News on the cult-related activities of ICSA members (in no particular order). Send us news (past 3 to 6 months or future events) you would like to share with the ICSA community. Tell us who, what, where, when. Biographical sketches of many ICSA members: icsahome.com/elibrary/peopleprofiles. Please contact ICSA at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to reproduce any of this information. We will include some photos with each issue. Send us a jpg if you think we might not have a photo of you.
“In 2006 Diana Pletts conceived and organized ICSA’s first exhibit of artistic works by former cultic group members. She called the exhibit The Phoenix Project because the artwork reflected the struggles of former members trying to recover from sometimes-horrible experiences—such as the mythological Phoenix bird that was reborn from ashes. The exhibit of paintings, poetry, and fiction at our annual conference in Denver struck a chord with conference attendees, and Diana continued to organize exhibits (sometimes also including original musical compositions) at subsequent conferences….
“By providing former cultic group members an opportunity to share their artistic creations, Diana has advanced understanding of coercive persuasion, undue influence, and psychological manipulation in a unique and singularly powerful way. For this reason, we are proud to present her with the 2015 Margaret T. Singer Award.”
Salvation Road, D.W. Gregory’s comic drama about the cult experience, had five performances in the 10th Capital Fringe Festival
in Washington, DC. DC Metro Theater Arts calls Salvation Road a “powerful little play about the opaque nature of understanding a belief” and gives it five stars! Read the review. Mary Moore, who coordinates a support group for former members in DC, led a postshow lunch/discussion after the July 11th performance of Salvation Road.
Adrian Oertli, Psychotherapist in Landquart, Switzerland, published an article in Psychoscope (March 2015), the journal of a major professional association of psychologists, about possible mistakes in the treatment of high-demand-group (HDG) members. He also led a workshop about treatment of HDG members on April 7, 2015, at Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Service of Graubünden, Switzerland.
On March 8th, 2015, in Sweden, Aftonbladet published an interview with Camilla Hanke.
Heidi and Patrick Knapp cofacilitated another support/recovery group with eight ex-members of people from various Totalistic Aberrational Christian Organizations (TACOs) and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). This 8-week group finished at the end of May.
At the monthly ICSA New York meeting of June 26th, cofacilitator Chris Carlson, LCSW, spoke on The Impact of Cult Involvement on Members. General discussion followed his brief presentation. Shortly after graduating from college, Chris was recruited into the Unification Church and later decided he would work to help people impacted by such experiences. He has lectured extensively on this topic and contributed to the creation of the docudrama, Moonchild, shown on PBS, HBO, and around the country. He is a direct-care provider and student supervisor at New York Hospital. This presentation was the fifth in a series at ICSA’s New York monthly meetings, which includes subjects such as “Characteristics of Cults and Cultic Groups,” “Why No One Joins a Cult,” and “Children Born or Raised in Cultic Groups.” These presentations have been developed by ICSA’s New York Education Outreach Committee, whose members combine personal and professional experience, and which is developing a model presentation to be offered to community educational, civic, and religious organizations. ICSA’s monthly meeting in New York is for families, former members, and others needing support; and for people who want to work with others to help victims or educate the public about cult issues. When: Last Friday of the month, except when noted otherwise, 7 pm—9 pm. If you are attending for the first time, email ICSA (email@example.com) to confirm the date of the next meeting. Where: Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (United Methodist), 263 W. 86th St., New York City (Subway stop: #1 train at 86th St. and Broadway, walk one block west).
