13 Dec 2010

Video interview by Steve Hassan of top ex-Scientologist at international cult conference in New York

July 9, 2010

From July 1 to 3 of this year, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) held a conference in New York. Below is an abstract of a paper presented at that conference by Miriam Boeri and Karen Pressley, followed by a video of an interview of Pressley by cult expert Steve Hassan. Boeri is a former member of the Children of God, now known as The Family International, and author of Heaven's Harlots: My fifteen years as a sacred prostitute in the Children of God cult. Pressley was a member of Scientology and their Celebrity Center Top person, a Sea Org member, and worked directly for David Miscavige for 4 years.

Hegemonic Communication Model: The Power Dynamics in the Emergence of a Secret Creative Self

Miriam Boeri, Ph.D. and Karen Pressley

In this paper, the authors explore the process of personal renaissance through the emergence of one’s secret creative self out of the trappings of authoritarian religions, specifically those known as cults. Some religious groups have honored and praised artists and the arts as a means to lure recruits into their ranks. Sometimes this is done in the name of changing the world by injecting aesthetics into the culture—only to lead the faithful into a subtle lair where leaders manipulate creative expression for their personal benefit or the “sake of the group.” In a cultic environment, the processes of creativity development and suppression are more easily detectable since the acts of suppression are often more openly expressed and the acts of creation are more often controlled.

In this paper, the authors explore the phases in this process. Boeri and Pressley use their own case studies as former members of the Children of God (Family of Love) and the Church of Scientology. These first-person accounts describe their experiences in authoritarian cults and explore the power dynamics of total institutions that constrain members’ creativity. They identify turning points that influenced their decisions to reject or accept the cult’s practices, and their discovery of the emergence of a secret creative self once they were out of the cult. The paper employs interrelated sociological and cultural studies theories to explore the processes involved, including a symbolic interactionist understanding of self.

In conclusion, the authors present their development of the “Hegemonic Communication Model” that illustrates the thought process a cult member may use to cope with power dynamics, hegemony, sovereignty, and the creative self. They hope that a more thorough examination of this process will better help others to detect destructive religious practices and help former members to break free from legalism that suppresses creativity and free thought.

Ex-Scientologist Karen Pressley, Paul Grosswald and Steve Hassan talk

Ex-Scientologist Karen Pressley, Paul Grosswald and Steve Hassan talk from Steven A Hassan on Vimeo.

Ex-Celebrity Center Top person, Sea Org member, worked directly for Miscavige 4 years Karen Pressley (www.kapcomm.com) and Attorney Paul Grosswald, ex-Scientologist, speak casually with me in my hotel room at 2010 ICSA conference (www.icsahome.com).

Karen Talks about her presentation at the conference with ex-Children of God member Miriam Boeri (wrote Heaven's Harlots), suppression of her book by the cult, and its forthcoming release.




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