An Investigation of a Reputedly Psychologically Abusive Group That Targets
Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Executive Director, AFF
Editor, Cultic Studies Journal
This report was originally prepared for Boston University�s Danielsen
Institute. I wish to thank the Danielsen Institute, which made this study
possible through honoring me as the 1995 Albert V. Danielsen Visiting
Scholar. Carole Bohn, Ed.D., Director of the Danielsen Institute, and
Arthur Dole, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of the University of Pennsylvania's
Graduate School of Education, provided helpful suggestions in the original
formulation of the study. Ann Kelley, Ph.D., Assistant Director for
Finance and Development of the Danielsen Institute, graciously assisted
the author in a myriad of administrative details. Dr. William Chambers,
then Assistant Professor of Psychology at Mercer University's University
College, analyzed the data from Component I and provided much helpful
advice on the design and analysis of the study. Dr. Steven Lynn, then
Professor of Psychology at Ohio University and now Professor of Psychology
at SUNY Binghamton, and then Ohio University doctoral students, Drs. Jodi
Aronoff, Peter Malinoski, and Nataliya Zelikovsky, analyzed the data from
Component II and, with Dr. Paul Martin, Director of Wellspring Retreat and
Resource Center, had primary responsibility for the development of the
test battery used in Component II. Dr. Peter Malinoski also assisted in
aspects of report writing. Carol Giambalvo was of invaluable assistance
in the development of the DDD Scale, one of the measures used in this
study. Rev. Robert Watts Thornburg, Dean of Boston University's Marsh
Chapel, Rev. Harold Bussell, then Senior Pastor of the First
Congregational Church of Hamilton, Massachusetts, Jeff Davis, Rev. Douglas
Whallon, then New England Director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
(IV), and IV staff members, Ming Wei, Colin Tomikawa, and Rich Lamb,
helped recruit subjects. Leanne Pellegrini, Blair Smith, and Melissa
Kelley assisted in the administration of test batteries. A special
gratitude is owed the subjects who volunteered for this study; I deeply
appreciate the time they gave to this research. I also wish to thank
Herbert Rosedale, Esq., President of AFF, for his continuing support
through this project, and my wife, Donna, and children, Jose and Ana, for
bearing with me during the weeks in which I was away.
26 April 1996 (revised 7 November 2001)
This study investigated former members of the International Churches of
Christ (formerly and still often referred to as the Boston Church of
Christ [BCC] or the Boston Movement) with regard to the nature and level
of their psychological distress and their perceptions regarding the
psychological abusiveness of the group. The BCC is one of the most
controversial groups on college campuses, and is often considered one of
the fastest growing "cultic" groups in the world. Psychological
abusiveness was measured with the Group Psychological Abuse Scale and the
DDD Scale, which inquires into concrete behaviors and practices thought to
characterize the Boston Movement. Psychological distress was measured by
a battery of self-report instruments, including the SCL-90R, the Beck
Depression Inventory, the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the Impact of
Events Scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety and Anger Inventories.
Psychological background variables, such as a history of child sexual
abuse, were also investigated. The study consisted of two components. In
Component One, the GPA and DDD were mailed with a demographic
questionnaire to 228 former Boston Movement members throughout the U.S.,
of whom 40 responded. In Component Two, the psychological test battery,
including the GPA but not the DDD, was administered to subjects
face-to-face in the Boston area. Component Two included 15 former members
of the Boston Movement and two comparison groups, 23 graduates of
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a mainstream campus ministry, and 19
former Roman Catholics. Former Boston movement subjects rated their group
significantly more abusive than did former Catholics or InterVarsity
graduates and scored significantly higher on most measures of
Various groups, usually referred to as "cults," have generated
considerable controversy during the past two decades (see CQ Researcher,
May 7, 1993), in large part because their critics tend to believe that
cults have psychologically abusive environments that harm members.
Although cults are usually thought of as religious, mental health
professionals who have worked with cultists emphasize that they may also
be psychological, political, or even commercial (Singer, 1987). Some
religious organizations define "cult" theologically, but mental health
professionals tend to use psychological definitions. According to this
secular view, "cults" are distinguished from "new religions," "new
political movements," innovative psychotherapies," and other "new" groups
in that cults are characterized by extensive use of unethically
manipulative techniques of persuasion and control to advance the leader's
goals, often to the psychological and economic detriment of his or her
followers (Langone, 1993). It is important to note that, consistent with
contemporary usage, this approach accepts the pejorative connotation
"cult" has taken on in recent decades and, consequently, uses other words
(e.g., "new religious movement") to describe groups, which in the past
would have been deemed benign cults.
A recent factor analysis of 112 group characteristics rated by 308 former
members of 101 groups that subjects deemed cultic produced a four-factor
model of the varieties of psychological abuse: Compliance, Exploitation,
Mind Control, and Anxious Dependency (Chambers, Langone, Dole, & Grice,
1994). The following empirical definition, which is consistent with
clinical views, emerged from the factor analysis:
Cults are groups that often exploit members psychologically and/or
financially, typically by making members comply with leadership's demands
through certain types of psychological manipulation, popularly called mind
control, and through the inculcation of deep-seated anxious dependency on
the group and its leaders. (Chambers, et al., 1994)
Approximately two to five million Americans have been involved with cultic
groups. This estimate derives from surveys of new religious and para-religious
movements in San Francisco and Montreal (Bird & Reimer, 1982), high school
students in the San Francisco Bay area (Zimbardo & Hartley, 1985), a
weekly omnibus survey conducted by ICR Survey Research Group for AFF in
1993, and a Pennsylvania Medical Society survey of 1,396 primary care
physicians, 2.2% of whom reported having had a family member involved with
a cultic group (Lottick, 1993).
Among the problems that clinicians have observed in their work with former
cultists are depression, loneliness, indecisiveness, slipping into altered
states, blurring of mental acuity, uncritical passivity, guilt, fear of
cult reprisals and supernatural personal catastrophes, an acute
sensitivity to the "watchfulness" of parents and friends, difficulty
explaining how they could have joined such a group, apprehension about
their own idealism and altruism (which the cult had manipulated), a loss
of the feeling of being a member of an elite, and financial difficulties
Among groups commonly deemed cultic, the Boston Church of Christ (BCC) has
been one of the most controversial (Ostling, May 18, 1992; Hill, Feb. 19,
1988). The BCC has been especially controversial on college campuses,
including Boston University. A report by Boston University's Rev. Robert
Watts Thornburg (Thornburg, 1989 [reprinted with modifications in
Giambalvo & Rosedale, 1996]) provides useful background information on the
BCC and a description of the psychologically abusive practices that have
made it controversial. Thornburg said that the Boston Church of Christ
aroused so much concern at Boston University that for the "first time in
the history of the University, leaders of a religious group have been
formally and officially banned from coming onto the campus" (p.5). He
further states: "At the September 1987 meeting of the Religious Life
Council of Boston University, it was concluded by those present that the
leadership of the Boston Church, despite their claims of innocence, were
either unwilling or unable to change their procedures. Our concerns can
be grouped under several major categories of destructive activities"
"Recruitment techniques include the duplicitous use of love
and high pressure harassment, producing incredibly high levels of false
"The training process is a virtual cloning of one person by
their prayer partner in a totally authoritarian relationship with no
rights to personal choice or interpretation" (p.8).
"In methods (classic examples of mind control techniques)
the BCC eliminates non-member association for new prospects,
systematically cutting out any contacts with family, friends, or outside
sources of reality checks" (p.9).
"Once established as the sole dispenser of salvation, this
group then dominates every moment of the day, demanding attendance at
every meeting of the organization" (p.10).
"When total submission is acknowledged in a re-baptism, then
the standard of faithfulness is measured by the number of recruits which
each member can bring into the organization" (p.12).
Other universities have also confronted problems with the BCC. American
University and George Washington University, for example, recently revoked
the charters of student groups founded by church members, while Howard
University investigated allegedly aggressive recruiting tactics by group
members (Masters, April 24, 1994). Ronald Loomis, past President of the
Association of College Unions International (ACUI), has identified 24
campuses, which have banned the Boston Movement or denied it access for
violations of campus regulations. He has also identified 15 different
front names which the group uses to mask its real identity (personal
communication, February 21, 1996).
The problems associated with the BCC are tied to its method of
discipleship (abusive discipleship, according to critics). Flavil Yeakley,
a member of the fundamentalist Church of Christ denomination from which
the BCC broke off and formerly the Director of the Church Growth Institute
at Abilene Christian University, said that the Boston Church of Christ was
"the leading congregation among the discipling churches" (Yeakley, 1988,
p.5). There is no reason to believe that this is no longer the case. One
of the most controversial aspects of the discipling system is the
discipler's giving "detailed personal guidance to the Christian being
discipled. This guidance may include instructions concerning many
personal matters of a totally secular nature" (Yeakley, 1988, p.1). When
carried to extremes the discipling system insists "on changing people at
all costs -- even at the cost of their personhood, autonomy, and
uniqueness" (Yeakley, 1988, p.19).
Yeakley, Thornburg, and other critics contend that the highly manipulative
and exploitative environments of cultic groups harm many, if not most,
members and former members of these groups. Although there is a wealth of
clinical experience with former cult members (Langone, 1993, says that the
contributors to his book, Recovery from Cults, have worked collectively
"with at least 9,000 cultists and their families" -- p.2), the empirical
literature is inconclusive. In part, this is due to methodological
shortcomings in the research. First, there is no acceptable operational
definition of "cult"; indeed, this reviewer knows of only one study that
even attempted to measure the "cultishness" of a group (Adams, 1993).
Second, samples are biased, either because the subjects are selected with
the cooperation of group leaders (whose motives and trustworthiness may be
suspect) or come from the network of former cult members who have sought
help from cult educational organizations such as the American Family
Foundation (AFF) or the Cult Awareness Network (CAN). Third, dependent
measures are often not standardized and are unconnected to other research
in this area. Fourth, few studies have used a comparison group. Fifth,
because practical necessity demands that studies of harm in cultic groups
be retrospective, it is extremely difficult to demonstrate causal
This study attempted to at least partly address these methodological
issues. The study examined: (1) former members' perception of
psychological abusiveness in the group environment, and (2) former
members' reports of psychological distress. The study focused on the
Boston Church of Christ movement (BCC) because it is so controversial.
Unlike other research in this area (see the next section for a literature
review), this study employed a sample that does not derive largely from
the network of organizations dedicated to helping former cult members and
their families, used objective measures that assess the abusiveness of the
group environment, and included two comparison groups: former members of
a mainstream religious denomination (Roman Catholic) and graduates of
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a mainstream campus ministry. (Former
Roman Catholics were recruited to serve as the mainstream denomination
comparison group because the Boston area has a large number of
Catholics.) The following primary questions were investigated:
To what extent if any do former members of the Boston Church
of Christ perceive their group to be psychologically abusive (as measured
by the Group Psychological Abuse Scale (Chambers et al., 1994) and how do
their perceptions compare to those of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
graduates and former members of a mainstream denomination (Roman
To what extent do former members of the BCC report having
had the types of specific, concrete experiences for which the BCC is often
criticized -- to be measured by the DDD Scale (a measure of concrete
behaviors and experiences thought to reflect deception, dependency, and
Do former members of the Boston Church of Christ report more
psychological distress (as measured by a psychological test battery) than
former members/graduates of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship or a
mainstream denomination (Roman Catholics)?
The InterVarsity sample permits comparisons with a group whose former
members ("graduates" is a more appropriate term) are not expected to have
been unhappy with the group. The former mainstream sample permits
comparisons with people who were probably unhappy with various aspects of
their former religious denomination. The latter sample helps test the
hypothesis that negative ratings toward the BCC may result primarily from
ex-members' disaffection, rather than their at least partly objective
evaluation of a group that is indeed more abusive than mainstream groups.
This study focused on former members of religious groups because of (a)
resource limitations; (b) problems associated with attempts to secure the
cooperation of current members of controversial groups; and (c) the
desirability of maximizing the continuity between this study and current
and past research. In the future, however, the investigator and his
colleagues also intend to examine current members of controversial and
The study also examined several secondary issues.
Pre-group psychological distress. Some have suggested that post-cult
psychological distress merely reflects long-standing psychological
problems that pre-date the group involvement (Maleson, 1981; Spero,
1982). As-yet-unreported data from the research of Martin et al. (1992)
found, to the investigators' surprise, an inverse relationship between
pre-cult psychological distress and post-cult distress. Pre-cult
distress, however, was measured by the occurrence or nonoccurrence of
pre-cult psychological counseling. An alternate explanation of this
surprising finding might be that those who had been counseled developed
coping skills that enabled them to handle post-cult distress better than
those who had not been counseled. This study and a related study at Ohio
University are the first to use standardized instruments to assess
pre-cult psychological distress, specifically the Physical Child
Victimization Scale (Briere & Runtz, 1988), the Psychological Child
Maltreatment Scale (Briere & Runtz, 1988), and the Childhood Sexual
Victimization Questionnaire (Finkelhor, 1979).
