Archive for the 'Attachment' Category

Feb 05 2013

“Personal Growth Weekends”, Cults, and How They Use Recruitment as a Strategy for Survival and Profit

Cults…I talk a lot about the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch) and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), but what are some of the characteristics of a cult?

Keeping it simple, it’s an organization of narcissistically driven (usually) men who use a variety of methods to manipulate and exploit vulnerable people.

Here are the essential characteristics of a cult:

  • mind control…use of bizarre religious or secular ideas to enforce the obedience of followers
  • emotional disclosure…participants are encouraged to disclose private, emotionally important information…while the leaders do not share emotional information with the larger group
  • recruitment…participants are encouraged/expected to go out and recruit others to join the cult organization using deceptive and manipulative tactics
  • restriction from all outside ideas and influences ( no radio, television, computer/internet, newspapers)
  • claims that the outside world is evil and will lead to the death or damnation of anyone who betrays the cult
  • participants are manipulated to believe that they can not survive without all the cult offers them
  • participants may also be physically and sexually abused, in addition to the pervasive emotional abuse
  • intimidation by threatening to harm others or animals, especially pets, like a pet white rat, a rabbit, puppy or kitten
  • leaders are a few men who directly benefit from the cult by abuse, manipulation, threat of harm, sexual control of women and intricate financial arrangements
  • methods during the activities include various rituals, guided imagery, psychodrama, native american spirituality, sweat lodges, and over-simplified and out of context psychological ideas
  • key to all these experiences is the claim they can “change your life”
  • marketing literature will often claim the programs are based on science, but they don’t mean research. These claims are often followed by non researched based psychological ideas, such as those of Carl Jung (the shadow and persona in personality archetypes)
  • Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Nov 20 2011

Damage of Secrets: Research Shows Secrets Clang (my word) Around Inside Our Brains

How do you spell relief? D-I-S-C-L-O-S-U-R-E

Therapists and clients alike understand the relief provided by the disclosure of sad, angry, fearful memories. Therapy is a place where people should feel safe enough to disclose anything they choose, significant or insignificant.

In dysfunctional families or organizations, people are often exposed to behavior which shocks
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jul 21 2010

Amygdala: How Our Brain Processes and Stores Emotional Memory

The amygdala is the part of our brain’s limbic system responsible for the processing and memory of emotional reactions and triggering the fight, fight, or freeze process for human beings.

In the image below, the amygdala (dark red color) can be seen as part of the limbic system, just below the thalamus (also dark red).

The amygdala has been called the “emotional sentinel” of the human brain because it is primarily responsible for helping us to know when it is safe and unsafe.

The amygdala receives signals from our senses which it quickly evaluates. If the signal is safe, all is good.  However, if the amygdala determines the signal to be a threat, it sends a message to the hypthalamus to produce dopamine, epinephrine and norepenephrine which provide the chemical fuel for us to fight, flee or freeze.

The studies related to the amygdala have demonstrated that damage to the amygdala or negative personal experiences can result in such things as an inability to determine safe or unsafe facial expressions, hyperarousal, exaggerated fear responses or absence of fear responses.

So, if you grew up in an abusive, dangerous household, it is likely your amygdala has processed and stored those memories in a way which may keep you hyperaroused and unsure about the intentions of your partner.

Any tension or conflict with your spouse may easily result in a yelling match leaving you both depleted and demoralized.

Biology mixes with personal history, with disastrous results for personal and intimate relationships.

One response so far

Jan 26 2010

What is the Mankind Project (MKP) and the Victories of the Heart (VOH)?

To the critical eye, there are many similarities and differences between these two men’s programs in purpose, organizational structure and culture, programs, size,  use of secrecy, nudity, forced silence, recruitment of psychotherapy clients as weekend participants, general recruitment, leadership, and impact of programs.

In some ways, comparing these two programs is like comparing New York City and a small neighborhood in western Montana.

MKP’s New Warrior Training Adventure has men’s centers around the world offering experiences to men of all walks of life. VOH offers programs only in Chicago and mostly to white middle-upper middle class men from the affluent North Shore.

MKP has dwarfed VOH in developing successful men’s programming and has an international impact. VOH may have had the same dreams, but they have not been realized, and likely, never will.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 16 2009

Abuse and Neglect: The Two Big Issues for Family of Origin Work

When I do an initial assessment, I ask many questions about family history. Although it is always an ongoing process, after a few sessions, I will usually understand how long parents were married, any divorces or major illnesses, parenting styles, length and quality of clients relationships, educational and career history, and importantly any experience of abuse and/or neglect. Why is this important?

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jul 07 2008

What are the characteristics of a Cult?

Cults…I talk a lot about the YFZ Ranch and the FLDS, but what are some of the characteristics of a cult?

  • mind control…use of bizarre religious or secular ideas to enforce the obedience of followers
  • emotional disclosure…participants are encouraged to disclose private, emotionally important information…while the leaders do not share emotional information with the larger group
  • recruitment…participants are encouraged/expected to go out and recruit others to join the cult organization using deceptive and manipulative tactics
  • restriction from all outside ideas and influences ( no radio, television, computer/internet, newspapers)
  • Claims that the outside world is evil and will lead to the death or damnation of anyone who betrays the cult
  • Participants are manipulated to believe that they can not survive without all the cult offers them
  • leaders are a few men who directly benefit from the cult by abuse, manipulation, threat of harm, sexual control of women and intricate financial arrangements

One response so far

Jun 26 2008

Protest, Despair, and Defense: What’s this got to do with your life?

Sorry. I know there are a lot of you out there who believe that your infant and early childhood years should not be that significant. “That was then and now is now!” right?

Well, for all you disbelievers, read on…

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jun 25 2008

John Bowlby’s 3 stages of attachment distress in infancy and early childhood: Protest, Despair and Defense

John Bowlby was the first clinician to identify the 3 stages of an infant’s or young child’s response to the separation and/or deprivation of a mother or other attachment figure.

Bowlby identified 3 stages in the infant/child response:

  1. Protest…the initial crying out in distress when the attachment figure is not available to help soothe the infant/child’s distress or as it is commonly termed, “separation anxiety.”
  2. Despair…the grief and mourning related to the deprivation of the mother or other attachment figure.
  3. Defense…the reaction to the privation or deprivation of the mother or other attachment figure.

Bowlby postulated that these 3 stages were interconnected as a single process. An infant who has lost or been deprived of their mother or other attachment figure will experience all three responses.

This includes the final stage of “defense” where their listlessness, increased detachment and minimal attachment (crying, smiling, etc) behaviors signal that they have “given up” looking for their mothers.

Or maybe we could say the infants/young children have given up their interest in connecting, relating and establishing the type of passionate relationships associated with joy and love.

Not a good thing and predicts difficulties later in life as adults forming healthy relationships.

No responses yet

Jun 25 2008

Rani the Bear: The connecting link between Ram Singh Munda and John Bowlby.

Ok, here is the connection. John Bowlby can be called the “father of modern attachment theory” and Ram Singh Munda can be called the “father of Rani , the sloth bear from India.”

Here is a picture of Rani and Ram. Apparantly, riding on the back of Ram’s bike is a favorite activity for Rani.

Well, there is more…
Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jun 25 2008

Attachment: What the story of Rani the Bear in New Delhi, India can teach us

Ram Singh Munda found an abandoned sloth bear cub in the forest near his home in India. Fearing the cub would die left alone, he brought the cub home as a pet and companion for his young daughter.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet