Case of Patricia Aguilar: A typical example of seizure by a sect

Digitally modified photograph taken on July 4, 2018, of the young Spanish Patricia Aguilar (c) with her daughter accompanied by the two women and four less who were also found by the police in the city of San Martín, in the Junín region , in the jungle of Peru. EFE / Milton Cahuana

Perlado, with more than 17 years of experience with victims of sects, coordinates the Working Group on Sectarian Derivations of the Official College of Psychologists of Catalonia, which, among other tasks, trains different professional profiles so that they can identify and deal with profiles such as Patricia Aguilar’s

This 19 year old girl left home when she reached the age of majority to travel to Peru attracted by a man, a guru, Félix Manrique, with whom she had been in contact since she was 16 years old through the internet.

Peruvian police found the young Spanish woman, along with her barely one month old daughter, and two other women and four other children, who lived in a village in the jungle of Peru with Manrique, who has been arrested for trafficking in human beings for purposes of trafficking. of labor and sexual exploitation.

Physical isolation

The family of Patricia Aguilar hopes to be able to meet her in Lima where she stays in a shelter while the police and judicial procedures are carried out. The intention is to bring her back to Spain, but it may be that her coming of age and the will to remain there become an inconvenience.

For the psychologist Miguel Perlado, faced with a situation like that of this young woman, the first guideline is the physical isolation of the “focus of influence” and that will be achieved if Patricia finally returns to Spain.

The second step is to work in advance with family and friends to prepare the ground before treating the affected.

When the therapy is already centered on the young woman, the line of action will be to break down the indoctrination to which she has been subjected so as to be able to access “a more intimate and direct dialogue”.

“There is no possibility of starting a psychotherapeutic treatment if the entire indoctrinal system has not been dismantled before,” says the expert.

To demolish that ideology that this guru has installed in the young woman and put in order the reinterpretation that she can make of reality, of herself and of family relationships “because in the end the damage is at multiple levels, especially in the perception that it has of itself and in the emotional bonds with the others “, says the specialist.

Patricia is now “a disconnected person,” she says.

The road’s pitfalls

Patricia Aguilar

If Patricia finally returns to Spain, the fact of not leaving the sect voluntarily can be a stumbling block to be open to receiving help, “represents a lack of awareness of the disorder generated and that can make the critical period can lengthen to more than a year with the risk of wanting to resume contact “with the sect.

In addition, in this process of recovery the person can deny parts of their experience and hide them, another difficulty to achieve full recovery.

Another obstacle could be animosity to their own relatives, a hatred inoculated by the guru himself.

Therefore, the risk of relapse is a real threat, as are the consequences that can remain as a result of an experience lived for three years by this young woman, both online from 16 to 18 years and over a year in coexistence with the guru in Peru.

And one of the consequences of that experience has been for Patricia to become a mother, supposedly, of the relationship with her captor. A circumstance that can also influence the recovery of the young woman.

Miguel Perlado believes that we must analyze in what context that pregnancy occurred and where the baby is in that sectarian group.

“In this case it could be a control tool for the captor, interspersed with some pseudomesianico message, a chosen one,” he says. In other sects, he says, the baby is the spring that can help the mother to leave the group led by a protective instinct.

Patricia Aguilar’s profile

A 16-year-old girl, caught on the Internet, who has suffered an important family loss for her, who lets herself be wrapped up in a man who is preparing the ground so that when she comes of age, she leaves everything and fly to Peru to join him and his cause.

“Patricia’s is a usual profile, there are very similar cases. It is a typical situation, “stresses the head of the group of sects of the College of Psychologists of Catalonia, who emphasizes that in this case it is a small group manipulated by an individual.

In general, being caught by a cult can be a consequence of a personal crisis of the victim. Young people prepared, with studies and with a certain tendency to obsession is the profile that most interests the sectsbehind which there are interests of power, economic and sexual.

And in the digital age, sects make use of these technological resources not only to capture members, but also to reinvent themselves.

“Digital sects emerge, led by one or two people -explains Perlado- who offer online products or services such as courses, workshops, seminars … and a bubble is generated through this digital vehicle until the physical entry into the group occurs” .

The profile of Félix Manrique responds, on the other hand, to “a small-scale guru” whose pathological and “coarse” personality prevents him from organizing a larger group.

Miguel Perlado recommends that Patricia Aguilar be treated by a psychologist expert in sects “not to detract from the work of other colleagues”, but because the professional must know how to work on parameters that “touch the fibers necessary to free her from that indoctrination”.

“We have treated similar cases” that have not jumped into the media, says the psychologist who stresses: “Every person who enters a sect disappears not only physically, but mentally. Their relatives do not recognize them because they are not as they were. “

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