Policy Implications of Cultic Studies Research
“Cultic studies” is a term that grew out of the widespread use of the ambiguous term “cult” in the media and popular discourse. The term refers to the study of a variety of phenomena that are generally associated with coercion, abuse, psychological manipulation, and exploitation.
Hundreds of professional and research articles pertinent to cultic studies have been published.  Some articles relate clinical findings; others present systematically collected empirical data. Numerous topics are addressed in this literature, some of which have policy implications.
“Policy” is defined as “a course of action adopted and pursued by a government, ruler, political party, etc.” This paper will explore the policy implications of cultic studies research for governments and philanthropic organizations.
The fundamental findings of this report are:
There is abundant clinical and scientific evidence that many thousands of individuals and families have been harmed because of involvement in cultic relationships.
Professionals, researchers, and lay activists have addressed the problems posed by cultic relationships. Nevertheless, needs far outweigh available resources.
Though some countries have taken legislative action regarding problems posed by cultic groups, possible legislative remedies in the United States require further study.
Governments and foundations can contribute in many ways to help experts in the cultic studies area conduct research and improve and expand assistance and educational services.
Founded in 1979, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic and other high-control environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties, and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations. ICSA is unique in how it brings together former group members, families, helping professionals, and researchers.
ICSA's mission is to provide information, education, and help to those adversely affected by or interested in cultic and other high-control groups and relationships. ICSA fulfills its mission by encouraging, conducting, and applying research and professional perspectives to the organization’s programs, which include:
Conferences, workshops, and webinars aimed at former group members, families, researchers, helping professionals and others.
Periodicals: International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation (IJCAM), ICSA Today, and the ICSA E-Newsletter.
Developing and disseminating videos. ICSA’s YouTube channel currently has over 300 videos.
Publishing books, including
If I Could Turn Back Time: Reflections of Former Cult Members (in process)
Wounded Faith: Understanding and Healing from Spiritual Abuse
Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working with Former Members and Families
Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse
Coping with Cults: A Handbook for Families and Friends
Cults on Campus: Continuing Challenge
Family Interventions for Cult-Affected Loved ones
Recovery from Abusive Groups
Satanism and Occult-Related Violence: What You Should Know
he Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ
Women Under the Influence (special issue of Cultic Studies Journal)
ults: What Parents Should Know (out of print)
Responding to thousands of information and assistance requests
Encouraging and conducting research, such as the development of a scale to measure psychological abuse and surveys of former members, mental health professionals, and families.
Definition and Measurement
Researchers have proposed many definitions of “cult.” Three factors seem common to most definitions:
The group has a controlling and demanding leader.
Former members and outside observers claim that cults are characterized by high levels of exploitative psychological manipulation.
Large numbers, and probably a majority, of former members of groups accused of being cultic report psychological, spiritual, sexual, and sometimes physical abuse.
Much of the confusion surrounding the term “cult” results from the fact that each of these factors manifests on a continuum of intensity and does not necessarily characterize every group accused of being cultic. Moreover, these factors may operate in a family of noxious influence areas related to cults, including intimate partner violence, radicalization and extremism, human trafficking (including sex and labor trafficking), sexual grooming, gangs and gang violence, dysfunctional families, sexual harassment, workplace abuse, multilevel marketing, mindfulness, large group awareness trainings, coerced confessions, ostracism, polygamy, and spiritual/religious abuse. Because of “family resemblances,” cultic studies research is often relevant to these areas and vice versa.
Scientific research seeks to measure systematically the variables under investigation. In pursuit of this goal, a research team in Spain has developed measures of psychological abuse that can be used with different populations, including cults, victims of partner violence, and workplace abuse. Also, Dubrow-Marshall, Martin, and Burks developed the Extent of Group Identity Scale (EGIS). Two measures of spiritual abuse have also been developed recently by Keller and Roudkovski. The vital psychometric research of these researchers has laid the groundwork for many future studies.
Research suggests that approximately one percent of the population has been involved in a cultic group. If one were to include the family of noxious influence areas, the number of affected persons would be much higher.
Not all affected persons are harmed, but research indicates that a substantial number of persons are adversely affected. Those who join cultic groups as adults tend to remain in their group for at least several years. :Clinical reports indicate that a variety of therapeutic approaches can help cult victims and that recovery will often take one year or more of counseling.
During the past two decades, children born into cultic groups (S/MGAs – second or multi-generational cult members) left in large numbers when they became adults, and many appear to have serious psychological problems. In recent years, ICSA annual conferences have witnessed a steady rise in the number of S/MGAs– 25% of total attendance in recent conferences.
The number of cultic groups is estimated to be in the thousands. In an ICSA survey of 1393 persons, 955 respondents (69% of the total) named a group. 540 different groups were named. Only 9 named groups had 10 or more respondents listing the group; 302 respondents (32% of the total) were in one of these 9 groups. 653 respondents (68% of the total) were in a group with fewer than 10 respondents listing the group.
Types of Harm Associated with Cults
Harm to Individuals. Individuals adversely affected by a cult experience may demonstrate the following types of harm.
