Contemporary Heresies

WHAT DO YOU DO IN CASE SOMEBODY FROM YOUR FAMILY FALLS INTO THE TRAP OF HERESY?

  • December 21, 2015

         Prof. Alexandru Dvorkin, PhD in Philosophy

Director of the Association “Saint Irenaeus of Lugdun”- the Patriarchate of Moscow

         First of all, you need to stay calm. Yes, your family goes through a difficult and rough test but this is something that can come round. The most part of people who fell into the meshes of heresy, sooner or later succeed to release themselves from there. But how fast your man will leave the heresy behind and what his state will be afterwards, mostly depends on you and on the other members of your family. However, in any case you need to be prepared that your struggles will not take a short period of time.

         If you were not able to help your man within the first weeks after his contact with heresy, you need to know that in order to bring back your man to a normal life, out of the vice of heresy, the struggles of the entire family will be necessary for a period of more months even years. In order to face the requirements of such struggle, you need to know which position and behavior you should have.

         After his initial “confession”, do not try to make him change his mind, because this will more damage your relationship with him. You will definitely understand that your attempts to explain the absurdity of the doctrine of the respective sect and his foolish and mischievous behavior will mostly result in fights and bring tension within your relationship with him. You need to know that, usually the heresies have as a purpose the alienation of the new converted person from the outward environment of heresy. Therefore, all the information they get will exclusively come only from that heresy, and his social circle will be limited to that heresy. Such type of situation creates ideal conditions for taking over the control on one’s new converted conscience. In order to determine his alienation, the heretic “teachers” beforehand preach that the family members of their new victim are, let’s say, “subordinated to the devil” or enough attached “to this meaningless world where the evil rules” and therefore they will do their at most best to constrain the new converted one to “alienate from the path of repentance”, to leave his “real family”, to renounce to his “saving knowledge” etc. Thus, a sentimental reaction from your side will serve the purposes of the sect and they will represent another certainty for your man regarding the truth of his new belief.

         Moreover, you should nowise pretend that you changed your mind and that you are pleased with this change that happened to your man. This will either strengthen his connection with the sect or he will become aware of your lie and therefore the last traces left of the reliability he has in you. Make an agreement with him with the following condition: Do not criticize his “organization” (it is natural that the term “sect” will affect him and therefore you should try to avoid using it) and he will not propagandize it in the house and he will not try to attract there other family members. Yet, discreetly you could attract his attention over some obvious contradictions within his behavior and his statements, without trying to explain him those contradictions. Your purpose is to alienate him from the sect.

         In order to perform a behavioral strategy, you need to understand that your man is subject of a psychological addiction to that group and that his real personality was filtered and replaced with a row of heretic stereotypes of behavior, feelings and way of thinking. Your purpose is to keep in contact regardless of its strength with his real oppressed personality. Approach him with patience and pity and understand that this man “suffers from a temporary personality disorder, and in no way give him money, because this is like you would give money to a drug addict to provide his drugs. All the money you give to him will end up in the sect.

         Try your best to be open for a constructive solution to the problem and keep yourself calm and be open for dialogue. Show everybody through your behavior that you recognize in your man the right to search, his choices, even if they are wrong and that he means a lot to you and that you are interested in him regardless of his convinces. You should count more on the warmth and affection you carry in the tone of your voice than on the rational content of your discussions. During your discussions you should try to make him come back to the joyful moments of his life before. Remember him the happy moments of your life together, when you felt together as a family, when you went together for walks and on trips, all the things you used to do together, plans and dreams you shared together. Of course, you should not do this in an artificial or fake way. You should act more counting on your own intuition and be ruled by your love and compassion and your struggles will be rewarded every time you will see that the real and the well-known personality of your man will unexpectedly come off, even if it is just vague from the unknown zombie robot he became.

         A tactic as such targets two purposes. Firstly, it will provide your man a feeling as “Ariadne’s thread” [1] that will help him come out his psychological labyrinth in case of some crisis situations within the group and therefore a reevaluation of his decision to be part of that sect.

         Secondly, he will neither see you as an enemy nor as a target for his conversion, a fact that will allow you materialize your so-called “intervention”. We mean by this term an intensive advisory guidance to leave the sect. For achieving this intervention, at least one psychologist is needed [2] specialized in sects, experienced within the problem of psychological violence and readjust of conscience (of controlling the conscience; thought reform) as well as in family counseling. This is absolutely necessary because usually in the bosom of sects persons with sentimental problems are attracted (anyone could have such type of problems during periods of psychological stress.) Thus, helping the victim starts often from detecting and leaving that problem behind, meaning from the work of psychologist.

         The intervention we mentioned about involves that at least one family member has a good knowledge of consultative theories of coming out of a sect. It would even be better if during the procedure of supporting the victim of heresy, the entire family participates. Yet for the right organization of approaches an experienced psychologist is always a must.

         Look up in the dictionary that respective sect as well as what it represents, in order to have an all through understanding of what your man has to tell you. Get in contact with people who went through the same temptation, as well as former members of sects, with skillful civil servants, with reporters, law enforcement, legal advisors. Besides, you need to accumulate as much information as possible about the sect, but underhand so that you do not irritate your man. Copy them and record them all, creating your own library-archive. A journal could be a benefit. All the alternative information outward heresy will activate during the intervention. You should not offer information that criticizes the sect, because this won’t get you anywhere.

         Generally speaking, the procedure to come out of a heresy through an outward action, involves the participation of a big number of persons, firstly of a psychologist, helped by the relatives and close friends of the member of sect. The purpose of the group is to awake the criticizing thought within the mind of the member of sect and to call him to reconsider his choice in a situation when he is informed, therefore in a free-way. In parallel, the relatives and close people of victim should help him detach from the sentimental addiction to the sect, to show him real love and participation from alternates opposite to the heretic ones. Then the orthodox catechizer comes, usually the priest, to propose (and not to impose) an alternative solution, the real faith and perception of the world.

         Most of the people who left the bosoms of sects need psychological recovery. The problem is that the victims of sects, after they leave the sect, are in front of the same psychological problems that once transformed them into a prey for those who recruit for sects (and that they overlooked for such a long time). Besides, many people leave the sects with a personality disorder due to the spiritual harm done by the sect. Therefore only an experienced psychologist who deeply studied the subjects of heresies, could help him.

         The spiritual recovery of the victims of heresies involves the substantial participation of the priest (the confessor) and the affective support of the believers from the parish. Little by little, this person is initiated in his personal communion with God (a possibility that is usually denied by the leaders of sects) and becomes a partaker of the endless source of Grace and blessing, of Holy Tradition of our Church. It could be of a use as well his connections with former members of that heresy and the help that he could offer himself to those specialized in their attempts to reduce the numerical power of sects.

         We should also not forget about the problems of social recovery for the former members of sects who are often outside any social circle, homeless, jobless, lacking their habitude to have an independent life. Starting from this point the help of legal advisors and civil servants becomes essential.

         Do not be hopeless! Pray for your man who was caught into the wiles of sect. May Saint Monica, the mother of blessed Augustine Bishop of Hipona, be an example for you! This top theologian of West lived during the 5th century and before he became a Christian he was for a long time a member of the sect of Manichaeism. During all those years, his mother prayed continuously to God and her pray was listened.

         [1] Ariadne – was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. The legend says that being in love with Theseus, she gave him a ball of thread that helped him come out of the Labyrinth where he fought with the Minotaur. Only thanks to that Ariadne’s thread, Theseus found his way back. Yet, ungratefully, he left her later. The expression is used as a purpose for guidance, like a leading thread that facilitates our exit from a sinuous situation. The superior part of form. The inferior part of form.

         [2] Here professor Dvorkin does not mean that the grace of the Sacraments of Church is replaced by psychology. Due to the fact that sects use psychological mechanisms to brainwash and to destroy the free will, specialized pious people fearing God could also give a hand in releasing them from that psychological connection.