The “ghosts” I refer to in my new book, which will be published in May, are metaphors for the toxic residue—dysfunctional behavior patterns—that people acquire during their time in a cult, in my case Jehovah’s Witnesses. These “ghosts” manifest themselves in various forms. True cult believers will see the ghosts as warrior angels, championing God’s truth. But individuals who decide to abandon their high-control religious experience will encounter haunting Ghosts, ghosts with the potential to hinder them from becoming mature individuals able to lead productive lives.
In either case, the ghosts are active agents in the life of both the believers and the former believers, acting as wardens, trying to restrict actions and thoughts. Each ghost is capable of reconstituting itself in many shapes and forms in an effort to bedevil those people who try to leave the cult as well as those who have left it. The six ghosts that you will meet in this book are:
- The Ghost of Misinformation – This is the most insidious of the ghosts. It creeps into one’s life in various ways, constantly affecting one’s decisions, thoughts and actions. For instance, in the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this ghost insists that one will die at Armageddon unless…
- The Ghost of Separation – Shunning is the principal manifestation of this ghost. This ghost also uses separation anxiety to make it difficult to bring closure to a person’s cult experience.
- The Ghost of Inadequacy – The manifestations of this ghost are an inability to think for oneself, an inability to articulate well-thought out beliefs, and a nagging feeling of inadequacy, especially by women.
- The Ghost of Dependency – The manifestations of this ghost are an inability to assimilate into mainstream society, a need to control and put down other people, a lack of self-control and an attraction to high-control religious groups and/or people.
- The Ghost of Guilt – This ghost leaves its victim in a constant state of guilt.
- The Ghost of Indignation – Blaming the cult for one’s complicity—taking no responsibility for going along with the rules and constraints—and obsessively trying to topple the cult are two reactions that characteristically beset people who have emancipated themselves from their indoctrinations.
While I tell my story in The Ghosts from Mama’s Club, I’ll explain why I have enumerated the ghosts as I have and thoroughly explain the ways in which each ghost affects the lives of those who are still manacled as well as those, like myself, who have freed themselves of those shackles. But please do not forget, my book is about real people—the good, the bad and it is what it is—and their struggles to find meaning in their lives.