Physical and sexual abuse and/or neglect of children
Physical and sexual abuse of adults
Financial exploitation and deprivation
Psychiatric symptomatology, especially depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Damaged interpersonal relationships, e.g., with spouse, parents, close friends, and others
Diminished critical thinking capacity (e.g., “brain fog,” magical thinking, overreliance on authority)
Difficulty making decisions, coping with normal life challenges
Alteration of identity or personality
Fear of group and/or leader
Resentment about feeling manipulated, disillusionment
A tendency to deny distress or blame themselves rather than the group or leader
Wounded faith, damage to relationship to God or to central elements of self
Of course, not all former cult members experience all these problem areas, and some exit their group relatively unscathed. The prevalence of harm can only be estimated, for few research studies have representative samples of one group, let alone a wide variety of groups. An early study by Marc Galanter, which had access to Unification Church members and former members, found that “36% of the respondents indicated the emergence of ‘serious emotional problems’ at some time after leaving the church; 24% had ‘sought out professional help for emotional problems’ after leaving; and 3% (i.e., two respondents) had been hospitalized for such problems.” Langone says:
Assuming a lifetime incidence of 2,500,000 people having belonged to cultic groups, a "lifetime" period of 30 years, and an average length of stay of six years, I roughly estimate that approximately 500,000 people belong to cultic groups at any one time and approximately 85,000 go in and out of cultic groups each year.
If only 25% of these persons needed help when leaving their group, an estimated 20,000 former cult members would need help every year.
According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 577,000 mental health professionals practicing in the U.S. today. In a survey of 695 Pennsylvania psychologists, Lottick said: “Professional experience treating active or former cult members was reported by 33% of psychologists, and professional experience treating family or friends of the cult-involved was reported by 20.4%.” Considering the BLS and Lottick data, we may conclude that 20,000 former members needing help each year is a reasonable, if not a low, estimate. The degree to which the former member problems are directly due to the cult experience is unknown from a scientific standpoint, though clinicians who have worked with former cultists almost universally view the cult experience as a significant causal factor in their clients’ distress.
Harm to Families. In the early 1980s nearly all family members concerned about a loved one in a cultic group were parents who themselves had never affiliated with a cult. Today, the picture is much more varied. Almendros’s study of people concerned about a loved one in a cultic group found that only 47% of 245 participants had never been involved in a cult. 35 % were born or raised in a group, and 18% joined as an adult (“first generation” cult member).
Clinicians attest to the distress families experience, though few have written about the topic. Other than Almendros’s study, which has not yet been published, there is a striking lack of empirical research on the distress families of cult-involved persons experience, distress that often warrants psychological support. Almendros’s study found that the distress levels of cultists’ family members were as high or higher than families coping with a loved one affected by addictions, schizophrenia, or other problem areas. Cult families, however, were unique in the degree to which their loved ones have cut off contact (about 40% of family members report virtually no contact with their loved one), an action that many cultic groups encourage or even require.
Consistent with clinical reports, Almendros’s study found high levels of emotional arousal and confusion among family members. She also found that family members’ perceptions about their loved one’s cult involvement resembled those of mental health professionals. The following were the five highest rated items:
· Devoting enormous amounts of time to the group or relationship
· Being subservient to the leader(s)
· Being psychologically abused
· Their personality changing in fundamental ways
· Speaking in cliches or talking points
Harm to Society. Cultic groups impact society most visibly when there is a great tragedy or when crimes are committed. Among the front-page tragedies that have shaken the world are the Jonestown suicide/murders of 1978, Aum Shinrikyo’s Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, the Solar Temple murders in Switzerland, France, and Canada, the Salmonella poisoning of residents of Antelope, Oregon by members of the Rajneesh group, and the murder in Uganda of nearly 1000 people by the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments. Moreover, persuasive arguments suggest that many terrorist organizations, such as al Qaeda, are functionally identical to cults.
Though it cannot be conclusively asserted that cultic groups are more involved in crime than other kinds of organizations, the data are compelling. Langone found that of 3680 news summaries in ICSA’s Cult Observer between 1984 and 2001, 827 (22%) dealt with crime. 190 of the 417 groups mentioned were associated with crime stories. The most common crimes reported on were sex abuse (95 stories; 39 groups), child abuse (190 stories; 57 groups), murder (125 stories; 35 groups), and fraud (105 stories; 31 groups).
Some cultic groups have directly involved themselves in politics, such as the Unification Church, the Exclusive Brethren, and Lyndon LaRouche, among others . The influential New Apostolic Reformation Movement (NAR) is a network of authoritarian and cultic churches that believe their mission is to build a powerful church on earth and establish dominion prior to the second coming of Jesus. Contrary to mainstream Christianity, these churches overemphasize personal power and authority.
The extremism, political involvement, death, crimes, and individual and family harm associated with cults have motivated victims – families, former members, and professionals – to speak up. The media have reported on these critical reports for many years and, fairly or not, have negatively influenced public opinion. Not surprisingly, governments around the world have held hearings and established organizations to address the cult problem. Though much benefit has resulted from this attention, simplistic portrayals of the cult phenomenon may disrupt the healthy balance between accountability for wrong-doing and religious freedom, causing some religious freedom advocates and even some cultic studies researchers to object to unfair criticisms of and restraints imposed upon innocent new groups and sometimes groups that have indeed behaved badly.
ICSA has always aspired to research-based and fair analyses of the cult phenomenon. Though the organization’s emphasis has been on harm, especially its psychological dimensions, ICSA has respected and dialogued with those who have emphasized religious freedom.
Governments and philanthropic organizations can help reduce harm associated with cultic groups while respecting the freedom of individuals and groups by providing support in the following areas.
Though useful research has been conducted in the cultic studies field, the following areas call for further investigation:
The continued development of psychometrically sound measures. Existing measures, such as Psychological Abuse Experienced in Groups Scale, are self-report instruments. Observational measures are also needed, especially if the perspectives of psychologists could be integrated with those of sociologists who conduct participant observation.
