The purpose of the study was to describe the lived experience of spiritual abuse among cult ex-members in the United States. The eclectic sample included seven former cult members, five women and two men, ranging in age from early 30s to late 80s, five White/Caucasian and one mixed-race, average time in group and out of group 20 years, three born in group and four joining as young adults, from multiple regions of the country representing six different cultic groups. Data were analyzed using Giorgian descriptive phenomenology. Sixteen interdependent constituents emerged which included the themes of pre-cult vulnerability, leader/group conflated with God/higher purpose, extreme commitment and sacrifice, totalitarian-like control, intense pressure to conform, use of labeling to marginalize dissenters/defectors and to induce conformity, no dissent allowed, instilled fear and phobias, guilt, shame and confession, physical and psychological abuse, excommunication and shunning, hypocrisy, fraud, and deceit, dissonance and disillusionment, confliction upon leaving, initial joy or relief upon leaving, and coping with painful aftermath of cult involvement. Participants described their entire cultic journey when queried about spiritual abuse. Discussion includes a model of cultic spiritual abuse as well as a composite narrative of P’s lived experience of cultic spiritual abuse. Theoretical implications for the study’s conceptual framework (phenomenology, cult-antagonist lens, attribution theory, and biblical first-century lens) are discussed, and recommendations are provided for therapists, medical professionals, the legal system, clergy, and laity.
|Advisor:||Markette, Nicholas J.|
|Commitee:||Broomé, Rodger, Singer-Pressman, Melissa|
|School:||Grand Canyon University|
|Department:||College of Doctoral Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Spirituality, Sociology, Social research|
|Keywords:||Cult ex-members, Cults, New religious movements, Psychological abuse, Religious abuse, Spiritual abuse|
Copyright in each Dissertation and Thesis is retained by the author. All Rights Reserved
The supplemental file or files you are about to download were provided to ProQuest by the author as part of a
dissertation or thesis. The supplemental files are provided "AS IS" without warranty. ProQuest is not responsible for the
content, format or impact on the supplemental file(s) on our system. in some cases, the file type may be unknown or
may be a .exe file. We recommend caution as you open such files.
Copyright of the original materials contained in the supplemental file is retained by the author and your access to the
supplemental files is subject to the ProQuest Terms and Conditions of use.
Depending on the size of the file(s) you are downloading, the system may take some time to download them. Please be