Please see our new site, www.icsahome.com which has new material and a more helpful structure.

 

NEW! International Cultic Studies Association site has moved - click here

  Conferences | Donate  

 >  
ICSA resources about psychological manipulation, cultic groups, sects, and new religious movements.

 

 
 
 

Article

Our E-Library contains full text articles and other resources related to the information below.  Click here.

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors

Cultic Studies 

Study Indicates Rehab�s Benefits
Paul Martin, Ph.D.

Because cults can be oppressive environments, and because people who leave cults are frequently disillusioned and overwhelmed by the challenge of adjusting to mainstream society, former cult members experience a high level of distress. Research studies suggest that more than one-third and possibly more than one-half of those who have left cultic groups have been detrimentally affected by their cultic experience. One researcher has written: �Members may be harmed in that they lose their psychological autonomy and, frequently, their financial assets. Furthermore, the group�s partial-to-total disconnection from mainline society deprives members of the opportunity to learn from the varied experiences that a normal life provides. Members may lose irretrievable years in a state of �maturational arrest.� In some cases they undergo psychiatric breakdowns and/or suffer from physical disease and injury.�   A survey of 350 ex-cultists from 48 different groups found that former members suffered from residual effects of their cult experience lasting from 43.8 months to 139 months, with an average duration of 81.5 months. These effects included such things as depression, loneliness, guilt, anger, fear, humiliation, disorientation, �floating� in and out of altered states, nightmares, and an inability to break mental rhythms of chanting, meditation, or speaking in tongues. Deprogrammed subjects appeared to recover more quickly. Clinicians who have worked extensively with former cultists say that most require six months to two years to adjust adequately. Some require much more time.

Ex-cultists often need so much time to readjust because so many areas of their lives are adversely affected simultaneously. Most cultists are implicitly, if not explicitly, encouraged to burn all interpersonal bridges to the mainstream world. When they leave the cult, they are usually shunned by their cult �friends� and met with puzzlement, hurt, and anger by the old friends and relatives they had ignored for so long. Because of their devotion to the cult�s �cause,� many cultists abandon school, career plans, and even functioning careers in order to serve the group. Leaving a group that appeared to provide spiritual meaning will often leave ex-cultists feeling spiritually empty or spiritually raped. And, in part because they had been indoctrinated in the cult to believe that the group was always right, many former cultists consider themselves to be failures or seriously inadequate. Thus, former cultists often have interpersonal, vocational, spiritual, and intrapersonal conflicts and deficiencies.

Although it can certainly be helpful, weekly psychotherapy may be insufficient for many former cultists. That is why many have attended special residential treatment programs. The Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, for example, offers a comprehensive program of in‑depth psychological assessment and treatment usually lasting two weeks.  Clients receive a full psychological test battery and assessment interview.  They participate in workshops that address common postcult problems, e.g., depression, grieving and loss, establishing career goals, spiritual issues.  All clients receive extensive one-on-one therapy. And all clients receive an intensive education on psychological manipulation, thought reform programs, and the cult conversion process.

The term �rehabilitation� has been applied to this process because, like persons recovering from physical injuries, ex-cultists require an intensive program in order to bring them back at least to the level at which they once functioned.  Also, as with the physically injured, most ex-cultists were relatively normal before they were seduced into a destructive group.

Wellspring has conducted the only formal outcome evaluation study with the ex-cult rehabilitation population. The results are encouraging. Wellspring clients are routinely administered the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) at intake and, in most cases, at a six-month follow-up. The improvement in all clinical sub-scales, including dysthymia and anxiety, was dramatic, with the exception of the psychotic delusion scale, which was normal at the time of admission. Treatment effectiveness was not enhanced, on the Millon inventory, if clients sought further psychiatric care once they left Wellspring. Wellspring research indicates, then, that additional psychotherapy following post�cult rehabilitation does not appreciably reduce the ex-members� symptomatology. The study, however, did not include consideration of psychotherapy gains through work with mental health professionals trained to recognize and deal with cult-related symptoms and dynamics. Such work may greatly aid the recovery process.

To conclude, an intensive postcult rehabilitation program may be a cost-effective treatment for former cult members. By clarifying the cult-related issues troubling the client, it can lay the groundwork for a more productive psychotherapeutic relationship.

Langone, M.D., Destructive Cultism: Questions and Answers. Bonita Springs, FL:  American Family Foundation, 1982, 7.

Conway, F. et al. Information Disease: Effects of Covert lnduction and Deprogramming. Update 10  (3) 1986, 63-65 and Update, 10 (3). 45-57

 

_

 

Resources

 

 

 

________________________________________________________ ^ 

 
 
  

Indexes

NEW! Conferences and Workshops - Click Here

_dwt_header_related_links_line03

! Announcements
* Index Main
? Help
Articles
Articles on Cultic Studies Review
ICSA E-Newsletter index
Products
Ξ Book Reviews
� Academic Disputes and Dialogue
� children
� clergy
� conversion
� cults101
� Custody/Forensic
� dissociation
� educators
� false memory
� family
� former member
� free info
� intervention
� large group awareness trainings
� legal
� mental health
� press
� pseudoscience
� research
� students
� thought reform
� Topics
� understanding groups
Ω Events
∆ News
√ Products - periodical archives index
≈ Links
● Press

____________________________________________________ ^

 

Help

Our E-Library contains full text articles and other resources related to the information below.  Click here.

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection
 

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

Help index

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

ICSA/AFF - about

ICSA - contact

announcement

 article
 article abstract

Ξ book/video review

links
events

groups

? help

* index
news
products

   press

> profiles

resource org

study resources

topic ●▫∞▪Θ

_________________________________________________________ ^

 
About ICSA | Contact US  | Profiles | links

   | webmaster | search

Copyright �1997-2008 ICSA, Inc.