The development of efficient and user-friendly evaluation measures that mental health professionals can use in outpatient counseling with former cultists. Though professionals counsel thousands of former cult members every year, few studies have examined the effectiveness of interventions.
Surveys of current and former cult members that are at least reasonably representative of cult populations. Research has relied on inherently biased convenience samples of either former or current cult members, but rarely both.
The impact of cult involvement on children needs further study, especially quantitative research.
The QAnon phenomenon demonstrates the possibility for what one could call “cultic echo chambers” to develop on social media platforms. Though QAnon has received much press, there may be many similar groups, gathered around a different ideology, that we have not yet heard of and that deserve to be studied.
Bring interdisciplinary groups of researchers together to discuss research needs and plan organized programs of research. These discussions should include the relationship of cultic studies to related areas, especially radicalization, multilevel marketing, and sex trafficking.
Digitize information libraries, especially that of Info-Cult/Info-Secte and Professor Stephen Kent of the University of Alberta.
Though ICSA has markedly increased the number of mental health professionals working in the cultic studies field, there is a need for training and supervision to improve the effectiveness of this growing network, as well as continued outreach to mental health professionals to expand the network.
ICSA’s 500-page book, Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working with Former Members and Families, was a landmark development. Nevertheless, there are specific clinical areas that demand attention. Almendros’s finding, for example, that 40% of families have virtually no contact with their loved ones reveals a need to develop teachable strategies to help these distressed families regain contact with cult-involved loved ones.
Because counseling with former members and families necessarily has a substantial educational component, there is a need to develop carefully thought-out educational resources. To accomplish this goal clinical experts must come together to develop detailed educational curricula for former members and families that will reflect a consensus opinion among experts.
The small number of residential facilities for former cultists have all closed because of financial considerations. Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, for example, treated approximately 1000 persons while it was in operation. MeadowHaven had to close because the nonprofit could not afford major repairs on its aging building. Because former cult members tend to be least able to afford help when they most need it, residential centers, which are desperately needed, must be subsidized.
Families seeking to help a loved one reevaluate a cultic involvement have few resources to turn to. The handful of exit counselors are aging. There is a crucial need to pass the knowledge gained by exit counselors to mental health professionals, increasing numbers of whom are called upon by families. Alternatives to exit counseling, e.g., mediation, need to be further developed.
Given the predilection of youth for video learning, the cultic studies field must develop sophisticated educational videos.
There is a grave need to staff a professional hotline that can provide more than the referral service that is currently offered to most people who contact ICSA and other organizations.
Though some support groups exist, there is a need to expand the number of professionally run in-person and online support groups.
Public and Preventive Education
Art has been a therapeutic activity for former cult members and an inspiration to the ICSA network since the first Phoenix Project exhibit of art and poetry, which Diana Pletts organized for ICSA’s 2006 annual international conference in Denver. ICSA is building a special website for former member art, literary, and musical works.
Thanks to social media and modern technology, it is now possible to reach large numbers of youth at low cost. ICSA’s vignette project is one such activity. It is also vital to develop a series of short preventive educational videos that social media experts can distribute to as large a population of young people as possible.
Documentary film makers have created useful resources for educating the public. ICSA needs to reach out to documentary producers to share ICSA’s expertise and nuanced approach to the subject.
ICSA’s research indicates that nearly half of former cult members approach churches and other worship centers for help but nearly half of these persons report that they received “no help at all.” In response to this disturbing finding and other research, ICSA is developing spiritual abuse resources  for victims and religious organizations and personnel. This project has a critical need for funding to achieve its goals.
Education of Legal Professionals
The attitudes and opinions of the public, including some legal professionals, have been affected by sensationalized popular accounts of the cult phenomenon. Some individuals lean toward unwarranted skepticism (‘brainwashing” is nonsense), while others lean toward credulity (“brainwashing” is a grave threat). So-called “brainwashing” refers to processes of psycho-social influence that have been studied scientifically for decades. Some groups deliberately lie in court. Others attempt to suppress the free speech of critics. Info-Cult/Info-Secte’s collection of over 100 government reports from 21 countries, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations demonstrates the level of governmental interest in cults.Hence, there is an urgent need to educate members of the legal profession, especially judges, who are often called upon to referee scientific disputes because of the Daubert standard.
Explore Possible Changes of Law
Because countries are different, their responses to the cult phenomenon have varied widely depending upon social, cultural, and historical factors. Hence, a law passed by one country may not be appropriate in another country.
In the early days of the cultic studies field, several state legislatures considered or passed conservatorship bills to help parents gain legal control over adult children who had joined cults, though no bill became law. In informal conversations, even some professionals who focused on cult harm were skeptical about such legal proposals. They put too much power in the hands of mental health experts, who would be called upon to testify. Moreover, the proposals didn’t consider the salutary potential that improved ethical codes might have. Furthermore, creative prosecution of cases against cultic groups can sometimes be highly effective.
Alan Scheflin’s seminal paper, “Supporting Human Rights by Testifying Against Human Wrongs,” provides a model to update the established legal concept of undue influence so that judges, attorneys, and expert witnesses can make balanced, scientifically sound decisions about specific cases that might involve so-called “brainwashing.” Boyle-Laisure offers suggestions on how human trafficking laws may be applied to cult situations. Bardavio Anton proposes a criminal classification of coercive persuasion as a crime. Mutch proposes a complaints commission for religious and ideological abuse. Caparesi describes a law passed in Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region “to combat and prevent forms of undue influence.”
