Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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.

No comments: