Children who grow up in religious cults face diffiulties not only during their childhood, but also after leaving the group.
That is the conclusion of research being presented today, Friday 12 July 2013, by the Chartered Psychologist Jill Mytton at the Annual Conference of the Society’s Division of Counselling Psychology in Cardiff.
In her research Jill Mytton worked with 262 adults (95 women and 167 men) who had lived in a religious group as children. Around 70 per cent of the sample lost their family on leaving, 27 per cent reported child sexual abuse and 68 per cent had found the experience of leaving traumatic.
She asked them to complete a battery of psychological measures. The results showed that the average scores of the 264 partiticpants on these measures were significantly higher than the general population.
Two other measurss — the Group Psychological Abuse Scale and the Extent of Group Identity Scale — were used to assess the group environment and the level of group involvement respectively, and significant correlations were found between them and all clinical measures. This may mean that the specifics of the group environment, coupled with how strongly the group identity is enmeshed with personal identity, are key factors in the causation of distress in this sample.
Jill Mytton says: “Second-generation adult survivors of high-demand groups face particular difficulties, not only during their childhood, but also upon leaving the group, because they face assimilation into a culture that is not just alien to them but also one that they have been taught is wicked and to be hated.”