In-group help seeking. Most clinical observers believe that the
isolationism and elitism of cultic groups would discourage members from
seeking professional mental health assistance. This hypothesis will be
tested by asking subjects if they sought help while participating in their
Post-group help seeking. Another, although obviously limited, measure of
post-cult psychological distress is the decision to seek professional
help. The background questionnaire asks about this issue.
Family background. Several studies (Sirkin & Grellong, 1988; Wright &
Piper, 1986; Marcus & Grellong, submitted for publication to Cultic
Studies Journal) suggest that cultists may be more likely to have
dysfunctional family backgrounds, although other studies (Maron, 1988) and
clinical observations (Singer, 1986; Clark et al., 1981) suggest that cult
members' families are not likely to differ from those of noncult members.
In this study (as with Sirkin & Grellong, Marcus & Grellong, and Maron),
the Family Environment Scale (Moos & Moos, 1981) assesses subjects' family
"Seekerhood." Some investigators suggest that "a pattern of seekership
preceding conversion appears to be associated with stigmatized communal
groups in which participation entails discontinuity of social roles"
(Robbins, 1988, p.82). This view predicts that those who join cultic
groups are likely to have a history of religious seeking and are likely to
have belonged to other unorthodox groups. Some empirical (Greil & Rudy,
1984) and clinical (Dubrow-Eichel & Dubrow-Eichel, 1988) evidence supports
this notion. This study examined the seekerhood issue by asking subjects
to list other groups to which they belonged.
Because the focus of this study is the relationship between psychological
harm and psychological abuse in groups ("cults" in particular), I limit
this review to the literature having to do with psychological harm. (The
only study that examined psychological abusiveness in groups will be
briefly discussed when the GPA Scale is described in the Methods section.)
It is important to reiterate that research on cult members is fraught with
methodological problems. Studies are often based on different definitions
of what constitutes a cult or "new religious movement." Subject samples
are nearly always biased in some way. Data collected from members of
groups whose willingness to deceive is well documented can be
untrustworthy. "Pen-and-pencil" personality tests and surveys do not
effectively measure certain psychological states such as dissociation.
Interview data are readily influenced by the fundamental conceptual
assumptions of the interviewer. Those who observe cults may not be
sensitive to the psychological subtleties that clinicians detect.
Conversely, clinicians working with one cult member at a time may not
fully appreciate social factors in cults. Statistical analyses are
sometimes inappropriate to the problem at hand. And tendencies to over
generalize and make unwarranted causal inferences are common.
These technical difficulties are compounded by the fact that cultic groups
are reluctant to cooperate with critics. Therefore, with a few
exceptions, most of the nonclinical studies have surveyed ex-cult members
or have been conducted by researchers whom cult leaders viewed as
sympathetic. Indeed, influencing academicians is a major goal of some
groups (Dole & Dubrow-Eichel, 1981).
Clinical reports tend to see dissociation as central to cult members'
adaptation to a demanding and contradictory environment. Because
self-report instruments do not effectively detect dissociation, critics
view studies that use instruments such as the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory) with considerable skepticism. Indeed, in studies
using the MMPI there is evidence that cult members are not honest in their
responses; their Lie Scales tend to be elevated (Ungerleider & Wellisch,
1979) and there appears to be a "moderate attempt for both men and women
to `look good'" (Ross, 1983, p.418).
Given these methodological caveats, what does the literature tell us?
Some research studies suggest that the level of harm associated with
religious cults may be less than clinical reports indicate, at least for
some groups. Levine and Salter (1976) and Levine (1984) found little
evidence of impairment in structured interviews of over 100 cult members,
although Levine and Salter did note some reservation about "the suddenness
and sharpness of the change" (p.415) that was reported to them. Ross
(1983), who gave a battery of tests, including the MMPI, to 42 Hare
Krishna members in Melbourne, Australia, reported that all "scores and
findings were within the normal range, although members showed a slight
decline in mental health (as measured on the MMPI) after 1.5 years in the
movement and a slight increase in mental health after 3 years in the
movement" (p.416). Ungerleider and Wellisch (1979), who interviewed and
tested 50 members or former members of cults, found "no evidence of
insanity or mental illness in the legal sense" (p.279), although, as noted
earlier, members showed elevated Lie Scales on the MMPI. In studies of
the Unification Church (Galanter, Rabkin, Rabkin, & Deutsch, 1979;
Galanter, 1983), the investigators found improvement in well-being as
reported by members, approximately one-third of whom had received mental
health treatment before joining the group.
Otis (1985) examined data from a survey of 2,000 members of Transcendental
Meditation in 1971. Dropouts reported significantly fewer adverse effects
than experienced meditators, and "the number and severity of complaints
were positively related to duration of meditation" (p.41). There was a
consistent pattern of adverse effects, including anxiety, confusion,
frustration, and depression. The "data raise serious doubts about the
innocuous nature of TM" (p.46).
The Institute for Youth and Society (1980) in Bensheim, Germany reported
that TM members tended to be withdrawn from their families (57% of
subjects), isolated in social relations (51%), anxious (52%), depressed
(45%), tired (63%), and exhibited a variety of physical problems, such as
headaches and menstrual disorder.
Former members of a psychotherapy cult (Knight, 1986) reported that they
had had sex with a therapist (25% of subjects), had been assigned love
mates (32%), had fewer than 6 hours sleep a night (59%), and in therapy
sessions were shoved at least occasionally (82%), were hit at least
occasionally (78%), and were verbally abused (97%). These subjects, 86%
of whom felt harmed by the experience, also reported depression (50%) and
menses cessation (32%).
In Conway, Siegelman, Carmichael, & Coggins (1986) study, ex-members
reported the following experiences during their time in the cult: sex
with leaders (5%; 60% in the Children of God), menstrual dysfunction
(22%), and physical punishment (20%). Conway and Siegelman (1982)
reported that ex-members experienced floating (52% of subjects),
nightmares (40%), amnesia (21%), hallucinations and delusions (14%),
inability to break mental rhythms of chanting (35%), violent outbursts
(14%), and suicidal or self-destructive tendencies (21%).
Galanter (1983), who studied sixty-six former Moonies, reports that "the
large majority (89%) felt that they `got some positive things' out of
membership, although somewhat fewer (61%) did feel that `Reverend Moon had
a negative impact on members,' and only a bare majority (53%) felt that
`current members should leave the Unification Church'" (p.985). Galanter
also found that "36% of the respondents indicated the emergence of
`serious emotional problems' at some time after leaving the church; 24%
had `sought out professional help for emotional problems' after leaving;
and 3% (i.e., two respondents) had been hospitalized for such problems
during this interval" (p.985). These findings were consistent with
clinical reports during the 1970s and early 1980s. It is interesting,
however, that Galanter was sometimes inclined to put a positive "spin" on
the findings, e.g., his choosing to write that "only (emphasis added) a
bare majority (53%) felt that `current members should leave the
Unification Church.'" This is quite a large percentage given that,
according to clinical investigations and countless ex-member reports,
Unification Church members are indoctrinated to assume that the Church is
always right and they, when dissenting, are always wrong. Indeed, Langone
(1992) found that the suppression of dissent was one of the five most
highly rated cult characteristics in a subject pool of 308 former cultists
from 101 different groups. Thus, Galanter's indices of harm, though
indirect and not low, may be underestimates.
In an in-process report of a survey of 308 former cult members, Langone
paints an even more negative picture of the cult experience. Eighty-eight
percent of 308 subjects from 101 groups saw their groups as harmful (37%)
or very harmful (51%). During an average time of membership of 6.7 years,
11% of the subjects reported being sexually abused. Sixty-eight percent
of the subjects each knew an average of 28 former members who had not
contacted helping resources. Thus, approximately 5,500 persons known to
these subjects had not sought help. Yet 30% of the subjects estimated
that "all or nearly all" of their friends and acquaintances had difficulty
adjusting to post-group life, 21% felt that "most" had difficulty, 4%
"about half," 13% "some," 6% "hardly any," and 25% were unsure. Martin et
al. (1992) used a variety of instruments, including the Millon Clinical
Multiaxal Inventory (MCMI) to assess the psychological status of 111
former cultists. Martin says:
This sample of ex-cultists can be characterized as having abnormal levels
of distress in several of the personality and clinical symptom scales. Of
those subjects completing the MCMI-I, 89% had BR's ["Base Rates" --
indicates presence of a disorder] of 75 or better on at least one of the
first eight scales. Furthermore, 106 out of the 111 subjects (95%) who
completed the MCMI at Time I had at least one BR score on one of the MCMI
scales. The contention that this population of former cultists is indeed
distressed is further buttressed by their mean score of 102 on the HSCL
(Hopkins Symptom Check List). Typically, scores of over 100 are
indicative of the need for psychiatric care. Moreover, these ex-cultists
had a mean of 72 on the SBS-HP burnout scale , which is suggestive of
burnout and more than one standard deviation above the mean from Martin's
(1983) sample of para-church workers. (Martin et al., 1992, pp.231, 234)
Yeakley (1988) gave 835 members of the Boston Church of Christ (BCC) the
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a psychological instrument that
classifies people according to Carl Jung's type system. Individuals may
differ in the way in which they tend to perceive (some being more sense
oriented, others more intuition oriented), the way they judge (thinking
oriented versus feeling oriented) and their basic attitudes (extraversion
versus introversion). Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, the developers
of the MBTI, added a dimension to Jung's typology: the person's preferred
way of orienting himself to the outside world. This orientation may be
judging or perceiving. The MBTI thus produces 16 personality types based
upon the permutations of these variables. Yeakley asked subjects to
answer the questions in the MBTI as they think they would have answered
before their conversion, as they felt at the time of testing, and as they
think they will answer after five more years of discipling in the BCC. He
found that "a great majority of the members of the Boston Church of Christ
changed psychological type scores in the past, present, and future
versions of the MBTI" (p.34) and that "the observed changes in
psychological type scores were not random since there was a clear
convergence in a single type" (p.35). The type toward which members
converged was that of the group's leader. Comparisons with members of
mainstream denominations showed no convergence, but members of other
cultic groups did show convergence, although toward different types than
that on which the BCC members converged. Yeakley concludes that "there is
a group dynamic operating in that congregation that influences members to
change their personalities to conform to the group norm" (p.37).
Yeakley's study does not tell us whether or not the changes occur, but it
does provide compelling evidence that members perceive themselves as
changing in the direction of a common personality type. Although
Yeakley's study did not directly examine harm, it does indirectly support
clinical observations, which contend that the personalities of cult
members are bent, so to speak, to fit the group.
Clinical observations (Ash, 1985; Clark, 1979; Langone, 1991) and research
studies (Galanter, 1989; Langone, 1992) suggest that people join cults
during periods of stress or transition, when they are most open to what
the group has to say. Approximately one-third appear to have been
psychologically disturbed before joining, as evidenced by having
participated in pre-cult psychotherapy or counseling (with figures varying
from 7% to 62% of subjects among eight studies -- Barker, 1984; Galanter
et al., 1979; Galanter & Buckley, 1978; Knight, 1986; Spero, 1982;
Schwartz, 1985; Sirkin & Grellong, 1988). The majority, however, appear
to have been relatively normal individuals before joining a cult.
Certain studies cited earlier (Levine, 1984; Ross, 1983; Ungerleider &
Wellisch, 1979) found that cult members score within the normal range on
psychological tests or psychiatric interviews. Galanter (1983) found some
improvement in the general well-being of cult joiners, which he attributed
to a psychobiologically grounded "relief effect" of charismatic groups.
Wright (1987) and Skonovd (1983) found that leaving cultic groups was very
difficult because of the psychological pressure, a finding consistent with
There is much evidence, reviewed earlier, of psychological distress when
people leave cultic groups.
And yet, they do leave. Why? If they were unhappy before they joined,
became happier after they joined, were pressured to remain, left anyway,
and were more distressed than ever after leaving, what could have impelled
them to leave?
The inescapable conclusion seems to be that the cult experience is not
what it appears to be (at least for those groups that deem it important to
put on a "happy face"), either to observers or to members under the
psychological influence of the group. As Wright (1987) found, when
members are separated from the group for a period of time, have an
opportunity to share doubts with an intimate, witness the failures of the
group, or learn about or observe the hypocrisies of the group's
leadership, the group's psychological influence over the individual
wanes. Clinical observers, beginning with Clark (1979) and Singer (1978),
appear to be correct in their contention that dissociative defenses help
cult members adapt to the contradictory and intense demands of the cult
environment. So long as members are not rebelling against the group's
psychological controls, they can appear to be "normal." However, this
normal appearing personality, as West and Martin (1994) maintain, is a
pseudo-identity. When cult members leave their groups, the flood gates
open and they suffer. But they don't generally return because the
suffering they experience after leaving the cult is more genuine than the
"happiness" they experienced while in it. A painful truth is better than
a pleasant lie.
