Psychological Recovery From Mental Abuse
by Ruth Gordon
Psychological and social techniques are used to induce people to
join groups, change their behavior and maintain them as prisoners
(this occurs mostly in intense, closed and totalistic groups).
This is the case regarding not only cults, but also large group
awareness training programs, thought reform programs and social
influence programs, which are infiltrating training programs for
business and industry.
There are certain issues of recovery for people coming out of the
types of groups where there has been a high level of control.
They come out and have three distinctly different belief systems
that have to be integrated and reconciled: the value system that
they took with them in the group, what they were taught while in
the group, and those two systems must be reconciled with a third
one, namely the current situation. These often are three very
different sets of values.
The consequence of having been in these groups causes what is
termed cognitive inefficiencies. Regardless of how smart or
educated individuals might have been upon entering the cult,
because of things that happened while they were in, results in
them having tremendous trouble studying or concentrating.
It is hard for them to maintain reflective thought and sequential
reasoning, to get a sense of planning ahead, to be motivated, or
have a sense of self-agency.
Most people don’t need psychotherapy, they need education and
information. They need someone to help them learn what it was
that happened to them that changed the way their mind and
thinking works, and what it is that is causing these floods of
emotion, for no good reason, to just come pouring out of their
Those people coming out have a heightened fear of getting
involved with any other group that might control them. There is
also a battle with guilt and feelings of defectiveness. Cults
harp on perfection. You can’t be in a cult and not continually
Blaming themselves is a second set of berating, first from the
leader of the group, and second from exiting and thinking there’s
a defect within them.
Former cultists are under-experienced in dealing with conflict.
While in the group they were not allowed to disagree with
leadership. When they exit, even minor arguments are exaggerated
and differences of opinion are viewed as a major conflict.
Children and teenagers that come out of cults need to understand
that they were taught to dislike non-members of their group, as
well as relatives. They need help reconnecting with grandparents,
aunts and uncles.
Teenagers have difficulty coming under the authority of their
parents because they were raised under the leader’s
authoritarian, dogmatic ways, and they saw their parents being
put down. Parents must reestablish their role as parental
authority. Parents also need to deal with their guilt elsewhere
and not through their parenting.
Teens also are behind in learning how to compromise, mediate
differences and conflict resolving they never saw their parents
exercising conflict resolution.
People can be exit-counseled even ten years after they’ve come
out. An exit-counselor is usually a former cult member who has
gone through some apprenticeship training, understands thought
reform programs, and has tremendous knowledge about all the
different kinds of cults.
The recovery from floods, fire, and divorce often takes about two
years. For many former cultists it takes about two years before
you can even begin to work on some of the above areas. In the
meantime, work on your inner spirit (The above is a summary of
the video: Recovery From Mind Control video summary, Dr. Margaret
Singer, Cult Awareness Network Annual Conference, 1991, Oklahoma
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