Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Abuse

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ex-l

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Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Abuse

Post20 Oct 2016

The Brahma Kumaris are famous for their promotion of "detachment". Not just detachment from former friends, partners and family but, ultimately, even from oneself or body ... the entire world, along with one's self-interest, money and resources etc.

If allowed, the Brahma Kumaris will strip an individual of everything, offering only a "new lanterns for old" facade of a replacement cultic personality they claim is "divinity" ... 24/7/365 ownership by the cult with no holidays until the End of the World. That, they believe, in the only way to earn the highest status in the Golden Age soon to come.

Attachment Theory was developed by John Bowlby who described it as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" that had an evolutionary component, given it aids in our very survival.
"The propensity to make strong emotional bonds to particular individuals [is] a basic component of human nature".

By stripping away all other attachments, the Brahma Kumaris make individuals entirely dependent on them, in much the same way as an abusive partner or parent does.

Rather than an "eternal destiny threatening evil", attachment actually involves an exchange of mutual comfort, care, and pleasure.

Bowlby believed that there are four distinguishing characteristics of attachment and defined them as:
    Proximity Maintenance - The desire to be near the people we are attached to.
    Safe Haven - Returning to the attachment figure for comfort and safety in the face of a fear or threat.
    Secure Base - The attachment figure acts as a base of security from which the child can explore the surrounding environment.
    Separation Distress - Anxiety that occurs in the absence of the attachment figure.
"Disorganized Attachment and Disassociation" arises when, for example, a child has an attachment to a parent or primary caretaker, who provides the child with that safe haven and secure base, but is also abusive.
The situation places the child in a terrible dilemma: their survival instincts tell her to flee to safety, but safety may be in the very person who is frightening her. The attachment figure is thus the source of the child’s distress. In these conditions, children often disassociate from their selves. They may feel detached from what’s happening to them. What they’re experiencing may be blocked from their consciousness. Children in this conflicted state develop disorganized attachments with their parental figures.

Although most discussion of disorganized-attachment-and-dissociation refers to child psychology, it's argued that it also clearly applies to areas of cultic abuse where adherents are induced into a child-like state with the god or leaders taking the place of surrogate parents, the real parents and family having been removed from their life. It's then suggested that concepts such as "Destruction", "End Times" and eternal damnation have a deeply psychological effect on adherents ... supplying the "fear" element the theory is based on.

As with children, the primary care giver or nourisher ... the cult leader ... also supplies the fear and abuse and controls them by exploiting the Separation Distress.
According to the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, children with dissociative disorders are prone to trance states.

Brahma Kumarism is deeply invested into separating adherents from other or eternal sources and families, portraying itself and its god spirit as their true family and mother-father figure ... and then perpetually infantilising individuals as "children" ... "remembering the days of their childhood". Even their aim and objective ... to become Golden Aged deities ... are archetypes of child-like stupidity (referred to within their cult as buddhus [idiots] not Buddha [enlightened beings]).

Spoilt children at that, as the original Om Mandli children who became the leaders were.

Alexandra Stein PhD is a author and educator specializing in the social psychology of ideological extremism and other dangerous social relationships and understanding cults and extremist groups. She has develop an idea of how attachment abuse applied within adults in not just religious but also political and other cults, see; Attachment theory and post-cult recovery.

She has recently finished a new book on the subject, "Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems".
'A brilliant and much-needed book, grounded in original research and the classic literature in the field, along with plentiful real-life stories to exemplify the main points. Stein informs readers how leaders dominate, how the mechanics of recruitment work, and how the manipulations of indoctrination succeed in creating blindly devoted followers. While indicating that we are all vulnerable, societal solutions are offered. Perfect for classes in sociology, social psychology, psychology, and political science. This book couldn't be more timely!'

-- Janja Lalich, Professor Emerita of Sociology and author of Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults


I am still trying to make sense of this but I sense it is a key element of understanding how the hook within the the cult experience worked and how it and holds otherwise perfectly intelligent, rational individuals.

It's not a theory that requires individuals attracted to cults to have been abused as a child or adult, but clearly would be a stronger attractor of those who were ... hence the need for strong ethical frameworks for cults like the BKs to work within.
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Pink Panther

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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post21 Oct 2016

It's not a theory that requires individuals attracted to cults to have been abused as a child or adult, but clearly would be a stronger attractor of those who were ... hence the need for strong ethical frameworks for cults like the BKs to work within.

A very large number of BKs in the West join at a time in life when they are moving from adolescence to adulthood, supposedly from dependence to independence.

So many of us are/ were in late teens and early twenties when we join BKs, idealistic, but also maybe lacking the insight to see that they (me?) were avoiding taking personal, adult responsibility to become fully autonomous beings. And, of course, this is a generalisation I have made and it will not apply to each and every person.

I can see that I for one was much less mature than many young adults are these days. They/we/I maybe didn’t want to detach from the security and easiness of our childhood completely, so we just transferred our/my dependency and attachment to a group that ”talked” detachment and independence but was in fact a group built on co-dependency and self-proclaimed 'pure attachment’.

That physical age may also be a stalled 'psychological age' for other older-aged new converts. In my case, I went through a transfer of attachments - from family to schoolfriends to a group of post-high school friends who were my ‘tribe', but that was not going anywhere and the BKs seemed to offer a certainty and community that allowed me to slip in and belong without the effort or satisfy the demands that real adult relationships in adult society need.

On reflection, I stayed emotionally immature until I was about 35 or so, and maybe only found intellectual autonomy in my 40s.
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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post22 Oct 2016

Attachment Theory was developed by John Bowlby who described it as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings" that had an evolutionary component given it aids in our very survival.

From Jiddu Krishnamurti, who refused to be turned into a guru-messiah-maitreya figure by his ‘benefactors’.

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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post23 Oct 2016

Pink there is also the generation factor. There was the counter-culture revolution in the Baby Boomer generation. While America a super-power was being defeated by the Vietcong guerrillas employing Sun Tzu 's Art of Warfare, Bruce Lee was setting teen nerds on fire to enroll in dojos and great adults from super teens. Then there were the Western youths who sought spiritual enlightenment by studies in the dojo and the ashram. For me, attaining spiritual enlightenment at or before 21 years old was a priority due to shamanistic experiences in my teens. The dojo and ashram did give me the spiritual nurturing and quenched a great thirst.

I did learn my lessons very quickly about the positives and negatives of the BK system. I was forewarned about the BKs even before I met them. The Brahmacharya was great during my med school years and many years after. Since I am a magnet for the opposite sex, there were many platonic girl friends. I do not feel my growth as a young adult was stagnated.
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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post24 Oct 2016

I am wondering if this thing of "Separation Distress", with no where to go, accounts for the problems some people have in leaving the BKWSU.

Something that I would guess most exiting BKs go through.

Once the BKs or BK leaders have successfully been surplanted at the comfort givers/safe haven ... and all other humans including their real family portrayed as evil, ignorant (body-conscious) or "unself-realised" ... where can the exiting BK look for support or help when even their "god" is now doubted?

I found some discussion of how this is seen to act within adults, here: A Brief Overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research.

Bowlby suggested that the attachment behavioral system was ingrained into us from infantcy, by natural selection, to regulate our proximity to an attachment figure. That makes sense enough, e.g.
    Those genes that stuck close to mummy survived, and those genes that wandered off too far or were abandoned by mummy died off.
    Those genes that stuck close to the big, strong leader survived, and those genes that wandered off too far or were abandoned by strong leader died off.
Putting aside god and religion for a moment, I can see how the same dynamic for a Father figure exists and is exploited within politics too, e.g. The leader or the President ... the "most powerful man alive" ... becoming the protector and care giver.

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There's some other related research that I think would also reflect onto BK and post-BK experience and that is "Harlow's Monkeys" which involved some horribly cruel vivisection on rhesus monkeys. In his research, different groups of monkey Infant monkeys reared in isolation, with and without surrogate mothers.

The behavioral differences that Harlow observed between monkeys who had grown up with no or surrogate mothers and those with normal mothers were severe. They included;
    a) being much more timid.
    b) not knowing how to act with other monkeys.
    c) being easily bullied and wouldn’t stand up for themselves.
    d) having difficulty with mating.
    e) females being inadequate mothers
I am wondering how that extrapolates to BKs and exiting BKs, especially exiting BKs who were children growing up in the cult?

In general, the effect of adherence on children of cult members (2nd or 3rd generation cult members) is not an area that has been well study.

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GuptaRati 6666

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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post25 Oct 2016

There are other factors, which an exiting BK can use to protect her or himself from the effects of attachment to BKism OR THE BK culture. One is transferring the 3 Cs and the other is embracing change as a constant not a challenge.

The three Cs are: capable, contributing, and connected.

From my own practical experiences, asking where is the next mountain to climb or the next stream to ford, keeps the mind and other parts of the soul fit for the day when a culture such as the BKs want to take your 3 Cs and throw them into the septic tank.

If a soul understands that the 3Cs are not like a pie and life energies cannot be split up, on the day of BK rejection or exiting, the person can say: Thank you and good bye. I am capable, contributing and connected to me and the rest of the world. I am capable, contributing, and connected to a way of living that was not replaced by BK philosophy. I am capable, contributing, and connected to authenticity and with authenticity I will go into society and continue on my spiritual journey without your philosophy.

When the BKs think their magic is deep. There is the deepest magic they still must learn. I like the way C.S. Lewis's classic: The Witch, the Lion, and the Wardrobe, ends.
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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post25 Oct 2016

I am not sure the "detachment" from BKs is a single, one off event.

I tend to see it as being like getting rid of planter warts, or verruca.

Like a psychic verruca, requiring persistent mental attention to digging it out and killing it off.

Of course, I suppose that would lead to a discussion between the differences of individuals who were outcasted by the BKs, and those deciding to leave them of their own accord once the roots were deeply set within the soul?

Interesting little creature verrucas. Quite an amazing biological evolution. Fully alien to the human body and yet able to re-root blood vessels and nerves to benefit themselves.

If you ask me to make a metaphor, I'd describe BKism as involving some kind of similar "psychic verrucas" hooking itself onto the "human soul" (excuse the pun) and feeding off its host (... allegorically speaking).

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Re: Attachment Theory: "Disorganized Attachment" & Cultic Ab

Post26 Oct 2016

For me, it was a single sweeping stroke. I went to the BK culture with Bushido in my heart and through out my outer-self. When the metaphorical door was slammed in my face, I had the keys to re-enter and also the tickets to re-enter the BK club. Instead, I took the keys and opened other doors where I was welcomed and I took the tickets and got more tickets to enter other clubs. For a year or two, there were bouts of anger and pain. But not for long.

I will not hate the BKs, but I will hate their negative actions.

There is much to do in this world in positive ways that are higher than the ideals of the BKs. I do applaud this site and the ways to helps recovering ex-BKs. This is a needed site.

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