If this analysis is correct, ex-members may indeed provide more accurate
information about cults than would current members, although the responses
of the former certainly cannot be treated as the last word on the issue.
Understanding the dynamics and effects of cultic groups is a difficult
task. Clinical observations and analyses have been very useful. But the
empirical testing of these observations and analyses will require many
coordinated studies conducted over a period of years.
This study is an early step in that it examines the hypotheses that an
allegedly cultic/abusive environment can be distinguished from a noncultic
environment and that former members of a cultic group experience more
psychological distress than former members of noncultic groups.
This study had two components.
In Component One 228 former members of the BCC (available through a
national mailing list from an ex-member organization) received the Group
Psychological Abuse Scale, the DDD Scale, a background questionnaire, a
consent form, a cover letter, a list of readings and resources, and two
Boston University business reply envelopes (one for returning the
instruments, the other for the consent form). This component collected
information on possible group psychological abuse from a national sample
of former members of the BCC.
In Component Two subjects were administered the background questionnaire,
the GPA Scale, and a battery of instruments assessing psychological
background and distress. This battery was developed by a team of
researchers at Ohio University and Wellspring Retreat and Resource
Center. The test battery took most subjects 1.5 to 2.0 hours to
complete. Subjects from three groups were recruited: former members of
the BCC; graduates of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (a mainstream
campus organization); and former members of a mainstream denomination
(Roman Catholics). This component enabled the investigator to compare the
responses of former BCC members to two comparison groups on the dimensions
of perceived psychological abusiveness and self-reported, post-group
psychological distress. (The DDD Scale was not given to subjects in
Component Two in order to keep the test-taking time down to about 1.5
Former Roman Catholics were recruited through advertisements in the Boston
University newspaper. InterVarsity subjects were recruited through lists
of 56 graduates provided by InterVarsity leadership and from volunteers at
an IV graduation weekend. Former BCC subjects were recruited from a list
of 152 Boston-area ex-BCC members on the national list mentioned above and
from the First Congregational Church of Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Subjects received the test battery either at the Danielsen Institute or
the First Congregational Church of Hamilton. After completing the
instruments, subjects were asked if they had any questions, were troubled
about anything, or needed any information or assistance. A reading/
resource list was given to each subject.
When subjects came to their appointment the investigator or an assistant
briefed them about the study, reviewed consent forms with them, and
administered all instruments. After completing the self-report measures,
subjects were seen again by the investigator or an assistant in order to
answer questions and to address any concerns that subjects may have had.
Component 1 (mailed survey). A total of 40 former Boston movement
subjects returned usable questionnaires, a response rate of 18%. Sixty
percent of the subjects were female. Subjects' average age at the time of
completing the questionnaire was 37.5 years. Sixty percent were married,
30% single, and the other 10% equally divided among separated, divorced,
divorced and remarried, and widowed. Seventeen subjects had an average of
2.4 children; 3 subjects had an average of 2.3 children who were born
while the subjects were in the group. Eighty-seven and one-half percent
of the subjects were white, 7.5% Asian, 2.5% black, and 2.5% Hispanic.
Current average annual household gross income was $42,162.
Religious upbringing more or less reflected national averages: 25%
Protestant, fundamental; 20% Protestant, liberal; 30% Roman Catholic; 2.5%
Jewish; 2.5% Eastern; 15% other; and 5% none. Current religious
preferences, however, indicated a marked falling away from mainstream
religion, except for "Protestant, fundamental," which probably reflects
the mainstream Church of Christ's energetic outreach to the Boston
movement population: 32.5% Protestant, fundamental; 2.5% Protestant,
liberal; 2.5%, Roman Catholic; 2.5% Jewish; 2.5% Islamic; 32.5% other;
22.5% none; 2.5% missing data.
Educational level was high, with 16.2 (SD=2.2) being the average number of
years of education. Subjects reported having earned the following
degrees: 5% Associate; 42.5% Bachelor; 12.5% Masters; 2.5% Ph.D.; 12.5%
other professional; 22.5% no degree; 2.5% missing data. Mean income was
$42,162 (SD = 4098).
Subjects had belonged to the Boston movement an average of 4.5 years and
had been out of the group an average of 6.5 years. Unlike early research
studies (e.g., Conway et al., 1986), which relied upon samples derived
from the network of cult educational organizations, only a small
percentage of subjects from this study left the group because of
deprogramming (2.5%) or exit counseling (10%). Fifty-seven and one-half
percent said they had "walked away"; 12.5% reported having been ejected
from their group; 15% responded "other"; and 2.5% had missing data for
Although this sample included a higher percentage of subjects familiar
with cult educational organizations than was initially expected, the
percentage is smaller than most studies of former members. Limiting data
only to the American Family Foundation (AFF) and Cult Awareness Network
(CAN) because these are the only organizations with which more than a few
subjects were familiar, we find that 9 of 39 responding subjects were
familiar with AFF, 19 of 38 with CAN. Seven of 40 responding subjects had
received information from AFF, 15 of 40 from CAN. Three of 40 subjects
had attended AFF conferences or workshops, 6 of 40 had attended CAN
conferences. Thus, given the likelihood of overlap in these subject
groups, it is reasonable to conclude that only about half of the subjects
had some familiarity with cult educational organizations and even fewer
had received information or had attended events sponsored by cult
Component 2 (test battery). A total of 57 subjects (15 former BCC
members, 23 former IV members, former IV members, 19 former Catholics)
completed the test battery. Females predominated in all groups.
(Percentages that follow in parentheses may not always add up to 100%
because figures are rounded.) Overall, 38 of 56 subjects were female
(68%): 11 of 15 Boston movement (73%); 14 of 23 InterVarsity (61%); and 13
of 19 Roman Catholic (68%). The average age of BCC subjects at the time
of the interview was 33.35 years, that of IV subjects 23.64 years, and
that of Roman Catholics 22.24 years.
Not surprisingly, given that subjects from two of the groups were either
in college or recently graduated, 50 were single (89%). Only 1 of 19
Catholics and 2 of 23 InterVarsity were married. Two of 15 former Boston
movement subjects were married, 1 was separated, and 1 was divorced. One
former BCC subject had 3 children, 2 born while the subject was a member
of the BCC. One IV subject also reported having 3 children, all born
while the subject was a member of IV. None of the former Catholics
reported having any children.
Regarding race, 36 subjects were white (64%), 4 black (7%), 1 Hispanic
(2%), 13 Asian (23%; all in the InterVarsity sample), and 3 other (5%).
Thirteen BCC subjects were white (87%) and two black (13%). Nine
InterVarsity subjects were white (39%), 13 Asian (57%), and 1 other (4%).
Fourteen Catholic subjects were white (74%), 2 black (11%), 1 Hispanic
(5%), and 2 other (10%).
Average annual household income of the groups was: $44,767 (all groups);
$38, 857 (BCC); $56, 389 (IV); $32,214 (RC). The income figure for most
subjects in the latter two groups probably referred to parents' income.
Former BCC subjects had belonged to the group an average of 4 years and
had been out an average of 5.4 years. IV subjects had belonged to
InterVarsity for 2.4 years and had been out 1.8 years. Former Catholics
said they had been Catholics for 16.2 years and had left the church an
average of 5.7 years before completing the survey.
Religious upbringing of BCC subjects was 1 Protestant, fundamental (7%); 6
Protestant, liberal (40%); 4 Roman Catholic (27%); 1 Eastern (7%); 1 other
(7%); and 2 none (13%). InterVarsity subjects reported the following: 5
Protestant, fundamental (22%); 1 Protestant, liberal (4%); 3 Roman
Catholic (13%); 7 other (30%); 7 none (30%). All former Roman Catholics
had been raised in that religion.
Current religious preferences demonstrated substantial change from
religious upbringing. Obviously, none of the former Roman Catholics were
still Catholics. Fourteen of the 19 former Catholics (74%) declared
"none" as their religious preference; 4 (21%) checked "other"; and 1 (5%)
preferred Protestant, liberal. Seven of 15 former Boston movement
subjects (47%), again reflecting the influence of the mainstream Church of
Christ on this movement, selected "Protestant, fundamental" as their
current religious preference. One identified with "Protestant, liberal"
(7%); 1 with "other" (7%); and 6 with "none" (40%). Ten of 23
InterVarsity graduates considered themselves to be Protestant, fundamental
(43%); 6 Protestant, liberal (26%); 2 Roman Catholic (9%); 4 other (17%);
and 1 none (4%).
Average number of years of education was also high for Component 2
subjects. Former Roman Catholics, most of whom were still students at
Boston University, had an average of 14.6 years of education (SD=2.0): 3
had a bachelor's degree; 2 a master's. Former BCC subjects had an average
of 16.5 years of education (SD=2.5): 2 had an associate's degree; 9 a
bachelor's; 3 a master's; 2 another degree; and 3 no degree. IV graduates
had an average of 16.3 years of education (SD=.92): 23 had bachelor's
degrees; 1 a master's (presumably one subject checked both categories).
Results regarding method of departure for the former BCC subjects were
similar to those for Component 1: 10 said they walked away (67%); 2 were
ejected (13%); 3 were exit counseled (20%). One InterVarsity graduate and
2 former Catholics checked "other" for method of departure, perhaps
reflecting some ambiguity in the listed choices with respect to these
Background. A background questionnaire collected background information,
information on the subject's experience with the group in question, and
information on the subject's psychological history.
Abusive environment. The psychological abusiveness of the group
environment was assessed by the following instruments (only former BCC
subjects in Component One completed the second instrument):
Group Psychological Abuse Scale (GPA Scale). The GPA Scale
is a factor-analytically derived, 28-item scale based upon the responses
of 308 former members of 101 cultic groups to 112 questions inquiring into
the nature of the group environment (Chambers et al., 1994). The GPA
includes four distinct factors, labeled Compliance, Exploitation, Mind
Control, and Anxious Dependency. The range for the composite score is
28-140. The range for subscales is 7-35. Scores above the midpoint (84
for the composite; 21 for subscales) indicate the subject is rating the
group as in the abusive range. A master's thesis reported that this scale
successfully differentiated former members of the BCC in Cincinnati from
former members of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Adams, 1993). Former
BCC members scored higher than IV graduates on all subscales. This study
replicated and expanded Adams's study, but added a former mainstream
denomination comparison group.
DDD Scale. This scale was developed by Carol Giambalvo and
me in order to assess the degree to which former members of the Boston
movement experienced concrete events related to deception, induced
dependency, and dread, which Singer, Temerlin, & Langone (1990) contend
are central to the behavioral changes observed in people who join cults.
The DDD Scale consists of a list of concrete behaviors and events
exemplifying the DDD process as it is alleged to occur in the BCC.
Part 1 of the DDD Scale includes one question asking what name the group
used when the person was first recruited and 18 questions that ask
subjects to rate the accuracy (1=definitely true; 2=probably true; 3=don't
know; 4=probably not true; 5=definitely not true) of statements that refer
to the period of time when they were relatively new to the group, that is,
when they first joined or the first few months after joining. These
statements were selected because they are believed to reflect common types
of deceptions practiced by the BCC. Part 2 asks subjects to rate the
accuracy of statements that refer to any time during which they were
members. These questions were selected because they are believed to
reflect practices and beliefs that contribute to deception, dependency,
and dread. This section consists of 48 questions that ask subjects to
rate the degree to which the statement was accurate in their personal
experience (e.g., "You were personally told this at least once") and 48
paired questions that ask subjects to rate the degree to which the
statement applies to the BCC movement (e.g., "The statement above
characterizes the group"). Three additional questions ask subjects how
many disciplers they had, how many people they discipled, and the degree
to which their happiness was a function of the qualities of their
disciplers. One question asked if the person was encouraged to date or
discouraged from dating a particular person and one question asked if the
person had been told to break up a dating relationship with a nonmember.
Five composite scores were constructed for the DDD Scale, with some
questions being reversed scored because a "definitely true" rating would
reflect a positive characteristic of the group. Non-rated items were not
included in the composite scores. Thus, lower scores indicate a more
negative evaluation of the group. DDD consists of the sum of all ratings
and has a range from 120 to 600. DDDA consists of the sum of ratings in
Part 1 and has a range from 18 to 90. DDDB consists of ratings in Part 2
and has a range from 102 to 510. DBSELF consists of those questions in
Part 2 that refer specifically to subjects' personal experience (range:
48-240), and DBGROUP consists of those questions in Part 2 that refer to
subjects' evaluations of the group in general (range: 48-240). Assuming
that subjects are more likely to be accurate in their ratings of personal
experiences than their ratings of the group, DBSELF provides a more
conservative and reliable means of assessing subjects' experience of
practices contributing to deception, dependency, and dread.
Questions on the demographic questionnaire that inquire into
perceptions of how much pressure was put on subjects when they left and
their global evaluations of the group's harmfulness.
