Saturday, August 2, 2014

Anti-Cult Community and Cats

Over 10 years ago, Steve Eichel (then Steve Dubrow-Eichel) obtained a number of certifications in psychotherapy for his cat Zoe (whom he renamed into Dr. Zoe D[ie]. Katze, that is, Zoe the cat - translated from German). He did it in order to show how easy it is (or was) to obtain fake diplomas, certificates, and credentials in the field of psychology. Here is his article about this story:

Well, it would be much more easy for him to take another of his cats, rename him, for example, into Dr. John Der Kater (that is, John the tomcat), make him a member of a number of anti-cult organizations (including ICSA, of course), and grant him a title of "cult expert." Really, anyone, including a cult member, a cult leader or a cat, can become a member of ICSA. And anyone can call himself or herself "a cult expert" (including a cat, of course). I do not know why Steve Eichel did not make any of his cats a cult expert, an anti-cult activist or an anti-cult mental health professional. I think he definitely should do so.

Actually, probably, it would be not so bad if there would be many feline "mental health professionals" (FMHP) in the anti-cult movement. At least, they can not psychologically harm people in the same way as their human colleagues. So, if Steve Eichel creates a FMHP department within ICSA, I think they will be the most harmless group of anti-cult mental health professionals.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anti-Cult Abuse and Its Cover-Up

Steven Hassan ended his first book, Combatting Cult Mind Control with the quote from Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." (

His main thought was that in order to defeat the evil of cults, people should resist the cults and not to be silent. Some people (including myself, actually) were very impressed and inspired by that and decided to stand against the evil of cults.

This is good, of course. But what about anti-cult abuse? What do mental health professionals do when they know about unethical and abusive behaviors of their colleagues? Most of them do nothing. Well, they may gossip behind the abusers' backs about those abuses, but their gossips will never do any good and will never put the end to those abuses.

In fact, mental health professionals who (rightly) accuse cults for abusive behaviors, but who tolerate a similar behavior of their colleagues or/and behave this way themselves are hypocrites. Why do they consider that the same kind of behavior is wrong when it is practiced in cults, but it is normal when it is practiced by their colleagues in the anti-cult field? And if they do not consider it to be normal, why do they tolerate it? I believe that until they condemn abusive behavior of their colleagues, they have no moral right to condemn abusive behavior of cults because it is hypocrisy. And even if they are not involved into such behavior, their cover-up enables the evil in the anti-cult field to triumph and enables corruption in the anti-cult field.

Here is one example. Every country has police. Police is necessary for normal life of any country. Without police a country will encounter uncontrollable growth of crimes and will be in a chaos. However, in some countries, police becomes corrupted. This happened, for example, in Russia and other countries of the former USSR. It became quite usual for policemen to take bribes and some of them even got involved into criminal groups. Of course, not all the policemen became like this. Some remained honest and fulfilled their duties as they should. But since many policemen were involved in bribes and other crimes, police began to be viewed as a criminal organization in the society. Most people stopped trusting police. There have been many attempts to reform police and to get rid of the corruption, but their effectiveness is questionable.

Anyway, is it normal when policemen behave like criminals? Of course, not. I think no one will argue with that. But why is it considered normal when anti-cult mental health professionals behave like cult leaders and abuse people in the same way as cults do? Why many people in police are concerned about its corruption and try to do something to change the situation, but anti-cult mental health professionals do not do anything?

Psychotherapy and Post-Cult Recovery

There is a common belief in the anti-cult movement that ex-members of cults should seek for psychological counseling or therapy and better if this counseling/therapy is provided by mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about cult issues.

It looks quite logical, but there is one problem. There are no independent studies that indicate that it is so. There are probably millions people who left cults and most of them have never went to therapists who counsel ex-members of cults. Most of them probably do not know that they "should" do that. Who can say that they are in a worse position than those who go to therapists for years? I know some ex-members of my former cult (and some of them were very seriously abused by it) who have never contacted the secular anti-cult movement and did not seek therapy after their leaving, but who have very happy and fulfilling life now.