In the United Kingdom, “Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 created a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.” Although aimed primarily at domestic violence, this act has received attention in the cultic studies field because some believe it could be extended beyond intimate partner situations. Australia is considering a coercive control law. The State of Connecticut expanded its domestic violence law to include nonviolent coercive control. The governor signed Hawaii’s coercive control law, HB 2425, on September 15, 2020, and California’s coercive control law, Senate bill 1141, became law on September 29, 2020..
The UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act appears to be worth investigating for its possible application to cult issues. A posting of the Harvard Law School on Corporate Governance discusses implications of this act for business. Given decades of reports of financial and labor exploitation in cults (e.g., cult members working for nothing or returning their salary checks to the group), the UK Modern Slavery Act may generate ideas about crafting or modifying legislation to address cult harms.
Since 2012 NJ Safe & Sound volunteers have been advocating for legislation concerning predatory alienation and undue influence, which often underlie domestic violence, human trafficking, gang recruitment, elder abuse, and other coercive and exploitative one-on-one and group relationships.  As a result of NJ Safe & Sound’s advocacy, in 2017 both houses of the New Jersey Legislature unanimously passed PL 2017, Ch. 64, which called for the New Jersey departments of Children and Families (DCF) and Human Services to study predatory alienation and its effects on young adults and senior citizens. The law also defined predatory alienation. See NJ Safe & Sound’s legislative update page for recent developments.
This report does not make a recommendation regarding legislation. Instead, it calls for financial support to bring together law professors, practicing attorneys familiar with cult issues, religious freedom advocates, clergy, and mental health professionals as a task force to examine the legal implications of cultic relationships for the United States. ICSA could help identify people to include in such a task force
ICSA and other organizations concerned about cult-related harms are now able to build their assistance and educational programs upon a substantial body of scientific and clinical data. This information base clearly demonstrates that the magnitude of the problems posed by cultic groups is significant. Many governments and some philanthropic organizations have contributed to ameliorative efforts in education, mental health, and the law. But much more work remains before the resources devoted to this field match the social and personal needs that cry for attention. ICSA will share its expertise with any governmental or philanthropic entity that is interested in the issues this report raises.
Adams, D. (1998). Brief report: Perceived psychological abuse and the Cincinnati Church of Christ. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(1), 87-88
Adams-Weiss, D., Burks, R., Sammons, G., & Svoboda, L. The Wellspring program. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 321-338). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Allen, A. (2016). Impact on children of being born into/raised in a cultic group. ICSA Today, 7(1), 17-22.
Almendros, C., Carrobles, J., Rodriguez-Carballeira. (2007). Former members’ perception of cult involvement. Cultic Studies Review, 6(1), 1-20.
Almendros, C., Carrobles, J., Rodriguez-Carballeira, Gamez-Guadix, M. (2009). Reasons for leaving: Psychological abuse and distress reported by former members of cultic groups. Cultic Studies Review, 8(2), 111-138.
Almendros, C., Gamez-Guadix, M., Rodriguez Carballeira, A., & Carrobles, J. (2011). Assessment of psychological abuse in manipulative groups. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 2, 61-76.
Almendros, C., & Langone, M. (2022, June 24). Panel part 1: Assessment of perceptions and experiences of family members or individuals concerned about a loved one who is or was in a controlling or abusive group or relationship. Paper presented at the 2022 Annual International Conference of the International Cultic Studies Association.
Aronoff, J., Lynn, S., Malinoski, P. (2002). Are cultic environments psychologically harmful? Cultic Studies Review, 1(3), 110-129.
Ash, S. (1984). Cult-induced psychopathology, part 1: Clinical picture. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(1) 31-90.
Asser, S., Swan, R. (2000). Child fatalities from religion-motivated medical neglect. Cultic Studies Journal, 17, 4-14. (Reprinted with permission from Pediatrics, 10(4), April 1998, pp. 625-629.)
Ballesteros, A., Martin Lopez, M., Martinez, J. (2009). The red mosque: A case study of how religion can evolve into a terrorist cult. Cultic Studies Review, 8(3), 266-280.
Banisadr, M. (2004). Masoud: Memoirs of an Iranian rebel. London: Saqi Books.
Banisadr, M. (2009). Terrorist organizations are cults. Cultic Studies Review, 8(2), 154-184.
Bardavio Anton, C. (2020). Coercive persuasion as a specific type of violence in criminal law. International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation, 1, 61-72.
Bardin, L. (2005). Child protection in an authoritarian community: Culture clash and systemic weakness. Cultic Studies Review, 4(3), 233-267.
Beall, L. (2011). The impact of modern-day polygamy groups on women and children. ICSA Today, 2(1), 2-8.
Bergman, J. (2002). Lying in court and religion: An analysis of the theocratic warfare doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Cultic Studies Review, 1(2), 66-96.
Blackmore, M. (2020). Balancing Bountiful: What I learned about feminism from my polygamist grandmothers. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia: Caitlin Press.
Bond, C. (2019, Aug. 13). How MLMs and cults use the same mind control techniques. HuffPost.
Boyle, R. (1998). Women, the law, and cults: Three avenues of legal resources: New rape laws, Violence Against Women Act, and antistalking laws. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(1), 1-32.
Boyle-Laisure, R. (2018). Employing trafficking laws to capture elusive leaders of destructive cults. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 9, 1-30. (Reprinted from Oregon Review of International Law, 17, 205–258.)
