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Member Update, 2016, Vol. 7 No. 3

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.

Recovery from Spiritual Abuse. Ft. Myers, Florida. April 21–22, 2017.

Surviving and Moving On After a High-Demand Group Experience: A Workshop for Second-Generation Former Members. Chester, Connecticut. April 28–30, 2017.

Annual Conference of International Cultic Studies Association. Bordeaux, France. June 29–July 1, 2017. Preconference Workshops: June 28, 2017.


ICSA’s Education Network, led by Piotr T. Nowakowski, in cooperation with The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Stalowa Wola Campus, conducted a conference, Enhancing Professional Knowledge on Preventing Undue Influence and Cults, in Stalowa Wola and Sandomierz, Poland, December 9–11, 2016. On Friday, December 9, 2016, there was a preconference education workshop.

The Joan Capellini Fund 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 14 financially needy former members.

Leaving and Recovering from Cultic Groups and Relationships: A Workshop for Families and Former Members. October 15–16, 2016. Center for Inquiry, Hollywood, CA. Facilitators: Rachel Bernstein, Joseph Kelly, Patrick Ryan, Doni Whitsett.

Dangerous Liaisons: The Truth About Campus Predators, Toxic Relationships, and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Teens. October 23, 2016. Garden City, NY. Speakers: Robin Boyle, Maureen Griffo, Andrea Laisure, Stephanie Spanos. Details:

Member News

From Lois Kendall: “I am delighted to inform you that my book Born and Raised in a Sect: You are Not Aloneis complete and published. If you know anyone who might benefit from reading this book please let them know of its existence.”

Cyndi Matthews (left) and doctoral student Randy Woodring will present at the American Counseling Association Conference on LGBT experiences in high-demand religious organizations (cults), March 16–19, 2017, in San Francisco.

Inform, headed by Eileen Barker, hosted a seminar, Minority Religions and Extremism in Schools and on Campus, on November 5, 2016, at the London School of Economics, London, UK.

Charlene L. Edge, author of ICSA Today’s article, “Why I Had to Escape a Fundamentalist Cult,” is happy to announce the publication in November 2016 of her memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International. On October 4, 2016, at Stetson University, Charlene shared her fundamentalist cult story. Stetson Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Phillip C. Lucas, invited Charlene to his class on New Religious Movements for students to ask her questions and discuss the topic of cults.

Dan Shaw published an article in the Huffington Post called “The Insanity of Nascissism.” Dan spoke on the theme of traumatic narcissism this year at conferences in Washngton, DC; Providence, RI; Toronto; Boston; Boulder; and more. He is speaking on life after cult involvement at the annual conference of The American Psychoanalytic Association, January 2017, and on traumatic narcissism at the Sir John Bowlby Memorial Conference in London, March 1–3. Dan also participated in a video on guru Andrew Cohen, posted in September 2016 by The Atlantic Video.

Elizabeth Perry presented “Energy Psychology Triggers for Spiritual Abuse Survivors” at the 18th Annual Canadian Energy Psychology Conference hosted by the Canadian Association for Integrative and Energy Therapies in Halifax, NS, on Sept 15–19, 2016. The title of the conference was The Body’s Energy Systems: Doorways for Psychological Change.

Grace Adams participated in the following speaking/presentation opportunities: Cult Awareness including Lifton’s Criteria for Thought Reform (Part 1 & Part 2) on September 7 and September 14, 2016, at the GAP Youth Group, MCBC, Auckland, New Zealand; Cult Awareness, Cult Recovery and Lessons Learned on September 27, 2016, at the Home Group, Auckland, New Zealand; and Cult Awareness, Cult Recovery and Lessons Learned on October 4, 2016, at the Embassy Group, Auckland, New Zealand.

Raffaella Di Marzio, presented a paper, “Esotericism under Attack? Controversies and Legal Cases about MISA,” at a Conference, Imaginatio et Actio (Imagination in Esoteric Traditions), October 21-22, 2016 in Cracow.

Rick Ross appeared on The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN. His remarks about cults for the report coincides with the premiere of Holy Hell on CNN September 1st. Rick was interviewed by GQ for a report, The Cult of Trump, which focused on the similarities to a personality cult regarding the following of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Rick also appeared on Swedish television in a report about the group Access Consciousness, on the program Dold, December 6th, SVT, Channel 2. In October he lectured at four Chinese universities, including Inner Mongolia University in Hohhot, Shanxi Normal University in Xi’an, Qingdao University in Qingdao, and Xiamen University in Xianmen. Rick also met with academics and researchers at each university for discussions within workshops.

