consider using “toughness” to defend Himself. Christ taught the opposite; He taught us to love our enemies and forgive, not “khaleek ragel” or “be a man.” That doesn’t mean He was “soft”; however, on the contrary, it showed His strength. In Christ’s rejection, accusal, betrayal, loneliness, and physical pain, He showed His strength not by being “tough” or “macho” or avoiding his feelings but by showing love, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness.

Feelings are a gift. “Feelings are good, just like organs of the body are good. They are simply a part of us, designed a certain way to do certain functions so that the living, emotional and spiritual organism can have full functioning, i.e., live fully in relationship” (Dodd, 2014). That does not give a pass, though, to be destructive with our feelings and cause hurt and pain. Emotions are like language. An unknown language will go over your head. The more you learn a language, the healthier you can manage it in your mind and communicate with others more effectively, creating healthy connections.



Dodd, C. (2014). The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Living. BookBaby.

Laaser, M., & Carnes, P. D. G. S. (2004). Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction (Revised Edition). Zondervan.