90 minutes, but might go to 2 hours if there are a lot of questions.
Replay will be available indefinitely.
Ages 14 and up.
Presented by a high-demand group survivor and researcher.
Resources and readings provided.
What’s this all about?
When I was 26, I was recruited into a cult. It took me 3 years to leave. And then — believe it or not — I wound up in another cult, for another 3 years. (This isn’t uncommon, actually.) I was well-educated, pretty psychologically healthy, and I didn’t think of myself as being especially vulnerable.
So how did it happen?
It happened because cults have very efficient ways of deceiving and manipulating people. There’s a whole school of study that shows how this works. The patterns are clear. Anyone can learn to see, and — perhaps more importantly — feel them.
I’ve spent the last 20 years recovering from those experiences, and the last 10 years researching the patterns. In particular, I’ve studied how they work in relation to spiritual communities, and have written and published extensively on that topic.
This isn’t just about hippies and ashrams and religion, and people becoming “brainwashed”. This knowledge applies to all kinds of groups that can develop toxic or even abusive dynamics: sports, politics, multi-level marketing schemes — even social justice activist groups.
The fact is: the content and message doesn’t matter. Often, the content and message actually function to disguise what the group is actually doing: exploiting, defrauding, and abusing its members.
You might have noticed that we seem to be in a golden age of cult media. Netflix is pumping out documentaries, and there are a load of podcasts out there now. This webinar digs beneath the sensationalist details to look closely, connect the dots, and help you nurture safer communities.
In my personal opinion, I think this is all especially important stuff as social pressures rise, institutions look more and more fragile, and very attractive charismatic groups like Extinction Rebellion start attracting droves of young people to their cause. Eco-justice groups especially can do very good and necessary work, while at the same time treating their members very badly.
Throughout my recovery and work, I’ve had this recurring, nagging thought: “If someone had identified cultic dynamics for me in high school, or in the first year of university, my life would have turned out a lot differently.”
So that’s what I’ve done here: boiled down ten years of research into a 90-minute primer for young adults. I believe the material is suitable and useful for anyone over 14. I won’t be covering the explicit details of how cults and cult leaders abuse group members. I’m shooting for a PG-13 rating here. The focus will be on clearly identifying social patterns that are unhealthy, and on how to talk to and support friends who may be getting involved in exploitative groups.
Of key interest will be essential definitions: What is a “high-demand group” or “cult”? What is “love-bombing?” How does “bounded choice” mean that the rules of the group are always rigged? What does “disorganized attachment” feel like? Can we identify “jargon” when we hear it? Do we know what a “trauma bond” is? (Another cool thing about this material is that it provides great insight into the health of ALL our relationships.)
This one-time 90-120-minute webinar costs 18 CAD. Before the webinar, you’ll receive a link to the online resources and readings that we’ll be referencing. After we’re done, you’ll have access to the recording.
How to Identify and Avoid Cultic Dynamics: a Webinar for Young Adults