Here are some common after-effects from toxic group membership. Decide for yourself if they apply to you. Remember, the same group can be okay for some of its members, while toxic for others. We are all different in our need for belonging, individuality, and level of self determination.
Thoughts keep circling in my head, I can't make them stop
I don't think I'm worthy of love
I have fears about the world ending, hell, karma or other punishment
Fear of making mistakes, difficulty making decisions
Sense of dread, anxiety and panic
Guilt for having left the group and leaving people behind
Guilt for living / enjoying life
An internalized voice criticizing or policing me
Strong beliefs and inner convictions that I didn't choose
Feeling responsible for others and their needs
Lack of boundaries, not sure when someone is violating mine
Difficulty connecting with other people
No sense of who I am, my identity outside of the group
Difficulty talking about and making sense of my experience
I feel depressed and find it difficult to function
I am very angry, there's so much rage
I have a hard time connecting to my emotions
I question my reasoning, how I make decisions
I put myself down
I still think in us-versus-them terms, who is the enemy now?
I daydream or just drift off, disconnect from my feelings
I feel like I have to be productive all the time, difficulty relaxing
I don't feel safe
(Read more of the questions on the intake form. You can look at the questions without sending the form).
After you have completed the intake form, one of our coaches will contact you to set up your first call.
We follow a standard five-call curriculum based on our shared expertise.
The curriculum covers the basics of how destructive groups function, treat their members, and common after-effects.
Still, we realize everyone is unique and we look forward to working with you.
If you would rather have a PDF emailed to you, let us know. Remember, this can be challenging work. Don't forget to take a deep breath and take care of yourself.
Check out our program and intake form, which will help you better understand your own experience and communicate to us what you need.
STRUCTURE OF THE ORGANIZATION:
Group with strong hierarchical structure, strict adherence to rules
Leader figure with prophetic claims, political extremist
OPENNESS OF THE GROUP:
Isolation and strong separation to the outside
SOCIAL LIFE, FRIENDS & FAMILY:
Ongoing contact is discouraged, minimized or forbidden
GIVING TO THE GROUP:
Paying for an overpriced course, mandatory tithing, forced labor or excessive volunteering is required
Division of the world into good and evil, black-and-white thinking, all-or-nothing mentality
Exclusive belief in the absolute truth of group’s own system, teaching, path, and methods; claiming the “only truth”
PROMISES OF SALVATION AND HEALING:
“Universal recipes” and simplified solutions for all problems, no checks-and-balances, unverifiable claims
If it doesn’t work, the member isn’t trying hard enough
The members of the group see themselves as chosen, as a spiritually evolved and superior elite of humanity
Members are expected to sacrifice time, money and sometimes their health or life for the group’s purpose; sacrifice is hailed as a virtue
Physical health problems are ignored, doctor visits discouraged, mental health problems stigmatized; those with burnout or depression seen as weak
END TIME EXPECTATION:
The end of the world or a political escalation and war are dooming
No open communication to the outside, misleading propaganda, covering up of sexual abuse or other crimes
Only selective information is given to members, sometimes deliberate disinformation within the group
DOUBT AND CRITICISM:
Doubt and criticism are banned within the group; critics on the outside are ridiculed and sometimes punished
Control and monitoring of all areas of life, lack of privacy and choice
Misleading recruitment, indoctrination, use of mind-altering methods and fear
CONTROL OVER THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS:
By creating shame and fear, the member is manipulated; by excessively practicing relaxation techniques or violence, thoughts and feelings become controlled and sometimes an “inner leader” is constructed, replacing one’s own conscience