So, there are no independent data that indicate that ex-members of cults need therapy. Well, of course, therapists who counsel ex-cult members often say that it is very important for them to get therapy, but do not forget that these therapists earn money from counseling ex-members of cults. Also, some people who were counseled say that they got help, but it is quite subjective and not all of the people who were counseled are satisfied with their therapists. When people believe that therapists help them, it is very easy for them to feel better regardless of whether they really get help from the therapy or not. In medicine, there is a famous placebo effect: when people believe that a certain pill is a very effective medicine, many of them will feel better, even if this pill is absolutely useless. Of course, placebo effect exists in psychotherapy as well. And, as I wrote, there are no independent studies that therapy for the post-cult recovery really helps.

In 1952, H. J. Eysenck published his classic study ( where the main conclusion was that psychotherapy does not affect people's recovery from psychological disorders: whether people undergo therapy or not, the result will be the same. This study sparked a lot of controversy, and there have been many attempts to disprove this study, but they do not look very satisfactory to me. I know that there are many cases when researchers publish studies that indicate that certain psychotherapies do not help or even harm, people who practice them try to disprove these studies. Of course, people who practice such therapies (whether they are really harmful or not) are unhappy that someone criticizes them, but this reaction itself does not mean that the researchers wrong when they say that these therapies are harmful. I think it is a very similar situation with Eysenck's study. If any psychotherapy is useless, than, it means that all the practicing psychologists, psychotherapists, and all the other mental health professionals should close their practices and seek for another job. But do they want it? Of course, not.

So, Eysenck's study indicated that any psychotherapy is useless for treating psychological disorders. And there are no independent studies that indicate that psychotherapy has any benefit for ex-members of cults.

There is another problem. There are some "popular" diagnoses that are often given to ex-members of cults, such as PTSD, C-PTSD, and DID (or DD NOS). Some of these diagnoses are very controversial by themselves. C-PTSD has never been considered as a valid diagnosis by DSM. DID is also a very controversial diagnosis (even when it is not applied for ex-members of cults). Moreover, DSM does not say anything about cults or disorders that have been caused by cults.

There are some mental health professionals who prefer not to give any diagnoses. Well, I do not think that is is better. Suppose, you go to a medical doctor and he or she does not give you any diagnosis. What does it mean? Usually, it means that: (1) either you are healthy and do not need any medical aid or (2) he or she does not know what is the problem with you and how to treat you. In either case, you will probably not go to this doctor for treatment. But why should anyone go to a therapist who does not give any diagnosis?

Another point is that probably there are no two mental health professionals who counsel ex-members of cults who would agree with one another. They disagree on, practically, everything: on the definition of a cult and what groups are cults and what are not; on the definition of cult mind control (thought reform or whatever other term is used); on the definition of post-cult recovery; on what therapy is more helpful for ex-members of cults; and on many other things. In this diversity of opinions, who is right and who is wrong? Probably, no one is right. And, actually, this diversity of opinions just shows that the whole secular anti-cult field is far too subjective.

Well, I like to say that I have never been under psychotherapy (including therapy for post-cult recovery) and have never needed it. But who can prove that it is an exception and not the rule? And who has ever proven that ex-members of cults need therapy? No one.

Cult and Anti-Cult Abuse

Quite frankly, I do not have much desire to write about cult abuse here. There are a lot of books, articles, websites, etc. about cult mind control, thought reform, coercive persuasion, undue influence, and spiritual abuse. I do not want to write another article about it.

What is less known (but is not less dangerous) is that secular anti-cult movement (including mental health professionals who counsel members and ex-members of cults) is not so benign as many people believe.

Several months ago, a social worker John Matthew Knapp lost his license due to his ex-client's complaint. Well, this case is quite unique due to several reasons. No, Knapp was not the only abusive and unethical mental health professional in the anti-cult field. But he was somewhat "unlucky" because his ex-client was courageous enough to file a complaint against him and patient enough to wait several years while her complaint was being investigated. He also was "unlucky" because his licensing board did not reject her complaint. Another social worker who is licensed in the same state was very surprised that they did not reject the complaint and told that in many cases licensing boards do not care about complaints.

Yes, John Knapp was somewhat "unlucky," but he is not the only abusive and unethical mental health professional in the anti-cult field. However, not always people file complaints against abusive and unethical mental health professionals. Moreover, many people in the anti-cult field prefer to cover up cases of abusive and unethical behavior of their colleagues. This is why other abusive and unethical mental professionals in the anti-cult field are more "lucky" than Knapp.

