What is Botkin Syndrome?

"Botkin Syndrome" describes the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and sometimes physical effects manifested by children who have been raised under the so-called Biblical patriarchy theology, a Quiverfull mindset, and other such religious paradigms that promote authoritarian parenting.

The term "syndrome" refers to a group of coincident factors, is used in the most informal sense, and is not an variety of "diagnosis."  The use of "syndrome" emerged from an ongoing blog discussion of the phenomenon among a group of Evangelical Christian homeschooling mothers who continued to use the term in reference to the far-reaching effects of these types of religious teachings.  The descriptor has been borrowed from these laypersons and describes a pattern of religious practice and teaching.

Botkin Syndrome is named after the Botkin Family and their teachings concerning family, particularly daughters.  They promote a paradigm that is a mixture of different ideas pulled from several aberrant ideologies that grew out of the Shepherding/Discipleship Movement and moved into the Homeschooling Movement within an extreme view of Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity.  All groups focus upon submission and authority doctrine.  (Aberrant and cultic refer to doctrinal problems and the covert manipulation employed by religious or ideological groups that use behavioral tactics and group manipulation to deceive followers, gaining undue influence over them.)

When Geoffrey Botkin parted ways with cult leader Jim McCotter in 2002, decades after his recruitment into the cultic Great Commission religious movement in the early ‘70s, the whole family soon reappeared publicly through their association with Vision Forum.  Vision Forum is a parachurch organization which fosters the patriarchy movement, an affinity group or special purpose religion that has developed from within homeschooling.  (Doug Phillips maintains that God the Father “homeschooled Jesus” before the earth was created, as statement he made in the late ‘90s at a homsechooling convention.)

Through and in association with Vision Forum, the Botkin Family serves as evangelists for their way of life.  Geoffrey Botkin promotes his views through film and various speaking engagements.  Vision Forum published the Botkin Daughters’ book, “So Much More” and helped promote their later video, “The Return of the Daughters,” to advance their paradigm for living in their effort to save Western Civilization.  The Botkin Daughters host a website named “Visionary Daughters,” while other members of the family work for their own film production organization, “The Western Conservatory.”

Under the Botkin Paradigm, all members of the family orbit around the family leader, the husband/father.  Each person within the family must “serve the vision” of their household patriarch and his “vision” for the family.  Boys follow their father’s wishes while they remain under the family’s roof, though men are afforded much more liberty and freedom than are women.  In some homes, mothers are not permitted to teach or discipline sons once they reach the age of thirteen.

Wives and adult daughters (until given in marriage through the courtship process) must do the bidding of their father who approves of their activities.  Young women who do not have a male to oversee them or have a father who declines participation in the paradigm are advised to go out to obtain a representative male to serve as their covering and protector.  

Women and daughters are not permitted to work outside the home unless it is in the workplace of the father who provides both spiritual direction and lends physical protection to the family as well.  Women who work outside the home are likened to prostitutes whose “feet wander from home.”  All education must take place within the home through homeschooling, and adult women are not permitted to be trained outside the home setting.  Women are beings created for the use of men, and in some forms of patriarchy, women are defined as the “indirect image of God,” the ontological lesser of their male counterparts (of lesser essence physically and spiritually).

Fathers are venerated in the Botkin paradigm, and the entire system of patriarchy which is followed by many Quiverfull Families also fosters enmeshment and developmental problems, particularly for girls, though all of the family members suffer.  Enmeshment describes the relationship between child and parent wherein the parent used the child to meet needs that should only rightly be met my another adult.  These needs may be emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual.   With the overfocus on gender in what some call a fertility cult, many believe that the exploitation of gender within the group is also sexual exploitation.  Parents within this system use children to meet their unmet needs, a type of covert or emotional incest.

Read more about the notable features of Botkin Syndrome:

Covert Incest
Unhealthy Idealizing of Parents

Read more about the religious system and how the theology works HERE.  (At the UnderMuchGrace.com archive site)

Rev August 2010