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Member Update, 2016, Vol. 7 No. 1

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. Please contact ICSA 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.

RobertÖrell gave a talk inApril 2016 for TEDxVilnius: A Way Out From Violent Extremism. The talkis available for online viewing.

K. GordonNeufeld’s bookHeartbreakand Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon, A Cult Survivor’s Memoir—is nowavailable as an audiobook. 

Molly Kochat 88 years of age hadher parenting book published, writes a monthly column in Baltimore’s Child magazine, is a mentor to 40 inner-cityhigh-school girls, hosts a monthly women’s group, facilitates a parenting groupin a women’s shelter, is writing an autobiography, and will celebrate her 69thmarriage anniversary this June.

ElizabethPerry will present ata conference on September 16th. The theme of the conference is Energy Psychology Triggers for SpiritualAbuse Survivors. The session will explore the waysconsciousness-altering, dissociation-inducing, and thought-reform practicestrigger resistance to Energy Psychology (EP) techniques, and how to assist ourspiritually abused clients to recover from their adverse experiences and accessthe benefits of EP for their ongoing health. More information.

Rita Swan reports, “Our biggest recentachievement is getting a bill passed in Tennessee that repeals the state’sreligious exception to aggravated child abuse, neglect, and endangerment. Thebill was precipitated by a criminal case about a 15-year-old girl who died ofbone cancer and whose mother and pastor relied exclusively on faith to “treat”her for four months until CPS caught up with her. We hoped the courts wouldrule the statute unconstitutional and filed two amicus briefs petitioning forthat; but when the courts would not do so, we went to the legislature andsuccessfully lobbied for repeal. The Governor signed our bill into law on April29; it takes effect July 1.” Rita was also interviewed on a podcastcalled Medical Neglect in the Name of God. Rita also has two recentpublications: (a)“Pulse Oximetry Should Be Required Without a Religious Exemption,” AmericanJournal of Bioethics, 16:1, 26–28. doi:10.1080/15265161.2015.1115151. (b) “ReligiousAttitudes to Death: Religious Exception Defense.” In J. Payne-James and R. W. Byard(Eds.), Encyclopedia of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 2nd edition, v. 4 (pp.109–114). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

The Berks StoryProject, which focuses on “Ordinary people, extraordinary stories,” has posteda YouTube video on Joe Szimhart.

An importantItalian scientific magazine, Mente e Cervello (Mind and Brain),interviewed Cristina Caparesi on the activities of Exit regarding strategies of deradicalizationof extremism and the European Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN). Duringthe interview she discussed cult recruitment.

INFORM’sspring seminar, New ReligiousRadicalisms, took place on May 21, 2016 at the London School ofEconomics. Speakers included Professor Susan J. Palmer, Dawson College,Montreal; Michael Williamson, London International Christian Church; Dr.Alexandra Plows, Research Fellow, Bangor University; Dr. Tristan Sturm,Lecturer, Queen’s University Belfast; Shamsher Singh, National Sikh YouthFederation and Professor Eileen Barker,Founder and Chair of Inform.

Dan Shaw will give an intensive seminar, Clinical Work With Cult-Related Trauma,on June 4th at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy: Trauma StudiesCenter. The brochure for the event states: “As an experienced clinicianaffiliated with the ICP Trauma Studies Center, you are invited to this all dayseminar, open to clinicians interested in working with survivors of culticgroups and other traumatizing relationships. This seminar is designed tointroduce trauma-informed clinicians to the cultic dynamic, which Shaw hastermed ‘the relational system of the traumatizing narcissist,’ and the specificways that individuals and families are impacted by this trauma—the trauma ofsubjugation. Clinicians completing this training will be eligible to join anongoing consultation group for clinical supervision for cult-related cases, tobe led by Dan Shaw.” Dan has spoken on the theme of cults previously at ICPwith Shelly Rosen, Chris Carlson, Ann Stamler, and Elizabeth Blackwell. Throughthis initial seminar, Dan is hoping to support the development of a group oftherapists trained in trauma theory at ICP to be able to provide low-feetherapeutic services for clients impacted by cultic abuse.

Chelsea Brass Von Paseky (left) spoke about cults at Austin Public Library’s Nerd Nite, where sherecommended books written or edited by ICSA members.

