Mandated Shunning

The Hidden Harms of Mandated Shunning in High-Control Groups


By Robert U. Rational

In today’s interconnected world, the importance of community and belonging cannot be overstated. However, not all communities offer the warmth and support we seek. High-control groups, often masquerading as havens of spiritual enlightenment or personal development, use various techniques to maintain their grip on members. Among these, mandated shunning is one of the most psychologically damaging practices. It’s not just a rule; it’s a weapon that tears families apart, inflicts deep emotional scars, and isolates individuals from the support they desperately need.

Understanding Mandated Shunning: Mandated shunning is a practice enforced by some high-control groups, such as Exclusive Brethren, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, Haredi Jews, Amish, and the Bahá’í Faith, where members are required to completely cut off all forms of contact with those deemed unfaithful or disobedient to the group’s doctrines. This can include close family members and lifelong friends who are expelled or who choose to leave the group.

The Psychological Impact: The psychological impact of being shunned is profound. Humans are inherently social creatures, and our identities are significantly shaped by our relationships and community interactions. When individuals are shunned, they experience intense feelings of rejection, loneliness, and worthlessness. The sudden loss of social support can lead to severe mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.

The Social Consequences: Shunning doesn’t just affect those who are ostracized; it also impacts the members who remain within the group. They live under constant fear of being the next target, which can lead to extreme conformity and suppression of personal beliefs or doubts. This fear-based control stifles personal growth and critical thinking, making it even harder for members to recognize the abusive nature of the group and consider leaving.

The Impact on Families: Perhaps the most heartbreaking consequence of mandated shunning is the destruction of families. Parents, children, and siblings are often forced to cut ties with each other. Life’s milestones—birthdays, graduations, weddings—are marred by the absence of loved ones. The natural support system that family is supposed to provide is irrevocably damaged, leaving individuals to navigate life’s challenges without the guidance and love of their closest relatives.

The Path to Healing: Recovery from the trauma of shunning is a long and difficult journey. It requires rebuilding one’s sense of self-worth and identity outside the context of the controlling group. Re-establishing trust in relationships and finding a new supportive community are crucial steps in this healing process. Professional therapy can also play a vital role in addressing the deep-seated emotional wounds inflicted by shunning.

Conclusion: The practice of mandated shunning is a cruel and inhumane tactic used by high-control groups to maintain their grip on members. Its effects are devastating, leaving individuals emotionally scarred, socially isolated, and often estranged from their families. It’s essential to shed light on this harmful practice and support those who have been affected by it. As a society, we must promote inclusivity, understanding, and genuine community support to counteract the damage inflicted by such controlling organizations. Call to Action: If you or someone you know has been affected by mandated shunning, know that you are not alone. To learn more about the latest endeavour to make the evil practice of mandated shunning a crime and how you can support this vital effort, please visit