Understanding the Role of Shame in Cult Indoctrination and Recovery
Daniel Shaw, LCSW
Saturday, July 7, 2018 from 11:00-12:30
1.5 CE hours
Shame is what cult leaders hope to cultivate in followers; and shame, subtle and gross, is what may linger on, often not fully recognized and not clearly linked to the cult experience. With the presence of shame, conscious or not, it can be very hard to allow for the experience of dignity. Without reclaiming dignity, shame can hold the recovering cultist back. Using the theory of the traumatizing narcissist’s relational system, as well as attachment theory and trauma theory, this presentation will examine in depth the nature of shame. What makes shame a powerful tool for the cult leader? How does shame get used to control the follower? How can one identify and manage the vestiges of shame that cling, often long after exiting a cult? The theory of traumatic narcissism asserts that the cult leader must deny any vulnerability to shame so as not to lose his delusion of omnipotence. In order to ward off the presence of shame (associated to dependency) in himself, the cult leader cultivates dependency/shame in his followers. With the combination of love (charisma) and fear (authoritarianism), the cult leader creates an experience of disorganized attachment in the follower. Attachment to a needed other becomes disorganized, and the follower becomes prone to dissociation, when the one needed for a sense of security is terrifying. Loving the one that terrifies you literally blows the follower’s mind, a traumatic situation. Dissociation is the escape from traumatic experience when it feels like there is no escape. In this presentation, the various threads of these psychological theories will be woven together to explain the central role that shame plays in the cultic dynamic, and to point toward the universal need to be able to claim the right to one’s dignity in the process of cult recovery.
1. Participants will be able to define subjugation trauma.
2. Participatants will be able to identify the causes and symptoms of subjugation trauma.
3. Participants will be able to discuss the dynamics of the traumatizing narcissist’s relational system with emphasis on the role that shame plays in creating a trauma bond between subjugator and subjugated.
Participants will be able to employ interventions that facilitate the emergence of subjectivity, reflecting the identification and differentiation of affect, and the emergence of desire and agency.
Daniel Shaw, LCSW, is the author of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, published by Routledge. His affiliations include: Psychoanalyst, Private Practice, New York City and Nyack, NY; Faculty and Clinical Supervisor, The National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP), New York, NY; Clinical Supervisor and Faculty, Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, NY; Adjunct Clinical Supervisory, Smith College of Social Work, MA; former co-chair, Continuing Education Committee, The International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Shaw spent thirteen years as a staff member in Siddha Yoga (SYDA Foundation. There he wore many hats, including: manager of the residential Manhattan facility, educator, spokesperson, public relations coordinator, community organizer, and writer/director of public programs. Shaw exited Siddha Yoga in 1994, published an Open Letter about Siddha Yoga on the internet in 1995, and helped create the Leaving Siddha Yoga website, one of the first internet websites for ex cult members. Shaw is the author of Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, published in the Cultic Studies Journal, numerous psychoanalytic papers, and the editor of a special issue on the traumatizing narcissist in ICSA’s International Journal of Cultic Studies.. Mr. Shaw is available through Skype and leads the monthly New York area ICSA group with Chris Carlson. This group offers support, education and interaction for all those who have been harmed by, or want to learn about high demand groups. Website: www.danielshawlcsw.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (845) 548-2561 [NY Local Meeting, NY Committee