Sharon Farber did two presentations in San Francisco on the subject of her new book, which was released in November, Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist: Pain, Post-Traumatic Growth and Self-Disclosure. One presentation was on Saturday, November 12, and the other on Sunday, November 13.

Colleen Russell has written a chapter, “Open the Curtains to Let in the Light,” in the soon-to-be-released book by Sharon K. Farber (Routledge Publications), Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist: Pain, Post-Traumatic Growth and Self-Disclosure. Colleen writes about the trauma of her mother’s death when she was 15 and subsequent experiences in two groups she identifies as high-demand groups that led to her specialties in loss, trauma, motherless daughters, and high-demand group education and recovery. Colleen has also completed a successful first of a regularly scheduled Online Educational, Interactive Workshop for Former members of High-Demand Groups, Including Those Born and Raised in Them. Colleen moved to a new office suite in August. More info.

Esther Friedman (left) says: “I am starting a healing arts practice for current and ex-cult members, beginning with a 6-week writing program. I am writing a one-woman show/awareness-raising presentation, based around my original songs, written during or in response to my cult tenure. I’m recording an album of these songs to accompany the show. I am in the beginning stages of turning my blog into a book that will sew academic research in with both my experience and the experiences of other ex-members. I will be partnering with Lesley University’s Expressive Therapy department this fall to develop research projects on working with cult survivors using the expressive arts, with the long-term intention of developing a training program.”

Michael Langone was a guest of the Adam Smith Show, WTIS radio in Tampa, on October 30, 2016.

Alexandra Stein’s new book has been published by Routledge: Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems. “Written by a cult survivor and renowned expert on cults and totalitarianism, Terror, Love and Brainwashing draws on the author’s 25 years of study and research to explain how almost anyone, given the right set of circumstances, can be radically manipulated to engage in otherwise incomprehensible and often dangerous acts.” More info.

Chelsea Brass posted a video in May, Cults! And Other Forms of Cultic Control, on The North Door’s Nerd Nite, Austin, TX.

Elizabeth Burchard, author of The Cult Next Door: A Manhattan Memoir, gave a talk entitled “Domestic Violence to Destructive Cults: Exploring the Spectrum of Power, Control, & Deception” on October 8, 2016, and November 5, 2016, at Fordham University, West Harrison campus, to MSW graduate students for the Learn at Lunch lecture series.

The book, I AM REVEALED Behind the Ashram Door, by Robin Barbosa, is based on personal cult experience, rescue, and the aftermath. The book is now available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Gaetan Genesse, a former Jehovah’s Witness, published a bilingual book (French, English) in Toronto giving his autobiography and poetry.

The paper titled, “Family Social Worker Toward the Problem of Cults and Related Phenomena,” by Piotr T. Nowakowski, (left), was published in the No. 2/2016 issue of the academic journal Społeczeństwo i Rodzina (Society & Family), issued in Poland. In the paper, the role of a social worker in the family context is defined, and then social problems generated by cults and related phenomena within this context are presented. On September 19, 2016, Piotr gave a presentation on cults to secondary-school students from Stalowa Wola (Poland). The paper’s title was “Wokół werbunku do sekt” (“About the Recruitment to Cults”) and was an event within the 13th Lublin Festival of Science.

George Chryssides contributed the following publications and talks:

  • Chryssides, George D. (2016). Jehovah’s Witnesses: Continuity and Change. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 978-1-4094-5608-7. 
  • Chryssides, George D. (2016). From Deviance to Devotion: The Evolution of NRM Studies; in Gallagher, Eugene V. (ed.), ‘Cult Wars’ in Historical Perspective. Abingdon: Routledge, pp.43-54. ISBN 978-1-4724-5812-4. 
  • Chryssides, George D. (2016). Conversion; in Lewis, James R., and Tøllesfsen, Inga B. (eds), The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, Volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.25-25. ISBN 978-0-19-046617-6. 
  • Chryssides, George D. (2016). Jehovah’s Witnesses: Anticipating Armageddon; in Hunt. Stephen (ed.), Handbook of Global Contemporary Christianity: Movements, Institutions, and Allegiance, pp. 422–440. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-26539-4. 
  • Chryssides G. D. (2016). The Truth is Out There—And How Jehovah’s Witnesses Find It. Acta Comparanda Subsidia III, 11–22. ISSN 0779 9853. 
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Uniformity of Space, British Association for the Study of Religions; University of Wolverhampton, 5-7 September. 2016. 
  • Beyond Armageddon—Is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Paradise Earth Conceivable? Keynote lecture, Conference on Affective Apocalypses, Queen’s University Belfast, August 18–19, 2016. 
  • The Truth is Out There—And How Jehovah’s Witnesses Find It. Keynote lecture at The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Scholarly Perpective: What’s New in the Scientific Study of Jehovism? Antwerp, Belgium. Organized by the European Observatory of Religion and Secularism in partnership with CLIMAS, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, CESNUR (Turin), and the Faculty of Comparative Studies of Religion and Humanism (FVG). April 21–22 2016. 
  • “A Scottish View of Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Study of Cultural Outsiders.” University of Edinburgh: Day Conference on Religious Diversity and Cultural Change in Scotland: Modern Perspectives, organized by the Scottish Religious Cultures Network with Religious Studies and the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Edinburgh, supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh; April 19, 2016. 

