Member News

Listed below in reverse chronological order are brief descriptions of some of the educational, helping, legal, and research activities of ICSA members, as well as notices of the deaths of colleagues who have contributed significantly to this field. This list demonstrates the importance of maintaining the ICSA network.

Being able to meet with (e.g., at conferences) and communicate with others working in this field enables the members of the ICSA network to achieve more collectively than they can individually. Please support ICSA and help us help others.

If you are an ICSA member, send us news of upcoming or recent (past few months) activities you would like to share with the ICSA community. Try to include what, who, where, when in your description. Send your emails to

The listing continues to a second page, Views expressed on ICSA Websites or in ICSA's publications or events or other venues are those of the document's author(s) or speaker(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisers.

Biographical sketches of many ICSA members can be found here.

ICSA Member News

Paulette Buchanan will be interviewed Thursday, March 3, on Nate Haber's "The Optimal Life" podcast at 4:30PM Eastern time. Paulette's book is now available - Fighting for Justice: Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order. The website says: "Fighting for Justice will resonate with anyone who has experienced long term abuse and injustice from both the perpetrator and “the system” that enables and empowers abusers."

ICSA members Diane Benscoter, Steve Hassan, Janja Lalich, Dan Shaw, and Alex Stein participated in a 10-minute BBC Reel video, "What are cults and why do people join them?," Video by Tui McLean, Animation by Michal Bialozej.

George D. Chryssides has a new book, Jehovah’s Witnesses: A New Introduction, published by Bloomsbury. Details. Dr. Chryssides will give a seminar at the University of Bristol (UK) on 8 March, “Forty Years of New Religious Movements,” which explores his academic interest in NRMs since 1982.

Tore Klevjer. News from CIFS Australia

In the past months CIFS Australia has undergone some changes with the current president stepping down. Ros Hodgkins has been president of CIFS for many years and has done an amazing job. Stepping up to the chair is Tore Klevjer a long term member of CIFS, with Emma Kipps as vice president. Tore is a registered counsellor with lived cult experience.

In October 2021 we were unable to conduct our usual ‘weekend recovery’ workshop for ex members due to covid. Instead we held a one day zoom event with eleven attendees. Our format consisted of short (20 minutes) educational segments, followed by group reflection and discussion. This format worked well and allowed for interaction between attendees.

This year (2022 February) we conducted our first online meeting and had two guest speakers followed by Q&A. These meetings will be quarterly and include guest speakers with a focus on supporting family and friends of those entrapped in high demand groups.

We will also begin monthly ‘ex member’ support meetings on the last Tuesday of every month at 7pm (Sydney time). Those attending must be recommended or have a short interview to assess suitability and to provide a safe confidential space for attendees. Enquiries can be made via

Enquiries of late have included ‘Nithyananda Meditation’, ‘Open Heart Meditation’, and ‘Perdicamp Emotional Method’ acting and drama school. We are also experiencing many more requests for help and information particularly from second generation members of various groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Children of God, and Hillsong. It seems that middle age and having parental responsibilities is possibly a causal factor for reflection.

Nicola Knight has recently completed an MA in Pluralistic Therapy, for which she did a qualitative study on the experience of ex-members when they sought therapy post-cult. Gillie Jenkinson was gatekeeper for this research, and Nicola is attending Gillie’s training for therapists seeking to help ex-members.

Johnny Purvis has written a novel based on a very conservative religious cult lea by a preacher who was a sexual predator who secured young boys. Johnny is a retired law enforcement officer and university professor/administrator. The novel is in its first draft. The book tells the history of the cult, investigation, sending the leader to prison, and the toll it took investigating the cult.

Ken Garrett says that they "have begun to host Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education (SAFE) meetups again. We are having our second (this year) meetup on March 3rd. Ashlen Hilliard will speak about how survivors handle their experiences of abuse. Ashlen writes, 'We are the only experts of our own story.' Ashlen has joined Kent Burtner and me in the leading and planning aspects of our SAFE work here in Portland and has already made a tremendous difference, such as the creation of a wonderful website for our work. Please check it out! We have also created an informational video to introduce our SAFE work, embedded into the website. The recovery landscape here remains pretty much the same: many cults and aberrant, destructive movements, more online cults, and a steady flow of folks who have suffered abuse in high-control churches."

Linda Quennec successfully defended her doctoral dissertation in depth psychology titled, "Winds on the Wine-Dark Sea: An Exploration of the Daimon in the Lives of Second-Generation Former Cult Members." This was a phenomenological hermeneutic study on the ways in which those born and raised within cults attune to a sense of inner psychological direction when faced with extreme oppression and utilize this as a source of strength during the process of leaving their groups. I am currently working on a proposal to turn this research into a book. I am also working on a novel based on the lives of two sisters who are second-generation survivors. In my work as a clinical counsellor, I welcome those who have experienced spiritual or religious trauma, and am planning to create a support group for this population at a future date.

Livia Bardin. With the help of ICSA staff, I have been working on updating both Coping with Cult Involvement and Starting Out in Mainstream America. Coping is a handbook for the families and friends of people who may be involved in a cult. It is focused on helping the reader assess the situation and learn to communicate with the person they are concerned about. It is available free, online. Starting Out is a resource for people who have left or are thinking about leaving high control groups, or for some other reason need help to navigate today’s United States. It has information ranging from how to get a copy of one’s birth certificate to what constitutes a healthy relationship to genres of popular music. The revision will hopefully soon be available via the ICSA web site.

Rick Ross' "Warning Signs" regarding a potentially unsafe group were cited in an article on Patheos titled "What Are Some Differences Between a Cult and a Healthy Religious Practice?" January 27th. Rick did the Koncrete podcast broadcast January 31st, which included a wide ranging discussion of his work and cults in general. He did the Die-alougue podcast, which included a discussion about how cults are often run like for-profit businesses benefiting their leaders. Rick was featured on the Dialogue podcast "True Crime" series, which was released online during February. He discussed in the two part series QAnon and the global phenomenon of cults online, that recruit through social media platforms, streaming and conduct indoctrination online. Part One. Part Two. Rick's legal battle with NXIVM was cited in an Albany Times-Union news report February 22nd concerning NXIVM President Nancy Salzman's criminal conviction. Salzman began serving her three-year-and-half year prison sentence on February 21st. Rick Ross' work was cited on the "Dr. Phil Show" March 1st, which featured a cult survivor of "One Mind Ministries," led by "Queen Antoinette," sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2010 for causing the death of a baby. Some of Ross' "warning signs" regarding recognizing cult involvement, influence, and behavior were featured at the "Dr. Phil" website. Rick is prominently quoted in the new book, The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family, by John Glatt, which was published by St Martin's Press on January 18th. Ross is also quoted in news reports in The US Sun and OK! in the UK concerning his observations about the influence of Chad Daybell over Vallow, the so-called "Cult Mom." The couple is criminally charged for the murders of Vallow's two children in Idaho. Rick was interviewed for a Forbes examination of how Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman, now serving a prison sentence after her criminal conviction, funded the notorious "sex cult" NXIVM. He was also quoted and his book cited by Rolling Stone in the report "Sects Appeal: 5 Books About Cults and Why People Join Them," and was consulted and quoted for an article, "How Heaven’s Gate’s Choice Of Nikes For Mass Suicide Became A Cultural Touchstone," featured by Oxygen. Other media contributions: interviewed by Melissa Rivers for her podcast about "Cults, Cults and more Cults" released on December 11th; interviewed for the podcast "Odd Jobs" about his work as a cult deprogrammer released through Spotify on December 14th; interviewed by Alex Kantrowitz for the "One Zero" podcast, with the transcript published December 23rd -- NXIVM, QAnon and what makes people vulnerable to cult persuasion techniques are featured parts of the discussion.

Charlene Edge had two virtual presentations scheduled. On March 28, 2022 she will give a virtual presentation, “Don’t Be Fooled by Cults,” including Q&A for a college religion class, “Extremes in Religion,” taught by Todd French, PhD. This is the seventh year Charlene discusses with students the dangers of cults and her award-winning cult memoir, Undertow, which they are assigned to read before her presentation. On May 17, 2022 at 7:00 pm at the Winter Park Public Library in Winter Park, FL she will give an in-person and live streaming event in the Author’s Salon series featuring Charlene Edge discussing and reading from her most recent book, From the Porch to the Page: A Guidebook for the Writing Life. Throughout this guidebook, Charlene uses her cult memoir Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International as an example in essays about the writing life and craft. Also included in the section of the guidebook book called “Writing Memoir,” is her essay, “Why I Had to Escape a Fundamentalist Cult,” published in ICSA Today Vol. 7, No. 2, 2016, 15-17. Reprinted with permission of the International Cultic Studies Association. This is free and open to the public. See the library website for details.

Helena Lofgren gave a lecture with the theme, ”The ISIS children from a cult perspective: the children’s needs, short and long term” at CVE / Center for preventing violent extremism. (in Swedish: Barn från IS-miljön från ett sektperspektiv på CVE / Center mot våldsbejakande extremism), January 18th 2022. She also lectured on Cult dynamics for the Swedish support group “Hjälpkällan”, January 18th online. It might be available online without the Q&A. And she also contributed to Nyhetsmorgon at SVT januari 25th , one of the major Swedish morning shows, on the subject, “How do you talk to someone who believes in conspiracy theories?” ((In Swedish with a link: Hur talar man med någon som tror på konspirationsteorier? )

INFORM will host the online launch of Radical Transformations in Minority Religions, edited by Beth Singler and Eileen Barker. The event took place via Zoom on Thursday 10th February 2022 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm GMT. ICSA's Executive Director, Dr. Michael Langone, was a respondent, along with Professor Emeritus James A. Beckford, University of Warwick and Professor Linda Woodhead, King’s College London. This volume examines radical transformations undergone by a variety of minority religions, including the Children of God/ Family International; Gnosticism; Jediism; various manifestations of Paganism; LGBT Muslim groups; the Plymouth Brethren; Santa Muerte; and Satanism. As with other books in the Routledge/Inform series, the contributors approach the subject from a wide range of perspectives: professional scholars include legal experts and sociologists specializing in new religious movements, but there are also chapters from those who have experienced a personal involvement. The volume is divided into four thematic parts that focus on different impetuses for radical change: interactions with society, technology and institutions, efforts at legitimation, and new revelations. Contact INFORM for more information.

Robin Boyle Laisure of Saint John's University Law School gave a talk in Garden City, NY to the National Charity League on "Human Trafficking and Coercion." More than 135 people attended – mostly mothers and their teenage daughters. In February 2022, she also spoke to the student chapter of the Federal Bar Association, with Alan Scheflin, on Human Trafficking and Coercion. And on February 2nd, she gave a virtual talk on Human Trafficking, Coercion, and Cults before the Garden City Community Church, located on Long Island.

Carrie Buddington in 2021 completed her MSW at Simmons School of Social Work in Boston. Currently licensed as an LCSW, she works at Riverside Community Care Emergency Services in Norwood, MA. She has been featured in two recent media productions at WBZ-TV and CBC.

Wendy and Doug Duncan's monthly support group, which they have run for 15 years, went to Zoom during the pandemic. Although not a perfect venue for support groups, the virtual meetings have allowed them to open the group, which averages about 15 participants, to people outside the Dallas area - as far away as London. Wendy has also started working as a Cultic/Spiritual Abuse Recovery Specialist. Their former cult leader died last year, so they have been fielding a lot of calls from people in the media who want to write or tell about his story and legacy.

Stephen Mather is the co-host, with his adult daughter Celine, of a podcast called What should I think about…? This podcast explores cults and other high-control groups and the process of leaving these groups and making sense of life afterwards. Stephen is a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, now with a Masters in Organizational Psychology. Stephen and Celine interview experts in the field, such as Dr Alexandra Stein, Dr Janja Lalich, and Patrick Ryan, as well as listen to the stories of a wide range of people from many different backgrounds. They release a new podcast every Wednesday and Sunday. Their most recent podcast is Transcendental Meditation, Cults and Exiting: Interview with Patrick Ryan from Cult 101.

American Trickster, Robert(a) Marshall’s biography of anthropologist and cult leader Carlos Castaneda is due out from University of California in Fall 2022. The first two seasons of the podcast they coproduced, Trickster, are now available here.

Paulette Buchanan tells us about her recently published book: "In late 2021 I published my first book, Fighting for Justice: Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order. Around 2010 a civil rights attorney advised me to write a book about my experiences being victimized by members of my own family. It took me eight years to write this book, which details familial abuse and the continuation of that abuse into my adult years caused primarily by one brother in particular who operates a cult. Although I've never been a member of my brother's cult, the extensive use of harassment, threats, and spiritual abuse have been the modus operandi of this one brother for many decades. Typical of many abusive cult figures, this brother weaponized the Internet with incessant defamation to incite others to stalk and harass my husband and me. Also typical of cult figures, this same brother, supported by my three other brothers, weaponized the court system to file multiple meritless, harassing lawsuits against me, my husband, other family members, and many others, all without ever hiring an attorney and despite never winning a single case. My husband and I have finally obtained, at great expense, long overdue judgments and court orders banning my brother's continuation of this tactic. My husband and I continue to work with our legislators to propose bills in the Tennessee legislature that address the abuse of the court system so as to spare others from experiencing the stress and trauma of being stalked through the courts. My book delves into the oft-asked question: Why did law enforcement authorities and the courts allow all these multiple acts to happen and happen for so long? I dive deep to explain the root causes, and I provide solutions. My main message to state and federal legislators is that they must represent our best interests and fight diligently to restore law and order in every aspect of our state and federal departments so that others do not go through needless suffering. My main message to victims of abuse, including spiritual abuse, is that they must refuse to be silenced and they must refuse to back down. I truly hope my book educates our policy makers and emboldens other abuse survivors to speak up and demand justice."

Adam Arnold is a mental health professional living and working in Saint Paul, MN. He considers himself both a survivor, and a perpetrator, of spiritual abuse. Two recent blogs are "Weaponizing Therapy" and "Safeguarding Congregations From Religious Abuse." Adam is also partnering with Beth McNally to run a series of discussion groups on Netflix's Midnight Mass. The first discussion group will be on February 15, 2022. Sign up or request additional information by emailing Adam ( Spots are limited.

Todd Brown left a Sufi group called Dayemi Tariqat in Carbondale, Illinois, after 23 years. He left just as the COVID lockdown started. He says: "I began to vlog about my exit process here. I am the first to speak out publicly about my experience with this group, even though there are probably around 100 ex- members. This just shows how much shame and fear people have been carrying. We are expecting some local media coverage soon, and there are many, many stories to tell. Since I started vlogging, a group of ex-members has started sharing stories. It's been arduous but very fruitful. Dan Shaw, Janja Lalich and Alexandra Stein have all been personally helpful to me during this process."

Bob Menna and his daughter Alexandra Menna describe their cult-related experiences in recent podcasts of The Cult Vault. Episode #143 - "Ramtha's School of Enlightenment - A Father's Perspective"; Episode 144 - "Ramtha's School of Enlightenment - A Daughter's Story.".

Alexandre Ramos on December 7 completed his PhD in Psychology with a dissertation at Universidade do Algarve, a Portuguese public university, about group psychological abuse in Jehovah's Witnesses. Dr. Ramos sent ICSA a copy of his dissertation (in Portuguese), which you can access here. The dissertation is entitled, DESFILIAÇÃO RELIGIOSA E ABUSO PSICOLÓGICO EM GRUPO NASTESTEMUNHAS DE JEOVÁ. Alexandre submitted a paper to the journal Religion (Taylor & Francis Online). last month.

Luigi Corvaglia in 2021

  • gave a lecture on the geopolitical use of the concept of religious freedom at the international conference of the International Center for the Study of Eurasia (ICSE) in Paris;

  • held various seminars on cults around Italy;

  • held a dissertation on " Swarm Cults " (Pandemonium. cyber cults and digital fascism) at the FECRIS Conference in Bordeaux, France;

  • participated as a consultant in two documentaries for on-demand platforms;

  • wrote the chapter on cults for a Social Medicine textbook used in university courses in Italy; and

  • submitted an article, "Submission as preference shift," to the International Journal of Coercion, Abuse and Manipulation" which was accepted for publication.