Doug Duncan was interviewed by the Telemundo affiliate in Dallas (Telemundo is a Spanish-language network owned by NBC) about a series of events that led to the death of a child at the hands of a cult in a suburb of Dallas.
and Tory Christman, appeared LIVE on CNN’s Tonight Show with Don Lemon to discuss the Going Clear documentary and Scientology. Steve conducted the Ending the Game training in Merced County, California, which empowered survivors of commercial sexual exploitation with strategies designed to overcome harmful coercion. Steve was a featured speaker at the Human Rights Commission for the City of Newton, Massachusetts. Steve spoke at Rebecca Lemov’s History of Science course on the history of brainwashing at Harvard University on March 26, 2015. Steve was interviewed by CBC News on March 23, 2015, in regard to his expert opinion on the Twelve Tribes cult. Yahoo Health News presented an article, “ISIS, Cults, and Religious Extremists: How Mind Control Really Works,” in which Steve was featured.
Kendal Washington-White, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Dean of Students, at the University of Arizona contacted Doni Whitsett about a religious cult (Faith Christian Church) that had been operating on their campus. Several students had become members, had given up their academic goals, and had cut off contact with their families. Parents brought this to the attention of the administration. In May, Doni provided training for several audiences, including student government staff, the Dean of Students Office, Residence Life staff, and student leaders. She gave three talks with the following titles: Contemporary View of Cult Dynamics, Identifying Concerning Behaviors, and It Takes a Village—The Role of Student Leaders. She also met over lunch with the Religious Council, which comprises several faith-based organizations in the community. There were two articles in the school paper, one to announce the upcoming trainings and then an article after the fact.
INFORM’s Autumn Seminar, Children, Minority Religions, and the Law, will take place on Saturday, October 17, 2015, 9:30 am–4.30 pm, at Clement House, London School of Economics. For more information, go to inform.ac/. Speakers include Eileen Barker, Amanda van Eck, and Lorraine Derocher, among others. Among the questions to be explored are “What is in the best interests of a child?” All States that are members of the UN (except the United States) have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which requires the State to act in the best interest of the child. Since ratification, there have been several occasions when States have intervened in what was perceived as infringement of the well-being and/or rights of children living in religious communities. But have these States (or their local authorities) acted in the best interest of the child? While there are documented cases where children have been neglected and/or harmed when raised within religious communities (both new and old), some minority religions argue that what society proposes (in its culture, education, medical provisions) is not at all in the best interest of the child, and they aim to protect their children from such negative influences. Who should decide what is in a child’s best interest? In this seminar, we will concentrate, from a variety of perspectives, on legal issues surrounding children in minority religious communities.
Doug Agustin shares news of the passing of “Barty” Marion Amundson. She and husband Glen were part of the founders of Free Minds of Minnesota in 1974, making it one of the earliest cult-information and -support groups in the country. Their daughter was a member of the Unification church for 10 years and then returned home. Doug continues his work regarding the Free Domain Radio Internet group, which continues to cause many a family heartache and disruption.
Vega Gonzalez contributed a poster, Comparative Psychopathological Profiles of Affective Dependence Disorder Patients With or Without Comorbid Substance Abuse, at the IV Congreso Internacional de Patologia Dual: Conductas Adictivas y Otros Trastornos Mentales, April 17–20, 2015.
Patti Millar supported the playwright DW Gregory in her production of Salvation Road by telling Patti’s story and answering questions from the cast at the first reading of the play on April 26, 2015.
On May 13, 2015,Lorraine Derocher, postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Research on Children and Families, gave a research seminar, Youth Protection in Insular Religious Communities: A Study on 5 Groups in Quebec, at the University of Montreal. “This presentation summarizes doctoral research on the challenges faced during youth-protection interventions in closed sectarian environments. One of the objectives of this research was to identify both the obstacles and the factors contributing to the success of interventions within five groups in Quebec (Canada). This field research was primarily based on interviews with judges, lawyers, social workers, and health professionals who directly intervened in one of the five cases studied. We also met with children (now adults), leaders, and parents who were present at the time of the interventions. Our analysis shows that the degree of social isolation in which the children were kept had a direct impact on the ability to intervene, and increased the risks of maltreatment. It also demonstrates that there is a need for a better understanding of the group leaders. The research concludes with the proposal of a model for a more efficient way to intervene in cultic environments where children are in need of state protection.”
which will be held in Indianapolis, September 14–16, 2015.
