ERIC Number: ED237881
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug-27
Reference Count: 0
Parental Responses to Their Children's Cult Membership.
Schwartz, Lita Linzer
Most of the literature relevant to today's religious cults has paid scant attention to the parents of cult members. Two recent studies (1979 and 1982) of parents of ex-cult members revealed that initial parental responses to a child's cult involvement ranged from anxiety to terror. In general, the parents were baffled by their children's new affiliation, especially in those cases that began in the 1970's when there was little public awareness of cults. Negative parental reactions have been attributed to the threat cults pose to the family's economic goals and authority structure and to the appropriation of parental roles; few writers have recognized the disruption of the affectionate relationship within the family. Published accounts by parents of cult children reveal that parents often blame themselves, and that most had difficulty finding the child. Of the 49 ex-cult members in the 1979 and 1982 surveys, 31 were rescued by parents and 6 defected voluntarily. Parents have turned to kidnapping and deprogramming, conservatorship, and civil suits against the cults. Since most cult members are legally adults, and most cults have First Amendment protection as religious groups, the courts have provided few clear-cut remedies. Family therapy can help preserve the family unit and prepare the family for an eventual harmonious reconciliation, but it is not a function of the therapist to aid in abduction or deprogramming. (JAC)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Counselors; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Adult Children; Cults
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (91st, Anaheim, CA, August 26-30, 1983).