The need to understand the emotions of anger, fear and guilt when counselling religious cult victims


Religious Cults


Victims of religious cults are systematically influenced by the beliefs, teachings and practices of the group to adopt the identity and personality befitting the religious cult. This cult identity and personality that is believed to be God-pleasing views the outside world as evil and a threat to the spiritual well-being of cult members. In order to maintain cult members in a state which is supposedly pure and free from contamination by the evil world, they are taught to cultivate an antagonistic and resistant attitude towards any doctrine or person contradicting the cult’s views. Any attempt by an “outsider” to communicate with cult members is prohibited. Any attempt to counsel cult members must be preceded by the establishment of a trust relationship that will overcome the resistance and open up communication. The counselling process that follows should address the emotional conditions of anger, false guilt and fear in order to restore the person’s self-worth and ability to adapt to the outside world. This article contends that addressing false guilt, anger and fear is an important and necessary phase in the process of helping cult members to recover and reintroducing them to the world.