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A Qualitative Exploration of Cultic Experience in Relation to Mental Health Difficulties

Walsh, Y,S. (2009). A Qualitative Exploration of Cultic Experience in Relation to Mental Health Difficulties. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The thesis explores the nature of religious cults and the question of what it is about such groups that leads some former members to experience them as producing lasting harm. The methodology of Classical Grounded Theory is
identified as the most suitable for this enquiry and two interrelated studies using Classical Grounded Theory are reported. The first gives rise to a coherent and overarching conceptual model of the structure and function ofgroups that are now defined within the study as ‘mission focussed’. The second study produces a model of the elements that contribute to what certain members of such groups have identified as lasting difficulties. It is theorised that the mission focussed function of certain groups interacts with elements in some individuals (principally their perception of themselves as‘outsiders’ with a consequent high ‘need to belong’) to produce effects which participants within this research experience as lasting difficulties in living. The thesis goes on to explore which main-stream psychological paradigms might lend themselves to an understanding of this interaction and the emergent theory is related to psychotherapeutic constructs to derive an approach which may enable psychotherapists who undertake work with this
client group to have a sound conceptual framework underlying their interventions. In the conclusion the potential generalisability of some of the constructs is considered.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HS Societies secret benevolent etc
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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