Cover image for Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness : escape from the Watchtower Society
Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness : escape from the Watchtower Society
Wilson, Diane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
327 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
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BX8526.5 .W55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This tale of mind control, the use of fear to manipulate vulnerable people, and final escape from a suffocating cult environment is a revealing expos#65533; of a secretive contemporary sect, as well as a true psychological thriller. Diane Wilson spent twenty-five precious years of her life, first becoming indoctrinated by the dogma of the Watchtower Society, and then struggling to free herself from its pervasive, intimidating clutches. In this probing, brutally honest assessment, Wilson describes how a childhood of psychological abuse and lack of self-confidence rendered her vulnerable to the seductive doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses. 

What she reveals about the goings-on within the closed Watchtower Society will shock the average person who assumes the polite, well-dressed people who pass out leaflets are much like any other conservative religious group. Wilson contends that membership in the Jehovah's Witnesses requires obedience bordering on psychological enslavement and complete suppression of individuality. Her engrossing memoir will be of great interest to former Witnesses, students of cult phenomena, and anyone who has ever had contact with Jehovah's Witnesses.

Author Notes

Diane Wilson (Morgan Hill, CA) now works as a professional Sign Language Interpreter for the Deaf. More on her and her book can be found at

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"The public needs to be warned," says ex-Jehovah's Witness Diane Noble about the religion she once embraced. In Awakening of a Jehovah's Witness: Escape from the Watchtower Society, Noble recounts her quarter-century in the movement, making the usual case that the Society is a cult, that it exercises unhealthy control over the minds and behavior of its members and that it grooms followers to become victims. Certainly, her story is sad, particularly the part about being encouraged to shun her own daughter for several months, but it is hardly a balanced or even very perceptive book. (One of the most interesting elements of the narrative is that Noble seems to have transferred the near-divine authority that she once vested in her church to her therapist, whose words are sometimes reprinted here in boldface.) Sadly, few objective accounts exist about the Jehovah's Witnesses; little stands in the middle between polemic and apologetic. Readers are left with classic studies such as M. James Penton's Apocalypse Delayed, a rare book that seeks not just to discredit and refute the Watchtower, but to understand it. ( Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

No matter how compelling, accounts of disillusioned believers are always painful to read. The process leading to rejection of a belief system once held to be as valuable as a body part almost always leads to cynicism and hostility on the part of the formerly faithful member. Such stories seem to come especially from those associated with authoritarian organizations, either political or religious--religious ones are often called "cults," unless they are as successful as the Roman Catholic Church or considered as cute or harmless as the Amish. This autobiographical account is typical of many. It demonstrates the "mind-control" intentions of the larger organization, in this case the Jehovah's Witnesses. Any empathetic person would be touched by Wilson's story about her initial conversion and her growing anger upon receiving contradictory messages and observing abusive authoritarian behavior. She documents most of her philosophical differences with texts taken from official publications of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Most library collections concerned with religion seek materials that are either more explicit in their agenda or that attempt objectivity. Accounts that are somewhat evenhanded are, however, available--especially Apocalypse Delayed (1997). Recommended for general readers. D. S. Azzolina University of Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Don NelsonRev. Peter BarnesJerry Bergman, Ph.D., MSBS, L.P.C.C.Jerry Bergman, Ph.D., MSBS, L.P.C.CJerry Bergman, Ph.D., MSBS, L.P.C.C.
Endorsementp. 9
Endorsementp. 10
Forewordp. 11
Prefacep. 13
Acknowledgmentsp. 15
1. Groomed to Be a Victimp. 17
2. Hookedp. 20
3. Abusive Lovep. 26
4. The Watchtower Society Plays Godp. 45
5. You Shall Know My Disciples By the Love They Showp. 58
6. Excuses, Excuses, Excusesp. 78
7. Truth or Consequencesp. 85
8. The Rubber Band Cyclep. 91
9. My Struggle to Stay in the Organizationp. 103
10. Awakeningp. 112
11. Compassionp. 117
12. My Struggle to Get Out of the Organizationp. 122
13. Hiding Behind a Screenp. 131
14. Leaving the Guidebook Behindp. 137
15. The Visionp. 141
16. The Shoe Fits: A Cultlike Organizationp. 145
17. Now You See It, Now You Don't: False Propheciesp. 152
18. Playing Follow-the-Leader: Zigzagging Doctrines That Affect Livesp. 167
19. The Guise of Spiritual Authorityp. 217
20. Codependency Held Me Hostagep. 225
21. The Illusion of Choice: Mind Controlp. 231
22. The Final Hurdlesp. 238
23. The Last Straw: Rapep. 253
24. Escape!p. 269
25. Conclusionp. 277
26. Epiloguep. 279
Author Recommended Reading Listp. 281
Appendix A "Why Couldn't She Just Leave?"p. 283
Appendix B "Discussion of Watchtower Beliefs"p. 297
Glossaryp. 307
List of Periodicalsp. 315
Indexp. 319