Deprogramming

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Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:40 am

All the cults worked very hard at giving the word, 'deprogramming,' a bad reputation such that when most people read or hear the word they feel a sense of disgust, fear, disparagement, or some other negative emotional response to it. The cults work very hard at recruiting people, getting their money, making them into slaves and having them recruit others to do the same. They don't like losing their people and they don't like them speaking out after they leave or telling their stories.

The cults did have some assistance with this as there were individuals who kidnapped cult members, held them against their will, and did intervention against the cult mind control to which they had been subjected. Those actions were illegal. They also didn't work every single time. They made it easy for the cults to give deprogramming a bad name.

The action of isolating a cult member from the cult and giving them information about cults in general and their cult specifically, such that the individual decides not to go back to the cult, is more accurately categorized as an intervention. Though related to intervention, deprogramming describes a set of actions and activities over a long time period. The hoped for result of those actions is an individual freed of the deception, manipulation, and control of the cult. In addition deprogramming should involve treatment of post traumatic stress, as involvement in cults invariably results in post traumatic stress disorder. Deprogramming usually starts after a successful intervention that turns a cult member into a former cult member.

I plan on discussing this topic further in this thread, and since I do not consider myself an expert on this subject, I invite others participating on this board who have experience with deprogramming to add your comments. For those who have not had experience with deprogramming, I invite your questions.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by duhast1 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:52 am

This is not going to be easy, not because I had a particularly bad experience, but because of what I am going to reveal about myself.

While I was being sucked in to the JW's, I had a problem. I'd had a bad draft number and sure as hell did not want to become a groundpounder in Vietnam, so I had enlisted in the Naval Reserve. Being in the early stages of JW indoctrination and simply a prospect, I could bullshit my way through my monthly Reserve meetings, but as time went on and I delved deeper, I also moved closer and closer to the time I would have to go on active duty.

JW's are extreme pacifists, and will not wear a uniform...not even a fast food uniform so decision time was coming, with only two choices...the godless heathen Navy, or the One True Religion (JW's).

I was not yet 20 and not particularly courageous, indeed, I was somewhat cowardly. I was having huge inner conflict between knowing what would happen to me if I didn't fulfill my military obligations and thinking about (according to the cult) turning my back on God. I was terrified and had less than zero idea about what to do.

I was ordered to report. What to do? I was in near panic mode and met with the leader of the congregation. No support at all, there's only one choice, JW's. He was cold as ice.

And guess what Parents are saying... "Get your ass down there and report."

So I did.

Things are a bit hazy now, and I cannot give details because they could be identifying, but let me say that I pulled a stunt that did not go unnoticed by the Navy and in fact got me in a shitload of trouble. 45 days restriction, 45 days extra duty, reduction in rank, $300 fine, pay reduced 50% for 3 months. If the ship had a brig, I'd be in it.

So...I chicken out, and still pay a price in $'s, time, and I think most damaging, vast loss of self-worth.

After all that, years pass, my war is over, and during some deep philosophical conversations with a friend BAM....out of nowhere I'm spouting the JW party line. It took time to deliberately seek and destroy all that old indoctrination. Kind of like auditing, huh? But the guilt lasted a long time, a couple decades, I'd betrayed both God and my ship. Yeah, that was pleasant.

What helped most was 1. finding my old Chief and X.O, and apologizing to them individually, and 2.standing before a good number of my old shipmates at a reunion and offering them my apologies also.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd had no idea how long and how much JW baggage I'd been carrying around. I think I'm lucky in that I think I was sort of able to 'de-program' myself in a way. Jw's are long gone, and amazingly, there was no fallout from my bonehead move at all among my shipmates.

This story is not often told. It is embarrassing and certainly exposes parts of myself that I am not proud of and dislike very much. I guess if I distill it down, I would say this; If it's there, if you can hear it, that small still voice, those near-microscopic red flags that pop up, LISTEN TO IT, BELIEVE THE RED FLAGS. Run.

Run.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Sun Feb 25, 2018 6:57 pm

Duhast, thanks for telling that bit of your story. From putting mine out there, I know doing that is extremely difficult. This is the point where a manipulator would ask you to tell more. I'm not going to ask for that and, please, do not feel any obligation whatsoever to do that.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:04 am

When a person gets away from a cult or leaves due to an intervention that's when they need deprogramming. Without deprogramming there is still the possibility that they will go back to the cult. I did that. Later on I was asked, "Why did you go back?" I didn't have an answer. The answer came when I finally exited the cult.

There are two states here. I call them, 'away,' and 'out.' Let me explain.

