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Ex Jehovah's Witness Terminology - What is 'PIMO'?

If you spend any amount of time on Ex Jehovah's Witness support groups on places like Reddit or Facebook, you may notice that there is a lot of terminology used that non JW's probably don't understand.

So what does it mean if someone describes themselves as 'PIMO'?

PIMO is an acronym and stands for Physically In Mentally Out.

If you are a Jehovah's Witness this is an incredibly difficult situation in which to find yourself.

You are 'Physically In', which means you are likely attending the hall or zoom meetings and generally fulfilling your duties to maintain an appearance of being a dedicated Jehovah's Witness.

But, crucially, you are 'Mentally Out'. which means you no longer believe the doctrine and don't agree with the expectations that are placed on you regarding how you should live, think, act, or generally be, as a person.

Therefore, someone who is PIMO has to ACT like a Jehovah's Witness, even though, in their mind they are NOT a Jehovah's Witness and doesn't agree with it. Imagine the position this puts a person in. It is absolutely vital that they don't give away any clues as to how they feel about the religion because that could lead to terrible consequences, such as disfellowshipping and being shunned by your own family. This has to be avoided at all costs.

But the only way to avoid it is to outwardly appear as a devoted and dedicated Jehovah's Witness, which could involve shunning friends who have been disfellowshipped. A person can literally feel forced into shunning a person for fear of being shunned themselves, while all the time not believing the doctrine.

Jehovah's Witnesses all over the country, every day, are shunning people that they wish they did not have to, but they believe in the doctrine and the reasons they are doing it so they can reconcile their actions by reminding themselves they are doing it save the person and bring them back to the 'The Truth'. It's tough but in their mind it is ultimately good .

Imagine if you are PIMO, so you still have to do the shunning, still wish you didn't have to, but you don't have the comfort of believing it is the right thing to do. Instead, you know it is wrong and desperately hurtful, but to say anything contrary risks you bringing the same fate upon yourself. What a horrible and cruel dilemma

This level of deception takes its toll on a person. They are living a lie, doing things they don't want to, just so they don't draw attention to themselves. It's possible for this to cause a person to feel very badly about themselves and their self esteem to plummet. Add to that feelings of being trapped with no way out and you have a very dangerous mix of circumstances and emotions.

Cruelly, there really is no easy answer.

For a person to be true to themselves and live life the way they want to could literally mean losing everything and everyone in their life. But to do nothing, in order to keep those things, mean denying yourself true happiness and fulfilment.

See.......NO WAY OUT.

Many people who know they are PIMO feel resigned to just accepting how things are, but cling to the hope that one day, those family they cannot risk losing will somehow 'wake up' and also start to not believe any more. This would be an amazing day, if it were to happen, but think about something.

Even if this were to happen, are they going to say anything? They themselves could become PIMO and nobody would know. You could have a situation where most of the group no longer believe, but assume they are the only one. They make sure they hide it effectively, ensuring the others don't find out, all the time not knowing that others are doing exactly the same.

But this cycle will not be broken unless one person summons such bravery that they reveal themselves, knowing that if they are the only one they will likely lose everything.

How many people possess that level of courage?

If you are in a situation anything like this, you may benefit from ex Jehovah's Witness counselling. It won't miraculously reveal a way out of your trap, but it will give you a place to get all your frustrations and difficulties out in the open.

For more information visit

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