Overview: Families, Cults, and Related Groups
Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Families usually seek information from us because they have a loved one involved in what they think might be a cult or related group that concerns them. (Sometimes an entire family has been in a group or the loved one is out of the group. In these cases, our Former Group Members study guide will also be applicable.)
Although getting information on the group in question has utility, it is usually at least as important to understand the processes that underlie group involvements. This and other study guides are designed to provide you with useful background information.
In this overview we want to call your attention to a number of points that we believe families with an involved loved one should keep in mind. We recommend that you read this overview first. Specific articles and other resources are listed to the right, including important definitional essays.
As you continue to explore this field, please keep the following in mind:
Although our capacity to give individualized responses to inquiries is limited, we do what we can and, when appropriate and feasible, refer inquirers to people who may be able to give additional assistance. The ICSA network includes experienced helping professionals.
If this service interests you, contact us.
Resources for Families
Priority resources are bolded.
Coping with Cult Involvement: A Handbook for Families and Friends (by Livia Bardin, MSW) is available for $15 (USA only) in our bookstore. It is also available as a free online PDF. Book Review.
Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse - Hardover (Michael Langone, PhD, Editor). Available for $20 in our bookstore. Book Review.
An Investigation into Cult Pseudo-Personality: What is It and How Does It Form? - Gillie Jenkinson, M.A. Cultic Studies Review , 7(3), 2008, 199-224.
Aspects of Concern Regarding Legion of Christ Mind Control Reflected in Its Rules, Norms, and Ex-Member Testimonies. J. Paul Lennon. ICSA E-Newsletter, 5(2), 2006.
Attacks on Peripheral versus Central Elements of Self and the Impact of Thought Reforming Techniques. Richard Ofshe, PhD & Margaret Thaler Singer, PhD Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 1986, 4-18.
Back From the Brink: An Abusive Church Movement Recovers Its Balance. Lawrence A. Pile.
“By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them”: How Good and Bad Works Can Deceive – the Case of the Legion of Christ – Michael Langone. ICSA Today, 3(3), 2012, 2-5.
Characteristics of Cultic Groups. Michael Langone.
Charismatic Covenant Community. Adrian Reimers. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 1986, 28-42.
Clinical Update on Cults. Michael Langone. Psychiatric Times, July 1996.
Cult Formation. Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 8(1), 1991, 1-6.
Cult Involvement: Suggestions for Concerned Parents and Professionals. Michael D. Langone, PhD. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(1), 1985, 148-168.
Cults and Families. Doni Whitsett, Ph.D. & Stephen A. Kent, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Review, 3(2), 2004.
Cults, Conversion, Science, and Harm (Introduction to 2001 ICSA Annual Conference). Michael Langone, PhD.
Deprogramming: An Analysis of Parental Questionnaires. Michael D. Langone, Ph.D. Cultic Studies Journal, 1(1), 63-78.
Devotees and Their Parents. Dhyana-kunda devi dasi. ISKCON Communications Journal, 4(1), 1996, 33-41.
Dysfunctional Churches. Ronald Enroth. Cult Observer, (9)4, 1992.
Family Dynamics During a Cult Crisis. Douglas Agustin. ICSA Today, 2(2), 2-5.
Family Interventions for Cult-Affected Loved Ones. Carol Giambalvo.
Family Responses to a Young Adult's Cult Membership and Return. Lorna Goldberg, MSW & William Goldberg, MSW. Cultic Studies Journal, 6(1), 1987, 86-100.
Family Workshop (Power Point). Michael D. Langone Ph.D.
From Deprogramming to Thought Reform Consultation. Carol Giambalvo.
How Could Anyone Join a Cult?!! Maureen Griffo.
How to Find Information on a Group. Larry Zilliox, Jr.
ICSA Recovery Workshops: The Colorado Model. Carol Giambalvo; Rosanne Henry. ICSA Today, 1(1), 2010, 2-9.
Influence. Robert Cialdini.
Leaving and Recovering From Cultic Groups and Relationships: Overview (Power Point). Michael Langone Ph.D.
Moments of Grace. Nancy Miquelon. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(2), 1998, 109-119.
My Experience in YWAM: A Personal Account and Critique of Cultic Manipulation. Laurie Jacobson. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(2), 1986, 204-233.
On Using the Term "Cult." Herbert L. Rosedale, Esq. and Michael D. Langone, PhD.
Panel Discussion: Can Cultic Groups Change—The Case of ISKCON. ISKCON Communications Journal, 7(2), 1999, 41-52.
Physical Child Abuse in Sects. Lois Kendall, PhD. ICSA Today, 2(2), 2011, pages.
Pitfalls To Recovery. Paul R. Martin, Ph.D.
Post-Cult Problems: An Exit Counselor's Perspective. Carol Giambalvo.
Prevalence. Michael Langone
Problem Solving An Approach for the Cult-Impacted Family. Dr. Sandy Andron, Ed.D. AFF News, 4(1).
Psychological Abuse. Michael D. Langone, PhD. Cultic Studies Journal, 9(2), 1991, 206-218. [sh]
Questionnaire Study: Preliminary Report. Michael D. Langone, PhD.
Reject the Wicked Man - Coercive Persuasion and Deviance Production: A Study of Conflict Management. Jerry Paul McDonald. Cultic Studies Journal, 4.2/5.1, 1987/88, 59-121.
Religion vs. Cult. Rev. Richard Dowhower.
Religious Conflict Resolution (Power Point). Michael Langone Ph.D.
Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought in Closed Groups. A Collective of Women. Cultic Studies Journal, 14(1), 1997, 58-84.
Sifting the Wheat from the Tares: 20 Signs of Trouble in a New Religious Group. Peter Vere. ICSA E-Newsletter, 4(2), 2005.
Six Conditions for Thought Reform. Margaret T. Singer Ph.D.
The Art of Hoping: A Mother’s Story. Anonymous.
The Colorado Model. Carol Giambalvo; Roseanne Henry.
The Role of the Family. Wendy Ford Wolfberg. Excerpted from Recovery from Abusive Groups.
Thought Reform Exists: Organized, Programmatic Influence. Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D. The Cult Observer 11(6), 1994.
Vulnerable Characteristics. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.
What Messages are Behind Today's Cults? Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D. Monitor of the American Psychological Association, May 1997, 14.
When You’re Asked About Cults. Robert Fellows, MTS. From Easily Fooled. Copyright Robert Fellows.