When a person involved with a cult is not on cult premises or in contact with another cult member, they are away from the cult. They still believe in all the cult practices and directives and they still revere and believe in the cult leader and their role in the cult. They still do the cult practices. They may have been ejected from the cult and not in good standing with it but they are still attached to it in their thoughts and emotions. They are not out. They are away.

When a person who was involved with a cult has rejected the cult leader and the rules and practices of the cult they are out of the cult.

A person who has left a cult and is only away from it is likely to go back to the cult. A person who is out of a cult will almost certainly not go back to it.

From stories I have read of people who have left cults a situation can occur where a person is still involved within a cult but is out of it.

Family members and friends who do not understand this can make assumptions that do not help the person who is physically removed from a cult but not out of it. They may become bewildered by the person's behavior. Understanding this can put them in a position where they can then take action to insure that the away cult member does in fact get out.

I think that's probably the primary necessary step a person needs to take for deprogramming to begin.

If you're a family member or friend of a cult member who is away from a cult you're now probably asking how can this be achieved. I don't know. I'll tell you how I did it. I read Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller. I should say I read half of that book. At that point I put it down not wanting to read any more and then discovered I wanted nothing more to do with L. Ron Hubbard. Then I had an answer to, "Why did you go back?"
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by duhast1 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:58 am

Pondering this subject in the context of my story, I just thought of something. When I was seriously distressed before going on active duty the cult was not at all supportive, there was only the cult way, and to have doubt or inner conflict was not an acceptable option. Even after going active I still tried to hang on, the worst time was when I had to deploy, i.e. go to Vietnam. Insert my "stunt" here. I cannot put into words how completely and profoundly alone I felt.

It was not long before I was immersed in my crew again, and here is the the stark contrast. I had just betrayed 200 shipmates, my ship, and the U.S. Navy. Not one single time did I suffer the slightest retribution. No mean spirited pranks, no beatings, nothing. In fact, as my 'extra duty' punishment meant that any department could snag me for 2 hours extra work after the evening meal, my department, my closest shipmates, the guys I worked with came and claimed me, all I had to do was be in my workspace with them for the extra time.

So think of that. The cult allegedly concerned for my eternal salvation kicks me to the curb, and the ones I had betrayed take me back unconditionally, like nothing had happened.

I never made that connection before.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:12 am

Deprogramming consists of different activities. The collective goal of these activities is to undo the actions of the cult that took control of the person the cult captured.

Captured?

Did you go looking for the cult you got involved with? You might have done. Some people do go to the cult they get involved with. In most instances, the cult comes for the people it takes in and uses. This is true even when people are 'born in.'

This is only marginally about cult characteristics and and how and why cults operate. I want to focus this thread primarily on what a former cult member can do to recover from what the cult has done to them such that they take back their life and their control over self.

For myself and I expect with most people the major results from deprogramming occur within about two years after reaching the point when they are out of the cult, not just away from it. I think deprogramming is ongoing and never reaches a time when it is finished. I may be wrong about that but I have been doing this for a long time and I don't see an end to it, even though as time progresses, there is less and less of what the cult did affecting me.

I still have the occasional spate of nightmares. I still have instances of the loaded language coming into my thoughts or coming out as I express myself. I still get angry about what I went through but the frequency and intensity of these episodes has diminished.

Due to circumstances deprogramming is largely a do-it-yourself activity. The main reason for that is because there are very few qualified (educated, accredited and licensed) therapists who do this. In all the world there might be five people who are qualified therapists who know about cults and what they do such that they can help people recover from the cult they were involved with. If there are more than five I would be surprised if there are more than twenty. I'd like to be wrong about this but I think I'm not.

After going through much of my deprogramming I did get some sessions with a therapist, a psychologist, to deal with some personal issues. I asked them if, in their university studies, they ever dealt with the subject of cults at any time. They said that there was no course dealing with the subject and in the various courses they took the subject never came up.

I will do what I can to keep this generic, but I did ask them if they knew about Scientology. I think they knew the name, but beyond that they didn't know about it and they weren't at all interested. I have a couple of friends who are psychologists and they pretty much said the same thing. So much for the 'psychs' (psychiatrists and psychologists) having it in for Scientology.

I'll put a bullet point list here of deprogramming actions one can take. Later on I can deal with what's involved in more detail. I may also think of other things I left off the list and there may be things one can do that I don't know about.

• Catch up on sleep and then make sure not to be sleep deprived
• Learn about nutrition to correct the cult's notions on that subject
• Eat primarily for nutrition but be sure to incorporate treats
• Get a medical checkup and get treatment for anything neglected while in the cult
• Get a dental checkup, get any dental problems tended to and then have regular cleanings and checkups
• Read books about the specific cult the former cult member was involved with
• Read books about cults in general
• Read books about thought reform, mind control, undue influence, totalitarian regimes and related subjects
• Write your story
• Find other former cult members to compare notes with. They don't have to be former members of the same cult
• Get some counseling. Even if this doesn't deal with cult matters specifically it's worthwhile having it
• Do things that are fun
• Find a non-cult related charitable activity that has nothing to do with cults and do some volunteering

In most cases the former cult member will have post traumatic stress issues. This includes nightmares, which I think affect every person who leaves a cult. I'll get to that but I don't know how to express those things in a bullet point.

