Department of Sociology
St. Joseph's University
5600 City Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa 19131
Telephone: (610) 660-1683
600 N. Essex Avenue
Narberth, Pa 19072
Telephone: (610) 664-8654
Ph.D. in Sociology, University of California at Berkeley, May 1985.
MA in Sociology (With Distinction), Boston College, Massachusetts, 1978.
BA in Sociology and Psychology (Magna cum Laude), Boston College, 1973.
Faculty Sabbatical, Saint Joseph’s University, Spring 2008.
Faculty Development Grant, Saint Joseph’s University, 2004.
Faculty Sabbatical, Saint Joseph's University, Spring 1998.
Faculty Development Grant, Saint. Joseph's University, 1987.
Faculty Grant, Trinity College, Spring, 1986.
Visiting Scholar, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Fall, 1985.
Copeland Fellow, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, Spring, 1985.
Newhouse Grant, University of California at Berkeley, 1982-1983.
Teaching Associateship, UC Berkeley,1979.
Graduate Assistantship and Tuition Remission, UC Berkeley, 1978-1985.
Graduate Assistantship and Tuition Remission, Boston College, 1974-1975.
Member of Boston College's Arts and Sciences' Honor Society.
Marybeth Ayella. 1998. Insane Therapy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press).
Marybeth Ayella, invited book review of The Serpent Rising: A Journey of Spiritual Seduction
by Mary Garden for the Cultic Studies Review, vol. 4, no. 3, 2005.
Marybeth Ayella, “Insane Therapy,” first chapter from Insane Therapy excerpted in Anderson,
Margaret L., Logio, Kim A., and Taylor, Howard F. (eds.), Understanding Society: An
Introductory Reader (Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001).
Marybeth Ayella, “Teaching About Cults,” (pp.61-63) and “Teaching About the Holocaust”
(pp.149-51) in Teaching the Sociology of Deviance (1999) by Martin D. Schwartz and
Michael O. Maume (eds.) (Washington, DC: American Sociological Association).
Marybeth Ayella, “Studying New Religious Movements” in Claire Renzetti and Daniel Curran’s
Introductory Sociology (1997).
Marybeth Ayella, "'They Must Be Crazy': Some Difficulties in Researching 'Cults'," American
Behavioral Scientist, vol. 33, no. 5 (May/June) 1990: 562-577. Reprinted in Renzetti,
Claire, and Lee, Raymond (eds.) 1993. Researching Sensitive Topics (Newbury Park,
Marybeth Ayella, "The Effects of Pornography: Is There Room for Debate?" The Forum
Trinity College magazine, December 1985.
Mary Elizabeth Ayella and John B. Williamson, “The Social Mobility of Women: A Causal
Model of Socio-Economic Success,” Sociological Quarterly 17 (Autumn) 1976: 534-54.
Papers/Work in Progress
Outside the Mainstream: Ex-cult Members Make Sense of Gender, Sex, and Family Experiences
in Cults, tentative title of book I am working on. I have completed 45 (of a projected 50)
interviews for the book and have written 100 pages.
“Teaching Undergraduates about Terrorism,” presentation given with graduate student Elizabeth
Young, to the Eastern Sociological Society Annual 2007 Meeting in Philadelphia on
March 17, 2007.
“Cults as Portrayed in Videos.” This is being revised from a conference paper for submission to
the journal Teaching Sociology.
“College Student Opinion on Cults: Are They Crazy or Lonely?” This is being revised from a
conference presentation for journal submission.
“Not Yet Ready: ‘Marrying’ students and using ‘Baby Think it Over’.” This is in process of
revision for submission to a sociology journal.
“Making Sense of Gender, Sex, and Family Experiences in a Cult,” paper presented at the
International Cultic Studies Association Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, on June
“Sex, Gender, and Family in Cults: Making Sense of Cult Experiences,” paper presented at a
roundtable at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, on
February 24, 2006.
“Cults as Shown in Films,” presented at a roundtable at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual
Meeting in Washington, DC, on March 18, 2005.
“Creativity in the Classroom: Using Media to Enhance Your Courses,” presented at a teaching
workshop at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, on
March 17, 2005.
“Media Portrayal of ‘Deadly Cults,’” presented at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual
Meeting in New York City on February 20, 2004.
“Teaching about the Family: ‘Marrying’ Students and Using ‘Baby Think it Over’,” presented at
a teaching workshop at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in New York
City on February 19, 2004.
