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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Spiritual Abuse Among Cult Ex-members: A Descriptive Phenomenological Psychological Inquiry
by Glasscock, Deborah Susan, Ph.D., Grand Canyon University, 2019, 520; 13900573
Abstract (Summary)

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.

Indexing (document details)
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
Publication Number: 13900573
ISBN: 9781085620246
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