Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2014

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/356111

Contents of this Issue


Page 26 of 43

Be Proactive! M ost people are attracted to cults because they're searching for either com- munity and support, or greater clarity in their lives. To nd others who share your interests and can potentially be friends, search online for a MeetUp (www.meetup.com) in your area; there are meetups for everything from horse- back riding to walking meditation or reading poetry—and if you can't nd one that appeals to you, you can start your own. If you like to bike, join CICLE (www. cicle.org) or the LA Bicycle Coalition (www.la-bike.org). If yoga is your groove, check out a er-class events via your local studio or, if it's your inclination, at Angel City Brewery, where you can share a local brew a erward. If it's spiritual connection you're seeking, L.A. o ers many non-traditional op- tions, including numerous meditation-based organizations, dozens of progres- sive churches and at least two Renewal-based temples. To help nd clarity in your life, look into psychotherapy, meditation or per- haps an intuitive healer or psychic ( nd suggestions in our Professional Services Directory, pg. 34.) e most important step to take is the rst one: just begin. And whatever you decide to explore, don't check your judgment at the door, and don't give up if your rst e ort doesn't bring the hoped-for result. ere's something to be learned in every moment, even if it's only that a particular path is not right for you. —Flo Atkinson Recognizing a Cult K evin Crawley, author of Reintegration of Exiting Cult Mem- bers with eir Families: A Brief Intervention Model, de- scribes three typical essential elements of a cult: An "us" vs. "them" mentality. Subtle but intense indoctrination techniques, including one or more of the following: subjection to stress and fatigue; social disruption, isolation and pressure; criticism and humiliation; fear, anxiety and paranoia; control of information; escalating commitment; use of autohypnosis to induce peak experiences. A charismatic leader or group of leaders teaching that the cult is a special path to safety and salvation. One man advised, "Stay away. An intense course that deconstructs per- sonality and rebuilds it around continued participation in the group." Another described his experience as, " e most powerful and dangerous experience in my life… unlike anything I had experienced in 21 years of formal training and six years of medical residency." He continued, " ere is a real and measurable risk to the individuals involved in this work. So far, I have found eight case reports in the med- ical literature describing complete mental breakdowns requiring hospi- talization a er [this] training." As for my two friends, following what she describes as almost two years of brainwashing, isolation, and mental and emotional abuse, one was coerced into making nancial decisions that resulted in a nancial loss of close to half a million dollars. She managed to break away and is now re-evaluating her entire belief system. Another remains with the cult, serving as a virtual slave to its leader, including sexual favors. Her glassy-eyed compliance has made our friendship challenging. Again, these are mature, educated people—not lost, naïve young seekers. Who's at Risk A ccording to the Cult Hotline & Clinic, "Cults no longer focus on the young and searching. ey have expanded their recruit- ment e orts to include adults and senior citizens... they can bring in more money by preying on issues around mid-life crises, and fears around aging." Since cults o en present themselves as religions, they appeal to the spiritually disillusioned in search of some kind of salvation or purpose. And because they o er instant acceptance, support and communi- ty, someone going through a life crisis or feeling isolated and lonely is particularly vulnerable. To protect yourself, don't share your nancial information, and don't go to a remote place where you may be unable to escape. is may sound farfetched, but brainwashing is easier to do without outside in uences, and many cults use the lure of a "retreat." A number of cults continue to operate openly and successfully in our culture. With U.S. victims alone estimated at more than 20 million, chances are good that even if you don't think you've had direct contact, you almost certainly have. —International yoga travel guide, life coach and hypnotherapist Erica Boucher is the author of Showing Up Naked and creator of Empath Yoga, a heart-centered yoga training that includes personal development and elements of hypnosis. www.ericaboucher.com august/september 2014 27

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - August/September 2014