Cult Experts Reveal How To Re-brainwash A Member of an Evil Cult


In order for cults to be successful, they
have to be good at enticing followers. Not only must they be able to recruit new
members, but they must also be able to maintain their allegiance. Typically, conversion involves someone who
is vulnerable. That is, someone who has recently lost a friend
or loved one, failed an important exam, or otherwise feel helpless, depressed or alone. For a vulnerable person, joining a cult can
be very tempting as it often comes with some promise of a reward: companionship, peace
of mind, a place to stay, and more. Of course, it also helps if the cult has a
leader who is charismatic and adept at the art of persuasion. Given the appeal, how can one possibly even
hope to talk a member into leaving? How do you deprogram a cult member? Back in the 1970’s, deprograming involved
drastic measures be taken. That is, the cult member would be physically
kidnapped and dragged away from the cult. It was an expensive service, costing upwards
of tens of thousands of dollars. So not just anyone could ask to have a friend
or family member stripped apart from a cult. After being forcefully removed against his
will, the cult member would undergo hours of intense “debriefing,” in which psychological
techniques were utilized as an attempt to counter the brainwashing that had been done
to the individual while in the cult. These psychological techniques involved educating
the cult member, asking critical questions in order to encourage the person to think
in an independent way, and trying to provoke an emotional reaction in the person that would
help him reconnect with his former life. This part was done by introducing objects
from the person’s past and having family members share memories of pre-cult life. In essence, you could say it was conducted
like an intervention of sorts. Today, we understand that it is highly unethical
to kidnap people against their will, so this method of deprograming is no longer utilized. Though it may be tempting to want to pull
out someone forcefully and hit them with a stroke of reality and a taste of the outside
world, this method simply isn’t the answer. As the old saying goes, “two wrongs don’t
make a right,” and so it can be tough to convince someone that their cult conducts
unethical practices when you yourself just acted unethically by kidnapping the guy to
begin with. The act of kidnapping alone also has the potential
to cause a certain level of post-traumatic-stress that could be greater than whatever events
occurred in the cult, which is obviously counter-productive. In this way, the whole operation could do
more harm than good, and the person may decide they want to return to their cult for the
sake of seeking refuge. Congratulations, your deprograming session
served to reaffirm the person’s desire to stay in their cult by helping them realize
the danger of the outside world. So, then you may be wondering how else deprogramming
can be done. Well, with any change, we know that it is
far better to allow people to come to their own conclusions and make the choice for themselves
to seek help rather than act on force. Though it may be frustrating to accept, you
simply can’t control the actions and cognitions of others. From your perspective, you may see a loved
one make an obvious mistake but, unless they come to terms with that mistake for themselves,
there’s really nothing you can do and trying to intervene has its risk of fueling resentment
and causing a rift in your relationship. In a way, it is like watching a horror film
when the lead character turns a corner, blissfully unaware that the killer is right there. You shout at the TV screen, yelling, “don’t
go in there!” As the viewer, you know what is in store,
but you have to just sit there and watch the character face the threat anyway. That’s when you might hide under your blanket,
shielding yourself from the anticipated moment. This you do because you just can’t bring
yourself to watch. So, is there anything that can be done for
cult members? Or is it entirely out of your hands like watching
a character make the wrong choice in a horror film? Thankfully, you’re not completely out of
options. Kidnapping and imprisonment may be out of
favor nowadays but there is another method that most families turn to. This method is known as exit counseling. Exit counseling focuses on using psychological
techniques towards steering the cult member to submit to a debriefing session voluntarily. The job of an exit counselor is to guide the
family of a cult member by introducing them to effective communication strategies. Family members are told not to be judgmental
and to remain calm and loving. Otherwise, they’ll only drive away the cult
member, reinforcing the idea that outsiders are not to be trusted. The family is taught how to convince the person
to consider debriefing in a gentle, non-forceful way. Exit counseling is successful if the cult
member agrees to participate in the process. If not, the family must come to terms with
the reality of the situation. When a cult member agrees to undergo the process,
the psychological debriefing techniques that are used are the same as they were in the
1970’s. That is, they involve long hours of intensive
sessions. Unlike the debriefing process of the past,
however, the cult member is free to leave at any time. As we mentioned before, you can’t force
any one person into a specific course of action. For this reason, there is no guarantee that
exit counseling and cult-removal will work. About one-third of deprogrammings tend to
fail and the statistics on the success rate of exit counseling are not definitive. When it does work, former cult members find
themselves returned to the outside world but not without a whole new set of problems. Some people who leave cults can go on with
life after a short adjustment period while others may struggle for longer duration. It depends on the level of psychological damage,
the type of cult, and how long the person was in the cult. Those who leave a totalist or destructive
cult could experience severe depression or anxiety and have trouble making decisions
for themselves once released into the external world. This is because a totalist cult tends to exploit
its members’ vulnerability as a manipulation tactic to exercise complete control. To do this, some unethical psychological techniques
are used such as though reform, which basically brainwashes individuals. