Gillie Jenkinson speaks at CIFS Seminar
April 19, 2011
Media Release |
Over 50 people attended, mostly mental health and counselling professionals.
Tonight's presentation was aimed at giving clinical information to professionals working with ex-members of cultic groups and one-on-one cultic relationships. How to recognise this and how best to facilitate recovery.
Ex-members are often confused by feelings when the manipulation and reason for them has been left behind.
Examples were given of how people can come under the control of abusive cults. Ms Jenkinson has integrated her personal clinical experience with the work of Lalich, Singer, Langone and others to form a descriptive model of cult pseudo-personality with reference to ‘doubling’ and ‘false self’.
With an analogy of an impervious tarmac being laid over the ‘real self’, simple diagrammatic representations of personality were presented. The special concerns of second-generation (2G) recovery was highlighted, as a ‘pre-cult’ ‘real-self’ is sometimes more difficult to find.
‘Introjection’ was shown to be a control mechanism where the member internalises external aspects or expectations, allowing group controls to be represented internally.
Working with ex-members is a multi-dimensional exercise of integration back to society, education about mechanisms of control, and assisting the recovery by allowing the ex-member to sift through or ‘chew over’ the good and bad and discard the unwanted elements while integrating the useful elements. These elements may have been introjected and can remain as powerful emotional triggers. Integration into society can sometimes require learning about basic health-care, recognising loaded language, managing money etc.
Ex-members are often confused by feelings when the manipulation and reason for them has been left behind. Simple decision-making and boundary-setting can be bewildering.
Therapists were encouraged to enquire and be curious about prior groups and relationships, listening for signs of cult experience. Ex-members may even find it emotionally painful to criticise their previous environment. Many therapy pointers were given to allow the ex-member to explore these life experiences and therapists were recommended to Lifton’s 8 components of thought reform.
This wide-ranging seminar encouraged the therapist to be gentle, sensitive and interactive with the client’s feelings and come back to things in the client’s own time. Families were encouraged to keep in contact with cult-members and recognise that the personality of the member is being overlaid by a ‘false-self’.
Health professionals commented that this information is not widely available yet will be very useful in clinical practice.
Comment from attendeing ex-members:
“I identified with so much of what she said."
"I had found it difficult to be understood by the mental health profession since my experience.”
“Hearing Gillie talk about what people go through really helped me understand myself.”
Gillie Jenkinson has a wide experience of research and counselling of abuse and cult survivors. She has authored papers and book chapters. Ms Jenkinson is a director of Hope Valley Counselling Hope Valley, Derbyshire, England.
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