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General Authority and Personal Authority: Guest Post on RationalFaiths

General Authority and Personal Authority

There have been a handful of moments in my life when I’ve realized that common words and phrases in LDS culture have become so familiar that they have lost their original meaning. For example, stake center, FHE, and “without a shadow of a doubt” are such common jargon that Latter-day Saints don’t even think twice about them, let alone consider their original context (ie: “Relief Society” isn’t just the hour of the church block where women meet–it’s a society or community that provides relief!).

Rediscovering General Authority

One of the advantages of life-long immersion in Mormon cultural and doctrinal verbiage is sharing a common point of reference with the hundreds of LDS clients who I’ve seen in my psychotherapy practice over the past two decades. Several years ago, I worked with a woman whom I’ll call “Allison” who taught me something valuable about really examining the true meaning of the Mormon language we use. Allison had come to therapy for help in processing the impact of chronic childhood abuse, neglect, and loss. Part of how she had coped with her trauma was hyper-focusing on being diligent and exactly obedient to the gospel (part of her anxiety disorder and tendency toward scrupulosity). Not surprisingly, she found General Conference to be overwhelming. With every talk came more and more counsel from the Brethren, more suggestions for improvements. She couldn’t take notes fast enough. Couldn’t prioritize them fast enough. She was sure she missed many of them. She wanted to be good, to be worthy, to be obedient, to be loveable.

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About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.

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