When Steve Eichel, the current president of ICSA, gave his first speech in this position, he said (

"Following Lorna Goldberg as President of ICSA is going to be a great challenge. Lorna is a class act. As I said at the ICSA membership meeting in Montreal, I have heard criticisms about almost everyone I know in this organization (including me); I have never heard a negative comment about Lorna."

Well,  think about this sentence: "I have heard criticisms about almost everyone I know in this organization [ICSA] (including me); I have never heard a negative comment about Lorna [Goldberg]." Doesn't it mean that he considers that it is something unusual when people do not criticize someone in ICSA and it is something normal when they do so.

Another interesting thing is that he did not say that this criticism was invalid. In fact, if the criticism had been invalid, he would not probably praised Lorna Goldberg for not being criticized. His words about Lorna Goldberg actually indicate that he considers that she is better than others exactly because other people do not criticize her. [Actually, unlike Steve Eichel, I did hear criticism about Lorna Goldberg from one person who is her ex-client, but, to me, that criticism looks like misunderstanding and not a valid criticism.]

So, Steve Eichel admits that most people in the ICSA have been criticized and probably most of this criticism has been valid. This means that probably some of these people have been criticized for unethical violations and other such things. What is his response? He just does not care. ICSA website ( states:

"[O]ne of his favorite quotations: “Less judgment, more curiosity.”"

Well, I do not really know what he means by curiosity, but judgement is obviously criticism. Thus, the obvious conclusion is that criticism is discouraged in ICSA. It is well-known that criticism is discouraged in cults, but it is less known that it is also discouraged in, at least, some of the anti-cult circles. In other words, it is fine for anti-cult mental health professionals to be unethical, but it is wrong to criticize them (and even if they are being criticized, the criticism should be neglected).

Another interesting observation is that some of the anti-cult mental health professionals who discourage criticism when their colleagues are being criticized, at the same time like to criticize people whom they do not know (for example, religious people or religious leaders, politicians, etc.). It looks quite strange that they consider that any criticism is fine unless someone among their colleagues in the anti-cult is being criticized. If it is not hypocrisy, then, what is it?

Although some anti-cult people prefer to suppress criticism and not to speak about the problems in the anti-cult field openly, there are others who go to another extreme and criticize almost everyone, like, for example, the "unholy trinity" - Rick Ross, Cathleen Mann, and Monica Pignotti. However, the problem is that their criticism is not constructive: their goal is criticism for criticism, not for any improvement. Also, these people are not any more ethical than those whom they criticize, but they will never admit it. So, they are actually hypocrites.

Among the anti-cult people (whether it is said openly or behind people's back), it is quite popular to say that their opponents are unrecovered (from their cult involvement) and behave like cult members or leaders. Well, it is actually an interesting statement because most people in the anti-cult field are ex-members of cults and because most anti-cult people believe that ex-members of cults will never fully recover. Even the anti-cult people who have never been cult members might have grown up in dysfunctional families or have other problems that they have never recovered from. So, the anti-cult movement may be defined as a group of unrecovered people who behave like cult members or leaders.

Even the anti-cult people admit that, at least, many people in their field behave in the same way as people in cults, which means, of course, that the anti-cult movement is not any better than the "kingdom of cults." But what is worse is that it is considered to be normal. So, since cults are abusive, no wonder that the anti-cult movement is abusive as well.

Well, apparently, the goal of the anti-cult movement is to fight against the cult abuse. But it does not fight against its own, anti-cult abuse. Probably, there is a need in the anti-anti-cult movement in order to fight against the anti-cult abuse, but this new movement may become corrupted itself.

I think that the best solution for ex-members of cults who do not want to be abused again is to leave not only their cults, but also the anti-cult movement. Eventually, you will not miss anything because most anti-cult mental health professionals do not believe that the full recovery from cults is possible. In other words, if you leave the anti-cult movement, you will not miss your chance to recover from your cult involvement.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Psychology and Theology (4)

Writing about Christian psychologists, I have not mentioned Dr. Gary R. Collins yet. I have his two books - Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide and Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality. After reading about various kinds of Christian counseling, I was quite interested about Christian coaching.

The difference between coaching and counseling, as Collins puts it, is that counseling deals with people's problems and their past, while coaching deals with their realization of their potential and their future. Counseling deals with the negative side and brings people to "zero," while coaching deals with the positive side and brings people from "zero" forward.

