Russian Psychologists Promote Conversion to Orthodoxy

Warn on Satanism, Anne Rice

Following on from my entry of a few days ago on Satanic panic in Russia, Interfax comes up with yet another example:

14-year old Muscovite Tatiana’s passion for Satanism has ended in a tragedy in her family.

Another family row in which Tatiana threatened to cut her veins if her parents did not let her go to meet her friends drove her mother Lyubov Ivanovna to a stroke.

The mother died; Tatiana says she has since left the Satanists. However:

‘…Now I am a Goth vampire. I don’t need death any more. What I need is blood’, Tatiana said in an interview…and showed scars on her wrists, saying ‘ours cut them with a razor to lick off blood’.

The report also notes that she is a fan of Anne Rice, and that she has been admitted to a psychiatric clinic:

This, according to Dr. Izyaslav Adlivankin of the St. John of Kronstadt Soul-caring Center at the Krutitsy House in Moscow, is a ‘natural result of the mentally destructive impact of Ann Rice’s books and the Gothic ideology’.

‘The only way to salvation for such teenagers is through faith. I do not see any other alternative in today’s life or mass culture. Psychiatry is helpless here’, the psychologist asserted.

Adlivankin appears to have little interest in using his professional psychological training to help those who are mentally troubled to make decisions for themselves; instead, he appears more focused on getting converts to Orthodox Christianity. A 2005 Moscow Times report on a new religious movement thar promises access to some mysterious kind of “energy” featured this analysis from Adlivankin:

“This training course is one of the hundreds psychocults based on occultism acting in Moscow. People sank into psychoses and depressions after such studies and apply to us for help regularly,” Izyaslav Adlivankin, psychologist of the Russian Orthodox Rehabilitation Center for sects victims, claims. “Leaders of such organizations try to create “new people” with super abilities. It’s not hard to notice that their conception corresponds with the Nazi idea of “the sixth human race”

…”We must admit that occultism reveals knowledge of some secrets of the invisible world that people are eager to discover. They really help the newcomers to feel a burst of energy. Its gurus stress their noble aims and spirituality but we should remember that evil is often hidden under a sanctity dress,” Adlivankin says.

The report adds:

This Orthodox Center was created about 7 years ago. In the meantime more than 15,000 people have applied for help…To relieve Muscovites from the psycho-evil, the Orthodox Center hired a number of Christian psychologists and psychiatrists but the main cures are still confession, repentance and prayer. There is no civil alternative for such treatment in Moscow: no state rehabilitation center has been established yet.

…although, as we saw a few days ago, the Sebski Institute, which locked up dissidents during the Communist era, is now devoted to “analyzing” Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-Orthodox religious groups. Back in 1995, shortly after the Tokyo gas attack, former Russian members of Aum were admitted to the Orthodox Center, which was “eager to bring them to Christianity”.

Other psychologists also take the Adlivankin line. Here’s Yuri Polischuk of the Moscow Institute of Psychiatry, in 2003:

“Most sectarian organization are of the U.S. origin”… He said the inflow of sects was a “well-planned and coordinated action, funded from abroad” and aimed at “subverting our state.”

Polischuk has also pronounced on the nature of “psychocults”:

“So-called psychocult is usually a mixture of occultism, eastern healing methods and even psychiatric techniques. The initial euphoria of the studies is connected with applied hypnoses and self-hypnoses (meditation)…Such a seance can cause changes in endocrine, vegetative and nervous systems of the participants. Under this effect a person does not perceive the environment, does not feel any pain. It is almost impossible to achieve such a result from individual practice. So emotional and physical dependence on the training are inevitable. People pay more and more to touch “the never ending source of energy” or whatever it is called”.

Polischuk has been studying sects victims for ten years. According to him, despite cults’ transformation from religious to psychological organizations their victims are the same: people in crisis, youngsters eager to find new “spiritual values”, mentally unhealthy people or those predisposed to mental illnesses.

A 1996 report from Zavtra gives a bit more context, from an Orthodox-nationalist perspective:

There have been court trials of Aum Sinrikyo, the White Brotherhood, Jehovah’s Witnesses, in Petersburg and in Surgut, and on the Society of Krishna Consciousness in Rostov. Despite all these efforts of society, the state has not worked out countermeasures to the destructive energy of sects.

…But reality is such that the authorities are hindering the action of programs of rehabilitation of victims of sects. Without the testimony of specialists accusations against the sects seem to be unproven. At the Serbsky Center and in the Moscow Institute of Psychiatry the creation of a scientific basis for a program of rehabilitation is frozen because it is not financed. Besides there is open pressure on specialists by foreign organizations, in particular from the American Psychiatric Association, which crudely declared that in Russia there are psychiatrists who are trying to use psychiatry for limiting freedom of religion.

Russia now has a number of laws against “sects” – and leaders of religious groups who want to avoid trouble with the state are sure to express nationalist and pro-Putin sentiments (Pentecostal leader Sergei Ryakhovsky comes to mind).

Psychology is not the only academic discipline in Russia that has been put at the service of nationalism – back in March I noted that sociology students at Moscow State University had risen up against a dean who is more interested in nationalist indoctrination than scholarly development.

Meanwhile, there is one place in Russia where young people are being heavily indoctrinated, although somehow I doubt Polischuk or Adlivankin will be worried. Reuters reports:

At a lakeside camp, 10,000 young Russians are learning why President Vladimir Putin is such a brilliant leader.

…The only exceptions to the general picture of neatness are two mucky, wooden shacks surrounded by broken glass—a mock settlement reserved for Other Russia supporters, vocal Kremlin opponents who accuse Putin of destroying democracy.

…Other Russia’s three male leaders, including world Chess champion Garry Kasparov, are portrayed as prostitutes. In lurid colors they pout and pose in stockings, their faces frozen into feline grins.

“I didn’t know who those people were until I came here,” 20-year-old Lena from St Petersburg said as she walked past.

“Now I know they are fascists.”

This is training camp for Nashi (“Us”), a nationalist youth group, which, according to critics, “appears aimed at giving the Kremlin a ready made mass movement to call on in times of trouble”. I blogged it a couple of years ago.

(Nashi story hat-tip: Bulldada Newsblog)