One more thing. If you are a former cult member and you find yourself involved with a group, organization or people and you get any red flags that cult activity might be going on, do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Get away quick.
“Think wrongly if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.”
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:43 am

When most people who have been involved for more than a few years with a cult leave their cult they come away with very little and very often with nothing at all, beyond the clothes they're wearing. At that point they need to start their life over again. Food, shelter and a low paying job are most often their immediate concerns. That and avoiding any other cult members coming after them to take them back into the cult. It amazes me how many people who leave cults manage to get through this. Beyond mentioning it, I'm not going to discuss this part of leaving a cult, but it does give some insight on why so many who want to leave a cult choose to remain.

If the cult member who leaves is lucky they have friends or family that they can reconnect with who can help them. Suddenly the cult member who has left friends and/or family, often for a long time, has come back among them. Ignorance prevails.

The former cult member is asking themself, "What happened?" They have been in a situation where they have been continually deceived. The promises made to them have never been kept and never will. The rules and practices applied to them have results that are different than what they have been told to expect. They have been working for what they think is a world improving goal, when actually what they have been doing is providing their cult leader with wealth and low paying or no paying work. In every story I have read of a cult member who has left a cult, one way or another, they all ask this question: "What happened?" I've omitted the expletive that's almost always part of it.

The friends and family members usually make several incorrect assumptions about the person returning from the cult. The worst one of these is that the cult member is now out of the cult and they can get busy restarting their life. The next worst is that they can just take up treating the returned cult member just the way they did before they joined the cult. With family, especially parents, this means controlling the person again. Controlling the person has been how the cult has treated them for all the time they were involved with it. More control after getting away from the cult is not helpful.

I have to go back to the beginning of a person's cult involvement here. The family of a person who gets involved with a cult usually make their first mistake as soon as they find out the person is involved with a cult. They get upset with the person. They get angry. They may yell at or scold the person for getting involved. They may call them stupid or worse for getting involved. They will almost invariably disparage the cult the person has joined.

The problem with all of this helpful behavior on the part of family or friends is that the cult member is almost always fully indoctrinated at that point and they belong to the cult. Anyone connected with the newly joined cult member behaving that way risks losing their connection with the person. In Scientology this is called, 'disconnection,' but Scientology is not the only cult that practices this. The cults use different terms for this, among them are 'shunning' and 'disfellowship.' I expect there are others I don't know about.

Even if this separation does not happen in an official sense, more often than not the cult member will become so busy and so involved with their cult that all their connections with those they knew before joining the cult will be severed. For their family and former friends they may be gone for a long time and sometimes for the remainder of their life.

One thing family members should do when they lose a relative to a cult is to find out about cults. There are many books on the subject that are very good. Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan and Captive Hearts Captive Minds by Madeleine Tobias and Janja Lalich are both very good. Reading up on and getting familiar with what cults do and how they work will be very helpful and will allow the family of a former cult member to take steps to help the person returning from a cult to actually get out of it and restart their life.

One of the first things family should do is discuss what the former cult member experienced while they were in the cult. This should not be done like an interrogation. It should be done lightly and if the former cult member says they don't want to talk about it the family member should let it go and attempt to come back to it later. While this discussion does go on the family member should be listening for insights and decisions the former cult member has that when validated help the former cult member reach the point when they can get out of the cult, not just away from it.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by duhast1 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:23 pm

If you are a former cult member and you find yourself involved with a group, organization or people and you get any red flags that cult activity might be going on, do not give them the benefit of the doubt. Get away quick.
^^^THAT.^^^

And I would add, DO NOT express your concerns to the cult. You will get no valid or helpful answers. They will shift into 'retention' mode and feed you bullshit designed to prevent you from leaving. Threats, denials, peer pressure, etc.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Demented Lron » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:40 pm

I read several articles on both intervention and deprogramming several years ago. My impression was that intervention works very well, but deprogramming is practically useless, it seems no one knows how to do it correctly, and whether it could be done in principle.

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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:40 pm

Intervention is a short term action. Deprogramming takes a very long time. As intervention is short term, trial and error related to it can be done quickly. Deprogramming requires an understanding of what goes on with mind control. The academics can't even agree on a term for it. Most former cult members do not go on to become psychologists. They cannot become accredited therapists. There are a few, though. Steven Hassan comes to mind immediately.

