DR. WALLACE: Mitch and I were a happy and compatible couple, but it all ended when his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, because his dad was transferred with his job. We stayed in touch for a while, but it ended when he started seeing a girl there. I was disappointed but my disappointment ended when I started seeing Zach.
Then last week Mitch moved back to Springfield, Illinois, because his father lost his job and his family is now living with his grandparents. He called me and wants us to become an "item" once again. When I told him that I was now seeing another guy, he told me to dump him.
I must admit that I have feelings for Mitch, but I also care a lot about Zach. What should I do? My dad told me to go back with Mitch. He always liked him because they both have a huge interest in racing cars. My mom thinks I should continue dating Zach. Help! — Karla, Springfield, Ill.
KARLA: Stay with Zach. But tell Mitch that if, down the road, both of you should find yourselves unattached at the same time you might consider going out with him again.
WHY DO YOUNG PEOPLE JOIN CULTS?
DR. WALLACE: Our cousin, who is bright and had a wonderful future, met some kook at college who talked her into dropping out of school to join him in a religious cult. Our entire family is shocked and disappointed, but there's nothing we can do. She is 19 years old. She had everything going for her.
What causes young people to join cults? I think it's because they are mentally unstable. — Sandy, Memphis, Tenn.
SANDY: Leading cult expert Alex Deutsch at the Cabrini Mental Health Clinic says that young adults, especially students who are unsure of their future and seek to belong to something, are vulnerable to the lure of cult environment. Cult members come from all walks of life, but have certain traits in common. According to Dr. Deutsch, people who answered yes to several of the following questions may be vulnerable to cult involvement. Is the young adult:
—unsure of his or her decision-making ability?
—leaving home for the first time?
—trying to "find" himself or herself?
—finding it difficult to face the world as it is and wishing, instead, for a more perfect world?
Many cults utilize this vulnerability by isolating new members on "utopia"-type farms in the country, then sending them, when converted, to more populated areas to sell literature, flowers or whatever on a daily, grueling, dawn-to-dusk basis.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.