Boyle-Laisure, R. (2021). Preventing predatory alienation by high-control groups: The application of human trafficking laws to groups popularly known as cults, and proposed changes to laws regarding federal immigration, state child marriage, and undue influence. International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation, 2, 27-40.
Bradshaw, R. (2015). What is a cult? ICSA Today, 6(3), 8-9.
Brodie, R. (2016). Sexual abuse and the charismatic crisis: Dissension and downfall in the Canadian Kabalarians. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 1, 13-26.
Brooks, D. (2016, Jan. 29). Multi-level marketing: A modest Proposal.
Burke, J. (2006). Antisocial personality disorder in cult leaders and induction of dependent personality disorder in cult members. Cultic Studies Review, 5(3), 390-410.
Butler, G. (2018, March 20). Read The Oregonian's original 20-part investigative series on Rajneeshees. The Oregonian.
Caparesi, C. (2012). The law to protect victims of manipulation: A victory for Region Friuli Venezia Giula. ICSA Today, 3(3), 14-15.
Casoni, D., Pacheco, A., & Kropveld, M. (2015). State intervention against the Baptist Church of Windsor: From law-abiding citizens to perpetrators of severe child physical abuse. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 83-99.
Castronovo Fusco, M. (2020, Nov. 11). Commentary: Predatory alienation wrecks lives. Criminalize it. Times Union.
Centner, C. (2002). The cult that is North Korea. Cultic Studies Review, 1(3), 292-308.
Centner, C. (2003). Cults and terrorism: Similarities and differences. Cultic Studies Review, 2(2), 64-79.
Cialdini, R. (2021). Influence: The Science of Persuasion. (New and expanded). New York: Harper Business.
Clark, J. G. (1978). Problems in the referral of cult members. NAPPH Journal, 9(4), 27-29.
Clark, J. G. (1979, July 20). Cults. Journal of the American Medical Association, 242, 279-281.
Client profile: Church of Scientology. Open Secrets.
Connolly, R. (2011). Something somebody stole. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.
Conway, F., Siegelman, J. H., Carmichael, C. W., & Coggins, J. (1986). Information disease: Effects of covert induction and deprogramming. Update: A Journal of New Religious Movements, 45-57.
Cormack, L. (2022, July 20). Coercive control offence to attract seven years’ jail under draft NSW law. The Sydney Morning Herald.
Corn, D. (2021, May 20). Pence and Pompeo headlined an event mounted by a group that says the “Christian era has ended.” Mother Jones. Accessed 7/8/22 -
Craven, S., Brown, S., & Gilchrist, E. (2006). Sexual grooming of children: Review of literature and theoretical considerations. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 12(1), 287-299.
Cronin, D., Hodge, G., Duron, J., Zurlo, K., & Postmus, J. (2017, Nov.). Evaluating the state of predatory alienation in New Jersey: Final report. Prepared for The New Jersey Department of Children and Families and The New Jersey Department of Human Services.
Damgaard, N. (Ed.). (2022). Wounded faith: Understanding and healing from spiritual abuse. Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Daubert Standard. Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School.
Delgado, R. (1977). Religious totalism: Gentle and ungentle persuasion under the First Amendment. Southern California Law Review, 5(1), 1-97.
Delgado, R. (1979). A response to Professor Dressler. Minnesota Law Review, 63, 361-365.
Dickson, E. J. (2019, May 13). How NXIVM allegedly tried to ‘curry favor’ with the Clintons. Rolling Stone.
Di Marzio, R. (2015). Mediating to settle conflicts in cultic groups: Some useful methodologies. ICSA Today, 6(2), 12-15.
Donnelly, M. (2017, July 13). Leah Remini: Scientologists meet to decide ‘which ways to vote’ in elections. The Wrap.
Dowhower, R. (2013). The results of the International Cultic Studies Association’s 2008 questionnaire. ICSA Today, 4(1), 10-11.
Dressler, J. (1979). Professor Delgado’s “brainwashing” defense: Courting a determinist legal system. Minnesota Law Review, 63, 335-360.
Dubrow-Marshall, R. (2010). The influence continuum—the good, the dubious, and the harmful—evidence and implications for policy and practice in the 21st century. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 1, 1-12.
Dubrow-Marshall, R., & Dubrow-Marshall, L. (2015). Cults and mental health. In: Encyclopedia of mental health, Second edition (pp. 393-401). Oxford: Academic Press (Elsevier).
Dubrow-Marshall, R., van de Donk, M., & Haanstra, W. (2019). Lessons from adjacent fields: Cults and radical extremist groups. ICSA Today, 10(1), 2-9.
Duncan, W. (2006). I can’t hear God anymore: Life in a Dallas cult. Dallas, TX: VM Life Resources.
Edevane, G. (2018, May 1). NXIVM: How is former Trump adviser Roger Stone connected to 'cult’ allegedly led by Allison Mack, Keith Raniere? Newsweek.
Eichel, S. (2016). Counseling cultists: The Brief Intermittent Developmental Therapy (BIDT) approach. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 7, 1-14.
Eichel, S. (2016b). The theory that won’t go away: An updated review of the role hypnosis plays in mind control. ICSA Today, 7(1), 23-27.
Elberg, P. (2021). Cults and the law. ICSA Today, 12(2), 9-15.
Enroth, R. (1985). Of cults and Evangelicals: Labeling and lumping. Cultic Studies Journal, 2(2), 321-325.
Fautre, W. (2014). Cultic issues and religious freedom. ICSA Today, 5(1), 11-15.
Fernandez Aguado, J. (2015). Psychological manipulation, hypnosis, and suggestion. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 48-59.