It seems that Christian counseling and Christian coaching are not always so clearly divided as Collins describes it. Some things from the realm of Christian coaching (for example, setting life goals) are sometimes included into Christian counseling. On the other hand, some things from the realm Christian counseling (not only such things as stress management, grief and loss, but even such things as phobias, anxiety, depression, etc.) are sometimes included into Christian coaching.

It may be that sometimes it is hard to divide counseling and coaching. For example, during the process of coaching, a coach may find out that a client has some problems that need to be dealt with. If the coach has sufficient qualification in counseling, he or she may counsel the client instead of sending him or her to a counselor.

However, the main idea is that counseling helps people to get rid of their problems, while coaching helps people to realize their potential. So, counseling is for people who have problems (who might have mental disorders), while coaching is for mentally healthy people.

In another blog post, I considered the difference between spiritual aspects of the post-cult recovery and post-cult spiritual quest. Spiritual aspects of the post-cult recovery are in the realm of counseling, while post-cult spiritual quest is in the realm of coaching. This is one of the applications of the distinction between the realms of counseling and of coaching.

On the other hand, I believe that even purely psychological aspects of the post-cult recovery include not only matters inside the realm of counseling, but also matters inside the realm of coaching. On the one hand, ex-cult members may have some psychological problems, and these problems are in the realm of counseling. On the other hand, they also may need, for example, to set life goals and to reach them. This is the realm of coaching. In other words, "negative" aspects of the post-cult recovery are in the realm of counseling, while "positive" aspects of the post-cult recovery are in the realm of coaching.

I believe that it is possible to get rid of all the post-cult problems. They do not need to be permanent. In other words, the "negative" side of the post-cult recovery does not need to take the whole life. On the other hand, I do not think that the "positive" side of the post-cult recovery should take the whole life either. Well, during various transitional periods of life (moving to another city, getting a new job, getting married or divorced, and so on), people need to deal with things in the realm of coaching. Exiting a cult is also a transitional period of life. This is why the post-cult recovery includes some matters within the realm of coaching. However, when ex-cult members have other transitional periods of life, which have nothing to do with cults, although these periods will be within the realm of coaching, they will have nothing to do with the post-cult recovery. In other words, I believe that the "positive" side of the post-cult recovery, which is within the realm of coaching, only has to do with the transitional period of life after leaving a cult and has nothing to do with other transitional periods of life or other kinds of situations that may be in the realm of coaching.

Although there is a tendency to pay much more attention to the "negative" side of the post-cult recovery, I think that a more balanced approach would be to view it as a combination of the "negative" and "positive" sides.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Psychology and Theology (3)

In another blog post, I mentioned Dr. Jay E. Adams, the founder of so called nothetic counseling who promotes the idea that, with the exception of organic reasons (such as brain damage), all the mental disorders come from sins committed by people who suffer from these disorders, and that, instead of psychotherapy, they need to confess their sins. As I mentioned, one of the problems with this approach that it may lead to spiritual abuse.

It is usually believed that this approach uses only biblical and Christian principles and does not use psychology. It seems to be the most popular approach within The Scripture Against Psychology aka "Nothing Buttery" view. However, reading his book Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (published in 1970) where he introduces his approach, I found out that his approach has much to do with psychology. In this book, Adams criticizes Freud and Rogers, but admires ideas of secular psychologist Dr. Orval Hobart Mowrer, and actually admits that he used Mowrer's ideas for his nouthethic counseling.

Adams writes in Introduction to Competent to Counsel: Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling (pp. xiv-xviii):
... I remembered the name of a man whose works a Christian psychologist had once mentioned to me. That man was O. Hobart Mowrer.

I read some of Mowrer's works, including The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion, and The New Group Therapy, which he had just published. These books astounded me. Mowrer had gone far beyond my own thinking. He was flatly challenging the very existence of institutionalized psychiatry. He stated outrightly that he believed that current psychiatric dogmas were false. He cited evidence to demonstrate that psychiatry largely had failed. I corresponded with Mowrer over certain points. In that correspondence Mowrer invited me to participate in his Eli Lilly Fellowship program at the University of Illinois, where he is Research Professor of Psychology. I went to the University of Illinois, where I worked under Mowrer during the summer session. That was an unforgettable experience for which I shall always be grateful. Getting away from all else and concentrating on the question of counseling for two months was exactly what I needed.

