Monday, April 23, 2012

Recovery from Legion of Christ & Regnum Christi


Welcome to Vol. 13, No. 2 April-June 2012 edition of the reFOCUS Forum: An Internet Newsletter for Recovery

reFOCUS is a network of referral and support for former members of closed, high demand groups, relationships or cults.
reFOCUS is dedicated to the recovery of former members…please visit our web site at We are a tax-exempt not-for-profit corporation - all contributions to reFOCUS are 100% tax deductible. Because reFOCUS is dedicated to recovery, we are looking for suggestions and input from you: are there articles or topics you want to see covered? Are there questions you need answered? Email us at

Upcoming Events

After the Cult Recovery Workshop for Former Group Members
Recovery Workshop for Former Members
When: Friday 3:00 p.m., July 27 to Sunday 3:00 p.m., July 29, 2012
Where: Franciscan Retreat/Conference Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Topics discussed typically include:

·         The nature of psychological manipulation and abuse
·         Conditions of thought reform programs
·         General recovery needs of former members
·         Coping with depression and guilt
·         Effects of hypnosis and trance techniques
·         Critical thinking
·         Relationships and intimacy
·         Post-traumatic stress disorder
·         Boundaries: re-establishing trust
·         Coping with feelings of anger
·         Coping with anxiety
·         Decision-making
·         Reestablishing trust in yourself and others
·         Dependency issues
·         The grieving process
·         Reintegration/identity issues
·         Spiritual and philosophical concerns


Free resources and articles

ICSA is proud to welcome STARTING OUT IN MAINSTREAM AMERICA by Livia Bardin, an online resource for people who have left cults, their families and friends, and professionals working to help them.

Starting Out is a compendium of information ranging from practical needs like how to get a photo ID or a copy of a high school diploma, to cultural catch-up, like types of popular music or quotations from classic movies, to  concepts like relationships with others.  There are detailed sections on basics like health, education, careers, and money management, as well as consumer tips on subjects from housing to selecting a doctor or counselor.  Sections on “Parenting After the Cult” and “Teenagers on Their Own,” focus on the needs of younger people who have left cults.  Though oriented  to those living in the U.S.,  Starting Out contains much that will be useful to people in all countries.

Author Livia Bardin, M.S.W., is a social worker who has specialized in research on cults and the experiences  of cult victims.  Her book, Coping with Cult Involvement, focuses on families with loved ones in cults. Her research on the experiences of children in cults has been published in in the Cultic Studies Review and the Journal of Public Child Welfare.

Available online only, Starting Out is accessible to anyone and sections are downloadable free of charge. Users are prohibited from selling or charging for information downloaded from the site.



What Are the Blocks to Critical Thinking after the Cult?
Carol Giambalvo
Every resource we read about recovery from a cultic experience informs us how critical thinking is of utmost importance. Yet there seem to be so many stumbling blocks in the way of incorporating critical thinking into our lives. Let’s look at some of them.
·        “No past experience is relevant to now”. Many groups used different words to convey this stumbling block to critical thinking, basically our past history was to be set aside and we were to begin thinking in the way of the group.
·        Information control. Certain books, feedback from friends and family, certain movies, television shows and activities were “distracting you from your life’s work”. Only sources of information from the group were “allowable”.
·        Milieu control. Control of who you see, communicate with, take advice from all needed to be from the group or its leaders. There were planned activities that seemed spontaneous, but were designed to orchestrate an experience that led you further down the road of belief and commitment to the group.
·        Dissociation. Some of these orchestrated experiences caused us to dissociate (dissociation is a disturbance in the normally integrative functions of identity, memory or consciousness), to enter a trance state. It can be caused by rhythmic patterns of speech, chanting, long lectures and/or prayers, meditation, guided visualization, conflicting information (discordant noises), repetition, stress of activities and/or poor diet and lack of sleep.
·        Loaded language. Every group has their own loaded language and when it is used, it brings with it a sequence of “knowledge” taught by the group. One does not have to think about it, the constant repetition of the language automatically brings the desired chain of thought. Thinking outside that chain of thought would meet with confrontation.
·        Negative connotations to the word “mind”. We are taught that using our “mind” would cause doubts. We are just to accept the teachings and the word of the leader as awe inspiring.
·        Humiliation when you ask a question. We learn not to question, especially the teachings or the authority of the leader.
·        Black and White Thinking. The beliefs of the group are “white” and undeniable and everything outside the group is black. This mode of thinking tends to follow us outside the group.
·        Spiritualizing Everything.
·        Being kept busy all the time. No time for reading or outside interests.
·        The sacred science of the group. It is unquestionably THE only way.
In understanding how our critical thinking was stifled in the group, it can lead us to begin the process of exploring possibilities, finding a career, finding what we truly believe … and it begins with allowing ourselves the ability to question!
Some positive aids to start us off:
  • Journaling
  • Hobbies
  • Returning to school
  • Writing about your experiences
  • Reality checks from trusted others
  • Getting feedback on critical views
  • Practicing logic problems
  • Critiquing television shows
  • Debating

Further reading:

Critical Thinking: Ethics Without Indoctrination

Comments, questions, and suggestions: email us at
reFOCUS, Flagler Beach, FL 32136

The reFOCUS Board of Directors:
Carol Giambalvo, President/Secretary
Rick Seelhoff, Vice President
Mary Taylor, Treasurer
David Clark
Maureen Griffo
Nancy Miquelon
Vanessa Weber

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