Writing & Media
Leaving Psychologically—Breaking the Confluential Trance
Gillie Jenkinson, PhD
International Journal of Cultic Studies, 2019, Vol 10
In this paper, I offer an additional explanation for the state of trance many cult members experience—the confluential trance. These concepts arose from doctoral research into what helped 29 former cult members recover from an abusive cult experience (Jenkinson, 2016). I address a new concept, and whilst it applied to some participants and potentially applies to coercive cults more broadly, further research is required to establish the veracity of this concept and whether it is generalizable across former-member populations. I discuss how the confluential trance may make it psychologically difficult to leave an abusive cult, and I explore how some of my doctoral-research participants experienced this altered state and broke free through formal and informal interventions.
Whilst the term trance is applied ubiquitously and across a spectrum of states, and more often in relation to hypnotic trance, I adopt the term to imply an “altered state of consciousness” in which an individual becomes suggestible, lacks critical thinking, and is therefore more “vulnerable to social influence” (Galanter,1989, p. 65).
Within a Gestalt-psychotherapy theoretical framework, the confluential trance is shown to be a result of a merged state—confluence—which results in the cult member becoming open to introjecting the cult ideology without “chewing it over.” I hypothesize that the resulting confluential trance is further explanation of why the cult leader/ship and thought reform have such a deep impact on many.
Keywords: confluential trance, former member, abusive cult, thought reform, exit counseling, Gestalt
This article is all my own work and has not been submitted or published elsewhere. Much of it arises out of my PhD thesis, which is published on the University of Nottingham theses website.
Consider becoming a member of International Cultic Studies Association in order to access the full article - www.icsahome.com.
Media - BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire
Dr Gillie Jenkinson was interviewed for a news article on a group called The Jesus Army on BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire Programme on 19th July 2017. See the link below. The article is around 20mins in.
This same news report was also on Radio 4 PM programme 5-6pm on 19th July 2017 and can also be found on iPlayer.
This came about after Gillie was contacted by the Survivors Association in regard to her Post-Cult Counselling. Gillie has delivered face to face counselling and a Recovery Workshop to some of the survivors.
Check out the interview.
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy - BACP - have a brief article on their website about this report
ICSA Book chapter
Dr Gillie Jenkinson's chapter outlining her Time Away for Post Cult Counselling model was published in 2017 in the book 'Cult Recovery' and available for purchase on the ICSA website.
This landmark, 500-page book, with chapters from leading clinicians and researchers, describes the current state of the art in helping people adversely affected by a cultic dynamics, whether in a cult, mainstream religious denomination, psychotherapy, family, or other interpersonal relationship.
Click on the image to access the book.
Interview: New Psychotherapist Magazine
Read Dr Gillie Jenkinson's interview in issue 69, autumn 2018 of UKCP's New Psych otherapist magazine. Hear more of her personal experience and how traditional therapy isn't enough, or can even be counterproductive, in a cult leavers recovery. Gillie discusses the methodology she has built and researched over the last 2 decades and is using in her work with cult leavers today.
Gillie Jenkinson has authored chapters and is a regular contributor to publications in the cultic studies field. She is the Mental Health Editor for the ICSA Today Magazine. She is also in the process of writing her first book based on her doctoral research.
You can access some of her publications here:
- Working with Cult Survivors - BACP Therapy Today Magazine - see article above
- An Investigation into Cult Pseudo-Personality: What Is It and How Does It Form? - Cultic Studies Review - article here
- Path or Pathology? - BACP Spirituality Thresholds Magazine - here
- Pathological Spirituality - Chapter 13 in 'Spirituality and Psychiatry' - Dr Gillie Jenkinson and Dr. Nicola Crowley, Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Pathological Spirituality - Workshop for Royal College of Psychiatrists Spirituality Interest Group [SIG] - here
- Rebuilding the Jigsaw - BACP Spirituality Thresholds Magazine - here
- Writing Routes - A Resource Handbook of Therapeutic Writing - Gillie Bolton, Victoria Field and Kate Thompson, Jessica Kinglsey Publishers
- Cult-Pseudo Personality vs Cult Pseudo-Creativity - Cultic Studies Review - here
- Cults - Thresholds Magazine, BACP/APSCC