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Arnold Markowitz is a Jewish American social worker, psychotherapist, and "cult" critic and researcher. He is the Director of the Cult Hot Line and Clinic of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in New York City[1]. Markowitz also serves as Director of Brooklyn Adolescent Service, also known as "Break-Free Adolescent Services"[2].

In 1986, Markowitz was honored with the "Jonestown Memorial Award", which is given in memory of victims of People's Temple tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. He was credited with founding the Cult Hotline and Clinic of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services. Philip D. Abramowitz, Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Task Force on Missionaries and Cults, was also honored with the Jonestown Memorial Award[3].

Markowitz is a founding member of the Interfaith Coalition of Concern About Cults, and is a member of the Task Force on Missionaries and Cults, Jewish Relations Council. He is a staff member of the Martha K. Selig Institute[4].

In 1994, Markowitz was appointed by the OLD Cult Awareness Network as the Chairperson of the FOCUS committee (FOrmer CUltist Support Network)[5].

According to Markowitz: "The difference between a cult and a non-destructive group lies in the deception cults use to lure members"[6].

He further elaborated on this in a statement in 2001 to The Oregonian, stating that: "a group constitutes a destructive cult when it also has a self-appointed, charismatic leader who controls the daily lives of members."

Markowitz went on, stating the specific nature in which the cult leader can potentially take advantage of his/her followers: "These characteristics are geared toward taking advantage of, or abusing, people sexually or financially or for emotional or personal aggrandizement of the leader or leadership."[7]








  1. Profile, Arnold Markowitz, M.S.W., Cultic Studies Journal
  2. Programs, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, Break-Free Adolescent Services, Director: Arnold Markowitz, LCSW.
  3. Jonestown Memorial Awards to New York Educator, Counselor, The Cult Observer, November 21, 1986
  4. Our Staff and Faculty, Martha K. Selig Institute, Arnold Markowitz, LCSW, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services.
  5. Carol Giambalvo, A History of FOCUS/reFOCUS.
  6. New Cult 2 Story (Minneapolis), The Minnesota Daily, November 15, 1993, Allie Shah.
  7. Small 'cottage cults' drawing more converts in United States, The Oregonian, July 16, 2001, Richard Read
  8. Margaret Singer Award – 26 Years of Helping Families and Ex-members: Lessons from the JBFCS Cult Hot-Line and Clinic, Arnold Markowitz, M.S.W., 2006 Conference, Denver, Colorado. International Cultic Studies Association.

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See also

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