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Member Update, 2016, Vol. 7 No. 2

Member Update E-Newsletter (September, 2016)

Announcements     ◊      ICSA News      ◊      Member News      ◊      Featured Resources

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.


Call for Papers: ICSA Annual Conference, Bordeaux, France. June 29–July 1, 2017 (preconference workshops on June 28): http://www.icsahome.com/events/callforpapers

Deadline for submissions: October 31, 2016


ICSA had three important events during the past few months:

  1. The last Recovery Workshop was held in Colorado Springs the weekend of July 29–31, 2016. We thank the facilitators of this workshop—Carol Giambalvo, Rosanne Henry, Leona Furnari, and Nancy Miquelon—for their many years of volunteer service. Carol and Rosanne have been present for every workshop during the past 25 years! This workshop has received sterling evaluations from hundreds of participants. The facilitators, however, say that it is time for them to stop. Some of the workshop content will be integrated into future biannual Santa Fe conferences, the next one of which will take place in the fall of 2017 
  2. ICSA’s 2016 annual conference in Dallas, Texas was a great success with more than 200 attendees and approximately 100 speakers from around the world. During coming months we hope to post some of the talks on ICSA’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS_hc5LO1HtMvoa8kRcLcig). Some speakers have given us permission to post their PowerPoint presentations and papers: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4dmoPK1tYNjTkVBS2dLZjJST3M&usp=sharing
  3. Cults and Sex Trafficking conference at the University of Southern California, April 16, 2016. http://www.icsahome.com/events/localevents/cults-and-sex-trafficking. We have compiled a special collection on this topic here: http://www.icsahome.com/elibrary/topics/cults-and-sex-trafficking. We hope to have a similar conference in the New York City area next year. 

So far this year, the Joan Capellini Fund (http://www.icsahome.com/support/capellinifund) helped make it possible for 16 former cultic group members to attend the Dallas conference or a workshop. The fund also gave free memberships to an additional seven financially needy former members.

ICSA’s Spiritual Safe Haven Network completed a pilot survey of four churches on the topic of spiritual abuse. See the report here: http://www.icsahome.com/spiritualsafehavennetwork/researchsurveypilot

Member News

Stephen Kent, Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta, served as part of Edmonton’s Mill Woods Public Library’s “The Human Library.” The library’s promo said: “Imagine that you could go to your local library and check out a person just like a book. What stories they’d tell! Check out any of our ten human ‘books’ for 10 minutes with members of Edmonton’s culinary, political, sports and literary scenes.”

New Wings Press, LLC announces it will publish in January 2017 the memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International, by Charlene L. Edge. Charlene was in The Way for 17 years. She is a member of the Florida Writers Association, International Cultic Studies Association, and The Authors Guild, Inc. Stay tuned for Undertow updates at http://charleneedge.com and sign up for Charlene’s blogs on fundamentalism, cults, travel, the writing life, and more!

Julie Ann Colibri, a former Mormon author, educator, and advocate, has announced a new website: http://www.julieannecolibri.com/. She is also working on a memoir.

Colleen Russell facilitates an ongoing Group for Former Members of Cults or High Demand Groups (in its 12th year), including those born and raised in these groups, every other Saturday from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM in a spacious, comfortable, and safe office environment in Marin County. Participants address and explore any experience relevant to their lives, current or past, with others who understand and provide mutual support and validation. Frequent issues discussed are reflecting on how one was vulnerable to recruitment and indoctrination; connecting with and trusting self; disconfirming inaccurate, self-limiting beliefs internalized from ideologies; healthy and unhealthy relationships; boundaries and saying “No”; developing BS detectors; work; successes; challenges; family of origin; helpful skills to navigate through trauma and loss; finding one’s fit in mainstream society; and more. crussellmft@earthlink.net www.colleenrussellmft.com

Cristina Caparesi organized and contributed to a conference in Udine, Italy on July 2, 2016: Pensiero estremista e logica settaria [Extremist Thought and Cultic Logic].

Daniel Shaw continues to speak to groups of mental health professionals on the theme of traumatic narcissism, the subject of his book, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation. Details for the events can be found at http://danielshawlcsw.com/events/ Forthcoming talks include

  • October 20–22, 2016: Listening to Trauma Conference, Washington DC 
  • November 5, 2016: The Rhode Island Association for Psychoanalytic Societies, Providence, RI 
  • January 18x–22, 2017: The Annual Conference of the American Psychoanalytic Assocition, New York City 
  • March 3–4, 2017: The John Bowlby Memorial Conference, London, UK 
  • April 1–2, 2017: Institute for the Advancement of Self-Psychology, Toronto, ON 

Doni Whitsett went to Guangzhou, China for 6 weeks (June–July) on a Fulbright Specialist Scholarship. She reports: “In collaboration with my colleague Dr. Yuxin Pei, I provided workshops, lectures, and counseling on sexuality and gender issues to students at Sun Yat-Sen University and the mental health community. I also conducted 18 formal interviews with young people for a study on these issues exploring the changing values and attitudes of modern China. Being immersed in the culture gave me an inside view of the influence of political control and censorship on the psychological and social lives of Chinese citizens. I was particularly struck by their resourcefulness in coping with the (now defunct) One Child policy and other constraints on their freedom.”