Rachel Bernstein continues her weekly Podcast, Indoctrination . It's now finishing up its 3rd year and upcoming guests include women from the Avery Center, a counter human trafficking organization, and Mark Potok, formerly of the Southern Poverty Law Center and now at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right. She was interviewed for the podcasts Mind Shift, Shrink Chicks, and Trust Me , for John Sweeney's Podcast in England about Ghislaine Maxwell on Radio National ABC Australia regarding QAnon, for the MeredithForReal Podcast, and for the Conspirationality Podcast with Matthew Remski. Soon, she will release a YouTube video about social and political manipulation leading up to the January 6, 2021 Insurrection, to be posted on her YouTube channel, and a BBC show coming out in January about government indoctrination and the January 6th insurrection. Rachel is also currently facilitating a former cult member support group every other week on Zoom. She is also soon re-releasing her children's book now available again on Amazon, Now I Know: Kids Talking to Kids about Divorce, which is relevant to many who have come out of cults where the level of divorce is very high and the need to understand a child's emotional needs during that time is great. Rachel continues to treat former cult members and run a support group (now on Zoom) in her private practice.

Christopher Hamacher wins defamation suit filed by German Zen teacher against ICSA paper. In 2012 Christopher Hamacher presented a paper entitled “Zen has no Morals!” at the ICSA Annual Conference in Montreal. The paper discusses two Zen teachers who have been accused of long-term systematic abuse of their students. Christopher also co-hosted a panel about the two teachers at the 2017 ICSA Annual Conference in Bordeaux. In November 2020, Dr. Klaus Zernickow, one of the two teachers discussed in the paper, filed a lawsuit against Christopher before the Berlin Regional Court, claiming that all the accusations about him made in “Zen has no Morals!” were false and that the paper as a whole was defamatory. In the €50,000 lawsuit, Zernickow demanded that the entire paper be removed from the Internet, or at least that all passages referring to him be deleted. However, after more than a year of written pleadings, at the oral hearing on December 14, 2021 the three judges of the Berlin Court ruled that the lawsuit was unfounded and completely dismissed Zernickow’s case with costs. The judges particularly criticized Zernickow for repeatedly making blanket denials that all the allegations in the paper were false, without, however, providing any plausible alternative versions. Many of the former student testimonials in the paper were extremely detailed and the accusations correspondingly concrete, so that to simply state that “it’s all not true” was ruled to be insufficient. The remainder of the paper's statements were ruled by the Court to be covered by the freedom of opinion.

Dan Shaw's new book, Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery: Leaving the Prison of Shame and Fear, was published by Routledge in 2021. The first chapter is a revised version of the talk Dan gave at the ICSA Annual Conference in Philadelphia, 2018, on the role of shame in cult recruitment and recovery. Dan's first book, Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, has been released as an Audiobook.

In 2021 Robert Crompton saw the publication in Kindle paperback of his book Pathways to Freedom - from the Watchtower to New Life. Pathways was a direct development from a presentation that he gave at the 2019 ICSA Annua Conference in Manchester. This talk led to a further development, which he is currently working on under the title, Through the Transit Zone. His intention with this latest spin-off is to offer some guidance both to defectors from the Watchtower movement and also to those who would seek to engage in counter-cult activism. Following completion of Pathways, Robert returned to work on a novel and saw publication of Shadows of Gilead in November 2021. Shadows tells the stories of three very different defectors from the same congregation of a fictional JW-like cult, the Fellowship of Gilead, who are all trying to discover the truth of what had been going on in their old congregation when they were children. He intends, following completion of Through the Transit Zone, to begin work upon a second and much expanded edition of his book, How to Write a Gospel. This is not specifically cult-related but will be of interest to those who wish to take a creative skeptical approach to the Biblical narratives.

Friedrich Griess will soon be 90 years old. Though his activity in the cultic studies field is still somewhat restricted, he continues to act as the representative of the Gesellschaft gegen Sekten- und Kultgefahren ( (Association against dangers from sects and cults), publically reachable on the internet by or by his personal telephone number +43 664 49 250 49. This association is still a member of FECRIS (European Federation of Centres of Research and Information on Cults and Sects). The organization also cooperates with the Austrian Bundesstelle für Sektenfragen ( (Federal Office for Sectarian Questions) and with a group of German speaking consulting associations reachable via Friedrich's engagement against cults started when one of his children joined the Norwegian cult Brunstad Christian Church, also known as "Smith's Friends," now an international community ( In cooperation with Norwegian and American ex-members, he still watches this cult and recently translated a critical survey from Norwegian to German and distributed it to German-speaking consulting offices. He will let us know when the survey results are available.

Patrick Ryan was interviewed on December 11, 2021 by Stephen Mather MBPsS, Host of the podcast What should I think about..? Pat was also interviewed for Episode 11 of A Little Bit Culty: "Master of the Cultiverse: Patrick Ryan on Transcendental Meditation.".

Rick Ross has been busy with various projects including the latest documentary regarding the MLM LuLaRoe, as cited within Forbes. Also see: The Rise And Fall Of LuLaRoe’ Investigates Scandal Behind Marketing Company; discovery+ Explores the Real Story Behind "The Rise and Fall of LuLaRoe" and How an American Dream Became the Ultimate Scandal. Rick also did an expert review of movies about cults for Vanity Fair regarding their authenticity. Since October more than a million people have watched his reviews on YouTube. Rick was quoted in The Sun UK in an article about QAnon. And he was featured in an article titled "Cult Hunter" in the The Sun US.

Ashlen Hilliard, who managed ICSA's 2021 Virtual Annual Conference was interviewed in a Whoova "Case Study." Whoova is the company that enabled ICSA to provide interactive opportunities during the conference. Conference attendees' level of engagement was very high. Statistics from last year's event include:

  • 2,500+ Messages exchanged

  • 1,300+ Poll Responses

  • 3,500+ Community Board Posts

  • 289 Meet-up Attendees

  • 92% Love Whova

  • 299,000+ Sponsor Impressions

Robin Boyle, a professor at St. Johns University Law School:

  1. Was the Keynote Speaker for the conference “The 2nd Cultic Phenomenon Studies Workshop, 2021,” held at Shanxi University, China, on Dec. 18, 2021. Prof. Boyle presented virtually by sending a pre-recorded lecture with PowerPoint slideshow. Her lecture was presented in English (not translated). The topic of her speech was “Human Trafficking and Coercion.”

  2. Will present on this topic at two other forums: National Charity League's local chapter on Jan. 25, 2022, before an audience of mothers and teenage daughters; and for the Garden City Community Church, Long Island, on Feb. 2, 2022.

  3. Is advising the student chapter of the Federal Bar Association at St. Johns University to help them put together a panel on the same topic for the end of January or early February, 2022 This panel discussion will take place in person at the law school in Queens, which has some remote capability.

Raffaella Di Marzio, Director of the Italian Center for the Study of Freedom of Religion, Belief and Conscience (LIREC), helped organize a conference with Hon. Stefano Ceccanti on November 8, 2021 in the New Hall of the Parliamentary Groups of the Chamber of Deputies. The conference theme was Religious Freedom and Security in the Secular State: The difficult balance between complementary and interdependent rights. More information.

  • Larry Pile, RIP, passed away on November 23, 2021 at the age of 78. From May 1988 to 2005 Larry was a staff member and Specialist in Cult Education and Research for Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, initially of Albany, Ohio and later of Athens, Ohio. (Wellspring closed a few years ago.) Larry’s duties included preparing and conducting educational workshops on a wide variety of spiritual and practical issues and topics designed to help people who have suffered abuse as members of high-control, destructive organizations and relationships, including spiritually abusive churches. The type of abuse suffered was always emotional and spiritual, often physical, sexual, and financial. The goal of the workshops was to help victims/survivors come to an understanding of what happened to them, how it happened to them, and how to move on with their lives. Larry wrote often for Wellspring’s newsletter and journal (now no longer published), as well as other periodicals. He wrote an on-line book about Great Commission Association of Churches, Marching to Zion, and a commentary on the biblical book of Galatians (Free at Last! The Message of Galatians for Survivors of Cults and Spiritual Abuse), geared toward survivors of abusive churches and other totalist organizations and relationships. Larry also published a book review and article in ICSA Today (Book Review: Quivering Daughters Hope and Healing for the Daughters of Patriarchy; Back From the Brink) and co-authored an article in ICSA’s Cultic Studies Journal, "Overcoming the Bondage of Revictimization: A Rational/Empirical Defense of Thought Reform," - Paul R. Martin, Ph.D., Lawrence Pile, Ron Burks, & Stephen Martin)

  • Wendy Ford Wolfberg, RIP, was recruited into a Bible-based cult in 1973 while a freshman at college. She was in the cult for seven years. While involved, she completed two intensive leadership indoctrination programs and a survival program that included shooting firearms. On May 16, 1980, after a failed deprogramming, she was successfully deprogrammed by her parents. After returning home, she completed her B.A at Harvard University while working. Wendy counseled many ex-cultists, their families, and friends. She was interviewed extensively on cults by both the media and the government. She appeared on local and national television and lectured to many groups, including high school, college, law enforcement, and religious audiences. From 1987 to 1990 she was the New England Director for FOCUS, an ex-cultist support group. In 1993 ICSA (then known as American Family Foundation) published her book, Recovery From Abusive Groups.