Social desirability. Tendencies toward social desirability were measured
by the Marlowe-Crown Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960).
The Marlowe-Crowne is a 33-item true-false questionnaire designed to
assess social desirability on self-report measures. Correlations with
MMPI scales are as follows: L scale = 0.54; K scale = 0.40; Pd scale =
-0.41; and Sc scale = -0.40. Crino, Svoboda, Rubenfield, and White (1983)
report an internal consistency coefficient for the scale, using the Kuder-Richardson
formula 20, of 0.88 (n=39 undergraduates), test-retest reliability of 0.89
(n=31 undergraduates), and a correlation with the Edwards SDS of 0.35
Psychological distress. The psychological distress and psychological
background of subjects were measured by the following instruments:
SCL-90-R. The SCL-90-R (Derogatis, 1977; Derogatis, Lipman,
& Covi, 1973) is a 90-item, multidimensional, self-report measure of
symptoms, especially those seen in psychiatric and medical outpatients.
The measure, which is designed to reflect psychological symptom patterns,
is scored and interpreted according to 9 primary symptom dimensions and 3
global indices of distress. The symptom dimensions are: Somatization,
Obsessive-Compulsive, Interpersonal Sensitivity, Depression, Anxiety,
Hostility, Phobic Anxiety, Paranoid Ideation, and Psychoticism. Global
indices include the Global Severity Index (GSI), the Positive Symptom
Distress Index (PSDI), and the Positive Symptom Total (PST). Internal
consistency and test-retest reliability coefficients for the SCL-90 range
from .77 to .90 on the various symptom dimensions. Criterion validity
studies have been performed with several scales of the MMPI and the
Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire, among other instruments. The SCL-90 has
also been used productively in studies with cancer patients, substance
abusers, and sexual disorders.
Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The Beck Depression
Inventory (Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock, & Erbaugh, 1961) is one of the
most commonly used self-report methods of assessing depression. Written
in a multiple-choice format, the BDI is symptom focused, with each item
reflecting behavioral manifestations and symptoms of depression, such as
depressed mood, negative attitude, psychomotor retardation, and somatic
complaints. The four choices within each item are rank-ordered and
weighted to reflect severity (0-3) of depression. The scores across all
items are summed, with the total score ranging from 0 to 63. A score of
10 or more is considered to be beyond the normal range and a score of 17
or more suggestive of depressive disorder.
Internal consistency is high, with a mean alpha coefficient of .86 for
studies involving psychiatric populations and .81 for nonpsychiatric
populations. The test-retest stability correlations, though troublesome
because of the variability of a person's experience of depression, are
adequate, ranging from .48 to .86. Concurrent validity has been
demonstrated with diverse measures, including the Hamilton Psychiatric
Rating Scale for Depression, the Zung Self-Reported Depression Scale, the
MMPI depression scale, and the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist
Depression Scale. The mean correlations for the concurrent validity
studies ranged from .60 to .76 (Conoley, 1990).
Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES). The DES (Bernstein &
Putnam, 1986) is a 28-item, self-report inventory used as a screening
instrument for dissociative experiences and disorders. The subjects are
asked to indicate the percentage of time that they experience feelings and
behaviors described in each statement, by making a mark on a line labeled
0 to 100. The subjects are also asked to write down in a space provided,
a percentage score corresponding to their mark. The total score is
calculated by summing across the indicated percentages. The mean scores
can range from 0 to 100. The reliability coefficients (Spearman-Brown) of
the items ranged from .19 to .75. Test-retest reliability is reported to
be r=.84, and the criterion-referenced validity is good as well, while the
construct validity is adequate, ranging from .50 to .79 (Bernstein &
Draijer & Boon (1993) and Steinberg, Rounsaville, &
Cicchetti (1991) reported that the DES distinguished control patients from
patients with dissociative disorders, as determined by scores on the
Structured Clinical Interview for The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). Ross, Joshi, and Currie
(1991), who gave the DES to 1055 respondents in the general population of
Winnipeg, identified three factors accounting for 47.1% of the combined
variance of the scores: absorption-imaginative involvement; activities of
dissociative states; depersonalization/derealization. Carlson and Putnam
(1993) reviewed studies relating to norms, reliability, and validity of
the DES and concluded that, though useful, the DES needs refinement and
additional validation research.
Hopkins Symptom Checklist, subscales for dissociation.
Briere & Runtz (1990) took one item found in the standard HSCL (Hopkins
Symptom Checkl List) and SCL-90 (Symptom Check List) which appears to tap
dissociative symptomatology ("Your mind going blank") and added 13 items
based on clinical experience and congruent with the style and
comprehension level of the SCL-90. These questions were then embedded in
the HSCL or the SCL-90. Reliability analysis of the Dissociation scale
for Samples 1 and 2 showed internal consistency for both (alpha = .85 and
.90, respectively). For Sample 1, the mean, using the HSCL scoring
format, was 20.95 (SD - 5.80). For sample 2, using the SCL-90 format, the
mean was 11.41 (SD - 10.11). The Sample 2 scale showed a correlation
between dissociation scores and histories of sexual (r = .14, p = .007)
and physical (r = .23, p < .001) abuse in childhood. Two brief
dissociation measures are used in order to compensate for psychometric
deficiencies in each.
Stait-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The STAI (Spielberger,
Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) consists of 40 items measuring two distinct
forms of anxiety. The state form of anxiety is transitory feelings of
fear and worry, which most people occasionally experience. As emotional
states and subjective feelings vary in intensity, subjects are asked to
indicate how well the statements describe them at the present time. The
20 state-anxiety scale items are each rated on a four-point intensity
scale, labeled "Not At All," "Somewhat," "Moderately So," and "Very Much
So." The trait form is a stable tendency for an individual to respond
anxiously to a stressful situation. Individuals are asked to indicate how
they "generally feel." The 20 trait-anxiety scale items are rated on a
four-point frequency scale that is labeled "Almost Never," "Sometimes,"
"Often," and "Almost Always." The scores of each of the two forms of
anxiety range from 20 to 80. High scores on their respective scales mean
more state or trait anxiety.
The internal consistency for the state-anxiety scale ranges from .86 to
.95. The coefficient alpha for the trait-anxiety scale ranges from .89 to
.91. The number of significant correlations suggests that individual
items have a good discriminating ability. Test-retest intervals ranged
from one hour to 104 days. For the trait-anxiety scale the coefficients
ranged from .65 to .86, whereas the range for the state-anxiety scale was,
not surprisingly, .16 to .62. The state-anxiety scale has good construct
validity and a high level of face validity. The trait-anxiety scale
correlates with the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (r=.80), the IPAT
Anxiety Scale (r=.75), and the Multiple Affect Adjective Check List (r=.52).
Stait Trait Anger Scale (STAS). The STAS, developed by
Spielberger, Jacobs, Russell, and Crane (1983), consists of 20 items
emphasizing the distinction between state and trait aspects of anger. For
the construction of this measure, state anger was defined as an emotional
state or condition that consists of subjective feelings of tension,
annoyance, irritation, fury, and rage. The 10 state-anger scale items are
each rated on a four-point intensity scale, labeled "Not at All,"
"Somewhat," "Moderately So," and "Very Much So." Trait anger was defined
in terms of individual differences in the frequency with which anger was
experienced over time. The trait-anger scale is divided into two
subscales: angry temperament and angry reaction. The 10 trait-anger
scale items are rated on a four-point frequency scale that is labeled
"Almost Never," "Sometimes," "Often," and "Almost Always." The scores on
the state and trait scales range from 10 to 40.
The norms for the STAS are based on large samples of high school students,
military recruits, and college students. The alpha coefficient for
college students for the state-anger scale is .95 for males and females.
The alpha coefficient for the trait-anger scale is .89 for males and .91
for females. In a study of male inmates (Kroner & Reddon, 1992), the
coefficient alpha was .94 for the state-anger scale and .88 for the
trait-anger scale. In this sample, the stability coefficient for the
state-anger scale was .70 at one-week follow-up and .88 at one-month
follow-up. The test-retest coefficients for the trait-anger scale were
.57 and .64, and one-week and one-month intervals, respectively. The
state scale's stronger stability than the trait scale is surprising.
The STAS is reported to have good construct validity. In a sample of
college students, the correlations of the STAS with the Buss-Durkee
Hostility Inventory were .71 and .66, for males and females respectively.
The correlations of .59 and .43 (males and females, respectively) with the
Hostility Scale, although statistically significant, are somewhat lower (Spielberger
et al., 1983).
Impact of Events Scale (IES). The Impact of Events Scale
(Horowitz, Wilner, & Alvarez, 1979) contains 15 items that assess the
experience of posttraumatic stress for specific life events and their
context (e.g., death of a loved one). The IES measures intrusive
experiences and the recognized avoidance of certain ideas. IES subscales
show internal consistency coefficients ranging from .79 to .92. The IES
differentiated outpatients seeking treatment for bereavement and three
field samples. Normative data are available on a sample of 35 outpatients
and 37 adult volunteers who had a recently deceased parent.
Psychological background. The following instruments provided data on
various aspects of psychological background:
Family Environment Scale (FES). The Family Environment
Scale (Moos & Moos, 1981) is a multidimensional measure of the perceived
family environment. It assesses the interpersonal relationships among
family members (Relationship Dimension), the directions of personal growth
stressed by the family (Personal Dimension), and the organizational
structure of the family (System Maintenance Dimension). The scale
consists of 90 true-false statements divided equally among 10 subscales
which constitute these three major dimensions. Internal consistencies for
the subscales range from .61 to .78 Test-retest reliabilities range from
.68 to .86 (8 weeks) and .52 to .89 (12 months) (Busch-Rossnagel, 1991)
Physical Child Victimization Scale (PCVS). The PCVS was
adapted from Briere and Runtz (1988). The scale consists of five items
describing various parental behaviors that might be considered physically
abusive. The items are answered on a six-point scale ranging from 0
(never) to 6 (more than 20 times a year). Subjects report the frequency
of occurrence for each item before the age of 16, separately for each
parent (mother or step mother and father or step father). The scores on
the PCVS may range from 0 to 30 for each parent, with the highest possible
score being a 60. The internal consistency of this scale is acceptable
(alpha = .78 for mother and .75 for father).
Psychological Child Maltreatment Scale (PCMS). The PCMS was
also adapted from Brier and Runtz (1988) and follows the same format as
the physical abuse scale. It consists of 7 items that reflect verbal
reactions, rather than physical behaviors, that might be psychologically
damaging to the individual. The items are scored on the same six-point
scale as the ones for physical abuse, ranging from 0 (never) to 6 (more
than 20 times a year). The scores on the PCMS have a possible range of 0
to 42 for each parent, with a highest possible score of 84. The internal
consistency of this scale is also acceptable (alpha = .87) (Briere & Runtz,
Childhood Sexual Victimization Questionnaire (CSVQ). This
measure, comprised of eight questions, was adapted from Finkelhor (1979).
The subjects are asked to read each statement and respond whether the
described sexual experiences occurred to them before the age of 16. The
items increase in severity ranging from "Another person showing his/her
sex organs to you" to "Another person had intercourse with you." The
subjects are also asked the approximate age of the other person(s) and how
old they were when they had the sexual experience corresponding to the
last number to which they answer "yes." In this study, individuals who
endorse any of the sexual experiences described in the questionnaire with
a person five or more years older than the respondent will be considered
Question One: Perceived Abusiveness
Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations of the GPA composite
scores of all subjects in both components of the study.
GPA Composite Scores
BCC (n=40), Component 1
BCC (n=15), Component 2
IV (n=23), Component 2
RC (n=19), Component 2
A one-way ANOVA was conducted on the three groups in component two on the
overall GPA score. The ANOVA was significant, F(2,52) = 112.62, p <
.0001. Tukey post-hoc tests showed that the former BCC members scored
significantly higher on the GPA (M = 108.5, SD = 11.28) than the former
Catholics (M = 65.26, SD = 15.90) and the former InterVarsity members (M =
46.91, SD = 8.10). The former Catholics scored significantly higher than
the former InterVarsity members. Neither the former Catholic, nor the IV
group's average score was above the 84 neutral score separating nonabusive
from abusive ratings. Indeed, the mean for the ex-Catholic group was
nearly 1.2 standard deviations below 84., while the IV mean was 4.6
standard deviations below 84. The BCC mean, on the other hand, was 2.2
standard deviations above 84.
The GPA also evaluates the degree of psychological abuse on four
subscales: anxiety, compliance, mind control, and exploitation. A MANOVA
was conducted on the four subscales for the three groups in Component 2.
The MANOVA was significant, Wilks' = .108, F(8,98) = 25.00, p < .001.
Follow-up ANOVAs on each of the variables revealed that all were
significant. Tukey's post-hoc tests indicated that the former BCC members
scored higher than either of the other two groups on all four subscales
(see Table 2). Former Catholics scored significantly higher than
Intervarsity graduates on Anxious Dependency, Mind Control, and
Exploitation. Table 2 gives the results for subjects in both components.
