“The sectarian phenomenon has not ceased to increase for twenty years”

And if the victims were also active in the process of alienation that is sectarian influence? This is the hypothesis on which leads the psychologist and psychoanalyst Delphine Guérard in her recent book Sectarian influence (Dunod, 208 pages, 24 euros).

Specialist in a phenomenon on which she has been working for twenty years, particularly within the associative network and the Miviludesthis legal expert at the Paris Court of Appeal relies on meetings with cult masters and victims to understand the psychopathological mechanics at work in these extreme phenomena, which are far from having disappeared, even if they take different forms.

How has the sectarian phenomenon evolved in recent years?

The modern form of sects appeared in the 1960s with the rise of new religiosities and the individualization of beliefs, where the authenticity of the individual’s personal choice is measured by the intensity of his commitment. It is in this landscape that a number of coercive sects have established themselves.

In France, the first association against this phenomenon was created in 1974. The anti-cult movement was then structured from the 1980s and, myself, I have been working on the subject since 1999. But, at that time, no one talked about it: the phenomenon was not yet taken seriously. However, I observe that it has not ceased to increase for twenty years.

I explain this rise in power by the fear felt by a growing number of people in the face of current events, which motivates the search for ways to get better. When I started to practice, we were in a phase where the sectarian movement was deployed especially in psychotherapy. But this trend has been stemmed by the law of August 11, 2004which establishes a title of psychotherapist in order to avoid these abuses.

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Since then, the sects have engulfed themselves in another mode, that of personal development: the masters no longer call themselves psychotherapists, but therapists, naturopaths, coaches or guides, because these designations do not meet any legal definition. In recent years, cults have been found particularly in the areas of health and wellness, as well as within evangelical churches.

Created by a decree on November 28, 2002, the Interministerial Mission for vigilance and the fight against sectarian aberrations (Miviludes) is celebrating its 20th anniversary. What is your assessment of the action of this organization, with which you collaborated in 2016?

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