TO BETTER UNDERSTAND GROUP DEPENDENCE
We can define group dependence as the progressive influence that a group exerts on the individual, adult and minor,
on the couple, on the family with effects that can be devastating for the psychosocial well-being of the subjects
Group addiction can lead to the deterioration of family and social, school and work relationships, but it is also
possible to observe negative consequences on the psychophysical health of the individual with worse outcomes in
minors. Almost always those who develop a group addiction assume beliefs, behaviors, language, ideals and
expectations typical of the group to which they belong, so the risk taken by the person also depends on the type of
group in which he/she is involved.
From a psychological point of view, the pressure exerted by the group to maintain a state of dependence is defined as
psychological group abuse or coercive persuasion.
In the absence of a scientific consensus on the terminology to indicate these groups due to the origin of the
disciplinary field and their heterogeneity from an organizational and structural point of view (usually defined as New
Religious Movements, cults, totalitarian groups, alternative religions, minorities religions, etc.) I prefer to use the
term manipulative group (GM).
Following the description of West and Langone (1986) a GM is
Cult (totalist type): A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea,
or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former
friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group
pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency
on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.), designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders, to the actual or
possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. West, L. J., & Langone, M. D. (1986). Cultism: A
conference for scholars and policy makers. Cultic Studies Journal, 3, 117-134.
Most GMs have a hierarchical structure and are formed around a charismatic leader who exerts charismatic power
over his/her followers.