Fernandez Aguado, J. (2018). How a dysfunctional family functions like a cult. ICSA Today, 9(3), 2-7.
Fresh Air. (2011, Oct. 3). A leading figure In the New Apostolic Reformation. National Public Radio.
Friedman, E. (2020). Reflections upon attending ICSA’s 2018 conference: Domestic abuse and coercive control. ICSA Today, 11(1), 15-17.
Furnari, L. (2005). Born or raised in closed, high-demand groups: Developmental considerations. ICSA E-Newsletter, 4(3).
Furnari, L., & Henry, R. (2011). Lessons learned from SGAs about recovery and resiliency. ICSA Today, 2(3), 2-9.
Galanter, M. (1983). Unification Church (“Moonies”) dropouts: Psychological readjustment after leaving a charismatic religious group. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 984-989.
Gandolfi, C., Mosillo, M., del Castillo, G., Forni, G., Pietronigro, A., Tiwana, N., & Pellai, A. (2021). Online grooming: An analysis of the phenomenon. Minerva Pediatrics, 73(3), 272-80. DOI: 10.23736/S2724-5276.20.05615-7
Garrett, K. (2020). In the house of friends. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock.
Gasde, I. (1998). Cult experience: Psychological abuse, distress, personality characteristics, and changes in personal relationships. Cultic Studies Journal, 15(2), 192-221.
Giambalvo, C. (1993). Post-cult problems: An exit counselor’s perspective. In M. Langone (Ed.), Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual abuse (pp. 148-155). New York: Norton. Excerpts:
Giambalvo, C. (2017). Exit counseling. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 45-54). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Giambalvo, C., Kropveld, M., Langone, M. (2013). Changes in North American cult awareness organizations. In E. Barker (Ed.), Revisionism and diversification in new religious movements (pp. 227-246). Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
Gibson, K., Morgan, M., Wooley, C., & Powis, T. (2017). Life after Centrepoint: Accounts of adult adjustment after childhood spent at an experimental community. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 8, 1-15.
Goldberg, L. (2006). Raised in cultic groups: The impact on the development of certain aspects of character. Cultic Studies Review, 5(1), 1-28.
Goldberg, L. (2013). Marriage after the cult. ICSA Today, 4(3), 2-5.
Goldberg, L., Goldberg, W., Henry, R., & Langone, M. (2017). Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families. Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Goldberg, L., & Stamler, A. (2018). Moving on: Dealing with family members who have caused us harm. ICSA Today, 9(3), 16-22.
Goldberg, W. (2017). Working with families. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 7-18). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Goldberg, L., & Goldberg, W. (1989). Family responses to a young adult’s membership and return. Cultic Studies Journal, 6(1), 86-100.
Goldberg, W., & Goldberg, L. (2017). Support group for former cult members. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 265-276). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Goransson, M. (2018). Is psychological distress among former cult members related to psychological abuse in the cult? International Journal of Cultic Studies, 9, 43-54.
Greczyn, A. (2020). Is purity culture a form of sexual abuse? ICSA Today, 11(2), 10-15.
Grohol, J. (2019, April 19). Mental health statistics US: 2017. PsychCentral.
Harman, J. J., Warshak, R. A., Lorandos, D., & Florian, M. J. (2022). Developmental psychology and the scientific status of parental alienation. Developmental Psychology. Advance online publication.
Harvey, G. (2020). Ostracism. ICSA Today, 11(3), 6-10.
Hassan, S. (1988). Combatting cult mind control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Hawaii and California lead the way signing the first coercive control bills in the Americas. (2020, Nov. 13). The ACECC Journal. [American Conference to End Coercive Control].
Hirata, H. (2001). The crimes and teachings of Aum Shinrikyo. Cultic Studies Journal, 18, 1-7.
Hominek, D. (1995). Cults in American society: A legal analysis of undue influence, fraud, and misrepresentation. Cultic Studies Journal, 12(1), 1-48.
ICSA Board of Directors. (2013). Dialogue and cultic studies: Why dialogue benefits the cultic studies field. ICSA Today, 4(3), 2-7.
Introvigne, M. (2014). Religious liberty and new religious movements: The Italian experience and the observatory on religious liberty. ICSA Today, 5(3), 14-19.
Jenkinson, G. (2008). An investigation into cult pseudo-personality: What is it and how does it form? Cultic Studies Review, 7(3), 199-224).
Jenkinson, G. (2019). Leaving psychologically – Breaking the Confluential trance. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 10, 72-80.
Keating, C. (2021, May 18). Connecticut Senate expands domestic violence law to include nonviolent ‘coercive control’; measure prompted by Jennifer Farber Dulos case. Hartford Courant.
Keller, K. (2016). Development of a spiritual abuse questionnaire. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Texas Woman’s University.
Kendall, L. (2011). Physical child abuse in sects. ICSA Today, 2(2), 2-5.
Kendall, L. (2016). Born and raised in a [sect]. London: Progression Publishing.
Kendall, L. (2017). What the research tells clinicians about current and former cultic group members. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 427-478). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Kent, S. (1994). Lustful prophet: A psychosexual historical study of the Children of God’s leader, David Berg. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(2), 135-188.
Kent, S. (2001). The French and German versus American debate over 'new religions,' Scientology, and human rights. Marburg Journal of Religion, 6(1).
Kent, S. (2002). Hollywood’s celebrity-lobbyists and the Clinton administration’s American foreign policy toward German Scientology. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 1 (Spring).