During the summer of 1965 we worked in two state mental institutions, one at Kankakee, Illinois, and the other at Galesburg, Illinois. In these two mental institutions, we conducted group therapy with Mowrer for seven hours a day. Along with five others, I flew with him, drove with him, ate with him, counseled with him and argued with him five days a week. I learned much during that time, and while today I certainly would not classify myself as a member of Mowrer's school, I feel that the summer program was a turning point in my thinking. There in those mental institutions, under Mowrer's methods, we began to see people labeled "neurotic, psychoneurotic, and psychotic" (people of all stripes) helped by confessing deviant behavior and assuming personal responsibility for it. Mowrer's emphasis upon responsibility was central. Mowrer urged people to "confess" their wrongs (not to God, but) to others whom they had wronged and to make restitution wherever possible. Mowrer is not a Christian. He is not even a theist, and we debated the issue of humanism all summer.

During that time I made a study of the principal biblical data on the subject of counseling, which special reference to what Scripture says about conscience. That summer's experience left me with some large convictions. First, I discovered why the large majority of people in mental institutions are there. Spending so much time with such persons afforded the opportunity to get to know and understand them. Apart from those who had organic problems, like brain damage, the people I met in the two institutions in Illinois were there because of their own failure to meet life's problems. To put it simply, they were there because of their unforgiven and unaltered sinful behavior. Secondly, the whole experience drove me back to the Bible to ask once again, "What do the Scriptures say about such people and the solution to their problems?"

Reading Mowrer's book The Crisis in Psychiatry and Religion, as I said, was an earth-shaking experience. In this book Mowrer, a noted research psychologist who had been honored with the Presidency of the American Psychological Association for his breakthrough in learning theory, challenged the entire field of psychiatry, declaring it a failure, and sought to refute its fundamental Freudian presuppositions. Boldly he threw down the gauntlet to conservative Christians as well. He asked: "Has Evangelical religion sold its birthright for a mess of psychological pottage?"

In Crisis, Mowrer particularly opposed the Medical Model from which the concept of mental illness was derived. He showed how this model removed responsibility from the counselee. Since one is not considered blameworthy for catching Asian Flu, his family treats him with sympathetic understanding, and others make allowances for him. This is because they know he can't help his sickness. He was invaded from without. Moreover, he must helplessly rely on experts to help him get well. Mowrer rightly maintained that the Medical Model took away the sense of personal responsibility. As a result, psychotherapy became a search into the past to find others (parents, the church, society, grandmother) on whom to place the blame. Therapy consists of siding against the too-strict Super-ego (conscience) which these culprits have socialized into the poor sick victim.

In contrast, Mowrer antithetically proposed a Moral Model of responsibility. He said that the "patient's" problems are moral, not medical. He suffers from real guilt, not guilt feelings (false guilt). The basic irregularity is not emotional, but behavioral. He is not a victim of his conscience, but a violator of it. He must stop blaming others and accept responsibility for his own poor behavior. Problems may be solved, not by ventilation of feelings, but rather by confession of sin.

From my protracted involvement with the inmates of the mental institutions at Kankakee and Galesburg, I was convinced that most of them were there, as I said, not because they were sick, but because they were sinful. In counseling sessions, we discovered with astonishing consistency that the main problems people were having were of their own making. Others (grandmother, et al.) were not their problem; they themselves were their own worst enemies. Some had written bad checks, some had become entangled in the consequences of immorality, others had cheated on income tax, and so on. Many had fled to the institution to escape the consequences of their wrong doing. A number had sought to avoid the responsibility of difficult decisions. We also saw evidence of dramatic recovery when people straightened out these matters. Humanistic as his methods were, Mowrer clearly demonstrated that even his approach could achieve in a few weeks what in many cases psychotherapy had been unable to do in years.

I came home deeply indebted to Mowrer for indirectly driving me to a conclusion that I as a Christian minister should have known all along, namely, that many of the "mentally ill" are people who can be helped by the ministry of God's Word. I have been trying to do so ever since.

So, this idea that all the people who have mental disorders and various psychological problems are responsible for their problems comes not from the Bible, but from secular psychology. In fact, it seems that Adams' approach is better than Mowrer's because he emphasizes that counselees should be treated with love and sympathy, while he never mentioned that Mowrer treated his clients this way.