ElliotBenjamin haspublished an article, “Andrew Cohen Apology:Ex-student/Author Marlowe Sand Responds.”

KatharinaMeredith, who isassociated with the Swiss organization InfoSekta, tells us that InfoSekta isworking on offering workshops for SGAs in Switzerland (workshops are lottery funded—participantswill pay very little, staff will get paid), an art project for SGAs andpossibly non-SGAs, and the promotion of public awareness. InfoSekta also plansto implement something similar to the New York education workshops, with aparticular focus on therapists and other helping professionals. Since January,Katharina has maintained a Facebook page in German for SGAs. The site tries to have a personal,approachable feel and offers direct help by chatting with survivors. Katharina hasalso started a support group for SGAs in Zurich and obtained a permanent blogspot on religion.ch, with a strong focus on the cultic experience for SGAs andpeople who joined later in life. In addition, she published her first article (inthe largest newspaper in Switzerland) on her experience.

Robert J.Lifton will bespeaking at a major multidisciplinary psychoanalytic conference ontrauma. The conference will be at The George Washington University,Washington DC, October 20–22, 2016, where clinicians, academics, andresearchers will share knowledge and experience through plenary talks, papersessions, small-group roundtables and workshops, and other special events. Moreinformation about the conference is available.

José Miguel Cuevas Barranquero,8 de diciembre a las 22:30 horas “intervengo en Equipo de Investigación (LaSexta), sobre un programa dedicado a un grupo multinivel/piramidal (Unetenet).Se analizará la influencia ilegítima y otros mecanismos psicológicos aplicadospara el engaño en este tipo de organizaciones. El pasado diciembre tambiénintervení, junto a otros colegas, en la revista One Magazine dentro de unamplio reportaje dedicado a las sectas. Pronto enviaré unas copias delartículo, aunque el número de la revista era prácticamente un monográfico sobrepersuasión y quedó bastante bien, recomiendo su compra.”

Zack Bonnie’sbook, Dead, Insane, or in Jail, was published recently and is available atAmazon.com From the back cover: “Zack Bonnie was fourteen when his parents senthim to a ‘troubled teen’ facility. The author takes readers there, in athrilling psychological read. Sequestered where bizarre cult-like techniquesbecome the norm, see for yourself exactly what the controversy is about. Shouldwe mold a child’s behavior using the tools of brainwashing? With coarse, brutaldialog and authentic source materials, this nonfiction memoir, the first in aseries, exposes the secrets and tells it all.”

MarkRoggeman gave alecture at Regis University on May 9 titled TheSexual Aspects of Cults.

Rick Rossbook, Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out, has been published in Italian by Anteo Edizioni. In other news from Rick Ross,

  • Rick was was quoted and his book cited in an article about cultish yoga studios and abuses.
  • The Cult Education Institute released an online professionally produced video about the Kabbalah Centre.
  • Rick was quoted and the Cult Education Institute was cited within an article about cult branding and the cult following of products within Complex.
  • The article cites the Cult Education Institute and links to its historical archive and quotes.
  • Rick was quoted in an article about connections between the Urantia Book and Celestial Seasonings, the company that produces Sleepytime Tea

Masoud Banisadr wasinterviewed in a short documentary about MEK. Masoud was also interviewed bySwiss Radio and interviewed for the FAIRObserver—“Living and Escaping a Terrorist Cult”. 

Several ICSAmembers participated in a conference held in Madrid, March 4–5, 2016. Organizedby Asociación Iberoamericana Para la Investigación del Abuso Psicológico, theconference was entitled EncuentroNacional: Professionales, Familiares, y Ex-Miembros de Sectas. Speakers andtheir topics included Miguel Perlado (La invisibilidad del fenómenode las sectas en España); Cristina Caparesi (Alienación parentalen grupos sectarios); Ruben Garcia and Carmen Almendros (Prácticasdisciplinarias en personas nacidas y/o educadas en grupos manipulativos); OmarSaldaña, Carmen Almendros, Álvaro Rodríguez y Emma Antelo (Dificultades psicológicas y psicosociales derivadasde la experiencia abusiva en un grupo); and José M. Cuevas (Evaluaciónde la persuasión coercitiva).

