NEW BOOK - COMING SOON!
Breaking Free from Spiritual Abuse
and the Emergence
of the Secret Creative Self
with true stories by former Church of Scientology
and Children of God members
By Karen Pressley with Miriam Boeri
see also Escaping Scientology: An Insider's True Story
Read an excerpt from the book
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About the book:
Experiencing Creativity: Breaking Free from Spiritual Abuse and the Emergence of the Secret Creative Self explores cult leaders’ use of misguided religiosity that oppresses members’ personal creativity; a communication model that illustrates power dynamics, hegemony, and responses of the powerless; and symptoms of harmful religious practices with guides for breaking free from spiritual abuse.
Part I explores the power and force of cult rhetoric that influences a cult member’s creative self and personal renaissance. Throughout history, various religious groups have honored artists and the arts as a means to lure recruits into their ranks in the name of changing the world by injecting aesthetics into the culture. Faithful followers find themselves trapped in a lair of authoritarianism where leaders usurp member’s creative expression for personal benefit or the “sake of the group.” Historical accounts of artists, musicians, scholars and writers such as Mozart, da Vinci, Galileo, and others show how religious legalism dictated their existence and innovative expression. The authors bolster their message about spiritual abuse and its affects on creativity with their personal case studies as former cult members of the Children of God (Family of Love) and the Church of Scientology. These historical and personal stories underscore the book’s theme--vigorous artistic or intellectual activity and even magnificent works of music, art, science and invention can occur despite the presence of oppression because of the birth of a secret creative self.
Part II explores inter-related sociological and communication theories to examine processes a cult member may use to cope with power dynamics, hegemony, and sovereignty in the cult environment. The authors present two models to illustrate their ideas. Figure 1, “Symbolic Interaction: the Development of a Self and the Birth of a Secret Creative Self,” uses sociology theory to illustrate the development of one’s self-concept in a cult. Figure 2, “The Hegemonic Communication Model of Power Dynamics in Cults Affecting Creativity,” illustrates the thought processes a cult member may use to negotiate his/her circumstances, and how a secret creative self is birthed. The authors hope that a more thorough examination of these processes will help people to detect or cope with harmful religious practices.
Part III focuses on “breaking free” from spiritually abusive circumstances. With more than two thousand religious movements recruiting members in contemporary America, the authors refute religious critics’ claims that people join cults because of unmet emotional needs or lack of critical thinking skills. The authors show how intelligent people can be deceived by cult recruiters, and in the context of spiritual growth and desire to turn their ideals into action, make choices that lead to entrapment instead of realization of their goals. Interviews with cult experts, including sociologist and author Dr. Janja Lalich, provide insight into cult suppression of members’ creativity. The interviews explore experiences such as how a cult member accumulates turning points that result in breaking points or defining moments when the member feels forced to compromise with, and other times reject, the cult’s practices. Charts, lists, and summaries of harmful religious practices help readers to detect signs of spiritual abuse—coercion, legalism, deception, and manipulation—by charismatic leaders.