Well, maybe this approach is currently more popular among Christian ministers than among secular psychologists, but the fact is that it comes from secular psychology and not from the Bible. In fact, there are some biblical objections to this approach.

The Bible does not make such emphasis on admonition as Adams does. The Bible speaks not only about admonishing, but also about comforting one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB): "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone." The Bible often encourages Christians to sympathize with one another, for example, Rom. 12:15 (NIV): "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."

In chapter 9 of Effective Biblical Counseling, Larry Crabb writes:
Jay Adams has become widely known for his confrontational approach. In his insistence that his model is the only truly biblical one, he argues that the Greek word noutheteo, which includes the idea of verbal, directive, instructive confrontation, provides the central concept of Christian counseling. In chapter 1 I referred to Colossians 1:28 where Paul states that he "nouthetically confronts" people in an effort to promote their maturity. Although I agree with Adams that Christian maturity is the central goal of biblical counseling, I do not think that the strategy of confrontation exhausts all possible ways to achieve the goal. Certainly there are times when strong firm confrontation is right and necessary. But there are other times when gentle support, encouragement, concerned listening, exploration of inner dynamics, reflection, clarification, and acceptance of feelings are desirable.

A confrontational model is not nearly broad enough to cover all the ingredients of effective Christian counseling. Paul told the Thessalonians to nouthetically confront those who were disorderly in their actions, people who were stubbornly resisting their responsibilities. But he also instructed them to comfort people who were despondent or fainthearted. The Greek word for comfort is paramutheo and literally means to "speak close." It was used to describe an emotional expression of support and love without a hint of confrontational rebuke. To harshly confront a fainthearted person not only would be cruel but also positively harmful. Paul also advised them to hold strongly onto those who were weak. The thought seems to be that some people need to borrow from another's strength on occasion. Other encouragements to bear each other's burdens support the idea that the local body of believers is to be an interdependent fellowship including confrontation, supportive encouragement, strong assistance, and likely a host of other behaviors. Counseling then includes far more than confrontation and sometimes may not include confrontation at all. John Carter suggests that the word parakaleo and its cognate [148] paraklesis offer a "much more adequate model of counseling (than noutheteo) from a Biblical perspective." He points out that, whereas noutheteo and its cognate occur only thirteen times in the New Testament, parakaleo or one of its forms is translated (in the King James Version) twenty-nine times as "comfort," twenty-seven times as "exhort," fourteen times as "consolation," and forty-three times as "beseech." He also makes the more important point that paraklesis is listed specifically as a gift to the church (Rom. 12:8). Vine says that parakaleo denotes "to call to one's side, hence, to call to one's aid. It is used for every kind of calling to a person which is meant to produce a particular effort, hence, with various meanings such as comfort, exhort, desire, call for ... (and) beseech."

I agree with Crabb's criticism of Adams' approach here. Blaming all the people for all their problems, telling them that they need to repent, confess their sins, and change their behavior may seriously harm them, and the Bible does not encourage this. It encourages to comfort and support people who have problems, but this side is lacking in Adams' model.

I guess that abusive pastors may use Adams' ideas in order to blame people for all their problems. However, the thing is that this idea comes not from the Bible (as many people wrongly believe). This idea comes from secular psychology. Many ex-members of Bible-based cults and abusive churches tend to believe that Christianity is harmful and secular psychology is safe. But it is not really so. And, as I mentioned, Adams' approach seems to be much more compassionate than Mowrer's approach.

Another problem with Adams' approach is that he considers that there are two sources for mental problems: organic problems and personal sins. He states that the Bible does not say that there is any third source. Well, the Bible does not clearly says about organic mental disorders or about mental disorders that come from personal sins. However, the Bible does say much about demon possession that may cause conditions very similar to mental disorders. Adams does not mention demon possession at all.

Some Christians tend to pay too much attention to Satan and demons and blame them for all their sins (thus removing their own responsibility). This is one extreme. Adams seems to neglect demon activity completely. I believe that this is another extreme. The Bible not only speaks about demon possession (when a person is completely controlled by a demon or demons), but also about Christians' war against Satan and demons (in Ephesians 6:10-18 and some other passages). In chapter 5 of Christian Counseling A Comprehensive Guide, clinical psychologist Dr. Gary R. Collins mentions several possible reasons for mental problems, including organic problems, sins, demons, etc. Although he believes that demon possession is very rare, he does not deny it completely. I think his approach is more biblical. It seems that Adams' idea that there are only two sources of mental problems (organic problems and personal wrongdoings) comes from Mowrer and not from the Bible. It would be hard to expect that Mowrer believed in demons if he did not believe in God. Well, if a person is demon-possessed, of course, he or she should not be blamed for all their problems (though some people may intentionally invite demons). I guess it may be one of the reasons why Adams does not speak about a possibility of demon possession.

