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Psychiatry Res. 2017 Nov;257:27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.07.018. Epub 2017 Jul 10.

Cult membership: What factors contribute to joining or leaving?

Author information

1
Clinical Investigation Unit BALANCED "BehaviorAL AddictioNs and ComplEx mood Disorders", Addictology and Psychiatry Department, Nantes University Hospital, Hôpital Saint-Jacques, 85 rue Saint-Jacques, France; INSERM U1246 SPHERE "methodS in Patient-centered outcomes and HEalth ResEarch", Nantes University, Institute of Health Research IRS, 22 boulevard Bénoni Goullin, 44 200 Nantes, France. Electronic address: morgane.rousselet@chu-nantes.fr.
2
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department, Saint Nazaire Hospital, 11 bd Georges Charpak BP 414, 44606 Saint-Nazaire Cedex, France. Electronic address: o.duretete@ch-saintnazaire.fr.
3
INSERM U1246 SPHERE "methodS in Patient-centered outcomes and HEalth ResEarch", Nantes University, Institute of Health Research IRS, 22 boulevard Bénoni Goullin, 44 200 Nantes, France. Electronic address: jean-benoit.hardouin@univ-nantes.fr.
4
Clinical Investigation Unit BALANCED "BehaviorAL AddictioNs and ComplEx mood Disorders", Addictology and Psychiatry Department, Nantes University Hospital, Hôpital Saint-Jacques, 85 rue Saint-Jacques, France; INSERM U1246 SPHERE "methodS in Patient-centered outcomes and HEalth ResEarch", Nantes University, Institute of Health Research IRS, 22 boulevard Bénoni Goullin, 44 200 Nantes, France. Electronic address: marie.bronnec@chu-nantes.fr.

Abstract

We assumed that, as in the case of addiction disorders, former cult members exhibit vulnerability and protective factors for cult commitment and membership. Thus, the aim of our study was to identify vulnerability factors that are involved in the commitment and in the retention in the group, as well as protective factors that are involved in the departure. We interviewed 31 former cult members, using semi-structured interviews to evaluate their clinical profile, characteristics of the cultic group and their experience in the group. Cult membership and addictive disorders share some characteristics: persistence despite damage, initial psychological relief, occupation of an exclusive place in the thoughts of members, high psychiatric comorbidity prevalence, high accessibility, leading to social precariousness and the importance of familial support when leaving. Three main axes of improvement were highlighted: regulations concerning cults in order to limit their social presence, which appears to be a vulnerability factor for commitment; social and therapeutic follow-up when a member leaves a group so that social precariousness does not become an obstacle to departure; and familial support to maintain a link with the member, as the intervention of a person from outside of the group is an important protective factor for leaving.

PMID:
28711763
DOI:
10.1016/j.psychres.2017.07.018
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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