Monday, July 28, 2008

The Purpose of My Blog

I realize that I should have started my blog with explaining my purpose rather than to do that now. However, it is better late than never.

After I left a pseudo-Christian mind controlling cult, for a long time I have had a question: How to be a Christian without being mind controlled? I believe this is an important question for people who left pseudo-Christian cults and abusive churches.

The main problem here is how to discern what is mind control and spiritual abuse and what is normal Christian experience. I found out that it is not so easy to find out how to do that.

There are two approaches to the problem of cults. Psychologists who study mind control in cults tend to neglect spiritual experience. Christian theologians tend to neglect mind control. I think that in order to find the answer to my question, it is important to consider both psychology and theology.

In my blog, I post my ideas and opinions regarding my question: What is mind control and what is normal spiritual experience. I do not have a purpose to criticize anybody just for the sake of criticism. I am trying to find an answer to my question. I do not claim that I know all the answers. And I will be glad if my posts will help other former members of abusive churches and pseudo-Christian mind controlling cults. They are welcomed to discuss these questions.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jesus Christ's Personality Type

In The Discipling Dilemma, Flavil Yeakley wrote that Christ has all the functions (extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving) because He is God. This means that His type is not ESFJ, nor any other type.

Since Christ is not only God, but also a man, there is also a question about His human personality type. Yeakley wrote that Gospels do not provide the information about Christ's personality type because sometimes He acted as an extravert, sometimes as an introvert, and so on. I agree with that.

So, it is impossible to figure out Christ's human personality type from the Bible. On the one hand, it may mean that God purposely hid His personality type from people. On the other hand, Christ is a perfect man, the only perfect one. Every personality type is normal. However, still every type has some advantages and some weaknesses. Since Christ is perfect, it means that He has no shortages. Every type has some limitations. Christ does not have any limitations. This probably means that Christ as a perfect human being is not limited by only one personality type. This means that He could act as a person of different psychological types at different times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mind Control and Religious Experience in Religious Cults

I think that members of religious cults have a combination of religious experience and experience of mind control. Members of non-cultic religious groups have a pure religious experience.

I cannot say that members of religious cults do not have any religious experience. They do, since they believe in God (according to their concepts), pray, and have other religious practices. However, their religious experience is very much influenced by experience of mind control.

New Discussion Group on Cults

I started a new group for people who are interested in both psychological and religious matters of cults. In this group there will be discussion on mind control as well as religious doctrines and practices of cults. Unlike some other groups, there will be a freedom to express different opinions and religious views there. However, this group is not for proselytism or cult promotion.

Click to join discussion-on-cults

A Recomendation for Former Members of Cults

After cults, many people have some confusion about their real self. I think that it might be helpful for them to find out their psychological type before the cult involvement. It might be good to find out their real psychological type and also the psychological type promoted by their cult. I guess it might be helpful in understanding themselves.

Changes of Personality Types

Here I would like to consider a statement that personality types can be changed not only in cults. This statement is one of attempts to undermine Flavil Yeakley's study.

Replying to this statement, I would like to give some quotations from The Discipling Dilemma, chapter 2:

The MBTI was administered to 304 members of churches of Christ that are not a part of the discipling movement. There were 150 females and 154 males in this sample. They were given the same past, present, and future instructions as those used in the study of the Boston Church of Christ. Not a single one of these individuals changed on all four of the MBTI scales or even on three of them. Three people changed on two of the scales and 33 changed on one of the scales. All 36 who showed any change at all in MBTI scores had very low preference scores on the scales involved in the changing scores. This level of change is about what one would expect under these conditions from random test error. The MBTI, after all, is not a perfect indicator. In this comparative study, however, there was no observable pattern in the few changes that took place. Those who changed from Extravert to Introvert, Sensor to Intuitor Thinker to Feeler, or Judger to Perceiver were balanced by others changing in the opposite direction. The overall distribution did not change.

The people who have changes of scores on MBTI scales are those who had very low preference scores on the scales involved in the changing scores. In addition, these changes do not indicate that their personality types were changed. These changes are caused by random test error. Another important point is that there was no pattern in these changes.

However, the changes of members of ICC and some non-Christian cults were very different.

The first result of this study to be discussed is the observation that a great majority of the members of the Boston Church of Christ changed psychological type scores in the past, present, and future versions of the MBTI. Among the 835 individuals who took all three forms of the MBTI, less than five percent showed no change at all and less than seven percent had the same past and future type. Among the rest, a comparison of past and future types showed that almost 20 percent changed on one MBTI scale, 35 percent changed on two, over 26 percent changed on three, and over 12 percent changed on all four scales, thus experiencing a total reversal of type. The mean number of scale changes was 2.18 among the 835 members of the Boston Church of Christ who took all three forms of the MBTI. The present distribution was significantly different from the past distribution. The difference between past and future type distributions was highly significant.

The first result is that most members of ICC experienced changes of psychological type scores while only few members of Churches of Christ had some changes of scores.

A second result of this study that must be noticed is that the observed changes in psychological type scores were not random since there was a clear convergence in a single type.

There was a clear pattern of changing from introversion to extraversion, from intuition to sensing, from thinking to feeling, and from perceiving to judging.

Those who were the least likely to change were those who already were ESFJs. They averaged only 0.32 changes on the four MBTI scales. Those who were the most likely to change were those who started as the opposite type, INTP. They averaged 3.55 changes on the four scales. There was a strong positive correlation between the number of differences between a type and the ESFJ model, on the one hand, and the mean number of changes on the four MBTI scales on the other hand. The more a person differed from the ESFJ model, the more likely that person was to change on more of the MBTI scales.

