Cults, pt 1

You may have seen that I have some expertise in cults — I also have some personal experience. In the past several months, it has become clear that a lot of folks are currently experiencing the negative impact cults and fundamentalist groups can have, so I have decided to publish a document that I hope is useful and helpful both to ex cult members and to the counselors working to support them.


Here’s what we’re going to cover over the next few weeks:




Who Gets Involved in Cults and Why?

Understanding Recruitment

Being in a Cult

Personal History

Cult Indoctrination

Singer’s 6 Conditions

Lifton’s 8 Themes

Milieu Control

Mystical Manipulation

Demand for Purity


Sacred Science

Loading the Language

Doctrine Over Person

Dispensing of Existence

Leaving the Cult

Post-Cult Recovery

Personal History

How People Leave

Medical and Health Care Concerns


Difficulties Seeking Help

Undoing Thought and Emotion Control

Undoing Behavior and Information Control


Floating and Dissociation

Grief, Feelings of Loss and Betrayal

Sexual Issues

Self-Esteem and Defining One’s Own Beliefs

Practical Difficulties Re-Entering Society

Special Considerations for Children of Cults

Groups for Recovering Ex-Cultists


References (Bibliography)

I will define and describe cults of various types – philosophical, psychological/therapy, spiritual, political, abusive one-on-one relationships, and more. Then we’ll explore issues of cult recruitment and particularly vulnerable populations, as well as look at examples of what life inside cults might be like and how cult members might leave the cult. I’ll use Robert Jay Lifton’s eight themes to discuss the mind control and thought reform techniques cults employ. I’ll describe the resulting issues for ex-cultists and offer suggestions of therapeutic approaches for psychotherapists working with ex-cult members, including: issues of sexual abuse and sexual development; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); grief; medical and healthcare concerns; and self-esteem.

Schedule appointment

Sara Crain

Find Deeper Meaning

Resolve and come to understand issues from your past that have haunted your present.

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