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Dianne Casoni Award Recipients


Scientific Category

Jean-Marc Barreau
Considérations sur l’abus spirituel dans un contexte de soins palliatifs (Article published in Criminologie journal)

This article stands out for its original definition of spiritual abuse, a concept seldom addressed in the French-language literature. Furthermore, it broadens this concept beyond cultic communities, using an autoethnographic methodology in the context of palliative care. To define this concept, Professor Barreau draws on the work of Dianne Casoni with regard to the idealization process in psychoanalysis. This theoretical framework enables the author to view spiritual abuse as a problem arising from the relational dynamic between a narcissistic leader and a follower, a situation that can elicit a “double abuse”, as well as a split between the leader/follower couple and “the others”, who are excluded and can be seen as “collateral scapegoats” (p.18). In addition, by means of a clinical example, this article illustrates the destructive effects of spiritual abuse on different levels: inner life, relational life, community life and political life. Finally, the author invites us to reflect on the spirituality of patients and ways of healing, as well as on early prevention of this type of abuse.

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Popular Category

Lorraine Derocher
Ces enfants oubliés. Grandir dans une communauté sectaire. (Éditions de l’Homme)

Based on several accounts (including seven identified and twelve anonymous), this book gives voice to adults who grew up in cultic communities. Thanks to the style and structure of this book, the numerous testimonies take different forms: quotations, notes, open letters to civil authorities, to parents or to people whose support was important, etc. This work moves away from a “sensationalist” vision and several preconceived ideas about cultic communities, because each voice contributes to a better understanding of everyday life as well as the complex and diverse experiences within such groups. It also provides a better understanding of the difficulties encountered in the process of building an identity outside the group. What’s more, this book can be a source of inspiration to those leaving groups, as it documents the many social contributions made by these children as adults. In addition, the author demonstrates integrity and transparency in her methodology and analysis of the various testimonials, which help better understand her approach. Finally, the unforgettable first-hand stories in this book highlight these “forgotten children” who were able to liberate themselves and achieve serenity despite the challenges of their experiences.

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Erika Bornman
Mission of Malice : My Exodus from KwaSizabantu

Of great literary quality, Erika Bornman’s book deals in depth with several aspects of cultic phenomena, in particular, those related to the life experiences of children raised in cultic groups. This autobiographical account, which covers about forty years, meticulously describes the inner workings of the KwaSizabantu Mission as well as the harm such a group can cause, in particular, the neglect, the abuse and the sexual assaults. Bornman also discusses in detail the difficulties that second-generation cult survivors face when they leave these groups and try to integrate into society. The author’s exodus from the KwaSizabantu Mission not only captures the difficult challenges faced, but also the empowering feeling of telling her story and helping other former cult members tell theirs. This book contributes to a greater understanding of cultic phenomena and how children have been victimized in these groups, which in turn, can help mental health professionals deal more effectively with the difficulties former cult members may face in their social integration processes.

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