People become involved with spirituality for many reasons. For some, this path is about experiencing a sense of oneness with all living things and discovering inner peace but for others, spirituality is mixed up with unresolved psychological or emotional problems.
Many people who need psychological help for depression, anxiety, personality disorders or addiction turn instead to spirituality for healing. While the pursuit of spirituality can bring comfort and community, it’s not a treatment for such problems.
Spiritual leaders can be the best people or the worst. Many lead out of a sense of altruism and a desire to make things better, but spirituality also attracts sociopaths who pretend to be leaders in order to exploit the emotionally vulnerable.
A sociopath is a remorseless, amoral predator who manipulates those weaker or more innocent in order to benefit from them. Many sociopaths choose a profession which puts them in a position of power over others, in order to have a more legitimate reason to dominate and control.
Individuals who’ve suffered childhood abuse or neglect are left with lasting trauma. Like many others, they are attracted to spirituality because it offers hope and answers.
While positive spirituality is uplifting, the type of pseudo-spirituality promoted by a sociopathic leader is terribly destructive.
Ideally, those who suffer from emotional or psychological problems should seek professional help in conjunction with their spirituality. This would enable them to benefit most from their spiritual pursuit while helping them to recognize and avoid the predators and pretenders.
Genuine spiritual leaders are there to help others; not to profit from them. One way to spot a “spiritual sociopath” is by the way they deal with money. Charging high fees for retreats and workshops or insisting that the follower attend numerous expensive seminars is a sign that profit may be the leader’s true motive.
Genuine spiritual leaders seek to empower their followers. Any leader who fosters extreme dependence among their followers is in reality, just someone who wants to control them. A sincere leader welcomes questions and challenges from their followers; anyone who forbids dissent or punishes it is not sincere.
A true spiritual leader will never ask someone to separate from their family or community, nor give away their material possessions or money. These are requests made only by cult leaders who seek to have control by isolating and disempowering their followers.
True spiritual leaders inspire people to be their best selves; spiritual sociopaths rule with guilt, trickery and intimidation. The spiritual seeker may want to believe that their leader is loving and good, just as they wanted to believe that their parents were. Sadly, the parent-like sociopath fosters a childlike loyalty in their followers which keeps them in control.
Taking responsibility to really deal with your problems and recognizing that not all spiritual leaders mean well is the first step in avoiding being victimized by a spiritual sociopath.
Connect with Dr. Marcia Sirota of Institute of Ruthless Compassion at http://marciasirotamd.com