A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

A few common issues when recovering from involvement with Cults

Most people recovering from involvement with cults (as ex-cult members) usually go through a period when they need the prayers, support and sound counsel of a good friend. Here are a few issues one should be aware of:

  • Sense of purposelessness, of being disconnected. They left a group that had a powerful purpose and intense drive; they miss the peak experiences produced from the intensity and the group dynamics.
  • Depression.
  • Grieving for other group members, for a sense of loss in their life.
  • Guilt. Former members will feel guilt for having gotten involved in the first place, for the people they recruited into the group, and for the things they did while in the group.
  • Anger. This will be felt toward the group and/or the leaders. At times this anger is misdirected toward themselves.
  • Alienation. They will feel alienation from the group, often from old friends (that is, those who were friends prior to their cult involvement), and sometimes from family.
  • Isolation. To ex-cult members, no one “out there” seems to understand what they’re going through, especially their families.
  • Distrust. This extends to group situations, and often to organized religion (if they were in a religious cult) or organizations in general (depending on the type of cult they were in). There is also a general distrust of their own ability to discern when or if they are being manipulated again. This dissipates after they learn more about mind control and begin to listen to their own inner voice again.
  • Fear that what the cult said would happen to them if they left actually might happen.
  • Spiritualizing everything. This residual sometimes lasts for quite a while. Former members need to be encouraged to look for logical reasons why things happen and to deal with reality, to let go of their magical thinking.
  • Inability to make decisions. This characteristic reflects the dependency that was fostered by the cult.
  • Low self-esteem. This generally comes from those experiences common to most cults, where time and again members are told that they are worthless.
  • Embarrassment. This is an expression of the inability to talk about their experience, to explain how or why they got involved or what they had done during that time. It is often manifested by an intense feeling of being ill-at-ease in both social and work situations. Also, often there is a feeling of being out of synch with everyone else, of going through culture shock, from having lived in a closed environment and having been deprived of participating in everyday culture.
  • Employment and/or career problems. Former members face the dilemma of what to put on a resume to cover the blank years of cult membership.

Excerpt from Common Issues in Post-Cult Recovery  via The Gospel Masquerade.

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