Ron Burks started a monthly support group for former members of high-demand groups/relationships at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare’s Behavioral Health Center. The group meets once a month on a Thursday at 5:30 PM. Cost is $50 for three monthly meetings (email Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org). Ron also gave the afternoon keynote lecture at the fourth annual Instilling Hope: A Conference on Trauma-Informed Treatment, held in Tallahassee on March 13, 2015. His talk was titled Domestic Violence: Why They Stay, an update of his presentation on Lifton.
Rick Ross launched a new website dedicated to his book, Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out. The Chinese version of his book was translated into complex Chinese and released throughout China by a Hong Kong publisher. Rick completed an extended book tour during June across China giving student lectures, meeting with academics, and attending book-signing events. Rick gave student lectures at Shandong University in Jinan City, which is the capital of Shandong Province; Heilongjiang University in Harbin, which is the capital of Heilongjiang Province; Wuhan University in Wuhan, which is the capital city of Hubei Province; and GuangXi International University in Nanning, which is the capital city of GuangXi Province. Rick also met at both Shandong University and Wuhan University to discuss his book with panels composed of 20 academics each. These panels were composed of professors from a broad range of fields including law, sociology, philosophy, psychology, and communications. He also did a broadcast interview with the popular Phoenix Satellite Television based in Hong Kong, and two press interviews with the Hong Kong newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po Daily News. There was also prominent mention of his book in a recent edition of the magazine China Today.
In July Rick also attended an annual book fair in Hong Kong to promote the recently published Chinese version of his book. This book fair is a huge annual event held in one of the largest venues in Hong Kong and is attended by hundreds of thousands of Chinese. Many publishers display and promote their latest books, and people attending can actually buy books and meet authors. Rick did book signings and gave a lecture on the book. During his stay in Hong Kong, he also did several media interviews, discussing the book specifically, cults generally, and his intervention approach to help cult victims.
Also in July, Rick was interviewed for an article run in the Palm Beach Sun Sentinel about Paulette Cooper and Tony Ortega’s new book, The Unbreakable Ms. Lovely: How the Church of Scientology Tried to Destroy Paulette Cooper. Two press reports were published about the Science of Identity group in New Zealand. One report mentions the Cult Education Institute. The other specifically quotes Rick about the group. Rick also did a Podcast interview (April 30, 2015) about cults and his new book titled Lions of Liberty. The Canadian documentary Deprogrammed, a film by Mia Donovan and produced by EyeSteelFilm of Canada, premiered in April in Toronto at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival in Toronto. Rick was interviewed in the documentary.
Rita Swan and Paul Offit, a University of Kentucky bioethics professor, were on the public radio program Eastern Standard on Thursday morning, May 7, 2015. You can listen at weku.fm or download it as a podcast or streaming audio
On April 15th, Mike Kropveld was one of the speakers at the Spiritualités et sectes contemporaines conference at l’Université Laval, Québec.
Masoud Banisadr gave a talk, Destructive and Terrorist Cults: A New Kind of Slavery, for the Buxton Festival in the UK. About 200
people listened to the speech. Masoud was introduced by Rod and Linda Dubrow-Marshall, and Linda managed questions and answers after the talk. The speech was 45 minutes, and then the Q/A was 15 minutes, followed by the book signing. Masoud, along with Steve Hassan and Alexandra Stein, also contributed to a May 22nd conference in London titled Cults, Racism, Doublespeak, and the Search for Justice, hosted by the Justice for Jeremiah Duncan Campaign.
