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          Warning Signs of Cult Influence

          November 24, 2008

          Imagine living in isolation without money, television, cars or contact with your family. The above scenario sounds like it could take place in a third world country, but there may be as many as 5,000 religious groups preying upon the weak and vulnerable in America, and all in the name of God.

          If you suspect a loved one has been influenced by an extreme group, Dr. Frank Lawlis, chairman of the Dr. Phil Advisory Board, offers the following warning signs:

          1. Loss of humor

          2. Judgmental attitude toward family members, especially authority

          3. Self-imposed isolation

          4. Lack of interest in typical activities

          5. Talk centered around issues of intense consequences and values, trying to convert family to extreme positions, especially related to the Bible

          6. Pressuring others for money for “group missions”

          7. Dropping current educational or vocation plans to devote toward group mission

          8. Failing grades

          9. Breaking contact with friends

          10. No longer attends family traditions

          11. Moves out to “group home”

          12. Losing weight

          13. Less time spent at home or with usual friends

          14. Flat affect, fatigue

          15. Shows rigid reasoning

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