There was a clear pattern of changes of personality types in ICC while there was no pattern of changes in Churches of Christ.

So, the changes of personality type scores outside of cults are very low. They are caused by random test error and not by actual changing of personality types. These changes do not have any pattern.

Flavil Yeakly wrote that the true type is inborn and does not change. What may change is the result of MBTI testing.

I used MBTI and some other tests of psychological types for the time before I joined the cult, for the time in the cult, and for the present time. I had the same results each time.

Before the cult I was INTJ. In the cult, I was ESFJ. Now, I am INTJ. As I have mentioned, ESFJ was the personality type of the cult leader. I had almost the same scores before the cult and for the present time. In both cases, I got very expressive preferences for introversion, intuition, and thinking. However, I had changes in all these scales to extroversion, sensing, and feeling. These changes are impossible outside of cults. In addition, after the cult, I returned to the same type and almost to the same scores as before the cult.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Margaret Singer on the Difference between Mind Control and Religion

Margaret Singer gave a very good definition of difference between mind control and religion in How Thought Reform Works.

Coercive persuasion is not a religious practice, it is a control technology. It is not a belief or ideology, it is a technological process.

Coercive persuasion is antithetical to the First Amendment. It is the unfair manipulation of other's biological and psychological weaknesses and susceptibilities. It is a psychological force technology, not of a free society, but of a criminal or totalitarian society. It is certainly not a spiritual or religious technology.

This shows that she did not confuse mind control (or coercive persuasion as she called it) and religion.

Her Six Conditions for Thought Reform do not confuse mind control (thought reform) and religious experience either.

Unfortunately, some cult experts still keep confusing mind control and religious experience.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Which Way to Take?

After leaving abusive churches and pseudo-Christian cults, people usually take one of the two ways. The first way is the way of religion, spirituality, and especially Christianity. The second way is the way of psychology. Many people are able to reach post-cult recovery through one of these ways. I took both ways at different times and combinations. Eventually, I came to conclusion that the best way is the combination of both ways.

The point is that cults cause both psychological and spiritual problems. The way of psychology is quite suitable for solving psychological problems. However, it cannot solve spiritual problems. The way of spirituality is able to solve spiritual problems. The proper balance of the ways of psychology and religion (that may be different for different cases and people) can solve both kinds of problems.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Is Psychological Counseling Necessary?

Many psychologists/cult experts say that former members of cults have to get a psychological counseling. I admit that the psychological counseling can help former members of cults to solve their problems more quickly and can be useful. However, there is a problem that not all ex-members of cults can get this psychological help because in their countries or their localities there are not such specialists.

Some professionals say that psychological counseling is necessary, otherwise an ex-member of cult will have permanent problems. This leaves the people who live far from cult experts without any hope.

Reading Margaret Singer's works, I noticed that she had never stated that psychological counseling is absolutely necessary. She considered the process of postcult recovery as an educational process, and not as a therapeutic process.

Coming out of the cult pseudo-personality is about reeducation and growth. Self-help through reading can be invaluable for those who live far from knowledgeable resources such as exit-counselors, cult information specialists, former member support groups, and mental health professionals.
(Cults in our Midst, chapter 12)

This gives a hope to ex-members of cults who live far away from cult experts.

So, I think that ex-members of cults who are able to consult psychologists/cult experts, should do that. Those who do not have this opportunity should educate themselves through reading the literature on mind control, contacts with other ex-members of cults and so on. Through their doing that, they can solve their problems caused by cults.

I know some former members of cults who did not go to psychologists, but were able to deal with their problems caused by cults.

Psychology and Theology

There are two ways of approaching the cults - anticult and countercult. Countercult approach is mainly Christian and deals with the theological issues such as doctrinal deviations and heretical teachings. Anticult approach is psychological and sociological. It deals with the psychological issues such as mind control.

There is a difference of opinions regarding what a cult is. Christian theologians usually define it as a group that has heretical views, twists the Bible, and is formed around one person (the leader) or some peculiar interpretation of the Bible. Psychologists (cult experts) define a cult as a group that uses mind control, authoritarian leadership, and is formed around the leader or a group of leaders.

This difference of definitions causes Christian theologians and psychologists to consider different groups as cults. According to theological definition, cults are religious groups. According to psychological definition, cults may be not only religious, but also philosophical, political, commercial, and so on.

There is also another terminology problem. There are some Christian churches that use undue influence on their members. Psychologists consider these churches as cults. However, since they do not have obvious heresies, theologians do not call them cults. Instead, they use a term "abusive churches." The most famous example is the International Church of Christ.

While there are serious disagreements between theologians and psychologists, I do not think it is inevitable. Psychology and theology have different fields of study. For example, physicists and chemists do not need to have fierce debates and disagreements, but they have their own fields and can have a good agreement. They also can use the works of one another for further studies in their fields. My personal opinion is that the same is possible with theologians and psychologists.

Former members of religious cults and abusive churches have some psychological problems. However, they also have spiritual problems. They often have a question how to have a normal spiritual experience without being under mind control and spiritual abuse. Many of them have a desire to continue their spiritual life and they seek the way how to do that in a new way.

Usually, psychologists (cult experts) say that former members of religious cults and abusive churches should go to consult a psychologist/cult expert. However, I think it is equally important for them to have a proper spiritual care and be consulted by a good pastor or priest. I even think that it will be good if a psychologist and a pastor can work in coordination.

Some psychologists neglect proper spiritual experience while they pay attention on mind control. Some theologians neglect mind control while they pay attention on proper spiritual experience. If psychologists and theologians can work in coordination, I think it would be a great benefit.