  • Excerpts from an obituary: Wendy Ford Wolfberg, 66, of Westford, formerly of Concord and Marblehead [ MA], died at Lahey Clinic Medical Center in Burlington on November 14, 2021. She was the wife of Michael Wolfberg, with whom she shared 23 years of marriage. Wendy was born on June 3, 1955 in Media, Pennsylvania to her late parents, Guy Ford, Sr. and Dolly (Preston) Ford. She received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies cum laude from Harvard University and a Masters in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge. During her professional career in computers and technology, Wendy was employed by Digital Equipment Corporation, Nortel, Global Knowledge, Kronos and Dimensional Insight, prior to retiring. She was a longtime member of First Parish in Concord, where she edited the church’s monthly newsletter over the course of a few years. A music enthusiast, Wendy enjoyed singing, and had a particular love for jazz. She occasionally acted and sang in community theater musicals at Theatre III in Acton, MA. She was also an amateur photographer and a published author. In addition to her husband, she leaves behind six siblings. and Mike’s two children.

  • Pat and Heidi Knapp will begin an online support group for women called Becoming Free - New Virtual Support Group for Women, applying recovery and healing principles from religious abuse to our daily life experience . Date: Beginning Sunday January 16th – March 20th (4:00– 5:30pm) Mountain Standard Time. Place: Virtual-Online. You will need either a laptop, home PC, or tablet to participate, and a reasonably quiet place for involvement within the group. This is for your benefit as well as for the privacy of the other group members. Becoming Free is located near Denver Colorado. Through offering an online format, we look forward to providing a group experience for women living in Colorado and for those living in other parts of the United States. More info.

  • Maria Peregolise. Book Launch Q & A with Patrick Ryan and Dr. Ron Burks: Culted Child: The True Story of a Daughter Disciple by Maria D. Peregolise. Culted Child and its website present a true story and research on cults, spiritual abuse, narcissistic behavior, memory loss, etc. with links, books, and articles from qualified sources. To share new resources for consideration contact:

  • Pat Knapp. Understanding Religious Abuse and Recovery: Discovering Essential Principles for Hope and Healing. Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers.

  • Ken Garrett. In the House of Friends: Understanding and Healing From Spiritual Abuse in Christian Churches. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

  • Gerette Buglion was the subject of a Religious News Service article, ‘Snapping out’ of a cult and sharing her healing with others. Gerette is the author of An Everyday Cult.

  • Rick Ross was featured in an interview broadcast by BBC June 2nd titled "The perilous world of a ‘cult deprogrammer’."

  • Charlene Edge gave a VIRTUAL presentation on April 1st, “Don’t Be Fooled by Cults,” for a college religion class, “Extremes in Religion,” taught by Todd French, PhD. This was the sixth year Charlene’s been Todd’s guest speaker. Students are assigned to read Charlene’s memoir, Undertow, before her visit. Q&A is always part of the program. She also gave a VIRTUAL presentation, “A Cult Insider’s Story,” on April 17 for a public lecture series sponsored by the Global Center for Advanced Studies, an online university based in Ireland. It was recorded and posted on YouTube: CHARLENE L. EDGE --Author "A Cult Insider's Story" - YouTube

  • RIP: Maureen Griffo, MA, MEd,, an ex-member of The Church of Bible Understanding as well as several fringe churches, passed away on April 16, 2021. Maureen was Chair/Coordinator of reFOCUS (a former cult member organization) and also was one of four collaborators who established the Leo J. Ryan Education Foundation in the 1990s. Ms. Griffo moderated an online chat/support group for former members for many years. She participated in the ICSA New York City Educational Initiative and many ICSA conferences. She earned a Master's in Sociology with a focus on cultic practices as well as a Master's in Education with a focus on special education. She worked with children with severe emotional and developmental disabilities in New York City. Maureen’s kindness and insight inspired many former cult members. Her ICSA publications included: How Could Anyone Join a Cult?!! Spiritual Abuse Across the Spectrum of Christian Environments

  • Jose Fernandez has published a book in Spanish on healthy relationships: Las Relaciones Respetuosas Autenticas y Libres (Respectful, Real, and Free Relationships). Célebre editorial - Tienda online de Libros, envíos gratis a toda España (

  • Gerette Buglion announced the forthcoming publication of her memoir AN EVERYDAY CULT.

  • Wendy Duncan's Book: I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult, is now available in audio format. Click HERE to access.

  • Rick Ross is quoted within The Philadelphia Inquirer report published April 8th about the QAnon phenomenon and how people can be helped to leave such groups.

  • Robin Barbosa was featured in the following article for Authority Magazine

  • Ashlen Hilliard was featured in the following article from The Bee: Woodstock woman combats cults, heals survivors of spiritual abuse

  • Mike Kropveld was featured in the following article: Zen and the Art of Talking to Conspiracy Theorists

  • Neil Daamgard has started a new podcast! You can check it out here:

  • Jeff Bryson has three entries in the forthcoming The Encyclopedia of Crime, Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections: (1) Bryson, J. (2021). Female criminals. In C. Lewandowski & J. Bumgarner (Eds.), Criminal justice in America: The encyclopedia of crime, law enforcement and courts (Vol. 1). ABC-CLIO. (2) Bryson, J. (2021). Miller v. Alabama. In C. Lewandowski & J. Bumgarner (Eds.), Criminal justice in America: The encyclopedia of crime, law enforcement and courts (Vol. 1). ABC-CLIO. (3) Bryson, J. (2021). Terrorism. In C. Lewandowski & J. Bumgarner (Eds.), Criminal justice in America: The encyclopedia of crime, law enforcement and courts (Vol. 2). ABC-CLIO.

  • Joseph Szimhart is featured in the following article: You can also check out his new Youtube Channel by clicking HERE

  • Joe Kelly, Cult Mediation Specialist was on the Dan MacDonald Show - Nxivm's Keith Raniere, featured in HBO's The Vow, sentenced to 120 years in prison . You can listen to the Interview by clicking HERE

  • Rick Ross was interviewed for a New York Times report published March 1st about a former Sarah Lawrence College student prosecuted for crimes tied to cult leader Lawrence V. Ray. He also appeared on NBC Dateline segment reporting new information about notorious "sex cult" NXIVM in February. October - November Member Update can be viewed by clicking HERE

  • RIP. Loomis, Ronald Neri, 82, of Dedham, Massachusetts, formerly of New London CT and Ithaca NY, died peacefully, Saturday, September 26,2020, after a brief battle with late stage prostate cancer. Ron was born in New Britain, CT. He was the son of the late Thomas B. Loomis, and Rena N. Loomis. He attended the University of Connecticut and did graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Ron was the past Director of University Unions and Activities at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where he lived and worked for 25 years. He was also the past president of the Cult Awareness Network. Ron was active in the College Bowl and ACUI (Association of College Unions International) while working at Cornell University, Hamilton College in Clinton, NY, and The University of Wisconsin at Madison. Ron was a caring and social man who enjoyed being with friends and family. He was easy going and willing to help anyone in need. He was an avid sports fan and enjoyed all sporting events. Watching in person events, including those of family and friends or on TV, the game’s outcome was always “amazing”. Later in his life he became an avid hot air balloon enthusiast, riding and chase crewing regularly. He immensely enjoyed taking in a good sunset. He is survived by his children, Cathy Loomis Skahill, of Springfield, PA, Christine Loomis, of Randolph, MA, Thomas Loomis, of Windham, NH, and Stephen Loomis, of Orleans, MA. Ron also had 7 grandchildren: Sean, Mallory, Brandan, Chula, Jordan, Briana and Leighton