GPA Subscale Scores
Subscale Scores (Standard Deviation)
BCC, I (n=40)
BCC, II (n=15)
A discriminant analysis was conducted to see if the composite GPA score
alone could correctly classify individual subjects in their respective
groups. The discriminant function analysis revealed that the GPA score
alone could predict group membership better than chance, Wilk's = .188,
F(2,52) = 112.62, p < .001. The classification results in Table 3
revealed that 13 of the 14 former BCC members 92.9%) were correctly
classified on the basis of their GPA scores. None of the former IV
members and only 2 of 19 former Catholics were incorrectly classified as
former BCC members. Overall, the discriminant function correctly
classified 76.4% of the cases.
It must be noted that discriminant functions derived from a sample and
used to classify cases on the same sample capitalize on chance variation
of the sample and are very likely to generate more accurate classification
results than would be achieved if the canonical coefficients were used to
classify cases on a separate sample.
Actual Group (No. Cases)
Two questions in the demographic questionnaire asked subjects to give
global ratings that reflect how abusive they perceived their group
environment to be. One question said: "Overall, how beneficial/harmful
was the group experience for you? Ratings were: 1 = "very beneficial," 2
= "beneficial," 3 = "neutral," 4 = "harmful," 5 = "very harmful." The
other question asked: "To what extent did group pressures make it
difficult for you to leave?" Ratings were 1 = "very difficult," 2 =
"difficult," 3 = "not sure," 4 = "mildly difficult," 5 = "no difficulty."
Table 4 contains the mean ratings for these two questions for all groups.
Regarding the question on harm/benefit, an ANOVA found that the groups
differed significantly in their responses, F(2,54) = 80.22, p < .001.
Follow-up Tukey post-hoc tests revealed that the BCC scored higher than
both the former Catholics and the IV graduates. Former Catholics also
scored significantly higher than IV graduates. An ANOVA on the group
pressure question was also significant: F(2,53) = 32.26, p < .001.
Follow-up Tukey post-hoc tests revealed that the BCC scored lower than
both the former Catholics and IV graduates, and former Catholics scored
lower than IV graduates (all ps < .05). Lower scores reflect higher group
Ratings of Group Harmfulness and Group Pressure
Group Harm Mean (SD)
Group Pressure Mean (SD)*
BCC, Component One
BCC, Component Two
IV, Component Two
RC, Component Two
*Lower score implies greater group pressure
Question Two: Concrete Experiences
Table 5 contains the means and standard deviations of subjects' scores on
the DDD Scale. DDD refers to the sum of ratings for all items (range: 120
to 600; 120 corresponds to an average rating of 1; 240 to 2). DDDA refers
to the sum of ratings for Part 1 (range: 18-90; 18 corresponds to an
average rating of 1; 36 to 2). DDDB refers to the sum of ratings for Part
2 (range: 102 to 510; 102 refers to an average rating of 1; 204 to 2).
DBSELF refers to the sum of ratings for items in Part 2 that refer
specifically to subjects' personal experience (range: 48-240; 48
an average rating of 1; 96 to 2). DBGROUP refers to the sum of ratings
for items in Part 2 that refer to subjects' evaluations of the group
(range: 48-240; 48 corresponds to an average rating of 1; 96 to 2). Lower
scores reflect more negative ratings, with 1 = definitely true, 2=
probably true, 3= don't know or can't decide, 4 = probably not true, and 5
= definitely not true.
DDD Scale Scores (n=39)
Mean (Av. Rating)
Factor analysis was not performed on the DDD Scale because there were not
enough subjects. A correlational analysis of the DDD scale scores,
however, indicated a reasonable level of internal consistency (see Table
Internal DDD Correlations
1-tailed significance: * - .01; ** -
The scale scores of the DDD were correlated with GPA scores in order to
determine if, as expected, negative ratings on the DDD were associated
with higher scores on the GPA. The correlations are negative in Table 7
because a low score on the DDD reflects a negative evaluation of the
group, whereas a high score on the GPA reflects a negative evaluation.
1-tailed significance: * - .01; ** -
It appears that even though the DDD and GPA scales ask subjects to rate
different items, there is a fairly high agreement between the two scales.
Subjects who rated the BCC negatively on the DDD tended to rate it
negatively on the GPA.
The primary value of the DDD Scale, however, is to collect quantitative
data on specific practices for which the BCC has been criticized. Most
questions first ask if the subject experienced what the statement in
question describes and then ask if the subject believes the statement
characterizes the BCC. In general, subjects' reports strongly supported
allegations that the BCC is deceptive, fosters dependency, and inculcates
dread. However, for some questions there was considerable variation in
subjects' responses, and sometimes the results were inconsistent with
stereotypes that view the movement as monolithically negative with regard
to certain practices.
This variation may be related to the discipler's role: Forty-five percent
of subjects said that their happiness in the movement definitely varied
significantly according to the qualities of their disciplers, while an
additional 30% said their happiness probably was related to the discipler
they happened to have. Given that subjects had an average of 5.4
disciplers during their membership and themselves discipled an average of
7.9 members, it seems quite possible that the characteristics and
practices of individual disciplers may have colored the experiences of
subjects. This question requires further research.
One of the most common criticisms of the BCC and other cultic groups is
the use of deception during the recruitment phase. Part One of the DDD
examined this issue by asking subjects to rate 18 statements, most of
which were stated in two ways: how true the statement was with regard to
subjects' personal experience, and how truly subjects' now believe the
statement characterizes the BCC. The average score on this part of the
DDD (DDDA) was 32.67 (SD = 9.84), or an average rating of 1.82 (1.00 =
"definitely true"; 2.00 = "probably true"), which indicates most subjects
believed that the BCC was deceptive.
Results from some specific questions inquiring into deceptiveness follow.
The number at the beginning of the statement refers to the question number
in the DDD Scale (dual numbers, e.g., 5/6, refer to paired, self-group
questions). The first figure in parentheses is the percentage of subjects
who rated the statement as definitely or probably true. The second,
italicized figure in parentheses is the percentage of subjects rating the
statement as definitely or probably false. The parallel figures in
brackets give the percentage of subjects who now believe the statement
characterizes the group, or, in italics, does not characterize the group.
Not all figures add up to 100% because some subjects did not answer all
1. You were told "we're just a nondenominational Bible study
group." (87.5%; 7.5%) [n/a]
2. If you joined on a college campus, you were told that the
group's name was something other than ICC or BCC. (32.5%; 12.5%) [n/a].
4. You were told that your local group or church was part of
either the Boston Church of Christ Movement or the International Churches
of Christ. (45%; 45%) [n/a]
5/6. You were told that the fundamental purpose of the Bible
Talk to which you had been invited was to bring new people into the
movement (30%; 52.5%). [90%; 0%]
7/8. You were told that the goal of your Individual Bible
Study was to have you baptized into the movement. (20%; 70%) [90%; 5%]
9/10. Prior to consenting to do the Individual Bible Study,
you were told that you were going to be required to have a discipler if
you joined the movement. (17.5%; 67.5%) [100%; 0%]
11/12. Prior to doing the Individual Bible Study, you were
told that you were not considered a Christian and that the only way to
become a Christian was to be baptized by this group, have a discipler, and
be totally committed to the movement. (37.5%; 52.5%) [97.5%; 2.5%]
13/14. You knew that you had been discussed openly in a
leaders meeting and that several people were assigned to be your "friends"
and to encourage you to become a member. (15%; 70%) [95%; 2.5%]
15/16. You were told prior to the individual Bible Study
that there were rules for dating and that you would not be allowed to date
someone who was not a member. (7.5%; 70%) [87.5%; 7.5%]
17. You were told about the movement's roots going back to
the mainline Church of Christ. (45%; 42.5%) [n/a]
18. You were told about the movement's beginnings in the
Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida. (37.5%; 55%) [n/a]
19. Prior to your baptism in the BCC, you were told that the
leader of the movement was Kip McKean? (45%; 35%) [n/a]
Another question relevant to initial deceptions asked: "What name did the
group use?" Twenty-one subjects listed no name; 3 listed Boston Church of
Christ. The others listed the following: Dekalb Church of Christ;
Antelope Valley Church; Historical and Literature Society; Central
Christian Church; "No name, only a nondenominational Bible study";
Christian Student Center; St. Louis Church of Christ; The Atlanta Church;
"Call Street Church of Christ - then University"; Dekalb Church of Christ;
Campus Advance; OHANA; Campus Advance; Campus Advance; "Campus (something)
I can't remember." Several of these names may be the local BCC name.
Others appear to be unrelated to the BCC/ICCC name and, therefore, may
have served as a "front" name. Unfortunately, the DDD did not ask if
subjects initially did not realize the group they joined was the BCC.
Future research should correct this oversight.
Financial questions included:
1a/b. Having any savings accounts -- except for money being
saved for "special collections" -- was considered to be "falling away
insurance." (17.5%; 62.5%) [50%; 27.5%]
35a/b. Members are told that they should take part in a
group-sponsored study about planning their finances and proper
contributions to the movement? (47.5% said they actually participated in
such a study; 32.5% did not) [72.5%; 7.5%]
36a/b. Members are told that they should personally
sacrifice in order to give money to the group. (82.5%; 5%) [92.5%; 0%]
37a/b. Members are told that they should be willing to sell
personal items in order to give more money to the group -- especially for
"special contributions." (72.5%; 22.5%) [90%; 7.5%]
The most conspicuously defining feature of the Boston movement is the
nearly absolute authority of the discipler (i.e., leadership) over the
individual, with the movement's leadership being seen as part of a divine
pyramidal hierarchy that has God at the head. This authoritarian
structure may contribute to the sense of dependency many ex-cult members
report. The following percentages of subjects reported (i.e., they rated
the statement "definitely true" or "probably true") that they personally
experienced or were told the following (the percentage reporting the
opposite are italicized; brackets contain the percentage of subjects who
now believe the statement characterizes the group or, in italics, does not
characterize the group):
21a/b. Members are told to trust the group and its leaders
over the members' own thoughts and opinions (92.5%; 0%) [95%; 0%]
20a/b. Members are told to subordinate themselves -- their
will, behavior, needs, and desires -- to the group's leadership in order
to please God (87.5%; 2.5%) [95%; 0%]
10a/b. Members are told that they must confess their sins
to their discipler (95%; 2.5%) [97.5%; 0%]
11a/b. Members are told that if they make their own
decisions they may fall back into sin -- they need to seek advice from
someone who knows better than they do. (90%; 2.5%) [95%; 0%]
22a/b. Members are told that their own inner thoughts and
opinions are influenced by Satan (70%; 17.5%) [90%; 2.5%]
2a/b. Not seeking advice from your discipler and following
it meant that you had a bad attitude or a bad heart or that you did not
have the heart of a disciple (or similar negative terms). (95%; 0%)
3a/b. It is necessary to get permission from your discipler
before going on single dates when beginning a dating relationship with
someone (57.5%; 15%) [87.5%; 10%]
12a/b. Members are expected to tell their discipler
everything that happens on dates (55%; 12.5%) [87.5%; 7.5%]
13a/b. Disciplers question disciplees in detail about what
happened on a date (52.5%; 15%) [82.5%; 7.5%]
43a/b. Members are admonished or rebuked for making an
important decision without seeking advice from their discipler (77.5%;
12.5%) [92.5%; 2.5%]
23a/b. Members are told that the group's leaders are
special messengers of God -- that they are "blessed by God." (70%; 12.5%)
40a/b. Members are told that the movement's leaders are
more godly than rank-and-file members (85%; 12.5%) [92.5%; 5%]
46a/b. members are told that to question, criticize,
disobey or distrust group leaders is to do the same to God (87.5%; 7.5%)
24a/b. Members are told that God is in control of the
movement (90%; 0%) [92.5%; 0%]
27a/b. Members are told that this movement is the Kingdom
of God (97.5%; 0%) [97.5%; 0%]
8a/b. Members are told that if they miss services or
gatherings of the body they are forsaking the Body (80%; 7.5%) [97.5%; 0%]
41a/b. Members are told that to be fully committed to God is
to be fully committed to the movement (95%; 0%) [100%; 0%]
45a/b. Members are told that leaving the group is leaving
God (90%; 2.5%) [97.5%; 0%]
55a/b. Members are told that if a person is not being
discipled he or she is not a Christian (87.5%; 12.5%) [90%; 10%]
Because members' subordination to the leadership's authority can be
threatened by outside influences, the BCC, as do many other controversial
groups, tends to isolate members psychologically, if not physically.