“Gender and College Students’ Opinions on Cults,” presented at a panel entitled “Sociological
Perspective on Cults” at the Annual Meeting of the American Family Foundation in
Newark, NJ, on May 4, 2001.
“College Student Opinion on Cults: Are They Crazy or Lonely?” presented at the Eastern
Sociological Society Annual Meeting in Philadelphia on March 3, 2001.
“Baby Think It Over: Not Yet Ready,” presented at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual
Meeting in Philadelphia on March 3, 2001.
“Why Do People Stay in Cults?” keynote address to the Cult Information Service of New Jersey,
April 18, 1999.
Haub School presentation on Cults and Gender, September, 1998.
“Sex and Gender in Cults,” presented at the SJU Dean’s Colloquium Series on February 6, 1998.
Discussant for panel “Research on Children in Cults” at the Annual Meeting of the American
Family Foundation in Philadelphia on May 1998.
“Dealing with Stigma: Rebuilding a Life After Being in a Psychotherapy Cult,” presented at the
Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, August, 1991.
“Radical Self-Transformation in a Group,” paper presented at a roundtable organized by the
Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements, at the American Sociological
Association Annual Meeting in New York on August 1986.
The Development of a ‘Cult’ of Femininity in an Alternative Psychotherapy Center,” paper
presented at a session entitled “Conversions of Women: Femininity in Religious and
Psychological Traditions,” at the Eastern Sociological Society Annual Meeting in New
York, April 1986.
Other Public Presentations
“Why Do People Join Cults? The case of the Unification Church,” lecture presented to Frank
Bernt’s Psychology of Religion class (lecture presented in 2000, 2001, and 2002).
Panelist on Body Image Panel at Saint Joseph's University in the spring of 2001.
“What Makes Students Vulnerable to Cult Influence?” presented in September, 1999, at the
initial Freshman Adviser meeting at Saint Joseph’s University.
Presenter at Saint Joseph's University RA Training Program on Homophobia, January, 1996.
Prepared a PowerPoint presentation on the Holocaust for my Social Deviance class, Fall 1995.
The IMC used this presentation for years in teaching workshops illustrating multi-media
“The Role of Women and Children in Cults,” presentation at a Saint Joseph's University’s
Women’s History bag-lunch, March 1994.
Presenter at Forum entitled “Sexuality and AIDS,” during Saint Joseph's University AIDS
Awareness Week, October 21, 1993.
Panelist at “Kids and Careers: How Do We Do It?” session of the Fall Conference of College
and University Public Relations Association of Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's University,
“The Ethics of Therapy: The Case of Feeling Therapy,” presentation at a class in the Counseling
Program, Graduate Education Department, University of Pennsylvania, May 1989.
“The Unification Church’s Socialization of New Members,” presentation at a class in the
Counseling Program, Graduate Education Department, University of Pennsylvania,
“‘You’re Crazy’: Rebuilding a Life After Being in a Psychotherapy Cult,” Saint Joseph's
University Faculty Bag Lunch Presentation, November 19, 1987.
Organizer and leader of Social Science Faculty Seminar at Trinity College, Hartford,
Connecticut entitled “What Does Feminist Theory Mean for the Social Sciences?,”
month-long seminar held during April 1986.
“Insane Therapy,” “Psychotherapy Cults,” and “Radical Resocialization,” public presentations
given while a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College, April 1985.
Workshop organizer and leader of “Social and Legal Approaches to Sex Harassment,” at the
Women and Power Leadership Conference at UC Berkeley, April 13, 1984.
Organizer and leader of panel presentation of “The Disabled and Sex,” presented to the Peer
Sexuality Outreach Education Program, UC Berkeley, Spring 1982. My presentation was
“Able-Bodied Stereotypes of the Sexuality of the Disabled.”
Guest lectures at Bay Area, California, universities: “Feeling Therapy,” “Feminist Critique of the
‘Sexual Revolution,’” “Female Sexuality,” “Social Construction of Sexuality,” 1983-84.
Appeared on the morning news on Channel 6 on November 1, 1998, in a segment discussing the
use of “Baby Think It Over” in my Marriage and Family class.
Appeared on “News at Five” on Channel 10 on May 7, 1998, to talk about psychotherapy cults
as part of a segment on community support groups.
Interviewed about my book, Insane Therapy, by Dorie Lenz on Channel 17 on July 15, 1998.
