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This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in ICSA Today, Vol. 02, No. 03, pages 34-35. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Profiles On…

Edited by Mary O’Connell

Alvaro Rodriguez-Carballeira

When he speaks about cultic studies, and those involved, words like “transformation,” “interesting,” and “fullness” come up.

“The exit (also the entrance) from a cult carries one of the deepest and most comprehensive transformations of human beings.  Helping a person in that process of retaking care of their lives in fullness is one of the more interesting tasks in the field of mental health.”  And, his advice to those exiting: “You have before you a great opportunity for personal growth.  Best if you have professional help.  Put all your efforts into working for your recovery and your future.”

It is clear that Professor Alvaro Rodriguez-Carballeira looks at the field of cultic studies with the eye of a scientist, the soul of an artist, and the heart of a healer.  His view of the entire subject is neither reductive, nor pitying, nor condescending in any way.  Rather, even after almost 30 years he is still utterly fascinated, utterly in awe.  In fact, the group that he has formed, centered from his university, is called Invictus, reflecting the immense respect he has for survivors.

“While I was working as a psychologist in the 80s on the subject of cults, professor Federico Javaloy, who later was the director of my dissertation, invited me to do research about these themes and join them to my post degree studies.  There was born my link with research and my activity as a university teacher.”

Since that time he has worked in this field.  From 1999 – 2008 he was Head of the Social Psychology Department at the University of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.  Since 2003 he has been Research Project Manager of Psychological Violence Research Group. He is now spearheading an extensive study into psychological violence in four areas: groups, couples, the workplace, and terrorism. This study is funded in part by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science.

Professor Rodriguez-Carballeira spent a happy childhood in Galicia, Spain, enjoying the charms of a small town and the enchantment of nature.  He still loves nature and animals but has no pets because “I prefer to see them living their lives in their habitat with their fellows.”

In his free time, the professor likes to cultivate relationships with family and friends, and he mentions that, in this world of virtual communication, strengthening close interpersonal contact is important.  He also enjoys sports, playing tennis, movies, music, etc.  

At the annual ICSA Conference held in 2011 in Barcelona, Prof. Rodriguez-Carballeira was awarded the Margaret T. Singer prize for his almost 30 years' dedication. He was lauded at that time as being “an undeniable go-to person for information on these groups in Spain, both in terms of his professional and educational work and his research,” and for his “characteristic humility.”

When asked what he finds most gratifying in his work, even in the face of the seemingly overpowering nature of cultic involvement, Professor Alvaro Rodriguez-Carballeira answers that, for him, it is most gratifying “to know that the effects of undue influence processes in cults are reversible and have an end.”

Alvaro Rodriguez-Carballeira is Professor of Social Psychology and Legal Psychology at the University of Barcelona.  Information about his group, Invictus, can be found at http://www.ub.edu/grupvp .

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