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Cultic Studies Journal

Video Review Index


Psychological Manipulation and Society

Cultic Studies Journal
Psychological Manipulation and Society
Vol. 11, No. 2, 1994

What Is a Cult? And How Does It Work?
Margaret Singer. 1994, 58 minutes;
After the Cult: Recovering Together
AFF Project Recovery & the International Cult Education Project.
1994, 25 minutes.

Reviewer: Janja Lalich


After the Cult: Recovering Together

Order: Video - After The Cult: Recovering Together

The second video, After the Cult: Recovering TogetherAfter the Cult: Recovering Together, focuses on recovering from the impact of a cult experience. It is produced by AFF, a nonprofit research and educational organization, and narrated by William Goldberg, a New Jersey therapist who has worked with former cult members for more than 18 years.

The value of this video is its personal tone, sensitivity, and positive approach to the issue. Two typical responses to coming out of a cult are shame and not wanting to tell others that you were in a cult, and fear and confusion about starting over. Often you feel as though you’re going crazy, at times overwhelmed by the rush of thoughts and emotions and decisions that need to be made. Most helpful in facing the challenge of getting on with life is knowing that you are not alone. A video like this can go a long way toward bringing a sense of comfort and security to former members across the country who can see and hear others who’ve been through a similar experience and have faced some of the same dilemmas. "You’re not alone" and "it’s not your fault" are probably the most important messages of cult recovery and this new video.

In a casual setting, 10 former members from different types of cults talk candidly about their experiences, how they got recruited, and how they were affected. A couple who had been in a cult for 35 years talk about the sexual abuse that went on, including being told by their leader that he was "marrying" their 14-year-old daughter. We listen to a man who grew up in a cult explain how he’s just beginning to grapple with who he is and what he likes, in contrast to who he had been for 20 years and what he’d been forced to like. Other women and men of varying ages and backgrounds tell us what their cult experiences meant to them and how they’re coping with life now.

Because of the range of issues covered in the video, former members will be able to learn a great deal about their own recovery process. By hearing others, they can make their own connections and relate it to their own experiences. For example, identifying factors that caused you to be vulnerable to cult recruitment; recognizing reactions to "triggers" and how to control the impact of those cult reminders on your life today; confronting problems such as difficulty reading or concentrating, having fear or panic attacks, feeling uncomfortable in social situations or making friends, and dealing with unresolved spiritual or belief issues all those challenges become more manageable as you hear how others handled them and you begin to participate fully in life once again.

Also coming to understand that "there is no magic formula to recovery," as Bill Goldberg says in the opening of the video, is an important part of the process. The differences and variety in people and their experiences are what shapes the individualized responses to the consequences and aftereffects of a cult involvement. Reclaiming and rebuilding your life after leaving a cult is an extremely personal journey. Each person must go at his or her own pace. What’s needed are determination and patience. And certainly what helps are thoughtful and caring aids such as this video.

After the Cult: Recovering Together comes with a handy resource guide that lists related publications, information packets, and both national and international cult-awareness organizations. This video will also be beneficial to families, friends, clergy, and health and mental health professionals who are interested in learning more about cult-recovery issues.   

 Order: Video - After The Cult: Recovering Together

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