AIS (Atencion e Investigación de Socioadicciones) in Barcelona sends us the following news concerning the activities for Vega Gonzalez, manager of AIS and clinical psychologist, and Laura Merino, psychologist:

  • Vega González presented the paper Groups of Psychological Manipulation at the first Congress of Health Psychology and Mental Health, coordinated by the Faculty of Psychology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, June, 2016, at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona. 
  • Vega González contributed a paper, Groups of Psychological Manipulation, to the 2015–2016 Cloenda Day of the Catalan Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health. Psychiatry in the XXI century, June 2–3, 2016, in Barcelona. 
  • Vega González is part of the working group, EXIT working group RAN (RAN EXIT). The RAN (Radicalization Awareness Network) meets every 3 months in different European countries. See http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/radicalisation_awareness_network/about-ran/ran-exit/index_en.htm
  • Laura Merino presented Groups of Psychological Manipulation to L’EAP Sabadell Sud, May 31, 2016, in Barcelona. 
  • Laura Merino presented Groups of Psychological Manipulation to SPOTT, Centre for prevention and intervention in drug addiction, June 28, 2016, in Barcelona. 
  • “Trastorno de Dependencia Grupal en un grupo de manipulación psicológica o secta coercitiva” [Dependence Disorder Group in a Psychological Manipulation Group or Coercive Sect: Case Report], by Vega González Bueso, Juan Jose Santamaria, Laura Merino, Elena Montero, and Margarita Cano Vega (2016). In Cuadernos de Medicina Psicosomática y Psiquiatría de Enlace 117( 1) , pp. 84–92. Available at http://www.editorialmedica.com/editorialmedica_publicacion_numero_detalle.php?nid=733&t=cuadernos&y=2016&m=Enero+-+Febrero+-+Marzo+2016&num=117

Frances Peters, coach/counsellor of FreeChoice in the Netherlands, has translated into Dutch the article “Impact on Children of Being Born Into/Raised in a Cultic Group,” by Ashley Allen (ICSA Today, Volume 7/issue 1/2016, p. 17). The article was well received, shared, and reshared, (referring to ICSA and the writer) on several Dutch and English websites and Facebook pages (www.free-choice.nl, on the Blog-section; www.openmindsfoundation.com; also on Facebook page of Ontmasker Manipulatie on June 7, 2016). On the Facebook page of AAWA Social Club & News, on July 20th 2016, you can find the link to the article in a report about SGAs and the ICSA Conference in Dallas, Texas. The translated article already has had good results. A Dutch woman who could not explain to her childcare social worker what impact her cult had on her children used the translated article to explain; it transformed the social worker’s attitude completely, for the better. And one of my recent clients was able to understand better in what way the cult could have been affecting his own little children, and he shared the article with his lawyer, childcare, and his family. It really made a difference! Frances also tells us: “In August Arjan van Dijk and I will be sending a Brochure to all municipalities in the Netherlands, to offer them training and workshops to help prevent and deal with radicalisation. We gathered a team of speakers/trainers: Steven Hassan, Gillie Jenkinson, Robert Örell, Masoud Banisadr, Arjan van Dijk, and myself to provide the info from different angles.”

Grace Dominguez Adams gave several presentations in New Zealand:

  • Presentation 5-Week Series on Cults: “Who Do You Say I Am?” A Survivors Story, What Is a Cult?, Recovery Issues, Criteria for Thought Reform, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Other Cults; March 10–April 7, 2016, Manukau City Baptist Church, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Presentation: A Survivors Story and Recovery After the Cult, May 24, 2016, Women’s Group, Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Presentation: A Survivors Story and Recovery After the Cult. November 2015, 5 Knots Yacht Club, Auckland, New Zealand. 
Eileen Barker and Willy Fautre spoke at a meeting at the House of Lords, Archbishop Room, Milbank in London on June 29, 2016. The meeting launched Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) World Annual Report 2015 on Freedom of Religion or Belief. The meeting was entitled Religious or Belief Minorities Under State Oppression. Eileen Barker was also recently elected a Fellow of the Association of Social Sciences (FAcSS).

On July 5, 2016, INFORM held evening lectures on the subject, Satanic Abuse Scare in the UK, 25 Years On. Among the presenters was Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist.