More info here:

  • Anke Richeter's recently wrote an article on, Conspiracy Cults and the Mental Health Pandemic. View here:

  • Paula Rose Parish wrote a book called "Nothing Good about Grief" available on Amazon. Her website is:

  • Ellie Bernstein is in production for a documentary about the Sullivanians, Vimeo link to Escape From Utopia Trailer: Password: fourthwall

  • Maria Peregolise was interviewed by Rachel Bernstein on her Podcast IndoctriNation. The episode was called Thought Adjusters: &

  • Lisa Kendall, MPA is hosting a blog about matters related to coercive groups. You can subscribe at;

  • Rick Ross appeared on "Dr. Phil" to discuss the controversial group "Love Has Won," which recently left Hawaii amidst public protest. Rick Ross, Diane Benscoter and Steve Hassan were interviewed for a report about "Why So Many Celebrities Joined NXIVM" published by Vice. Rick Ross is quoted in a Vanity Fair September 3rd report about the connection between Southern California and cults. Rick Ross was interviewed for the documentary series "Cult of Personality" featured on Reelz TV in September, which includes the Unification Church and the Children of God. Rick Ross was interviewed for the Reelz Channel documentary series "Cult of Personality" launched in August, which explores some historical groups called "cults" and their leaders. Rick Ross interviewed for the "Guru" podcast on Wonderly by Matt Stroud describes his intervention work, some of his hi-profile cases and the controversy that has at times surrounded the "Cult Buster."

  • Rev. Dr. R. Mack Pumphrey of Brown Deer, Wisconsin will feature a spring course, “Christianity, Cults, & Religions.” More info:”

  • Adam Arnold, MA, LMFT, LADC started a new blog on cults, coercive control, and spiritual abuse. You can click here to view!

  • Gillie Jenkinson provided an update for Hope Valley Counseling! Click here to view.

  • Paula Rose Parish recently wrote a book about the subject of grief. You can view more information here.

  • Robert Crompton announced that his new book: Pathways to Freedom is now available on Kindle! You can access here. It's a slim volume based in part upon the presentation which he gave at the Manchester conference last summer and it's especially for former Jehovah's Witnesses trying to build new lives following defection from the Watchtower movement.

  • Rick Ross appeared on Fox News to discuss "Cult Mom" Lori Vallow, whose two dead children were found buried on the farm of her husband and doomsday book author Chad Daybell. He did a podcast interview with Eric Hunley on "Unstructured" July 9th, which included talking about the creation of the hit video game "Far Cry 5" by Ubisoft and the historical cults that the game is based upon. He also appeared on Court TV regarding "Cult Mom" Lori Vallow and her alleged leader Chad Daybell.

  • Joseph Kelly

    • Interviewed for a upcoming special on MOVE.

    • Patrick Ryan and Joe Kelly were filmed for an upcoming documentar on the arrest of Lawrence Ray, who allegedly ran a "sex cult," psychologically manipulating his daughter's roommates at Sarah Lawrence College.

  • Patrick Ryan

    • Interviewed for the Talk Beliefs show on YouTube:

1) Why I Joined the Transcendental Meditation Movement

2) Why I Left the Transcendental Meditation Movement

    • Interviewed for an upcoming NPR episode called “Altered States”.

    • Patrick Ryan/Joseph Kelly and Ashlen produced a 30-day webinar series "Cult Recovery and Family Support Not Cancelled!"

  • Rick Ross Click here for member update May

  • RIP: Benjamin Zablocki. The family of Benjamin Zablocki has announced the passing away of their beloved one. He died on April 6, 2020. Click here to view his obituary.

  • Rick Ross

    • Rick Ross was interviewed by Business Insider concerning the history of Church Universal Triumphant, once led by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, and a doomsday online network called "Preparing a People" linked to Lori Vallow, the other of two minor children that have not been seen for many months and are now sought by authorities. Vallow is now being held in custody pending $5 million dollars bail. Ross has also appeared repeatedly during the past month on HLN True Crime Live commenting about the Vallow case.

    • Rick Ross is interviewed in a recently released podcast series about a "So-Called Prophet from Pittsburgh," which is the story of Gabriel of Urantia, a failed musician-turned-cult leader who is currently living in a compound in the desert of Arizona with 100 of his loyal disciples.

    • Rick Ross did an extensive interview with Yahoo News about the similarities between the persuasion techniques used by MLMs (multi-level marketing companies) and destructive cults.

  • RIP: Dianne Casoni. Mike Kropveld informed us: "For those not already aware I write to let you know of the sudden passing of Dianne Casoni, a colleague, friend and board member of Info-Cult. Her death has stunned us all and our thoughts go out to her family and friends. As more information becomes available I will let you know. For now what I know can be found here:

  • Charlene L. Edge, author of the award-winning memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International, gave a talk, "Cults on Campus," to about 50 student services staff at Rollins College on February 7, 2020.

  • The Loveland, Colorado Reporter-Herald published an article, "Survivors of cults, gangs and human trafficking share their stories at Loveland conference," on a February 8, 2020 conference organized by Connie Mitchell.

  • The Violence Prevention Network published an article by Michael Langone in their journal, Interventionen, "Pathway to Violence: A Cultic Studies Perspective."

  • On February 21, 2020 WTVF-Nashville presented a program, Coercive Control and Cults, featuring Debby Schriver, Bill Goldberg, and Dylesia Barner.

  • Paul Lennon's new book, Catholic Orders & Movements Accused of Being Cult-like: Intra-Ecclesial Sects, is available on Amazon and Kindle.

  • Maria Peregolise was featured author and a Gold Writer for her article, In God My Father: A Portrait of Divinity published in ArtAscent Magazine.

  • Wendy Duncan presented on The Wounded Sheep Project at the Episcopal Church evangelism conference in Atlanta in January. The Wounded Sheep Project is a call to churches to support the Spiritual Safe Haven Network in building resources and safe churches for individuals who need a safe place to process spiritual or cultic abuse.

  • Doug Duncan was interviewed in The Recovering Hunbot podcast on February 10, 2020, on the topic of shame experienced by individuals who were involved in multilevel marketing networks. The hostess, Alanda Carter, was in a multilevel marketing network and is now an activist in exposing MLMs for their cultic schemes. She has a weekly podcast and is passionate in her desire to help others who have gotten involved in MLM scams.

  • Doug and Wendy Duncan were featured in a documentary on their former cult, Trinity Foundation, produced by Grant Chaparro and Brooke Mondor at a film festival at the University of North Texas in December 2019.

  • Rick Ross's recent contributions to media included: (1) interviews on December 31st, February 7th, February 12th, and February 21st on HLN concerning Lori Vallow, the mother of two missing children sought by authorities that have been missing for months. Vallow is linked to an online doomsday network with ties to her husband Chad Daybell, a publisher and writer known for his apocalyptic books. (2) interviewed by CBS News in New York concerning the arrest of Lawrence Ray, who allegedly ran a "sex cult," psychologically manipulating his daughter's roommates at Sarah Lawrence College.

  • Sad News About the Wellspring Lodge

Barb Martin shared some sad news with us. The Wellspring lodge, a beautiful A-Frame building that housed hundreds of former cult members helped by the late Dr. Paul Martin and his staff, burned to the ground in the middle of the night, November 7-8, 2019. After Paul’s death, Wellspring struggled financially and closed the overnight lodge program several years ago. The cause of the fire appears to be a deteriorating veteran who was living in the lodge and fell asleep smoking. Photo of fire.

Barb wrote:

It broke my heart to see the final end of the calling that Paul and I (and Martin family) had to serve those in spiritual deception and psychological bondage and sometimes abuse. Tim [Barb’s son] and others tried to remind me that we will all still have the memories of all the lives touched by this venture, which I know is true. I have reviewed, since the fire, all the countries that sent film crews there to do documentaries on this work, all the foreign interns we trained in cult counseling from places like Spain, England, and Denmark and all the interviews for print and radio media that were done in that lodge. Professional counselors from all over the U.S., some housed at the lodge, came there for a big research get-together that laid the foundation for expanded research in the field of thought reform analysis and established a victim database.