Kent, S. (2004). Generational revolt by the adult children of first-generation members of the Children of God/The Family. Cultic Studies Review, 3(1), 35-44.
Kent, S. (2010). House of Judah, the Northeast Kingdom Community, and ‘the Jonestown Problem’: Downplaying child physical abuses and ignoring serious evidence. International Journal of Cultic Studies 1, 27-48.
Kent, S. (2015). Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, and the challenge to public order in British heritage countries. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 1-15.
Kent, S. (2017). Narconon, Scientology, and the battle for legitimacy. Marburg Journal of Religion, 19(1), 1-39.
Kent, S. (2020). Studying Scientology as an anti-democratic institution: Suggestions and cautions to future researchers. Implicit Religion, 23(2), 167-174.
Kent, S., & Szimhart, J. (2002). Exit counseling and the decline of deprogramming. Cultic Studies Review, 1(3), 249-291.
Khan, A. (2012). Psychological makeup of a Pakistani Muslim suicide bomber: An observation-based perspective. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 3, 25-34.
Knapp, P. (2017). An independent faith-based approach to support and recovery groups for those affected by harmful religious environments. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 277-298). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Knapp, P. (2021). Understanding religious abuse and recovery. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Pickwick Publications.
Knox, G. (1999). Comparison of cults and gangs: Dimensions of coercive power and malevolent authority. Journal of Gang Research, 6(4), 1-39.
Kropveld, M. (2008). A comparison of different countries’ approaches to cult-related issues. ICSA E-Newsletter, 7(1).
Kropveld, M., & Pelland, M. (2006). The cult phenomenon: How groups function. Montreal: Info-Cult/Info-Secte.
Lalich, J. (1992). The cadre ideal: Origins and development of a political cult. Cultic Studies Journal, 9(1), 1-77.
Landa, S. (1990-91). Children and cults: A practical guide. Journal of Family Law, 29(3).
Langone, M. Powerpoint presentation. Cultic crimes in North America, part 1.
Langone, M. Prevalence.
Langone, M. (Ed.). (1993). Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual abuse. New York: Norton.
Langone, M. (1998). Large group awareness trainings. Cult Observer, 15(1), 11-12.
Langone, M. (2001/1996). An investigation of a reputedly psychologically abusive group that targets college students. Report prepared for Boston University’s Danielsen Institute.
Langone, M. (2006). Responding to Jihadism: A cultic studies perspective. Cultic Studies Review, 5(2), 268-306.
Langone, M. (2007). The PRC and Falun Gong. Cultic Studies Review, 6(3), 235-285.
Langone, M. (2015). The definitional ambiguity of cult and ICSA’s mission. ICSA Today, 6(3), 6-7.
Langone, M. (2016). Groucho Marx and cult recovery. ICSA Today, 7(2), 2-5.
Langone, M. (2017). Suppression of free speech: Report on a survey. ICSA Today, 8(1), 6-7.
Langone, M. (2018, Oct. 22). Interesting statistics from the 2018 ICSA Annual Conference in Philadelphia. ICSA E-Newsletter.
Langone, M. (2019). ICSA: The first 40 years. ICSA Today, 10(3), 2-15.
Langone, M. (2020, July 18). More interesting statistics from the ICSA network. ICSA E-Newsletter.
Langone, M. (2021, March 29). QAnon: What do we know? What do we not know? ICSA E-Newsletter.
Langone, M., & Eisenberg, G. (1993). Children and cults. In M. Langone (Ed.), Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual abuse (pp. 327-342). New York: Norton.
Legal and government documents, etc. Info-Cult/Info-Secte.
Legislative Update. NJ Safe & Sound.
Lifton, R. (1961). Thought reform and the psychology of totalism. New York: Norton.
Lottick, E. (2008). Psychologist survey regarding cults. Cultic Studies Review, 7(1), 1-19.
Lucas, P. (2003). Spiritual harm in new religions: reflections on interviews with former members of NRMs. Cultic Studies Review, 2(1), 30-37.
Malinoski, P., Langone, M., & Lynn, S. (1999). Psychological distress of former members of the International Churches of Christ and noncultic groups. Cultic Studies Journal, 16(1), 33-51.
Manca, T. (2008). Innocent murderers? Abducted children in the Lord’s Resistance Army. Cultic Studies Review, 7(2), 129-166.
MacDonald, J. (1988). “Reject the wicked man” – coercive persuasion and deviance production: A study of conflict management. Cultic Studies Journal, 5(1), 59-121.
Markowitz, A., & Halperin, D. (1984). Cults and children: The abuse of the young. Cultic Studies Journal, 1(2), 143-155.
Martin, B. (2012). History of the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center. ICSA Today, 3(1), 2-7.
Martin, P. (1993). Cult proofing your kids. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Martin, P. (1993). Post-cult recovery: Assessment and rehabilitation. In M. Langone (Ed.), Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual abuse (pp. 203-231). New York: Norton.
Martin, P., Langone, M., Dole, A., Wiltrout, J. (1992). Post-cult symptoms as measured by the MCMI before and after residential treatment Cultic Studies Journal, 9(2), 219-250.
Martin Pena, J., Rodriguez-Carballeira, A., Escartin, J., Porrua, C., Saldana, O., & Varela-Rey, A. (2011). Un análisis de las estrategias y consecuencias del terrorismo psicológico aplicado por el entramado de ETA. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 2, 44-60.
Matthews, C. (2017). Second-generation religious cult survivors: Implications for counselors. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 8, 37-49.