SteveHassan conducted atraining event, Mind Control andExploitation: Lessons Learned From Working With Cult Victims, at TheFamily Justice Center in Boston.

GeorgeChryssides gave thekeynote lecture at CESNUR’s conference in Antwerp in April 2016, held at theFaculty of Comparative Religion and Humanism. The conference theme was TheJehovah’s Witnesses in Scholarly Perspective: What Is New in the ScientificStudy of the Movement? Chryssides ecture was entitled The Truth Is Out There—And How Jehovah’sWitnesses Find It. He also has a new book: Jehovah’s Witnesses: Continuity and Change.Farnham, UK: Ashgate. (Ashgate has now been taken over by Routledge.)

NeilDamgaard recentlygave a talk at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on the topic What Is Evangelical Christianity? Histalk was part of the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life’s ReligiousLiteracy program. He also attended a pastor’s forum within his conference(Converge Worldwide), which addressed safe-haven churches, a movement withinour conference, independent of ICSA’s efforts in this area.

Rachel Bernstein is hosting an online Former Cult Member Support Group every other week,starting on May 15th. This group is open to former members or those on theirway out of a cultic group; those who were in or are leaving one-on-one culticrelationships; and some parents and partners of those in groups who want tolearn more about how people break free and what they experience after leaving. Time:6 PM PST. Length: 90 minutes. Cost: $40 per group. For more information,contact Rachel at rbpsychology@gmail.com

After a 6-monthsojourn in Guatemala, in one week Paul Lennon says that he was “hit withseveral requests for help/service out of the blue”:

  • Family with daughter involved with RAW IMPACT, presently operating in the Charlottsville, Virginia area, seeking information, support, and intervention to get our daughter back. (First contact with family, information, guidance, and coaching encounter with estranged daughter.)
  • Former member of Catechumenal Way from Madrid seeking guidance/recovery from influence of Fr. Kiko Arguello and his high-demand group. (Gathering information and referring to help in the Madrid area.)
  • OPUS DEI member in the USA seeking help with recovery. (Delivering informatioin on group and referring to OPUS DEI Awareness.) 
  • Involved in bringing together a group of Legionaries of Christ (LC) and members of Regnum Christi Movement at the Dallas International Conference. Outreaching active—former LC—priests who may be willing to attend. Outreaching local Catholic authorities, requesting representative/expert on cult awareness.
  • Continues to write and gather articles posted on our ReGAIN webpage. One new contributor’s articles is drawing much attention and hits to ReGAIN.

Charlene L. Edge was invited to give a presentation on April 21, 2016, to a freshmanclass of religion students taught by Dr. Todd French at Rollins College inWinter Park, Florida. “This was the second time he invited me to share my storywith his class; it was the fourth presentation at Rollins. The theme I chosewas Cult Control: Let’s Try To Understand.I used my personal story of 17 years in The Way International as a case studyto show how high-control groups work, why I was drawn into it, why I stayed solong, the so-called biblical research I did with The Way, and how I escaped.Students asked very good questions. Dr. French plans to have his classes readmy memoir when it is published in the fall of this year: Undertow: My Escapefrom the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International. I havealso given a similar talk at Stetson University to the Philosophy and ReligiousStudies Club.”

This spring, VennieKocsis was interviewed on the radio program Not So Sacred Radio Show.

Goldie Andron, RIP, wife of long-time cult educator, Dr. Sandy Andron, “passed awaypeacefully in her sleep on March 19th, 2016. Goldie was born in New York onMarch 31, 1939 to Jack and Bella Fishman. She is survived by her loving bestfriend and husband of 56 years, Sandy Andron, her sister Marilyn Udell, herthree children, Jonathan (& Jill) Andron, Vicki (& Gary) Feldman, Beth(& Mark) Eiglarsh and her 9 grandchildren, Debbie, David, Joshua, Rebecca, Elijah,Evan, David, Julia, & Owen. Goldie was adored by all who knew her. She wasthe most loving and compassionate soul to ever walk the planet, bringingsmiles, joy, and laughter to every single situation and to everyone sheencountered. Simply put, she was the BEST! And will remain in our heartsforever!”

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