Mexico, a country where "coaching" sects proliferate
"Mexico is one of the countries where more sects emerge. This culture of the mythical and the magical as a pillar, allows destructive groups to play with beliefs," explained in an interview with Efe, Veronica Mendoza, vice president of the Support Network for Victims of Sects, which acts mainly in Spanish-speaking countries.
In addition to these groups related to religiosity, the format of the sects mutates in parallel with the needs of the inhabitants of the modern world.
Currently, there are emotional coaching (training) groups that offer professional development and success to people who often find themselves in economic and social isolation situations and even companies with a pyramid structure that function as a refuge in an individualistic society.
"(The success of these groups) has to do with transformations of Mexican society. We are in a period of economic instability and perception of insecurity. In addition, the development of cities leads people to feel alone, isolated and vulnerable," explained Luis Alberto García, coordinator of studies at the School of Psychology of the Universidad Panamericana.
Neftally Beristáin is a lawyer in the Support Network that is currently pursuing a master's degree in Humanistic Psychotherapy and was a victim of Gnosis, a sect that claims to lead its faithful to the salvation of the world through meditation. She came to feel that only in the sanctuary was good, while outside there could be "dirty".
She discovered the existence of this group in a poster in which one could read "meditation course, perfect marriage", to which she was interested due to the curiosity that a 21-year-old girl with an interest in the spiritual can feel.
At first, she learned meditation, but later the teachers became more interested in her personal life and in the people outside the sect with whom she interacted. This attention made her feel understood, but also increasingly away from her relatives, who lived "blind", as the group said.
The teachers, explained Neftally, introduced the young woman into a collective psychosis, causing her to be afraid of dark spaces, where supposedly some insects stole energy or caused her imagination to create unreal voices and visions. The doubts of this Mexican from Chetumal, Quintana Roo, began to take shape when they sent her away as "missionary".
"To be a missionary is to leave everything," she laments.
So she decided to leave her house and, although they promised to take her to the sanctuary of Coahuila, in the north of the country, they only arrived in Tabasco, near Quintana Roo, where she had to sell desserts on the street in poor conditions, while the teachers ate at good restaurants and did not work.
"I thought 'why did this happen?' If they taught us that we are all equal. My brain began to question itself. I do not know why, but they did not break my mentality," explained Neftally.
With the help of her parents and later of the Support Network, where she now offers legal advice in a disinterested manner, she managed to shed the "depersonalization" that this group caused her, but other sequels are still latent.
"Today I rethink many times if what I am doing in life has meaning or meaning. With religion, in general, I have animosity, "explained the young woman, who now seeks to" believe in herself."
Non-profit organizations such as the Support Network are almost the only ones that pay attention to this phenomenon that affects the "health" of society more than it may seem.
According to Luis Alberto García and Verónica Mendoza, there may be a strong link between sects and violence or criminal groups, something that governments are generally not aware of, or do not want to be.