Since getting back from Guatemala in May, 2016, Paul Lennon has been approached by three families regarding their young adults’ involvement with high-demand Christian groups. He has also collaborated professionally and directly with Steven Hassan in treating a former member of OPUS DEI. For the July 1, 2016, Spanish-language webinar held in conjunction with ICSA’s Annual Conference in Dallas, he prepared and presented two papers in Spanish: The first described characteristics of high-demand groups; the second explained the road to recovery. The July 1 Spanish-language webinar has spawned several contacts with needy Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi former members who are at varying stages of recovery and with a spectrum of symptoms, from suicidal thoughts through anxiety and PTSD. Paul has begun SKYPE coaching a few of them to make sure they are safe and facilitating their on-site treatment and support.

Ken Garrett is in the last year of pursuing a doctorate of ministry degree at Western Seminary, Portland, OR. He is writing a dissertation on the recognition of and recovery from abusive churches, and he says, “I am so grateful that I found the ICSA website and its resources for my studies—thanks!”

Rod and Linda Dubrow-Marshall have published a chapter on cults and mental health in the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Mental Health: Dubrow-Marshall, R., and Dubrow-Marshall, L. (2015). Cults and Mental Health (chapter 153 in H. Friedman, (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health, Second Edition (pp. 393–401). Oxford, UK: Academic Press (Elsevier). The chapter is available from the publisher (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123970459001531) and on the University of Salford repository.

Lona Bailey launched a private practice in Brentwood, Tennessee in January of 2016. Her primary population is “cult survivors and/or those who have suffered spiritual abuse, as there are myriad cultic church groups in our area and the need for therapeutic resources is great. I also will be presenting information about my experience at the ICSA conference in Dallas to my colleagues at the agency where I contract in Franklin, Tennessee (The Refuge Center for Counseling || Professional Counseling Services) later this month.”

Marcus Chatfield, author of Institutionalized Persuasion (2014), is beginning graduate studies at the University of Florida. He plans to build on his undergraduate research, developing a theory to explain and predict cultic dynamics in residential teen treatment settings. His goal is to contribute to more effective strategies for the prevention of institutional child abuse. His recent articles about the history of Straight Inc., a “therapy cult” affiliated with the Reagan and Bush administrations, are published on POINTS, the blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.

Nancy Mereska was interviewed by Nate Carlisle, who usually writes for the Salt Lake Tribune but was contracted by VICE News to do an article on Bountiful.

Omar Saldana recently completed his doctoral thesis entitled Psychosocial Analysis of Psychological Abuse in Group Settings: Delimitation, Assessment, and Psychological Consequences. He will defend the thesis on September 16, 2016, at the University of Barcelona, Spain. In addition, he has concluded the data collection of a research study on group psychological abuse, in which 345 Spanish-speaking former members of abusive groups and a comparison sample of 263 former members of nonabusive groups have participated. He is currently working to publish five different scientific papers concerning (a) the development and intercultural adaptation of the Psychological Abuse Experienced in Groups Scale, (b) the association between psychological abuse and postinvolvement psychopathology, examining the mediating role of stress, and (c) a taxonomy of the psychological and social difficulties that former members of abusive groups may experience.

Rick Ross’s recent media contributions have included the following:

Robert Marshall recently received the 2016 Hazel Rowley Prize, given by BIO, the Biographers International Organization, for his biography-in-progress of cult leader and faux anthropologist Carlos Castaneda.

Robin Barbosa’s book, I AM REVEALED Behind the Ashram Door, is scheduled to be published in the fall of 2016 by Full Court Press. “The book is a candid, riveting first-person account documenting the cult phenomenon by journeying deep into a mind controlled by a cult. A 21-year old college graduate is inextricably entangled by coercive techniques. Decades later, this girl engages in an intimate conversation with her two adult daughters, shedding light on what fueled her submission, a tale of curiosity resulting in entrapment, also examining the role family relationships play in a cult and ex-cult member.” Twitter @RevealedBook. Facebook.com/BehindtheAshramDoor

Autumne Kirkpatrick has been running a monthly support group, via group conference call, for Christians coming out of high-demand and high-control groups. “We had our fifth meeting last week. We follow some of the things learned from the Colorado Model last year, but mainly provide a place where there are no ‘don’t talk’ rules, where people can share their experience. Last month we discussed Lifton’s criteria for thought reform and people shared how they saw (or did not see) it in operation in the group(s) they came from. Also, I did that poster presentation on Christianity Awareness for clinicians and educators. This would be beneficial for anyone working with a Christian population, especially those working with people coming out of Bible-based groups. There’s statistical, socio-political and other relevant information discussed which would influence helpfulness and encourage overcoming roadblocks to those populations accessing help.” (www.sanfranciscobaydesign.com/cat)

Featured Resources

ICSA’s collection, Terrorism—Cultic Dimensions: http://www.icsahome.com/elibrary/topics/terrorism—cultic-dimensions

Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press has a useful First Amendment Handbook: http://www.rcfp.org/first-amendment-handbook

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