Quoted in the April 4, 1997, issue of the Los Angeles Times about the types of people that join
Panelist on Peralta Colleges (educational cable) television show “Taking it to the People: The
Attraction to and Power of Cults/Alternative Religions,” Oakland, California, June 6,
Saint Joseph’s University, Sociology Department, Assistant Professor (1986 – present):
Cults and Culture: Sex, Gender, and Family in Cults/New Religious Movements (Honors
course, taught for the first time in spring, 2004)
Research Seminar II: Extremist Movements (taught for the first time in spring 2002)
Research Seminar I (taught for the first time in fall 2001)
Social Research Methods I and II
Cults as Social Movements (undergraduate and graduate)
Marriage and the Family
Sociology of Human Sexuality
Juvenile Justice (undergraduate and graduate)
Sociology of Law
Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, Sociology Department, Lecturer. Taught Sociology of
the Family and Deviance and Social Control. Spring Semester 1986.
Golden Gate University, San Francisco, California, Sociology Department, Instructor. Co-taught
Social Institutions and Social Change. My section of the course covered the family and
personality development. Spring semester 1983.
University of California, Berkeley, Sociology Department, Teaching Assistant to Introductory
Sociology. 1977-1982. Teaching Assistant to Sociological Theory. Fall 1978.
Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts, Sociology Department, Teaching Assistant, 1974.
Computer Applications in Social Research (a graduate/undergraduate course),
Multivariate Statistics (a graduate seminar), Statistics (a graduate/undergraduate course).
Institute for Scientific Analysis, San Francisco, California. Research Assistant to
Helen Q. Kivnick. Worked on a study entitled “The Meaning of
Grandparenthood and Mental Illness.” Helped develop the survey questionnaire,
constructed the codebook for the data analysis, and did the data analysis using
SPSS. Supervised two graduate students working on the data analysis.
Sociology Department, Boston College. Research Assistant to Professor John B.
Williamson. Surveyed the social mobility literature, and analyzed a sample of
female household heads to establish determinants of the socioeconomic success of
women. Used part of this research to do a Master’s Thesis, which resulted in the
Other Professional Experience
Business Manager, Berkeley Journal of Sociology. Managed all organizational
and financial details involved in producing the journal.
Educator, Peer Sexuality Outreach Education Program, a health education
program at the UC Berkeley’s Cowell Student Health Service. Gave
presentations on sexuality to undergraduate students.
Reader, UC Berkeley, Department of Sociology. Courses: “Social Interaction and
Personal Development,” “Interpersonal Behavior in Small Groups,” “Sociology of
the Family,” “Sociology of Women,” “Social Organization of Modern Western
Societies,” “Sociology of Law,” and “Sociology of Literature.”
Saint Joseph's University Academic Service:
Member of Faculty Senate Executive Council (moderator at October 18, 2006
convocation to discuss the proposed GEP); Faculty Senate Secretary for fall 2007
Member of Summer Scholars Committee (working with a Summer Scholar during
Member of Hearing Committee (Convened to hear a case beginning June, 2006)
2002-present Member of HAT, Harassment Advisory Team
Freshman Advisor to majors within the Sociology Department
Committee on Advising Practices and Policies, Social Sciences Representative
Faculty Senate Executive Council
2001-present W.W. Smith Scholarship Committee
Freshman Advising, Freshman Seminar Instructor
Committee on Sexuality and Sexual Minorities (COSASM)
Human Subjects Committee
Student Affairs Committee for Day Students
Commission on the Status of Women (Chair two of these years)
1987-present Academic Review Board
Honors and Events Committee
Advisory Board of Career Counseling
University College Financial Aid Committee
Diocesan Scholars’ Committee
Saint Joseph's University Departmental Academic Service:
Acting Chair of the Sociology Department, Saint Joseph's University
Assistant Chair of the Sociology Department
Internship Coordinator for the Sociology Department
Advising of Sociology and Criminal Justice majors, averaging twenty-five
Faculty discussion leader of Mountains Beyond Mountains at SJU Orientation, Fall 2005.
2003-present Advisory Board Member and Manuscript Reviewer of the Cultic Studies Review.
“What does a Sociologist Do?” presented at Career Weeks in 1999 (to a second grade class) and
2003 (to a third grade class) at Belmont Hills Elementary School.
“Who Joins Cults?” presented to an eighth grade class at St. Katherine of Sienna in Wayne, PA,
spring of 1998.
American Sociological Association
Sociologists for Women in Society
Eastern Sociological Association
International Cultic Studies Association