Gerette Buglion on October 25, 2016, gave a speech to the Green Mountain Toastmasters in Stowe VT: Mind Bugs, Cults and Other Things That Good People Prefer Not to Think About. Using renowned psychologist Roger Shepard’s visual “mind bug,” Gerette demonstrated how innate human blind spots in perception are used by cult leaders to manipulate members, and how all people are potentially vulnerable to such manipulation, underscoring the need for community awareness and education.

Grace Adams was interviewed on October 27 and 29 by a producer from CBS (New York) for an upcoming documentary on the Branch Davidians, Waco. She also gave the following presentations:

  • Cult Awareness, including Lifton’s Criteria for Thought Reform (Part 1 & Part 2). September 7 and September 14, 2016. GAP Youth Group, MCBC, Auckland, New Zealand. 
  • Cult Awareness, Cult Recovery, and Lessons Learned. September 27, 2016. Home Group, Auckland, New Zealand. 
  • Cult Awareness, Cult Recovery, and Lessons Learned. October 4, 2016. Embassy Group, Auckland, New Zealand. 

From Pat Knapp (left): “Becoming Free is starting another support/recovery group for ex-members with religiously abusive histories. This will be a little different than past groups as it will be a men’s only group, facilitated by Pat Knapp. The group will start in the first week in January 2017, meeting once a week for 2 hours, 6:30–8:30pm. The day of the week is yet to be determined. It will run for 10 weeks. Location: Southwest Littleton, Colorado. Cost: $65/person. For more information and to schedule a required pre-screening meeting, contact Pat either at becomingfree.org@gmail.com or call 720-227-8695.”

Linda and Rod Dubrow-Marshall published How to Talk Someone Out of a Damaging Cult. The Conversation. December 2, 2016.

On September 25, 2016, Debra Ryan of South Coast Today authored a story about MeadowHaven and the work of Bob and Judy Pardon. Earlier in the summer (July 31, 2016), Ms. Ryan wrote an article entitled “Three Local Pastors Speak at National Conference.” She discussed the sessions given at ICSA annual conference in Dallas by the Pardons and Neil Damgaard.

Robin Boyle’s article, “Employing Trafficking Laws to Capture Elusive Leaders of Destructive Cults,” was published in Volume 17, Number 2 of Oregon Review of International Law.

José Miguel Cuevas Barranquero of Universidad de Málaga sent us a conference announcement: La Asociación Iberoamericana para la Investigación del Abuso Psicológico (AIIAP) y el Grupo de Trabajo en Derivas Sectarias del Colegio Oficial de Psicología de Cataluña (COPC), convocan el III Encuentro Nacional para Profesionales, Familiares y Ex Miembros de Sectas, que en esta ocasión se celebrará en la ciudad de Marbella (Málaga) los días 3 y 4 de marzo de 2017.

Marlowe Sand, author of Paradise and Promises: Chronicles of My Life with a Self-Declared, Modern-Day Buddha, is featured in a six-part documentary about Andrew Cohen. Episodes 1 and 2 are available online.

Nancy Mereska was interviewed for an August 30, 2016, story by Nate Carlisle for VICE: The Long Search for the Missing Child Brides of a Mormon Polygamist Sect.

Massimo Introvigne gave a talk, The Fear of the Occult and Politics, at the American Academy of Religion conference in San Antonio, Texas on November 18, 2016.

Featured Resources

Video developed by Bob Pardon and colleagues at MeadowHaven: Nobody Joins a Cult … They Just Delay Leaving.

Video: Marriage After the Cult (Lorna Goldberg).

Video: Religious Conflict Resolution: A Model for Families (Michael Langone and Patrick Ryan)—with video: India in a Mind’s Eye (Steven Gelberg):

If you’re interested in some of the early clinical thinking on this subject, see Counseling Cultists and Their Families (Robert E. Schecter, Ed.)—1983.

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