Bob and Judy Pardon report on an interesting development in their work: “Perhaps one of the more unique and enduring works has been with Jacques Robidoux, leader of the very destructive group called The Body. This is the group that starved a baby to death over 51 days due to a “revelation” from God. I was the Guardian ad Litem for the group back in 2000 and was responsible for Jacques’ parental rights being permanently severed, as well as testifying against him in court. Needless to say he was not pleased with us. Through some “miraculous” circumstances we started meeting with him a number of years back. He is in prison for the rest of his life, but has amazingly worked through some very severe trauma and thought-reform issues. He now wants to work with us from prison. He is an excellent writer and wants us to come into the prison and film him. This was something we never would have expected.”
Helena Lofgren published an article, “Rationella argument hjälper inte mot IS” (“Rational Arguments Insufficient Against ISIS”—English translation) in Aftonbladet 2015-06-04. Aftonbladet is the largest media outlet in Sweden, with about 2 million visitors per day in a country with only 10 million people.
The Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery (JSCPR), to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Aum Shinrikyo’s nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system that left 13 people dead and thousands sickened, released a DVD titled Cult: Sugu Soba ni Aru Kiki (Cult: Crisis Just Beside You). Psychology professor Kimiaki Nishida is among those interviewed in the DVD.
Researchers in the United Kingdom (British Cultic Studies Research Group) have been disseminating their research in the field of
cultic studies at major national professional conferences. In May 2015, Linda Dubrow-Marshall chaired a symposium at the Annual Research Conference of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Nottingham titled The Role of Research in Guiding Professional Practice in Helping Survivors of Abusive and Cultic Relationships. The papers presented were
- Rod Dubrow-MarshallLinda Dubrow-Marshall: An Overview of Research on Mental-Health Issues in Cultic Relationships.
- Jill Mytton Rod Dubrow-Marshall: The Mental Health of Second-Generation Adult (SGA) Survivors of High-Demand Groups: A Quantitative Study.
- Lois Kendall: Does Counselling Affect the Relationship Between Time Elapsed Since Leaving a Sect and Psychological Distress in First- and Second-Generation Former Sect Members?
- Gillie Jenkinson: What Helps Former Cult Members Recover From an Abusive Cult Experience?
- Rod Dubrow-MarshallLinda Dubrow-Marshall: An Overview of Research on Mental Health Issues in Cultic Relationships.
- Jill Mytton: Leaving the Exclusive Brethren: An Exploration of the Experiences of Transitioning From a Cultic Group to the Outside.
- Lois Kendall: Does Counselling Impact Correlations Between Time Elapsed Since Leaving a Sect and Psychological Distress in First- and Second-Generation Former Sect Members?
- Sean Bianco: Therapeutic Experiences of Former Cult Members: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.
In November 2014, Sherri A Schettler published, through Lifelong Habits LLC, her memoir, Spiritual Blackmail: My Journey Through A Catholic Cult. The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.com Sherri had book readings and signing events on June 15, 2015, at the Greenbriar Inn in Coeur d’Alene, ID (a former girls’ boarding home where Sherri lived while in the cult), and on June 19, 2015, at the University of Washington bookstore. On July 18, 2015, she attended the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference in Seattle, Washington, where she was selected as a finalist in the Nancy Pearl Book Award Contest. Future scheduled book signings will occur at the Hastings Store in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on August 28 and the Hastings Store in Spokane, Washington on August 29.
José Miguel Cuevas Barranquero has participated in a number of media events during the past few months. February 6, 2015: Diario “Sur” Spain, “Expertos estiman que más de la mitad de las sectas vivas en España operan en la Costa del Sol” (“Experts estimate that more than half living in Spain cults are operating in the Costa del Sol”); February 6, 2015: Agencia “EFE,” “En España hay más de 150 sectas , la mitad en la Costa del Sol, según expert” (“In Spain there are more than 150 cults, half of them in the Costa del Sol , says expert”); March 6, 2015: RTV Marbella, TV interview, Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (Practical workshop on presentation, psychological, and criminological aspects of destructive cults); March 6, 2015: Onda Cero Marbella, radio interview, Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (Practical workshop on presentation, psychological, and criminological aspects of destructive cults); March 6, 2015: Excmo, Ayuntamiento de Marbellla (Marbella’s Town Hall), press conference, Presentación del Taller práctico sobre sectas: aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas (Practical workshop on presentation, psychological, and criminological aspects of destructive cults), with different media; June 6, 2015: Os informamos de la próxima realización de taller psicológico y criminológico sobre sectarismo en la localidad de Marbella: Aspectos psicológicos y criminológicos de las sectas destructivas. Taller práctico. Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones Adolfo Suárez, en Marbella. Adjuntamos cartel y enlace de la web informativa.