At any rate, I intend to go on writing about this topic, as I think I have benefited from the actions I've taken to deprogram myself.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Wieber » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:34 am

Deprogramming is an activity intended to undo the deception, manipulation and control of the cult a person was involved with. Hopefully it will reduce the frequency and effect of triggers, nightmares, phobias and trauma that a person may take with them when they leave and finally get 'out' of the cult they were involved with.

I don't know how a therapist would go about helping a person do this. I will describe what I did. When I started I did not say to myself, "Alright now I'm going to deprogram myself." What I had in mind was, "I'm going to try to figure out what happened." Almost everyone leaving a cult asks a variation on the same question, "What happened?" Good question.

I started out reading. I read Tory Christman's story. Hopefully it's still on line. Then I read Steven Hassan's 'Combating Cult Mind Control.' After that I read his, 'Releasing the Bonds,' which has been updated and released as 'Freedom of Mind.' In 'Releasing the Bonds,' He gave brief instructions on a do-it-yourself therapy, one could do. So I did that.

I started out following his instructions and writing my story about what happened with me. As I progressed with the narrative, I deviated from the instructions. I started with the time when a person involved with Scientology made contact with me and sold me a copy of Dianetics, and went from there. For a while this went on the page as a chronological narrative. But, of course, doing that triggered things. I resisted going into them at first but later I wrote about them when they came up. Later on, I would sit down to write and deal with whatever I felt bothering me at the time. This resulted in a deconstruction of various aspects of the cult's activity.

Meantime I continued to read. I would browse through the bibliographies and annotations of the books I was reading and pick out titles that looked helpful. I also checked out recommended books on this message board. Then as other aspects of the cult came up I would look for books that dealt with those things. From doing that I found 'The Sociopath Next Door,' and, 'Trauma and Recovery.'

Then I addressed the loaded language of the cult. We could have an entire thread on loaded language. Every cult has its own. In Scientology this started with L. Ron Hubbard redefining words and coining new ones. In addition to that he altered types of words. Nouns became verbs. Adjectives became nouns and so on. Then there are the many acronyms and short forms. After that there is slang originated by members, some of which Hubbard adopted as official. After that there is context alteration within the organization, which, since the altered context may not have been used or annotated by Hubbard, has not been and will not be written down. With isolation from the world outside the cult from the way people within the cult communicate among themselves a unique grammar and syntax emerges and the loaded language of the cult becomes a separate unique language.

The way I deal with this is to look up the words used by the cult in a big dictionary. If the word isn't there it's a coined word. If it is there I look up the definition of the word and compare it to the definition used in the cult. In the case of a coined word or a word with a new definition, I look at the cult definition of the word, and then assess it to see if there is a new contextual meaning that has not been recorded. Very often I have then found an English word that serves to convey the meaning that the cult altered definition or coined word has.

Then there is working out how to say, in English, what is said in the cult speak. This usually happens when a word or term comes to mind in its cult loaded language form. It still happens now though not very frequently. Dealing with this involves figuring what the cult term conveys and then figuring how to say that without using the cult language.

There is one other part of the loaded language. Orwell deals with this in the essay in 1984 that comes after the end of the story. This has to do with acronyms and short forms for things. Orwell argues that the use of these things results in a person who doesn't think and is therefore easier to control. Orwell doesn't state this, but my remedy for that is to use the long form instead of the acronym or short form.

I just went into way more detail on loaded language than I intended. That's only a part of deprogramming.

The writing that I did following Steven Hassan's instruction, and then deviating from that instruction, occurred over about two years and resulted in a four-hundred page document. I think I have more to say on the subject of deprogramming.
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Re: Deprogramming

Post by Demented Lron » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:05 pm

Wieber wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:40 pm
Intervention is a short term action. Deprogramming takes a very long time. As intervention is short term, trial and error related to it can be done quickly. Deprogramming requires an understanding of what goes on with mind control. The academics can't even agree on a term for it. Most former cult members do not go on to become psychologists. They cannot become accredited therapists. There are a few, though. Steven Hassan comes to mind immediately.

At any rate, I intend to go on writing about this topic, as I think I have benefited from the actions I've taken to deprogram myself.
The main problem with the deprogramming is that usually people who do it, psychologists, do not have a detailed knowledge of a specific cult; they try general deprogramming methods, but it doesn't work. Even though I am not a psychologist, I tried to do deprogramming of a former OT. I didn't have enough info about OT processing, just a general knowledge of it. But it wasn't enough, and the subject terminated our sessions shortly after they started due to my lack of understanding. Can't blame her, but the same applies to professional psychologists who try to deprogram patients but fail.

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