Home Therapeutic relationship Cult expert warns pandemic has generated ‘pollination’ between groups

Cult expert warns pandemic has generated ‘pollination’ between groups


Cult psychologist Miguel Perlado has warned that the pandemic has caused a “pollination phenomenon” between different movements that could lead to the emergence of new groups, a priori not very linked to each other, such as the far rightthe anti-vaccine or the esoteric.

Perlado is one of the organizers of the VII National Meeting of Professionals, Family Members and Former Sect Members, convened in Logroño on March 4 and 5 by the Ibero-American Association for the Investigation of Psychological Abuse (AIIAP). This clinical and forensic psychologist on trial, who has 23 years of experience in the sectarian field, confirmed that there is “common points” between phenomena ideological radicalizationthe intra-church abuse and movements related to alternative therapies.

According to your data, the 1% of the world’s population “is or has been” affected by a cult throughout his life and in the United States there may be some 3,000 sects.

an invisible problem

“Is a unseen problem but it is there; you have to be vigilant because the proposals are more and more diffuse and heterogeneous”, warns this specialist.

Perlado estimated that there are currently in Spain a few 250 “well-established” groups of “destructive” sectsbut these can no longer be defined “by the number of people recruited, the type of ideas they spread or the way their members speak, dress or behave”.

Thus, he indicated that in a sect there is a person who has set himself up as leader for having “a unique talent, gift, or ability” and generate a relational and group dynamic in which he obtains “progressive control” of his followers, who show “extreme dependence” by their “devotion”, until lose their ability to see independently.

To do this, he explained, the cult leader “uses manipulation and personality control with the ultimate goal of seizing power over their followers and gaining access to their personal and economic resources”, which causes some “devastating consequences”.

In the decade preceding the pandemic, this psychologist was already observing a “diversification” of sectarian groups, which, “beyond the classic religious structures”, drew their proposals towards health-related issues. In this way, he said, groups related to alternative therapies have emerged, new therapeutic systems and healing proposalsThis increased during the pandemic thanks to digital exploitation, a trend that this expert collected in his book Captured! Everything you need to know about cults.

Young, idealistic and naive

When it returns to normal after the covid-19 pandemic, he predicted that there could be an emergence of new proposals related to the contact with nature. He also detected the “mixing” of “new age” proposals with far-right movements, which could “crystallize” in new sectarian groups.

Perlado cited the example of QAnon, the far-right movement founded in the United States which experienced a great boom during the pandemic thanks to its conspiracy theories. Other groups, characterized by their opposition to vaccines faced with covid-19 or the use of masks, they have managed to “sectarianize” many of their followers or “act as bridges of contact” with other movements, some with ufological or esoteric connotations, thanks to this phenomenon of “pollination crusade” between these proposals.

Regarding the current profile of people captured by a sect, he rejected the “stereotype” that they are “hanged people who were already looking for this, without criteria or studies”. In this sense, he clarified that they are people “young, idealistic, naïve, with a university education and a desire to transform societywho are dedicated to helping others”, so they have “a fairly attractive profile for sects, who are looking for productive people, with presence and social contacts, not troublesome, retarded or infirm people”.

Relapses and feelings of guilt

“We all have weaknesses, no one is invulnerable to the influence of a sect but, in addition to a situation of personal crisis, such as an emotional breakdown, there must be the confluence of other factors in the social and family context”, he specified.

To recover a person from a therapeutic point of view, he stressed that it is necessary “works a lot in network with his family, his friends and his entourage” so that the recruited person evaluates his relationship with this group, “enters into crisis” and increases his “critical capacity” to facilitate his “extraction” from the sect. He warned that “there are usually relapses” because these people are “inoculated” with the fear that “only within the group will they be saved and have happiness and health”.

This situation can cause anxiety and psychotic crisisbut the common thing is that they experience “guilt and shame”given that when they return, they feel “in a strange world, whose codes they do not know” of behavior, after “their minds have been reprogrammed”.