April 10th, 2008
04:19 PM ET

Escaping a closed society, and unlearning all you know

Over the years we have worked with many children and youth from isolated sects and cults.  This includes the Branch Davidian children during and after the Waco siege (described somewhat in the book “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog”).  

Each of these experiences is somewhat different but a major challenge for all of these children is dealing with the “modern” world. In many cases, these children have been taught that “outsiders” and “non-believers” are evil and will harm them.  They have been taught that the outsiders will not understand their spiritual and holy practices (e.g., polygamy or spiritual marriage at age 12 or 13). 

They often have been taught that it is a virtue to confuse or lie to the non-believers – all of which make conventional assessment, interviewing and evaluation very difficult until some kind of trusting relationship can be formed between a child and the clinician or interviewer.


Filed under: Dr. Bruce Perry