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Picking Up the Pieces

Written by: Branch, Craig    Posted on: 05/02/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

Picking Up the Pieces - by Craig Branch

It is always exciting to either hear about or be a part of someone coming out of a cult and coming to Christ.  But occasionally there are those who leave a cult but are not interested in Christianity, or drift away into the gray world of non-commitment, or surprisingly, enter another cult.  This happens too often because the church and individual Christians do not understand the dynamics of psycho/spiritual abuse that effects a cult member.  Some groups employ more coercive mind control techniques than others.

The extent of re-entry problems depends on the degree of controlling techniques in place in the group, how long the person has been in the group, and the emotional maturity of the person.  For instance, a church like the Mormon Church is not as intense as the control of the Jehovah's Witness organization.  Even though this is true, to leave the Mormon Church is like leaving another culture.

A person is often faced with the dilemma or problem of having to leave their family, network of friends, memories, theological orientation, and even understanding of Biblical words.  This can be traumatic and requires understanding, sensitivity, patience and much support from the Christian community.

People who have been exposed to the more intense controlling cults present an additional set of problems.  These problems come from two directions.  One is their own psychological/spiritual scars and trauma from associations with the cult, and the other is an unprepared Christian community.

Dr. Paul Martin, a Christian psychotherapist, operates one of the only rehabilitation retreat centers in the country.  In an article in the 1989 winter/spring issue of the Christian Research Journal, he gives some helpful instruction in "Dispelling of Myths: the Psychological Consequences of Cultic Involvement." He identifies the myths that Christians hold toward people coming out of cults. They are:

1. Ex-cult members do not have psychological problems.   Their problems are wholly spiritual;

2. Ex-cult members do have psychological disorders, but   these people come from clearly non-Christian cults;

3. Both Christian and non-Christian groups can produce   problems, but all of the people involved in the groups   must have had prior psychological hang-ups that would   have surfaced regardless of what group they joined;

4. While normal unbelievers may get involved with cults,   born- again believers will not.  And even if they did,   their involvement would not affect them so negatively;

5. Christians can and do get involved in these   aberrational groups and they can get hurt emotionally,   but all they really need is some good Bible teaching   and a warm, caring Christian fellowship and they will   be fine;

6. Perhaps the best way for these ex-members to receive   help is to see a professional psychologist,   psychiatrist, or mental health counsellor.

The trouble with dispelling these myths is that there is some truth in them, but a half-truth is usually only half helpful and can be very harmful.

The fact is that Christians as well as non-Christians get involved in cults and many do need a combination of a knowledgeable Christian community and rehabilitation counselling to put the pieces back together again.

After evaluation of thousands of ex-cult members, experts like Dr. Margaret Singer, Dr. Michael Langone, Dr. Paul Martin and others, agree on the common problems associated with re-entry after cult involvement.

These problems include confusion, depression, indecisiveness, loneliness, anger, guilt, fear, disillusionment, and shame. Many have been so indoctrinated that they think with the cult mind, one that has been manipulated and controlled. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Copied with permission from the Watchman Expositor.  For a free subscription to this monthly newspaper write the Watchman Fellowship office nearest you:

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