Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.


I keep forgetting the stages of faith – and my irritation and disillusionment with Christianity.

I forget that I have been identified as being at stage 4, going into stage 5, and this is confronting, challenging, causes pain and guilt and wont be understood by most Christians, as most remain at stage 3.

I see this. I see theologians, and Christians and ministers and church’s, stuck at the stage 3 level.

I know, I won’t be understood by most, my faith questioned as a result, and I have to accept that.

It’s not easy when you have PTSD combined with that and a deep need to be understood.

This is from this link…http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com/JamesFowlersStages.html

James Fowler’s Stages of Faith Development

James Fowler’s Stages were most extensively explained in his Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Develoment and the Quest for Meaning, which appeared in 1981. (Harper San Francisco)

In it he outlined six stages of development a person might go through as they mature through adulthood. While he was not referring literally to religious faith, the book is full of references to religion, I suppose as an example of a type of faith in which a person might mature. But James Fowler’s Stages, formulated on interviews of actual people wherein their religious beliefs were sometimes extensively discussed, has been widely accepted as referring to spiritual development in general if not specifically to religious belief.

I first became aware of this work after reading some of M. Scott Peck’s writings where Fowler is mentioned. I have to admit that however great my interest was in this topic, I gained only the most rudimentary understanding the first time I read about James Fowler’s Stages, but have gained more each time I read. In the paragraphs below, I am going to summarize these stages as I understand them in hopes of: 1) inspiring people to read the actual text for a more complete understanding and 2) trying to show how Fowler’s stages fit in with the overall idea of spiritual development as expressed by the other theorists.

Early Stages

James Fowler’s stages start with what he calls a “pre-stage” that refers to infancy, called Undifferentiated Faith. Here the infant, (none of whom were interviewed!) develops basic trust and mutuality (or lack thereof) with the one’s providing care. The quality of interactions in this phase underlie all future faith development for the individual.

When thought and language begin to open the child up to the use of symbols in speech and ritual play, the child moves on to Stage 1: Intuitive-Projective Faith which is typical of children ages 2 through 7. Here the child is egocentric. In this stage, the child’s imagination is formed.

But in this stage, reality is not well-differentiated from fantasy. For this reason, adults preaching about the negative aspects of religion – the devil and the evils of sin – can cause great harm to a child of this age, leading him toward a very rigid, brittle and authoritarian personality as an adult. When a child attains the capacity for concrete operational thinking, he can begin to move toward the second of James Fowler’s Stages.

Stage 2 – Mythic, Literal Stage

Fowler’s Stage 2 is called the Mythic, Literal Stage. Here the child (or adult person stuck in this phase) is likely to start sorting out the real from the make-believe. Story becomes the major way of giving unity and value to experience, but the symbols in those stories are seen as one-dimensional and literal. Moreoever, beliefs, moral rules and attitudes are also held literally. Thus, God is an anthropomorphic being in the sky; heaven and hell are viewed as actual places.

The person in the second of James Fowler’s Stages is also more able to take the perspective of another person but his view of reciprocity is also rather literal. “If I follow the rules, God will give me a good life.” “If I pray, God will grant my wish.”

A person may begin to grow out of this phase when he encounters conflicts and contradictions in the stories he is interpreting literally and begins to reflect on the real meanings.

Stage 3 – Synthetic, Conventional Stage

A person will normally move into the third of James Fowler’s Stages, the Synthetic, Conventional stage around puberty but apparently, many adults never move beyond it. Continue reading