The present talk reflects on my experience of 30 year being a follower of former Roman Catholic priest Fernando Karadima.
This talk is an opening, a crack to let light into considerations of racialized survivor experience with hopes to expand this conversation, and invitations to research the lives, challenges, healing journeys, and to visibilize the living bodies of cult survivors of color.
How do people get trapped in cults? One tool cults use is emotional and mental coercion to exercise undue influence keeping people stuck in the group.
Gaslighting refers to attempts by cult leaders to manipulate their followers by creating an environment in which the cult members doubt their own thoughts, observations, interpretations, and memories.
The sense that a sibling has rejected the family’s core beliefs may spark estrangement. Those who challenge the family’s values through sexual orientation, interracial marriage, religious conversion, political philosophies, unconventional career or lifestyle choices may find themselves cast out.
Individuals who leave cults frequently exhibit symptoms of mental illness, in particular: depression, anxiety and schizotypal disorders. While these symptoms can affect all former cult members, they are particularly problematic among young people who have left cults, and especially those born into one. Although there are a number of interventions that can help these people live full, productive lives with robust mental health, many do not take advantage of them for a variety of reasons, largely related to their cult indoctrination. Often cults stigmatize counseling and psychotherapy, causing many former cult members to fear seeking professional mental health treatment. For those that do seek help, it can be difficult to find appropriate counseling because not all therapists understand the significance of the cult experience. To address these problems, an extensive survey was conducted of the relevant, current research available on the subject. Although there is a vast amount of research available concerning mental illness and mental health, there is a relatively scant amount addressing the unique needs of former cult members. Nevertheless, what is available is quite encouraging in regard to positive outcomes for emotional and psychological healing. A key point among the findings is the recognition that “core dysfunctional beliefs and consequent negative thoughts” are central in the development of mental illness (Kinderman, 2005). When false and damaging beliefs are replaced with accurate, healthy beliefs and coping strategies, individuals begin to recover and thrive. Psycho-education, particularly in connection with traditional treatments for mental illness, can help empower individuals suffering with mental health issues by providing them with tools for coping and alleviating those symptoms. Significant challenges remain and need to be addressed in order to make this information more widely disseminated and available to those that need it most: former group members, their families, helping professionals, and researchers.
Phases of Recovery and Growth when working with former cult members. She will explore how a psychoeducational approach can assist the individual to unlayer and dismantle their cult pseudo-identity.
Coercive control can be looked at from the perspective of the manipulator using drugs as a tool to control the victim. There are two spheres where the use of drugs have been used to establish coercion.
A few NRMs do commit horrific acts of violence – as have representatives of almost all the older, traditional religions. Many NRMs express a yearning for peace and have tried, in a wide variety of ways, to achieve it. Few, however, have shown signs of being successful at achieving peace for society, though some could be as successful (as are some of the older, traditional religions) in offering their members an inner peace.
The article then illustrates these issues with an analysis of two key periods from Scientology’s history: its ultimately successful fight to gain tax-exempt status in the United States in the 1980s, and its response to modern-day challenges to this status.