Subjects reported experiencing or being told the following, all of which
statements can be interpreted as aspects of dread, which facilitates
subordination through isolation:
4a/b. Members should not date anyone the group does not
deem "spiritual enough" (65%; 15%) [90%; 5%]
5. You were at least once strongly encouraged to date (or
strongly discouraged from dating) some particular person. (50%; 22.5%)
6. You were told to break up a dating relationship with a
nonmember. (27.5%; 27.5%) [n/a]
7a/b. Members are told that going home to be with family or
spending time with nonmember friends who were not group members could
cause Satan to get a foothold on them. (72.5%; 7.5%) [87.5%; 0%]
9a/b. Members are strongly encouraged to move out of present
living situations -- even parental homes -- to move in with other sisters
or brothers in the group (72.5%; 7.5%) [95%; 2.5%]
14a/b. Members are told that outside the movement there are
no other Christian churches where salvation can be found (90%; 7.5%)
15a/b. Members are told that all other churches (except for
movement churches) are dead. (95%; 2.5%) [97.5%; 2.5%]
16a/b. Members are told that spending time with friends or
family (unless trying to convert them) is not seeking the Kingdom first
(87.5%; 10%) [95%; 0%]
17a/b. members experiencing any emotional or psychological
distress are told that nonmember professionals should not be consulted.
(55%; 20%) [72.5%; 7.5%]
18a/b. Prior to going home for a visit, disciplers often
tell disciplees how to handle their parents or home situation (75%; 10%)
38a/b. Members are told that their families are not
Christian if they do not belong to the movement (90%; 5%) [100%; 0%]
39a/b. Members are told that people outside the group are
"worldly" or "influenced by Satan" or "enemies of God" (95%; 0%) [100%;
44a/b. Members are told that "deprogrammers" or "exit
counselors" are influenced by Satan and should not be talked to (45%;
22.5%) [75%; 7.5%]
47a/b. Members are told that people who leave the group
fall back into sin (90%; 5%) [97.5%; 0%]
48a/b. Members are told that bad things happen to people
who leave the movement (82.5%; 10%) [87.5%; 5%]
49a/b. Members are told that they should not speak to
ex-members (80%; 10%) [97.5%; 0%]
50a/b. Members are told that they should not read or watch
media coverage about the group (55%; 22.5%) [72.5%; 10%]
51a/b. Members are told that if they leave the group they
will never be right with God again (75%; 12.5%) [82.5%; 5%]
52a/b. Members are told that to be especially close to
their family is to be sentimental (45%; 25%) [65%; 25%]
53a/b. Members are told that their parents are trying to
control them (40%; 35%) [72.5%; 5]%
An important goal of the authoritarian structure and tendency to isolate
members appears to be the restructuring of members' personalities
according to the movement's values (see Yeakley study described on page
8). Subjects' responses to the following experiences or admonitions
support allegations that the BCC attempts to change members' personalities
in a fundamental way:
25a/b. Members are encouraged to imitate their discipler
and/or other leaders (100%; 0%) [100%; 0%]
26a/b. Members are chastised because they fail to imitate
their discipler or other leader (82.5%; 7.5%) [97.5%; 0%]
19a/b. Members are told that they shouldn't be introverts
or want to spend time alone; they should be outwardly focused (80%; 10%)
31a/b. Members are told to stop pursuing a talent or special
interest if leaders deem it "worldly" (65%; 20%) [87.5%; 2.5%)
32a/b. Members who are students experience markedly falling
grades (reflects marked change in priorities) (65%; 8%) [87.5%; 2.5%)
33a/b. Members believe that they changed their life goals in
order to conform to the group's goals (27.5%; 32.5%) [55%; 12.5%)
34a/b. Members are told that they should sleep less (85%;
0%) [95%; 0%]
54a/b. Members are told that their discipler is molding them
to be like Jesus (97.5%; 0%) [100%; 0%]
Question Three: Psychological Distress
Subjects in Component 2 were given a battery of psychological measures
(described earlier), a number of which assessed current psychological
An analysis of covariance was conducted on the three groups on the GSI
(Global Symptom Index) of the Symptom Checklist 90, Revised using social
desirability (as measured by the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale
-- MCSDS) as a covariate. The ANCOVA was significant, F(3,52) = 5.80, p =
.002. The MCSDS was a significant covariate, F(1,52) = 9.43, p = .003 and
the ANCOVA detected a group effect, F(2,52) = 5.03, p = .010. Pairwise
Tukey post-hoc tests on the adjusted means (corrected for alpha inflation
at the .05 level) revealed that the former BCC members Madj = .937) scored
significantly higher than the former InterVarsity members (Madj = .419).
Former Catholics (Madj = .696) did not differ from either of the other
groups. Unadjusted means for the former BCC members, former IV members,
and former Catholics were .931, .467, and .654, respectively.
An ANCOVA was conducted on the three groups on the Beck Depression
Inventory (BDI) using the MCSDS as a covariate. the ANCOVA model was
significant, F(3,54) = 6.07, p < .001, but the covariate was not
significant. Therefore, the covariate was dropped from the analysis and
an ANOVA was conducted. The ANOVA was significant, F(2,53) = 7.58, p =
.0013. Pairwise Tukey post-hoc tests on the group means revealed that the
former BCC members scored higher on the BDI (M = 13.07) than the former
InterVarsity members (M = 4.43) and the former Catholics (M = 7.00) using
an alpha of .05, controlled for alpha inflation within the pairwise
comparisons. No difference was detected between the former InterVarsity
members and the former Catholics.
An ANCOVA was conducted on the three groups of former members on trait
anxiety (as measured by the Trait portion of the State-Trait Anxiety
Scale), using the MCSDS as a covariate. The overall model was
significant, F(3,52) = 4.94, p = .004, the covariate was significant ,
F(1,52) = 8.01, p = .007, and there were differences among the groups,
F(2,52) = 4.28, p = .019. Pairwise Tukey post-hoc tests on the adjusted
group means revealed that the former BCC members scored higher on trait
anxiety (Madj = 46.00) than the former InterVarsity members (Madj =
35.26). The post-hoc analysis revealed no differences between the former
Catholics (Madj = 40.98) and either of the other two groups. Unadjusted
means for the former BCC members, former IV members, and former Catholics
were 45.87, 36.26, and 40.11, respectively.
In order to investigate differences among the groups of former members on
dissociation a multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) was conducted
using the MCSDS as a covariate and the DES and the Dissociation Scale of
the HSCL as dependent variables. The overall MANCOVA model was
significant, Wilks' = .861, F(2,51) = 4.132, p = .022; the model also
revealed a significant group effect, Wilks' = .771, F(4,102) = 3.541, p >
.010. Thus, follow-up ANCOVA analyses were used to examine differences
among the groups on each dissociation variable independently. The ANCOVA
model on the DES revealed that the MCSDS was not a significant covariate.
it was thus dropped and an ANOVA on the DES was significant, F(2,54) =
4.70, p = .0131. Post-hoc Tukey pairwise comparisons on the group means
revealed that the former BCC members indicated more dissociation (M =
13.76) than the former InterVarsity members (M = 4.92). Former Catholics
(M = 7.74) did not significantly differ from either of the other two
groups on the DES.
A follow-up ANCOVA on the three groups with the HSCL dissociation scale
with MCSDS as a covariate revealed that the model was significant, F(3,52)
= 4.36, p = .008 and that the MCSDS was a significant covariate, F(1,52) =
8.42, p = .005. The group effect was not significant at the .025 level,
F(2,52) = 3.49, p = .038 (the adjusted alpha level was p = .025).
In order to examine possible differences among the groups on trait anger,
an ANCOVA was conducted with social desirability as the covariate. The
overall ANCOVA model was significant, F(3,52) = 5.95, p = .002, the MCSDS
covariate was significant, F(1,51) = 14.06, p < .001, and the group effect
was significant, F(2,51) = 3.45, p = .039. However, follow-up Tukey
post-hoc tests on the adjusted group means revealed that no two were
significantly different when alpha was controlled at .05 for all pairwise
comparisons between means.
An ANCOVA was used to evaluate differences among the three groups on the
Impact of Events Scale (IES) total score, using the MCSDS as a covariate.
The overall model was significant, F(3,50) = 4.41, p = .008, but the MCSDS
was not significant as a covariate. Thus, it was dropped from the
analysis and an ANOVA was conducted on the group means. The ANOVA was
significant, F(2,52) = 6.71, p = .0026. Tukey post-hoc tests revealed
that the former BCC members scored higher (M = 33.73, SD = 23.38) than
both the former Catholics (M = 16.11, SD = 16.30) and the IV graduates (M
= 11.90, SD = 15.61), both p's < .05. No differences were detected
between former Catholics and IV graduates.
Table 8 presents (adjusted) means for the three groups on those measures
that resulted in significant differences among groups.
Pre-group psychological distress. Four variables reflecting pre-group
psychological distress were examined: childhood sexual abuse, measured by
the CSVQ; childhood psychological abuse, measured by the PCMS; childhood
physical abuse, measured by the PCVS; and participation in counseling
before the group, measured by questions on the demographic questionnaire.
Adjusted Mean Scores on Psychological Distress Measures
All subjects in Component Two were classified as sexually abused or not
sexually abused using the Childhood Sexual Victimization Questionnaire (CSVQ).
Childhood sexual abuse was defined as fondling, touching or stroking sex
organs, or attempted or achieved vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse that
was perpetrated when the individual was 15 years of age or younger under
at least one of the following two conditions: (1) the perpetrator was at
least 5 years older than the victim, or (2) actual or threatened force,
coercion, or abuse of authority was involved. Five of the 15 former BCC
members reported abuse under these conditions (33.3%); 1 of 23 IV
graduates reported such abuse (4.3%); and 5 of 19 former Catholics
reported such abuse (26.3%). These frequencies were compared using a
chi-square test, which did not reach significance, X2(2) = 5.80, p = .055.
No differences among Component Two groups were detected on the
Psychological Child Maltreatment Scale (PCMS), using ANCOVA's with the
MCSDS as a covariate or using ANOVA's.
Unfortunately, the Physical Child Victimization Scale (PCVS) was unable to
provide an overall measure of physical abuse. Adding up the responses
produced a skewness and kurtosis of the variable under investigation
(there is a huge clustering of responses about 0 -- no physical abuse
reported). Thus, underlying assumptions for ANOVA's are violated.
Moreover, it is difficult to draw a line between nonabusive and abusive
corporal punishment. The only reasonable approach appeared to be to
analyze the three groups in Component Two in their responses to the items
about conflicts leading to severe injury (i.e., bruises, scars, broken
bones, bleeding) with their mothers and fathers because few would doubt
that such injuries constitute abuse.
A chi-square analysis detected no differences concerning the mothers'
physical conflicts with their children. Two of the 15 former BCC members,
1 of 19 former Catholics, and 0 of 23 IV graduates reported severe injury
at the hands of their mothers.
Differences were detected with regard to injuries inflicted by fathers,
X2(2) = 6.12, p = .047. Follow-up 2 x 2 chi-square analyses revealed no
differences between the former BCC members and IV graduates, or between
former Catholics and BCC members. IV graduates and former Catholics,
however, did differ, X2(1) = 5.66, p = .017. None of the 23 IV graduates,
4 of 18 former Catholics (1 nonresponse), and 1 of 14 former BCC members
(1 nonresponse) reported severe injury at the hands of their father.
Former BCC and IV members in Component Two were evaluated on whether or
not they had sought mental health services at any point prior to joining
their group (former Catholics were not included because all considered
themselves Catholics at a very young age). A chi-square analysis revealed
that former BCC members were more likely to have sought mental health
services before joining their group than were IV graduates, X2(1) = 9.48,
p = .002. Eight of 15 BCC subjects (53%) had sought counseling before the
group, while only 2 of 23 IV graduates had sought counseling. In
Component One, 8 of 40 former BCC members (20%) had sought counseling
before entering the group; one subject had been hospitalized.
In-group help seeking. Former BCC, Catholic, and IV members in Component
Two were asked if they sought mental health services while they were in
their groups. A chi-square analysis revealed that the differences among
groups did not reach significance, X2(2) = 4.08, p = .130. Five of 15
former BCC members, 2 of 21 IV graduates, and 5 of 19 former Catholics
sought counseling while members of their groups. In Component One, 1 of
40 former BCC members had sought counseling.
Post-group help seeking. The Component Two groups differed significantly
with regard to post-cult mental health counseling, X2(2) = 15.32, p <
.001. Pairwise chi-square tests (with Bonferroni correction, p = .017,
for the three pairwise tests) between the groups was conducted. Former
BCC members were more likely than former IV members, X2(1) = 14.71, p <
.001, to have sought mental health services after leaving. Former
Catholics were also more likely than former IV members, X (1) = 6.65, p =
.010, to have had counseling after leaving their group. BCC members and
former Catholics did not differ on post-group help seeking. Ten of 15
former BCC members, 2 of 23 IV graduates, and 8 of 19 former Catholics
sought counseling after leaving their group. In Component One, 20 of 40
former BCC members sought counseling after leaving the group; four were
Family background. The three groups in Component Two were compared on the
following five of the ten subscales of the FES:
Cohesion (degree of commitment, help, and support among
Conflict (amount of openly expressed anger, aggression,
Independence (extent to which family members are assertive,
self-sufficient, make their own decisions)
Moral-Religious (degree of emphasis on ethical, religious
issues, and values)
Control (extent to which set rules and procedures are used
to run family life)
No differences were detected among the groups on any of these variables
using an ANCOVA with the MCSDS (social desirability) as the covariate. As
the MCSDS was never a significant covariate, ANOVA's were also conducted.