Then, the third problem is that Adams selects only the biblical passages that support his ideas and neglects those that do not match his ideas. For example, writing about biblical counseling, he quotes only the verses that mention admonition (in Greek "nouthesis") and rejects those that mention comfort, consolation, etc. In the same way, he "proves" that the cause of depression is always sin, taking three psalms (32, 38, and 51) where Psalmist sinned, experienced depression, confessed, and rejoiced. However, there are many more psalms where Psalmist experienced depression because he was oppressed and persecuted by his enemies. Adams does not mention them at all, obviously, because they do not match his theory. Actually, the only conclusion that can be made after reading and studying Psalms is that depression sometimes may be caused by unconfessed sin, but in many cases, it is caused by other reasons, such as ill-treatment or wrongdoings of other people. This conclusion does not match Adams' theory that is based on Mowrer's moral model of responsibility rather than on the Bible. So, he does not mention these psalms at all. This point is probably quite important for ex-members of cults who suffer from depression. Those who use Adams' model of counseling would probably tell ex-members of cults that if they experience depression, it is because of their own sins. However, the Bible clearly says that in many cases (probably, in most cases) depression is caused by other reasons, such as other people;s wrongdoings toward them. In other words, if ex-cult members suffer from depression, it is not their fault, but most likely it is the cult leaders' fault.

In conclusion, Adams' model of nouthetic counseling is based on Mowrer's ideas and contradicts the Bible.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Post-Cult Recovery and Other Life Problems

After leaving cults, many people spend long years in their post-cult recovery - up to 20 or 30 years, sometimes, the rest of their life.

However, it is quite obvious that people may have problems regardless of their cult involvement. People may have various problems during their childhood and adult life. People who have never been involved in cults may have these problems, and obviously people who were in cults may have them too. In other words, not all the problems that ex-members of cults may have are related to their cult involvement in any way.

Some psychotherapists tend to believe that all the people's problems are related to their childhood experiences. So, they take much time, analyzing these problems. However, some people's problems are related not to their childhood, but to various experiences later in life.

In a similar way, some people in the anti-cult field and some ex-cult members tend to believe that all their problems are related to their cult involvement. However, they may have some pre-cult and after-cult problems that are not cult-related at all. If people believe that all their problems are cult-related, they may neglect other problems, and I do not think that it is a correct approach.

Well, during the recent four years and especially recently, the most problems I had to deal with were not cult-related at all. Some of them were pre-cult (including some childhood-related problems), some were after-cult, but not related to my cult experience at all.

I think I should say here that I do not consider that to have problems and to have mental disorders is the same thing. Well, of course, people who have mental disorders have serious problems. But mentally healthy people may also have some problems.

Well, there are different definitions of what mental health is. Moreover, some of them are culture-related. For example, in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), there is diagnosis "Neurasthenia" (F48.0). This diagnosis is absent in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Regarding this difference, there is an interesting explanation in Wikipedia article on neurasthenia: 'Americans were said to be particularly prone to neurasthenia, which resulted in the nickname "Americanitis."' Well, in Russia, neurasthenia is still considered as a valid diagnosis, and it is still called "neurasthenia," not "Americanitis." It has never even been renamed to "Russianitis." Most Russians have never been given this diagnosis (that is, of "neurasthenia," not of "Americanitis" or "Russianitis"). However, in Russia, it is not viewed as a serious mental disorder, just a kind of "nervosism."

Moreover, in ICD-10, there is diagnosis "Mental disorder, not otherwise specified" (F99), which can be used if no other code from F00-F98 may be applied. Well, I guess this diagnosis gives a lot of freedom to fantasy of some mental health professionals.

Anyway, my point is that what some mental health professionals consider as a disorder, others may not consider this way, and vice versa. Also, speaking about people who have some problems (including psychological post-cult problems) I do not mean to say that all of them have mental disorders.