Mayer, J. (1998, Nov. 13). The case of the Solar Temple. In Critical Incident Analysis Group at the University of Virginia. Apocalyptic millennialism in the West.
Mayer, J. (2001). Field notes: The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. Nova Religio 5, 203-210.
Mayer, J. (2016, Nov. 5). Research: A brief overview of the attitudes of Western European states towards new religious movements. Religioscope.
Meerloo, J. (2015/1956). The rape of the mind. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino Publishing.
Millar, P, & Caparesi, C. (2017). Conflict resolution for families in distress. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 19-44). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Modern Slavery Act 2015. UK Public General Acts2015 c. 30.
Moore-Emmett, A. (2004). God's brothel: The extortion of sex for salvation in contemporary Mormon and Christian fundamentalist polygamy and the stories of 18. San Francisco: Pince-Nez Press
Moyers, J. (1994). Psychological issues of former fundamentalists. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(2), 189-199.
Mutch, S. (2007). Cultish religious sects and politics: The Brethren v. Greens contest and other controversies Involving minor religious sects down Under. Cultic Studies Review, 6(3), 298-312.
Mutch, S. (2018). From deprogramming to deradicalization: How cultic studies offers insights for subject-diversion programs and suggests pathways for complaint about religious and ideologically motivated abuse in Australia. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 9, 31-42.
Mytton, J. (2021). “That’s not me”: An exploration of first-generation, second-generation, and multigenerational adult leavers. ICSA Today, 12(1), 6-13.
Oakley, L & Kinmond, K. (2014). Developing safeguarding policy and practice for spiritual abuse. Journal of Adult Protection, 16(2), 87-95.
Oakley, L, Kinmond, K, & Humphreys. J (2018). Spiritual abuse in Christian faith settings: Definition, policy, and practice guidance. The Journal of Adult Protection, 20(3/4), 144-154.
Oblak, R. (2019). Cultic abuse recovery: Counseling considerations. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 10, 1-13.
Ofshe, R. (1989). Coerced confessions: The logic of seemingly irrational action. Cultic Studies Journal, 6(1), 1-15.
Ofshe, R., & Singer, M. T. (1986). Attacks on peripheral versus central elements of self and the impact of thought reforming techniques. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 4-18.
Panasar, R (2017). The Modern Slavery Act 2015: Next steps for businesses. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance.
Pardon, R., & Pardon, J. (2017). Residential treatment modality for cult trauma survivors. In L. Goldberg et al., Cult recovery: A clinician’s guide to working with former members and families (pp. 367-390). Bonita Springs, FL: International Cultic Studies Association.
Parker Hall, S. (2020). Being mindful about mindfulness: Exploring the dark side. International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation, 1, 17-28.
Pareene, A. (2011, Feb. 10). The Church of Scientology's friends in Washington. Salon.
Perry, B., & Szalavitz, M. (2007). Stairway to heaven: Treating children in the crosshairs of trauma. ICSA E-Newsletter, 6(3).
Pivec, H. The New Apostolic Reformation: Influence and teachings. Apologetics Index.
Pivec, H., & Geivett, D. (2014). A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical response to a worldwide movement. Wooster, OH: Weaver Book Company.
Raine, S. (2006). The Children of God/The Family: A discussion of recent research. Cultic Studies Review, 5(1), 29-72.
Raine, S. (2021). Narcissistic sexual predation: Keith Raniere’s grooming strategies in NXIVM. International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation, 2, 60-81.
Ramirez Boulette, T., & Andersen, S. (1986). Mind control and the battering of women. Cultic Studies Journal, 3(1), 19-27.
Richardson, J., & van Driel, B. (1997). Journalists’ attitudes toward new religious movements. Review of Religious Research (Special Issue: Mass Media and Unconventional Religion), 39(2), 116-136.
Rodriguez-Carballiera, A., Martin-Pena, J., Almendros, C., Escartin, J., Porrua, C., & Bertacco, M. (2010). A psychosocial analysis of the terrorist group as cult. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 1, 49-60.
Rodriguez Carballiera, A., Saldana, O., Almendros, C., Martin-Pena, J., Escartin, J., Porrua Garcia, C. (2015). Group psychological abuse: Taxonomy and severity of its components. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 7, 31-39.
Rosedale, H. (1993). Legal considerations: Regaining independence and initiative. In M. Langone (Ed.), Recovery from cults: Help for victims of psychological and spiritual abuse (pp. 382-395). New York: Norton.
Rosedale, H. (1996). The threat to entrepreneurial freedom and initiative posed by “new age” management training programs. Cultic Studies Journal, 13(2), 194-207.
Rosedale, H., & Langone, M. (2015). On using the term “cult.” ICSA Today, 6(3), 4-6.
Ross, R. A. (2014). Cults inside out: How people get in and can get out. North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Roudkovski, K. (2022). The development of the spiritual abuse assessment: A modified Delphi approach (Order No. 29209460). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (2687705512).
Saldana, O., Rodriguez Carballeira, A., Almendros, C., & Escartin, J. (2017). Development and validation of the Psychological Abuse Experienced in Groups Scale. The European Journal of Psychology Applied to Legal Context, 9, 57-64.
Saul, E. (2019, May 20). Nxivm head Keith Raniere aspired to infiltrate political office. New York Post. Accessed 7/8/22 -
Scheflin, A. (2015). Supporting human rights by testifying against human wrongs. International Journal of Cultic Studies, 6, 69-82.
Scheflin, A., & Opton, E. (1978). The mind manipulators. New York: Paddington Press.
Serious Crime Act (2015).