Again, no significant differences were detected. Only the most relevant 5
of the 10 subscales were used in order to reduce the number of analyses
conducted on the data set.
Seekerhood. This study collected data related to the observation that
some people who join controversial groups may have a history of being a
"seeker." Specifically, subjects were asked in the demographic
questionnaire: "If you have belonged to other religious groups besides
that on which you are reporting, please list them below."
Thirty-three of 55 former members of the Boston Church of Christ
(Components One and Two combined) entered names of other religious groups
in response to this question. In total these 33 subjects listed 54
groups. One (Wiccan) can be considered nonmainstream and controversial
(though much of the controversy stems from people falsely identifying
Wicca with Satanism). Two can be considered nonmainstream but
noncontroversial (Buddhism; Latter Day Saints). Four are unclassifiable
because the investigator knows nothing about these groups: MetroNorth,
Universalism, and two persons who belonged to Vineyard Christian
Fellowship. The following religious groups were listed: Roman Catholic
Church and other Catholic organizations (n = 4); mainstream Church of
Christ (n = 9); Baptist organizations (n = 9); Presbyterian churches (n =
3); Congregational churches (n = 5); Methodist churches (n = 2); Lutheran
church (n = 1); Episcopalian churches (n = 2); and miscellaneous
Protestant churches and organizations (n = 12), including West Side United
Protestant Church, University of Florida Christian Fellowship, Gainesville
Korean Church, Campus Crusade for Christ, Church youth group, Young Life,
and Assembly of God.
Although these results indicate some searching on the part of these former
BCC subjects, their religious explorations have largely been mainstream.
Moreover, because the question didn't ask subjects to state when they
belonged to these other religious groups, many of the subjects' replies
may have referred to mainstream groups they joined after leaving the BCC.
Thus, the notion that people actively and repeatedly seek controversial
groups receives little support in this study.
This study has four methodological advantages over most studies published
to date: (1) an objective measure with reasonable psychometric validity,
the GPA Scale, to assess the abusiveness of group environments; (2) a
psychological test battery using standardized instruments to assess
psychological distress and background variables; (3) two mainstream
comparison groups, one representing a disgruntled ex-member population
(former Roman Catholics); and (4) a "cult" sample in which approximately
one-half the subjects were not familiar with cult educational
The study's most conspicuous deficiency is shared with virtually all other
studies in this field: samples with questionable representativeness.
Although the similarity in the responses of the two BCC groups (Component
One and Component Two), which came from different parts of the country,
argues in favor of representativeness, the low response rate leaves
unanswered questions about those subjects who did not respond to the
subject recruitment notices. Are nonresponders likely to view their group
experience in a more favorable light and to be less distressed? Or are
they less likely to respond because they are more distressed, more angry
with the group, and consequently less willing to revisit painful
memories? No research has yet been able to answer these questions.
One should also keep in mind that this study examined only one
controversial group. We do not know the extent to which former BCC
members' experiences are similar to those of former members from other
groups, although experience with the GPA (discussed below) suggests that
the experiences may be similar.
The adequacy of the comparison groups is also less than perfect. Both
comparison groups included subjects who tended to be 10 to 15 years
younger than the former BCC sample. The questions about nonresponders
apply to these groups as well. Were responding ex-Catholics and IV
graduates more or less likely than nonresponders to be distressed and to
view their respective groups negatively. The sample size, though
respectable, was too small to control for these and other variables (e.g.,
years in group vs. distress variables). Future research studies that
employ larger samples and make a diligent effort to follow-up on
nonresponders will have to be conducted before such questions can be
Despite these deficiencies, this study produced interesting and sometimes
compelling findings. Let us examine some of their implications in the
order in which the results were presented.
Question One: Perceived Abusiveness
The GPA mean scores of the two BCC groups are very similar to the overall
mean in the study that led to the development of the GPA. In the latter
study (Chambers et al., 1994) 308 subjects from 101 groups had an overall
mean of 110.70 (SD = 13.42); in this study the BCC groups had means of
105.60 (SD = 13.69) and 108.50 (SD = 11.28). Clients (from a variety of
cultic groups) at the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center also
consistently score in this range (Paul Martin, Ph.D., personal
communication, April 5, 1996), as did the former BCC subjects in Adams's
master�s thesis (Adams, 1993).
The scores of former BCC members contrast markedly with the scores of IV
graduates in Adams's study and in this study. And although the former
Roman Catholics in this study scored higher than IV graduates, their
scores were still substantially lower than those of the former BCC
subjects. Indeed, as noted earlier, the ex-Catholic GPA mean of 65.26 was
nearly 1.2 standard deviations below the 84 midpoint score separating
ratings of abuse and nonabuse. Thus, the contention that ex-members'
negative evaluations of their groups reflect the bias of merely having
left dissatisfied seems to account for no more than a very small
percentage of the variance. These findings compellingly suggest that
these particular subjects' negative evaluations reflect, to a large
extent, the objective reality of their experiences in the group.
Question Two: Concrete Experiences
The contention that the perceived abusiveness of former BCC subjects is
rooted in objective reality is buttressed by the results of the DDD Scale,
which asked very specific questions about subjects' personal experience
(e.g., were you told to trust the group and its leaders over your own
thoughts and opinions?). Although subjects' responses were not as
uniformly negative as some critics might expect, there is a striking
degree of consensus about a large number of clearly negative items. Even
the most conservative of the DDD sections, DBSELF (questions that inquired
into subjects' personal experience, rather than opinions), had an average
rating of 2.05, indicating that the statements as a whole were "probably
Subjects' ratings of concrete behaviors and practices also argue against a
strong bias effect because subjects gave many discriminating answers. If,
for example, subjects had a strong negative bias inclining them to rate
the group negatively, one would expect a tendency for them to rate all
questions in Part One (which examined deception) negatively. I have
observed this phenomenon in clinical work with families, whom I typically
ask to fill out a questionnaire. A small percentage of families will give
uniformly negative ratings to every question concerning the group to which
their loved one belongs. This immediately alerts me to examine the
possibility that these families are perceiving an intellectual stereotype,
rather than an objective reality. If ex-members were similarly biased in
an unthinking stereotypical way, one would expect a similar pattern. This
study conspicuously failed to produce such a pattern. For example, the 18
questions in Part One, which asked subjects to rate various dimensions of
deceptiveness, received very diverse ratings of definitely true or
probably true. The percentage of subjects giving negative ratings to
these 18 questions (with some scores reversed in order to ensure that low
scores reflect negative evaluations) were: 87.5%, 32.5%, 45%, 52.5% 90%;
70%; 90%; 67.5%; 100%; 37.5%; 97.5%, 70%; 95%; 70%; 87.5%; 45%; 37.5%;
45%. The lowest percentage of negative evaluations is 32.5%, the highest
97.5%. If subjects were responding according to a strong negative bias
against the group, their answers would have shown less variation. Thus,
even though their overall evaluation is negative, they were discriminating
enough to give much lower negative evaluations to some questions than to
others; in other words, they thought about the question, rather than
respond in a stereotypical way.
Their negative evaluations on the whole lend strong support to critics'
contentions that the BCC uses deception, fosters dependency in members,
and uses a variety of beliefs to instill dread in those who question
leadership or deviate from the group's prescribed ways.
What is not known is the degree to which this sample's experiences as
described on the DDD Scale are typical of other former BCC and current BCC
members. As noted earlier, variations in the behavior and attitudes of
disciplers and by extension the local leadership may significantly affect
the experiences and ultimate ratings of the disciplees. Condon, a former
leader in the Boston movement, states in "`A Diary': Why I Left the Boston
Movement": "We tried not to repeat any of the abuses we had seen in
Boston in Nashville and we think we were successful. . . The newspaper
articles constantly talked about the abuses of Crossroads and Boston, but
they could never actually pin anything on us and we intended to keep it
that way" (Condon, 1991, p.16).
DDD Scale findings may facilitate constructive dialogue with the Boston
Movement. One could, for example, go through the list of near-consensus
negative experiences described in dozens of items in the DDD Scale and ask
movement leaders which if any of these practices they support. Those they
reject can be viewed as specific areas in which the movement admittedly
has to improve its behavior. Such improvements can be monitored by
outside observers and measured with the DDD Scale. If such improvements
occurred, the criticism to which they responded may be viewed as
constructive. If the improvements do not occur, the movement's leadership
would be hard-pressed to rebut charges of duplicity and bad faith.
Those practices and behaviors that the leaders defend, even though
controversial, could stimulate possibly fruitful theological discussion
since presumably movement leaders would support a controversial practice
only because they deem it theologically necessary. If theological
dialogue undermines their arguments, then either movement leaders should
be open to change or subject to the charge that their theological
arguments are subordinated to a hidden agenda. Even if theological
discussions prove futile, movement leaders will have to own up to the
controversial practices they refuse to reject. Their explicitness will
make it easier for those interested in preventive education to inform
prospective recruits, such as college students, about the BCC's
The DDD results could also contribute to preventive education. For
example, listing some of the dubious BCC practices and the percentages of
subjects personally experiencing the practice might cause many college
students to pause, think, and perhaps seek out information before
accepting an invitation to a BCC activity.
Question Three: Psychological Distress
Given the number of psychological distress measures on which former BCC
members scored significantly higher than at least one comparison group
(SCL-90R, BDI, STAS, DES, IES) and given the number of other studies that
obtained similar findings (even though with less sophisticated measures),
it is difficult to dispute the claim that those who leave cultic groups
are at high risk for psychological distress. Thirty of 55 former BCC
members (55%) in the two components combined sought psychological
counseling, with four requiring hospitalization. This finding is higher
than the counseling rate of Galanter's (1983) population of 66 former
members of the Unification Church, 24% of whom sought counseling and 2 of
whom were hospitalized.
Former BCC subjects tended to score higher on global distress, depression,
anxiety, dissociation, and post-traumatic stress. Former Catholics tended
to score lower than the BCC subjects, but not as low as the IV graduates.
Thus, it may be that leaving mainstream religious groups leads to a
moderate level of distress but that leaving abusive groups leads to even
more distress. On the other hand, the data on childhood sexual and
physical abuse, though equivocal, raises the possibility that abuse during
childhood could make some people more likely to become disillusioned with
their religion of birth and/or to be susceptible to the recruitment
tactics of manipulative groups. Future research will have to reexamine
this issue in more depth than was possible in this study.
This study was not able to make any diagnostic decisions about the
subjects because of the limitations of the test battery. Initially, we
planned on using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (Spitzer,
Williams, Gibbon, & First, 1992) and the Structured Clinical Interview for
DSM-III-R Dissociative Disorders (Steinberg, 1986), but had to give up the
idea because the time demands on subjects and investigators would have
been too burdensome. Future research, however, might be able to use these
respected interview measures.
Although the findings concerning pre-group psychological distress are
interesting, they are subject to multiple interpretations. That BCC
ex-members were more likely than IV graduates to have sought counseling
before joining could reflect greater pre-group psychological distress. On
the other hand, it could reflect the older age of the BCC group. BCC
subjects joined the group on average at about 25 years old, a higher
average age than that of IV graduates or former Catholics at the time of
the study. BCC subjects, therefore, had more years in which to seek
counseling. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the difference in pre-group
counseling experiences (for other studies as well as this one) indicates
that there is probably at least a modest correlation between pre-group
help-seeking and post-group distress, and possibly with joining a group.
Determining the precise nature of these relationships, however, awaits
Results on the measures of childhood sexual, psychological, and physical
abuse were equivocal. Although sexual abuse levels seem high at first
glance, population base rates for the CSVQ do not yet exist, so we don't
know if these rates are higher than expectation. Even if they were, they
were not statistically higher than the rates for the former Catholic
group. Moreover, the former Catholic group tended to score higher on
physical abuse. We need more data before we can draw firm conclusions.
The uncertainty about the relationship between pre-group psychological
background and post-group distress is magnified by the negative findings
of the family background measure, which found no differences among the
Overall, it appears that pre-group psychological distress probably
contributes little to post-group distress, but more research is needed
before confident conclusions can be drawn.
Though suggestive, this study is but part of the early phase of a long
series of studies that will be necessary before we will be able to make
confident, empirically based assertions about the abusiveness of allegedly
cultic groups and their relationship to post-group distress.
The first priority is to develop well-tested, objective measures of the
variables under investigation. The GPA Scale appears to hold much
promise, but it needs to be fully developed psychometrically. Reliability
and construct and criterion validity studies must be performed. The scale
should be given to large numbers of former and current members from large
numbers of controversial and mainstream groups (e.g., monastic orders,
fraternities, mainstream religious adherents). An observational scale of
group abusiveness needs to be developed as a supplement to the GPA, which
is a self-report measure.
