Josep Mª JANSÀ
Cults Viewed from a Socio-Addictive Perspective
- In the first part of his presentation, Doctor JANSA listed the characteristics of drug addiction, and then identified elements that this addiction has in common with addiction to groups:
- These manifest themselves through an obsession about the subject of the dependency, a loss of interest in anything other than this addiction, a denial of the problem and the resulting changes upon various aspects of the addict’s life.
- Drug addiction and group addiction affect people of similar ages, and they are influenced by the addict’s personality. It is personality that steers a person towards either dependence or compensation. The speaker then stressed that simply belonging to a certain group did not systematically lead to addiction. He stated that the concept of dependency for groups for the moment rested on empirical and clinical observations, and not yet on neurobiological data.
- Secondly, the speaker dealt with the issue of sociological addictions. He first of all defined these as dependency problems with a connection to many pleasurable human activities, or activities with a psychological development aspect to them – none of these activities involving the ingestion of chemical substances. The speaker carried on to list eight possible categories of sociological addictions, among which figure the addiction to people, which among other things includes a dependence on groups (e.g.: coercive sects and cults) and interpersonal dependencies.
- Dr. JANSA then focussed his presentation around psychologically manipulative groups (PMG). Initially, he explained why he preferred this expression to ‘coercive sects and cults’. He then listed points that addictions to PMGs have in common with other social addictions and then went on to describe addiction to PMGs in detail. The speaker also presented a scale showing levels of dependence going from 0 to 10 (PMG) and recognised that any evaluation of a dependency must also take into account any influences made to bear on a subject by their environment.
He carried on to define the different types of dependency on people, then informed the assembled delegates of the growing number of cases of interpersonal dependencies – on therapists, psychologists, etc.
The speaker then put forward eleven criteria making up the diagnostics scale used by AIS in evaluating the addiction to PMGs and other personal relationships.
To end his presentation, he raised the topic of other forms of groups cohesion, including gangs, comparing their characteristic features with those of PMGs.
- In his conclusion, Dr. JANSA emphasised the need to adapt ourselves to the great changeability of PMGs (increase in numbers of cases and in their complexity, the appearance of new forms of dependency). This need for change should be undertaken by developments in research on these phenomena, in his opinion, and by more suitable therapeutic solutions.
Debate focussed around the meaning and usage of the terms of addiction and dependency.
One question also led Dr. JANSA to put forward a list of book titles on these issues.