More than 1000 former members attended the Wellspring program. Paul was exceptional among mental health professionals in this field because of his insistence on doing pre- and post-assessment using a battery of established psychological instruments. In 1992 ICSA published a report based upon Paul’s work to that point. The Wellspring fire is a sorrowful reminder of how much the field lost when Paul passed away on August 14, 2009.

  • Gerette Buglion was featured in an article written by a local independent newsletter called Seven Days.

  • Doni Whitsett co-authored a chapter in Global Violence of Women in Cults.

  • Rick Ross was quoted in a January 9th report published by The Guardian about Bentinho Massaro, a 29-year-old self-styled spiritual teacher with a considerable online following. Rick Ross also commented in a Fox News report about the disappearance of two children in Idaho now sought by police. Three deaths are linked to Chad Daybell, a former member of the Mormon Church, author, and purported prophet, who leads a group called "Preparing The People," devoted to preparation for an apocalypse. Daybell and the children's mother Lori Vallow are wanted for questioning. Here is the most recent version of the Fox News report regarding the Daybell group "Preparing The People." Rick Ross also did a second interview with Fox News in Salt Lake City after an earlier interview with Fox News Phoenix about a cult-like group led by Chad Daybell. Rick Ross' work was cited by the Albany Times-Union in its review of the "Top stories of 2019" regarding the fall of NXIVM's criminally convicted leader Keith Raniere.

  • RIP. Arnold Markowitz, LCSW, passed away on 25 October 2019. He worked for the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s' Services (JBFCS), one of the nation’s largest nonprofit Mental Health and Social Services organizations, for many years. He started and directed the Cult hotline and Clinic which helped thousands of cult victims and families, and he provided direct treatment to approximately one thousand cult-involved clients. In 2006 ICSA awarded him the Margaret L. Singer Award for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion and undue influence.

  • Olivia Djouadi, UKCP Accredited Psychotherapist was recently interviewed online in London on YouTube about her work and cults. She presented at the ICSA Annual Conference in Manchester last year.

  • Danish Qasim posted an article about Muslim cultish groups, "The Challenge of Leaving Spiritually Abusive Groups," on his website, In Shaykh's Clothing.

  • Rick Ross was extensively quoted in an article published by Sacramento News $ Review about the Sterling Institute of Relationship. Sterling is an LGAT (large group awareness training) weekend seminar led by Justin Sterling, which has a troubled history of complaints. He also appeared on the new nationally syndicated "Mel Robbins Show" with former "cult" members, including a woman that allegedly escaped from a Scientology compound in LA. Ross was also quoted by the New York Post in an investigative report about a secretive "cult" called the Odyssey Study Group, which recruited wealthy patrons in Manhattan and Boston led by former film actress Sharon Gans.

  • Steve Hassan has been so busy with presentations that we have posted his achievements in a Google Drive document.

  • Rick Ross was quoted by The New York Times in a report "Does Belief in QAnon Make You Legally Insane? Mob Hit Trial May Tell," which questions the influence of conspiracy theories. Ross also appears in a documentary special at 9 p.m. (EST) Sunday, December 8th on the Investigation Discovery channel "The Lost Women of NXIVM." He was also included in a panel presentation "The Cult of NXIVM: Former Members Engage with Future Policy Makers" at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University on November 22nd led by Professor Linda Demaine, a faculty fellow with the Center for Law, Science and Innovation and affiliated professor of Psychology. Ross was also interviewed for the "Failed Missionary" podcast titled "Is YWAM a Cult?" and quoted within a report by Vice News about the Kabbalah Centre, which appeared November 26th. Rick Ross did an interview for a podcast with Ben Straight, Ph.D., J.D. Professor and Associate Dean of Criminal Justice & Paralegal Studies NATIONAL AMERICAN UNIVERSITY.

  • In November 2019, Cyndi Matthews gave a presentation, Cults and Therapy, to about 40 counselors/therapists at the Texas Counseling Association Professional Growth Conference. In October she spoke to a group of 50 ex-JWs about "life after the cult: relationships with family members who stay" at the Rodney Allgood's Empower Conference in Dallas.

  • Anne Iris Miriam Anders authored an article for Religions 2019, 10(11), 622 entitled, Silencing and Oblivion of Psychological Trauma, Its Unconscious Aspects, and Their Impact on the Inflation of Vajrayāna. An Analysis of Cross-Group Dynamics and Recent Developments in Buddhist Groups Based on Qualitative Data.

  • Charlene Edge gave a presentation on November 14th titled: “A Cult Insider’s Story: Recruitment, Commitment, Escape” using her personal story from her memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International. She included a PowerPoint presentation of relevant photos and sold copies of Undertow. Proceeds from book sales went to the scholarship fund at the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College, her alma mater. This event was at the invitation of The Women’s Club of Winter Park, Inc. About 40 attendees.

  • Anke Richter has recently published two articles: Extinction Rebellion is not a Cult (Fair Observer) and The Guru Hunter (Fair Observer).

  • Marcia Rudin and Kent Burtner are quoted extensively in an October 24, 2019 Catholic Sentinel article, Abusive Churches Seek Best and Brightest.

  • Rick Ross was quoted by The New York Times in a report "Does Belief in QAnon Make You Legally Insane? Mob Hit Trial May Tell," which questions the influence of conspiracy theories. Ross also appears in a documentary special at 9 p.m. (EST) Sunday, December 8th on the Investigation Discovery channel "The Lost Women of NXIVM."

  • Steven Hassan has a new book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, that was published on October 15 by Simon and Schuster. Click here to access Steven’s full member update for December 2019. You can access his past full member report for November here.

  • Xavier Legere participated in a television documentary that will be broadcast on Planete +.

  • On Sunday, November 3 at 9:15 – 10:15 a.m., Robin Boyle Laisure and a representative from NJ Safe & Sound will speak at the Sunday Forum Series at Garden City Community Church (GCCC) on The Aftermath of “Sex Cult” and the Potential Legal Remedies.

  • Steve Hassan will be interviewed about his new book, The Cult of Trump, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture Event: Sunday Platform, November 10, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

  • Paul Engel talked about ICSA at an October 19, 2019 conference, When Rights and Religions Collide, in New York City.

  • Lisa Kohn, author of to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence, was involved in two recent podcasts: Lion Rock Recovery, Oct 1; Generation Cult, Oct 14, episode 3 on the Moonies. Her last book readings were in July and June. She has five scheduled book readings during the next few months:

    • SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All – 15 West 86th Street, New York, NY, Saturday Nov 1, 9-9:50 am

    • Temple Beth Sholom – 17139 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY, Sunday Nov 17, 10:30-11:30 am

    • Ridley Township Library – 100 East Macdade Blvd Folsom, PA, Monday Nov 18 6:30-8pm

    • Congregation Beth Or – 239 E Welsh Road, Maple Glen, PA, Sunday Nov 24, 10:00am-12:00pm

    • Haverford Township Free Library – 1601 Darby Road, Havertown, PA, Wednesday Jan 29, 6:30-8:00pm

  • Gerette Buglion in Hyde Park, Vermont will conduct "Power and Empowerment - a Workshop for Yoga Teachers, on February 9, 2020. One of the topics she addresses is how to address and support those who have experienced trauma from the abuse of power within yoga. Gerette was also featured in an October 18, 2019 Times-Argus (Barre, Montpelier) article, "Hyde Park Couple Turns Cult Experience into Support Group,"

  • G. Leunens on October 17, 2019 gave a presentation, "Introduction to Religiosity and Spirituality in Psychiatric Settings," to the quarterly annual meeting of psychiatrists for their quality educational accreditation. in Tienen, Belgium.

  • Eileen Barker says that that INFORM's Winter/Spring Seminar will be on the theme of immortality as expressed within minority religions. The seminar will take place on Saturday 1 February 2020 in Bush House, from 9.30 am. It is offered in association with Inform Research Fellow Dr Suzanne Newcombe’s project on Yoga and Alchemy in South Asia and in collaboration with the Theology and Religious Studies department at King’s College London. Details will be posted on INFORM's website before Christmas.

  • Rick Ross was interviewed by Joan Jones for "The Pink Pill" WGRN Radio 94.1 FM, a women's issues program aired in Columbus, Ohio. He was featured on "The Quickly" podcast on Mamamia in Australia about "cult-like" manipulation within multi-level marketing (MLM) companies and in a podcast sponsored by the Albany Times-Union October 15th concerning NXIVM. Ross also was interviewed by Ian Collins on UK TALK RADIO regarding the recent discovery of an apparent family cult in the Netherlands.