Because of decades of mental health research, we have a number of
well-tested measures of psychological distress, including some not used in
this study. Researchers, however, should try to use similar test
batteries in order to increase the comparability of findings. Thus, this
study used the same battery being used by a research team at Ohio
University and the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center.
The methodology used in the development of the DDD Scale could be adapted
to develop similar scales focused on other controversial groups. A
collection of several dozen such group-focused measures could prove to be
very valuable in preventive education, family consultation, and
psychotherapy with former group members, as well as in research.
Lastly, the sampling issue must be dealt with. Nonresponders must be
diligently pursued in order to determine if they differ significantly from
those who volunteer for research studies. Moreover, we need to conduct
studies with groups that objective findings indicate are representative of
the wider population of cultic groups.
The sampling issue could be at least partly addressed by closely studying
several small groups, the former members of which might be easier to
contact and study, as well as studying the current members through
observation, interviews, and self-report. Selection of groups on which to
focus could be determined through the GPA development program. Small
groups with GPA scores in the "normal" range for cultic groups (which
right now appears to be 100 - 115) might perhaps be reasonably
representative of the wider population of controversial groups. If nearly
all of the members and former members of such groups could be studied,
findings would be much more representative of the wider population than
has been the case with research thus far.
Adams, D. (1993). The Cincinnati Church of Christ: How former members
rate the group on the cultism scale. Unpublished master's thesis, Xavier
University, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ash, S. (1985). Cult-induced psychopathology, part 1: Clinical
picture. Cultic Studies Journal, 2, 31-91.
Barker, E. (1983). The ones who got away: people who attend Unification
Church workshops and do not become Moonies. In E. Barker (Ed.), Of
Gods and men: New religious movements in the West. (pp.309-336).
Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
Barker, E. (1984). The making of a Moonie: Choice or brainwashing?
Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961).
An inventory for measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry,
Bernstein, E. M., & Putnam, F. W. (1986). Development, reliability, and
validity of a dissociation scale. Journal of Nervous and Mental
Disease, 174, 727-735.
Bird, F., & Reimer, B. (1982). Participation rates in new religions and
para-religious movements. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
Briere, J., & Runtz, M. (1988). Multivariate correlates of childhood
psychological and physical maltreatment among university women. Child
Abuse and Neglect, 12, 331-341.
Briere, J., & Runtz, M. (1990). Augmenting Hopkins SCL Scales to measure
dissociative symptoms: Data from two nonclinical samples. Journal of
Personality Assessment, 55(1&2), 376-379.
Carlson, E. B., & Putnam, F. W. (1993). An update on the Dissociative
Experiences Scale. Dissociation: Progress in the Dissociative
Disorders, 6(1), 16-27.
Chambers, W., Langone, M. D., Dole, A., & Grice, J. (1994). Group
Psychological Abuse Scale: A measure of cultic behavior. Cultic
Studies Journal, 11(1), 88-117.
Clark, D., Giambalvo, C., Giambalvo, N., Garvey, K., & Langone, M.
(1993). Exit counseling: A practical overview. In M. D. Langone (Ed.),
Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual
abuse. (pp.155-180). New York: Norton.
Clark, J. G. (1979). Cults. Journal of the American Medical
Association, 242, 1979-181.
Clark, J. G., Langone, M. D., Schecter, R. E., & Daly, R. C. (1981).
Destructive cult conversion: Theory, research, and treatment.
Weston, MA: American Family Foundation.
Condon, S. M. (1991) "A diary": Why I left the Boston Movement.
Conway, F., & Siegelman, J. H. (1982, January). Information disease:
Have cults created a new mental illness? Science Digest, 86, 88,
Conway, F., Siegelman, J. H., Carmichael, C.W., & Coggins, J. (1986).
Information disease: Effects of covert induction and deprogramming.
Update: A Journal of New Religious Movements, 10, 45-57.
CQ Researcher. (May 7, 1993). Cults in America: Is the alarm about new
religious movements justified? Washington, D.C.: Congressional
Crino, M. D., Svoboda, M., Rubenfield, S., & White, M. D. (1983). Data
on the Marlowe-Crowne and Edwards social desirability scales.
Psychological Reports, 53, 963-968.
Crowne, D. P., & Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability
independent of psychopathology. Journal of Consulting Psychology,
Derogatis, L. R. (1977). SCL-90-R Manual - I. Baltimore:
Leonard R. Derogatis.
Derogatis, L. R., Lipman, R. S., & Covi, L. (1973). The SCL-90: An
outpatient psychiatric rating scale -- Preliminary report.
Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 9, 13-27.
Dole, A., & Dubrow-Eichel, S. (1981). Moon over academe. Journal of
Religion and Health, 20, 35-40.
Draijer, N., & Boon, S. (1993). The validation of the Dissociative
Experiences Scale against the criterion of the SCID-D, using receiver
operating characteristics (ROC) analysis. Dissociation: Progress in
the Dissociative Disorders, 6(1), 28-37.
Dubrow-Eichel, S., & Dubrow-Eichel, L. (1988). Trouble in paradise:
Some observations on psychotherapy with new agers. Cultic Studies
Journal, 5(2), 177-192.
Finkelhor, D. (1979). Sexually victimized children. New York:
Galanter, M. (1983). Unification Church ("Moonie") dropouts:
Psychological readjustment after leaving a charismatic religious group.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 984-989.
Galanter, M., & Buckley, P. (1978). Evangelical religion and meditation:
Psychological effects. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,
Galanter, M., Rabkin, R., Rabkin, I., & Deutsch, A. (1979). The
"Moonies": A psychological study of conversion and membership in a
contemporary religious sect. American Journal of Psychiatry, 136,
Giambalvo, C., & Rosedale, H. (Eds.). (1996). The Boston Movement:
Critical perspectives on the International Churches of Christ. Bonita
Springs, FL: American Family Foundation.
Goldberg, L., & Goldberg, W. (1982). Group work with former cultists.
Social Work, 27, 165-170.
Greil, A. L., & Rudy, D. R. (1984). What have we learned from process
models of conversion? An examination of ten studies. Sociological
Focus, 17(4), 306-323.
Hill, C. B. (February 19, 1988). Boston Church of Christ grows amid
controversy. Christianity Today, 53, 55.
Horowitz, M. J., Wilner, N., & Alvarez, W. (1979). Impact of event
scale: A measure of subjective stress. Psychological Medicine,
Institute for Youth and Society. (1980). The various implications
arising from the practice of Transcendental Meditation. Bensheim,
Knight, K. (1986). Long-term effects of participation in a psychological
"cult" cutilizing directive therapy techniques. Master's Thesis, UCLA.
Kroner, D. G., & Reddon, J. R. (1992). The Anger Expression Scale and
State-Trait Anger Scale: Stability, reliability, and factor analysis in
an inmate sample. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 19, 397-408.
Langone, M. D. (1991). Assessment and treatment of cult victims and
their families. In P. A. Keller & S. R. Heyman (Eds.), Innovations in
clinical practice: A source book, Volume 10. Sarasota, FL:
Professional Resource Exchange, Inc.
Langone, M. D. (Ed.). (1993). Recovery from cults: Help for victims
of psychological and spiritual abuse. New York: Norton.
Langone, M. D., & Martin, P. R. (February, 1993). Deprogramming, exit
counseling, and ethics: Clarifying the confusion. Christian Research
Levine, S. T. (1984, August). Radical departures. Psychology Today,
Levine, S. F., & Salter, N. E. (1976). Youth and contemporary religious
movements: Psychosocial findings. Canadian Psychiatric Association
Journal, 21, 411-420.
Lottick, E. (February, 1993). Survey reveals physicians' experiences
with cults. Pennsylvania Medicine, 96, 26-28.
Marcus, C., & Grellong, B. (submitted for publication). Problems in
early adulthood: A clinic, ex-cult, and control-group comparison.
Cultic Studies Journal.
Maron, N. (1989). Family environment as a factor in vulnerability to
cult involvement. Cultic Studies Journal 5(1), 23-43.
Martin, P., Langone, M., Dole, A., & Wiltrout, J. (1992). Post-cult
symptoms as measured by the MCMI before and after residential treatment.
Cultic Studies Journal, 9(2), 219-250.
Maleson, F. (1981). Dilemmas in the evaluation and treatment of
religious cultists. American Journal of Psychiatry, 138(7),
Masters, B. A. (April 24, 1994). Small church causes a stir on
campuses: Boston group's tactics panned. Washington Post, B1, B4.
Moos, R. H., & Moos, B. S. (1981). Family Environment Scale: Manual.
Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
Otis, L. (1985). Adverse effects of Transcendental Meditation.
Update: A Quarterly Journal of New Religious Movements, 9, 37-50.
Ostling, R. N. (May 18, 1992). Keepers of the flock. TIME, 62.
Robbins, T. (1988). Cults, converts, and charisma. Newbury Park,
Sage.Ross, C. A., Joshi, S., & Currie, R. (1991). Dissociative
experiences in the general population: A factor analysis. Hospital &
Community Psychiatry, 42(3), 297-301.
Ross, C. A., Norton, G. R., & Anderson, G. (1988). The Dissociative
Experiences Scale. Dissociation, 1(1), 21-22.
Ross, M. (1983). Clinical profiles of Hare Krishna devotees.
American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 416-420.
Schwartz, L. L. (1985). Leaving the cults. Update: A Quarterly
Journal of New Religious Movements, 9(4), 3-12.
Singer, M. T. (1978). Therapy with ex-cult members. Journal of the
National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals, 9, 15-18.
Singer, M. T. (1979, January). Coming our of the cults. Psychology
Today, 12, 72-82.
Singer, M. T. (1986). Consultation with families of cultists. In L. I.
Wynne, S. H. McDavid, & T. T. Weber (Eds.), The family therapist as
systems consultant. New York: Guilford Press.
Singer, M. T. (1987). Group psychodynamics. In R. Berkow (Ed.), The
Merck manual of diagnosis and therapy (15th edition) (pp.1467-1471).
Rahway, NJ: Merck.
Singer, M. T., Temerlin, M., & Langone, M. D. (1990). Psychotherapy
cults. Cultic Studies Journal, 7(2), 101-125.
Sirkin, M., & Grellong, B. A. (1988). Cult vs. non-cult Jewish
families; Factors influencing conversion. Cultic Studies Journal,
Skonovd, N. (1983). Leaving the cultic religious milieu. In D.G.
Bromley & J. T. Richardson (Eds.), The brainwashing/deprogramming
controversy: Sociological, psychological, legal and historical
perspectives (pp.106-121). Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press.
Spero, M. H. (1982). Psychotherapeutic procedures with religious cult
devotees. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 170, 332-344.
Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Lushene, R. E. (1970).
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Manual. Pal Alto, CA: Consulting
Spielberger, C. D., Jacobs, G., Russel, S., and Crane, R. S. (1983).
Assessment of anger: The State-Trait Aner Scale. In J. N. Butcher and C.
D. Spielberger (eds.), Advances in personality assessment, Vol. 2
(pp.159-187). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Spitzer, R. L., Williams, J.B.W., Gibbon, M., & First, M.B. (1992). The
Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID), 1: History, rationale,
and description. Archives of General Psychiatry, 49, 624-629.
Steinberg, M. (1986). The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III R
Dissociative Disorders. New Haven, CT, Department of Psychiatry, Yale
University School of Medicine.
Steinberg, M., Rounsaville, B., & Cicchetti, D. (1991). Detection of
dissociative disorders in psychiatric patients by a screening instrument
and a structured diagnostic interview. American Journal of Psychiatry,
Thornburg, R. W. (1989). The Boston Church of Christ at Boston
University. Boston: Boston University, Marsh Chapel.
Ungerleider, T. J., & Wellisch, D. K. (1979). Coercive persuasion
(brainwashing), religious cults and deprogramming. American Journal of
Psychiatry, 136, 279-282.
West, L. J., & Martin, P. R. (1994). Pseudo-identity and the treatment
of personality change in victims of cults. In S. J. Lynn & J. Rhue
(Eds.), Dissociation: Clinical and theoretical perspectives. New
York: Guilford, pp.268-288.
Wright, S. A. (1987). Leaving cults: The dynamics of defection.
Washington, D.C.: Society for the Scientific Study of Religion Monograph
Series, Number 7.
Yeakley, F. (Ed.). (1988). The Disciplining Dilemma.
Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company.
Zilberg, N. J., Weiss, D. S., & Horowitz, M. J. (1982). Impact of event
scale: A cross-validation study and some empirical evidence supporting a
conceptual model of stress response syndromes. Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology, 50, 407-414.
Zimbardo, P. G., & Hartley, C. F. (1985). Cults go to high school: A
theoretical and empirical analysis of the initial stage in the recruitment
process. Cultic Studies Journal, 2, 91-148.