Nori Muster, who often volunteers to speak with high school students who contact ICSA, prepared a written reply to two students, titled “The ABCs of Dangerous Cults.”
R.I.P. Edward Antrim Lottick, MD. Dr. Edward Lottick was a cultic-studies student for 22 years. He retired from 35 years of medical practice in 2000. After retirement he completed 4 years of advanced French at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and taught an advanced psychology elective at King’s every third semester for the past decade, titled Contemporary American Cults. In 1992, he surveyed 5,400 Pennsylvania physicians about their personal and professional experience with cults; in 2004, he surveyed 3000 Pennsylvania psychologists regarding similar experience; and in 2007, he surveyed 1,000 Pennsylvania legislators, district attorneys, and judges regarding their experience with cults. For a discussion of these surveys, he wrote “The Forgotten Freedom,” The Torch, 79(3), 26–30, 2006; and in 2008 he wrote “Psychologist Survey Regarding Cults,” Cultic Studies Review, 7(1), 1–19, 2008. In the summer of 2009, he printed Remembering Noah, and then introduced the manuscript to his cultic-studies Contemporary American Cults class in the Fall of 2009. In 2011 he completed his manuscript and had it printed as a book: Remembering Noah (Why Did He Do That?): A Parent’s Twenty-Two- Year Scientology Cult Odyssey. The following is an obituary provided by citizensvoice.com:
Edward Antrim Lottick, M.D., passed away peacefully in his sleep in Madison, Conn., on Thursday, June 18, 2015.He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sally Teller Lottick; his son, Adam Teller Lottick, M.D.; and his daughter, Karen A. L. Perry, and their spouses, Nina Kadan-Lottick, M.D., and Scott E. Perry; and seven grandchildren, Samantha, Kadan, and Antrim Lottick and Thomas, Tyler, Michael, and Ryan Perry. He was predeceased by his son, Noah Antrim Lottick, in 1990.Dr. Lottick was born in Wyoming, Pa., on Nov. 12, 1935, to Anna Antrim and Edward Lottick. After his father’s death, his mother remarried and he was adopted by his stepfather, Richard Phebey. He received an Eagle Scout Award and an NROTC scholarship to Harvard University. He graduated from Wyoming High School, Syracuse University, and the University of Nebraska Medical College.For more than 35 years in the Wyoming Valley, Dr. Lottick practiced medicine from his office on Wyoming Avenue in Kingston and was an active staff member at the Wilkes-Barre General and Nesbitt hospitals. Prior to medical school, Dr. Lottick taught at Hudson Valley Community College outside Albany, N.Y. Dr. Lottick was an inventor who obtained four U.S. patents, including one for the first electrosurgical hemostat. He was on the board of trustees of the Pennsylvania Medical Society of the Luzerne County Medical Center, and the longtime editor of its monthly publication, the Bulletin.After his son’s death, Dr. Lottick served on the boards of the American Family Foundation and the Cult Awareness Network. For several years, he taught a course on cultic studies at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre. Two of his research studies on cults were published in the Pennsylvania Medical Society Journal. In 1993, the International Cultic Studies Association awarded Dr. Lottick the John G. Clark Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Cultic Studies. He subsequently wrote a book about his son titled Remembering Noah.All those who knew him benefited from his ability to listen, his quick wit, and his kindness.