Jinger Duggar Vuolo Opens Up To Mayim Bialik About Obsessive Thoughts After Religious Upbringing

Jinger Duggar Vuolo grew up on reality TV as a part of the Duggar family, who were the focus of TLC's "19 Kids and Counting." (It started out as "17 Kids and Counting" but the name changed as their family grew larger.) Since her time on the reality show that made her family famous, Vuolo has written about her life — including breaking away from the religion of her family — in her book "Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear." 

Vuolo sat down for a chat with Mayim Bialik, actor and neuroscientist, on the podcast "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown" (via YouTube). The reality TV star talked about her beliefs today as well as the impact on her mental and emotional health of growing up in her conservative Christian family who followed the teachings of the Institute in Basic Life Principles.

Growing up, Vuolo said that she'd become consumed by the feeling that "God is out to get you," and that she would be scared that God would punish her if she forgot to do something she was supposed to based on the IBLP teachings. She told Bialik that fear and anxiety spiraled so much that it "affected everything" in Vuolo's life. For example, thoughts became obsessive for her — she'd be worried she'd get in a car accident if she chose to go play with her siblings instead of reading her Bible. "There was a lot of fear I had to work through," Vuolo said on the podcast.

Jinger Duggar Vuolo no longer has the same obsessive thoughts

In her conversation with Jinger Duggar Vuolo on her podcast "Mayim Bialik's Breakdown," Mayim Bialik said the Center for Anxiety Disorders' description of religious obsessive-compulsive disorder seemed to match the issues with which Vuolo had been struggling. It refers to religious OCD as including compulsive praying, worrying if your everyday actions are appropriate, and excessive reading or studying a religious text. Thankfully, Vuolo explained to Bialik that she no longer has that fear that God is out to get her.

As she talked about her religious upbringing on the podcast, Vuolo didn't go so far as to say that the Institute in Basic Life Principles was a cult. Vuolo said that determination, "would have to be left up to the experts. [...] But there were elements of it that were cult-like for sure." IBLP, founded by Bill Gothard, promotes staying away from popular culture as well as women being modest and submitting to their husbands, among other things.

The Duggar family and IBLP were the focus of the four-part Amazon Prime Video docuseries "Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets," which dug into the religion and some of the scandals surrounding it, including Josh Duggar's abuse of some of his sisters.  Jim Bob and Michelle blasted "Shiny Happy People" when it came out, and Vuolo didn't participate in the docuseries, preferring to tell her story in her own way and in her own time.

If you or someone you know is dealing with spiritual or domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support on their website.