  • The grooming of children for sexual abuse in religious settings: Unique characteristics and select case studies Susan Raine and Stephen A. Kent. Aggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 48, September–October 2019, Pages 180-189. Abstract: This article examines the sexual grooming of children and their caregivers in a wide variety of religious settings. We argue that unique aspects of religion facilitate institutional and interpersonal grooming in ways that often differ from forms of manipulation in secular settings. Drawing from Christianity (Catholicism, Protestantism, and Seventh-day Adventism) and various sects (the Children of God, the Branch Davidians, the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints, a Hindu ashram, and the Devadasis), we show how some religious institutions and leadership figures in them can slowly cultivate children and their caregivers into harmful and illegal sexual activity. A number of uniquely religious characteristics facilitate this cultivation, which includes: theodicies of legitimation; power, patriarchy, obedience, protection, and reverence towards authority figures; victims' fears about spiritual punishments; and scriptural uses to justify adult-child sex. Full Article is available until December 1, 2019 (follow link in title).

  • The producers of “The Dream” podcast have released interviews with Douglas Brooks and Steve Hassan (bonus episodes 3 and 4) dealing with some of the cultic aspects of multilevel marketing (MLM), including discussion of the NXIVM cult. View podcast.

  • Bob and Judy Pardon have spoken on cults numerous times in recent months, were interviewed for a World Magazine article, taught a course, "Pastoral Issues and Cults," at a seminary, spoke on cults at a seminary’s fundraiser, presented to University Bible Fellowship (UBF) in Chicago, conducted a workshop for cult survivors on Identity, facilitated a weekend workshop for former multi-generational Christian Scientists in St. Louis, and led a workshop on cults at an apologetics conference. Next year they plan to speak at the UBF in Chicago, will speak in Denver at a conference for former Christian Scientists, and will start their support group meetings again.

  • Kent Burtner, Ken Garrett and Jennifer Olajuyin are quoted in a Catholic Sentinel article entitled, "Narcissism a hallmark of religious abusers." The article discusses the ICSA monthly meetup in Portland, Oregon run by Ken Garrett.

  • Shelly Rosen is running a monthly consultation group/study group in her Manhattan office with three clinicians who have taken former members into their practice. She will teach a class on cults and trauma to the March 14th, 2020 Saturday Seminar group at the Integrative Trauma Studies Center at the National Institute for the Psychotherapies. She will also teach an introductory class on cults and trauma for second-year candidates at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy Trauma Studies Center in May 2020.

  • The latest book of Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, Invisible Chains, Overcoming Coercive Control in Intimate Relationships, is now also available in Spanish. English language version. For the second year in a row, Dr. Fontes is teaching a one credit First Year Seminar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Cults: Mind Control and the Search for Meaning. She also has an irregular column on Coercive Control and related topics in

  • Lisa Kohn and Julia Gutgsell will contribute to a conference in Perth, UK on November 8, 2019: Religious Cults and Other Coercive Relationships: what they are, how we can spot them and how we can support people affected by them.

  • Charlene Edge, author of the award-winning memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International gave a talk on October 1, 2019, titled: “A Cult Insider’s Story: Recruitment, Commitment, Escape,” conveying her 17-year experience in The Way. This event was for the Psychology Speakers Forum series hosted by Derek Schorsch, M.S. Professor of Psychological Science at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida

  • Pat Ryan and Joe Kelly gave a talk at the September 27, 2019 NY monthly meeting, "Building Bridges; Leaving and Recovering from Cultic Groups and Relationships." A video is being edited and will be posted soon. Pat and Joe also conducted, with Rachel Bernstein, an 8-week virtual event between April and June 2019, "Building Bridges: Leaving and Recovering from Cultic Groups and Relationships - A Virtual Event for Families and Former Members." Recordings of this event are available to ICSA members via the member portal.

  • Pat Ryan was interviewed on two podcasts with Deliberations, Jury Break: March 1; April 26, and with BBC France for a documentary on cult interventions and recovery.

  • 22 ICSA members are speaking at the Santa Fe conference, Nov. 1-2, 2019.

  • In September Xavier Leger was interviewed by Golias Hebdo about a book he co-authored with Blandine de Dinechin, Abus spirituels et dérives sectaires dans l’Eglise (Spiritual Abuse and Cultic Deviations in the Church).

  • Rachel Bernstein was interviewed recently for several podcasts: On Beliefs, Talk Beliefs, Nurses and Hypochondriacs. She also led, with Patrick Ryan and Joseph Kelly, an 8-week ICSA virtual event, Building Bridges: Leaving and Recovering from Cultic Groups and Relationships. She has been asked to teach a course on Cults for Millennials through a program called Urban Elective.

  • On September 25, 2019, Prof. Robin Boyle Laisure presented at a think tank for Harvard Medical School, called the Program in Psychiatry and the Law (PIPATL). PIPATL members hold degrees in psychiatry and law. The topic of her talk was "Litigating Against Cults: Avoiding Undue Influence Conundrum." Prof. Boyle summed up the history of United States Supreme Court decisions, in which expert testimony was challenged when it pertained to "mind control" or "brainwashing." She argued that we can now look to the case of United States v. Raniere, tried in federal court (EDNY) last May, as a paradigm for litigation against cults and high demand groups. In that case the leader of the Nxivm organization, a purported network of self-help workshops, was convicted on seven counts, including human trafficking and racketeering. At her talk, Prof. Boyle offered some suggestions about revising the requirements for establishing undue influence in the civil context. The members of PIPATL engaged in a robust discussion about how much weight courts should afford to the mental state of the victim in cases of undue influence.

  • Vincent Starnino of Indiana University and colleagues have published four articles this year on the topic of trauma and spirituality: (1) Preliminary Report on a Spiritually-Based PTSD Intervention for Military Veterans. Community Mental Health Journal, Vol. 55, No. 7, 2019, 1114-1119. (2) “Staring into the abyss”: veterans’ accounts of moral injuries and spiritual challenges. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 2019, VOL. 22, NO. 1, 25–40. (3) Moral injury, coherence, and spiritual repair. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2019.1589439. To link to this article: (4) Like a Blanket Over a Fire: Group Work and Spiritual Repair in Military Trauma. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services 1–15. © The Author(s) 2019. Article reuse guidelines: DOI: 10.1177/

  • Doni Whitsett is co-author of a chapter, "Violence of Women in Cults in the United States," in a forthcoming Oxford University Press book, Women's Journey to Empowerment in the 21st Century.

  • In April Sofia Klufas completed a dissertation at the Depatment of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University, Raised in a Cult: Psychological and Social Adjustment of Second- and Third-Generation Former Cult Members.

  • Rick Alan Ross and his book, Cults Inside Out, were cited within the Lifetime movie "Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother's Fight to Save Her Daughter." Ross was also interviewed for a Gretchen Carlson documentary, which aired directly after the movie premiere on September 21st and was also quoted in an E online report regarding the movie. Rick wrote the forward for The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM Grand Central Publishing (September 2019).

  • More than 100 ICSA members presented in July at the Annual Conference in Manchester, UK. View abstracts and bios of presenters.

  • RIP: Dr. Sandy Andron, whom many remember from the early days of ICSA, passed away on September 9, 2019. was former Director of Education at Temple Kol Emeth in Atlanta. Additionally, he served as an education consultant who served for over twenty-five years as Director of Religious Education high-school programs in Miami, Florida. His work in the anti-cult movement included creation of a high school curriculum, Cultivating Cult-Evading. He was the recipient of the Leo J. Ryan Award in 1988, from the then Cult Awareness Network, for which he served as vice-president for five years. An obituary from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel can be found in his ICSA bio.

  • Deborah Glasscock's dissertation, Spiritual abuse among ex-cult members: A descriptive phenomenological psychological inquiry, is now published in ProQuest.

  • Kent Burtner is cited in a Catholic Sentinel article, "Spiritual Abuse: It's Easy to Get Taken In."

  • Gillie Jenkinson is offering training on spiritual abuse in the UK repeated in 5 different venues. Go to her website and scroll down.

  • Dhyana Levey's podcast, Generation Cult, is back for a second season.

