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Healthy Boundaries

Seek The Truth Blog

Healthy Boundaries:

According to Dr. John Briere, former president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, there are three primary self-capacities that develop in normal early childhood: identity, boundary, and affect regulation. Each of these three are fundamental to development, and critical to forming healthy minds. In a destructive cult, however, the development of these self-capacities are severely hindered.

Children born and raised in destructive religious cults develop cult identities rather than their own personal, individual identity. Instead of developing a consistent sense of personal existence, these members form a sense of existence that matches the rest of the group and its leader. Without individual identities, they are easily overwhelmed and feel out-of-place, especially in non-cult group settings.

As cult groups become more destructive, personal boundaries become quickly blurred. Children raised in cults often struggle to determine the line of separation between their self and others, often intruding upon the privacy of other family members and cult members. Without those boundaries, it is impossible to establish their own personal rights. As a result, former members struggle with interpersonal relations, often intruding upon the personal boundaries of others by not understanding the types of boundaries acceptable in our culture.

The effects of these development issues are amplified by the lack of affect regulation. By not establishing self-soothing techniques for painful emotion, many former members have low tolerance to negative experiences without external or self-destructive behaviors. No matter how hard they try to induce calm, without establishing a healthy, individual identity, and forming healthy, culturally-acceptable boundaries, they will suffer with low tolerance to painful emotion. Former members raised in the cult must take time to learn who they are, where boundaries lie, and how to take care of their mental health.