  • Robin Boyle will present at the Garden City Community Church on Long Island, NY on Sunday, Nov. 3rd at 9:00 AM: "The Aftermath of the 'Sex Cult' Trial and Potential Legal Remedies." This presentation will shed light on the multi-week trial of Keith Raniere, which took place in the federal courts in the Eastern District of New York last Spring. Mr. Raniere allegedly ran a purported "self-help" organization, called "NXIVM," that was headquartered in upstate NY with multiple centers. He was convicted of human trafficking, racketeering, and other crimes. This successful prosecution will help courts and law enforcement to further police high demand groups and to protect victims. Robin was also selected to serve as a Vincentian Research Fellow for St. John’s University.

  • Charlene Edge gave a talk to about 90 attendees on August 18th titled: “Is There a Cult in Your Neighborhood?” using her personal story of recruitment, commitment, and escape from The Way International. Included PowerPoint presentation of relevant photos. Presentation given at the invitation of the Central Florida Freethought Community, University Club, Winter Park, FL.

  • Aryeh Siegel, author of Transcendental Deception, has been educating people about TM's attempts to insert its brand of meditation in public schools, something that critics say violates the separation of church and state.

  • Cyndi Matthews was co-author of "Counseling Individuals through a Crisis of Faith," published in the Spring 2019 issue (pp. 9-10) of Interaction, the newsletter of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical & Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC).

  • Steve Hassan has been active in a variety of ways:

    • He has a new book that will be released by Simon & Schuster on October 15, 2019: The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How The President Uses Mind Control.

    • Peer-reviewed journal article: Hassan, S.A. and Shah, M.J. (2019) The anatomy of undue influence used by terrorist cults and traffickers to induce helplessness and trauma, so creating false identities. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health (2019) 8, 97-107. Elsevier Masson SAS.

    • Book chapter: Hankir, A. and Hassan, S. (2019). Psychological Determinants and Social Influences of Violent Extremism In S. Moffic, M.D., J. Peteet, M.D., A. Hankir, M.D. and R. Awaad, M.D (Ed.), Islamophobia and Psychatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment. Springer Publishers,

    • Podcast on The Jordan Harbinger Show, 8/13/2019.

    • Instructor at Harvard Law School for Trial Advocacy Day (Expert Witness Workshop), 1/22/2019

  • Pat Knapp successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on August 22nd for the Graduate Theological Foundation. The title of his dissertation is A Survey of Religious Abuse and Recovery.

  • Grace Adams and Poia Alpha gave presentations on their book, Hearken O Daughter, and their journey as former Branch Davidans: Author Talk event hosted by Manukau City Public Library - Auckland, New Zealand - March 27; Author Talk event hosted by Bombay Bible Fellowship - Auckland, New Zealand - July 24; Tea & Topics event hosted by the Papatoetoe Public Library - Auckland, New Zealand - September 17.

  • Kathryn Keller in July co-presented a 3-hour training for the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center on spiritual abuse.

  • Joe Szimhart was interviewed for a podcast on August 4th: Cults, Firsthand Experience, & How to Get Out.

  • The British Association of Counseling and Psychotherapy shared a news item detailing Gillie Jenkinson's desire to contact therapists who try to help cult survivors.

  • In June Gordon Neufeld released a Second Edition (revised and updated) of his memoir, Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon, A Cult Survivor's Memoir. The new version includes a section that brings readers up to date on Gordon's life since the release of the first edition, which was 2002.

  • Stuart Lachs has written an article, Tibetan Buddhism Enters the 21st Century: Trouble in Shangri-la," for

  • Bob and Judy Pardon were featured in a World Magazine article on former cult leader and convicted murderer Jacques Robidoux: “When the Fog Lifts” by Emily Belz. World, June 29, 2019.

  • Escaping the Maze of Spiritual Abuse: Creating Healthy Christian Cultures, written by Lisa Oakley and Justin Humphreys, is a No. 1 Best Seller on Amazon in the UK and is about to enter a second print run.

  • Bob Williston's two books were exhibited in May at the National Book Expo in New York: I Will Disentangle Myself And Leave (personal story); The Handmaiden's Diary (fictional story based on a women's experiences with the clergy).

  • Rick Ross continues to be very busy with media. He was also active in the NXIVM case. Among his recent accomplishments:

    • Quoted in various news media, recently including The Boca Raton Observer, Mirror News, Daily Caller, Vice, Toronto Sun, Inside Hook, The New York Times, Forbes, ABC News 10 Miami podcast and The Daily Beast.

    • Featured within a Yahoo News 50-year anniversary report about Charles Manson and the Tate-LaBianca murders.

    • UK magazine, Total Film, interview regarding reviews and analysis of movies about cults - published online by Games Radar.

    • Testified as a fact witness in June at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Ross testified for the prosecution against Keith Raniere, the leader of a purported "sex cult" known as NXIVM, who was ultimately convicted on criminal charges of racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor and conspiracy.

    • Interviewed on July 3rd for The Morning Show, The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio, regarding multi-level marketing groups. Ross spoke about the influence techniques used by many MLMs to recruit and retain distributors.

    • Rick Ross' court testimony about the group NXIVM was cited by Newsday after a jury convicted the purported "cult" leader, Keith Raniere, on multiple felony charges. "NXIVM developed classic cultish traits — from near-worship of its leader, to vows of secrecy that isolated devotees, to an impenetrable, jargon-filled ideology," Ross explained during Raniere's trial in New York as a witness for the prosecution.

    • Interviewed June 3rd by Danielle Smith of Canadian Global News Radio about the alleged "sex cult" NXIVM

    • In May Charlene Edge was a Creativity Festival participant at St. Richard’s Episcopal Church, Winter Park, Florida. Charlene was invited to set up a vendor table where she offered free cult resources information and sold her memoir, Undertow: My Escape from the Fundamentalism and Cult Control of The Way International. At the Authors’ Reading time that day, she read a portion of Undertow. In April Charlene was a guest speaker for the American Association of University Women, 18th Annual Literary Luncheon at the Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, Florida. She also presented for two classes of college students at Rollins College, Winter Park, Fl. The students had been assigned to read Undertow. Charlene focused her presentation on deception in cult recruitment using her personal story as an example. Q&A followed.

  • In May Gillie Jenkinson delivered a 2-day CPD training in Nottingham, England entitled: Introduction to Counselling Survivors of Coercive and Radical Cultic Groups.

  • Megan Lundstrom of Free Our Girls told us: "Starting in June 2019, Sparrow’s Landing will open up operations as a part-time day center and part-time boutique for Free Our Girls. Out of the space, hot meals, laundry services, showers, and counseling will be provided for commercially exploited folk in Northern Colorado during the week. On weekends, Sparrow's Landing will transform to a posh boutique selling new and gently used apparel and gifts, and all proceeds will support the living wages of survivors employed by Free Our Girls. The home will also be utilized as office space and meeting rooms for staff and our partners."

  • In April Kent Burtner, Margaret Eichler, and Ken Garrett gave a one-day CE program, Destructive Cults and Clinical Work with Former Members, at Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling.

  • In April Eileen Johnson posted an article on Opus Dei on

  • In April Jose Fernandez gave a two hour seminar on Bullying and CyberBullying to the Pediatrics team of the Barcelona Health Primary assistance of the district of Maragall.

  • In April Robin Barbosa answered questions based on readings of her book, I Am Revealed: Behind the Ashram Door, at the Ethical Culture Society in New York City.

  • In April Esther Kiszler did an interview with the BBC, who are putting together a new documentary on the Bruderhof,

  • In February Doni Whitsett gave in-service training at the Rape Crisis Center, Santa Monica, CA - an overview of cult dynamics and treatment.

  • Ros Hodgkins, President of Cult Information and Family Support (CIFS) in Australia, notified us of some of their activities. CIFS organized a private viewing at a cinema of a short film, “Follow MY Way.” CIFS held its third annual two-day former members recovery workshop in 2018 and is planning another for October 2019. The workshop will be held in Sydney with mental health care facilitators, Jill Henry, Mary Janetzki, and Tore Klevjer. CIFS acknowledges ICSA’s Colorado model and thanks those who made this model available. CIFS supporter Esther Rocket, who recently won a court case against the leader of Universal Medicine, which sued her in 2014 for defamation. CIFS now offers a quarterly newsletter.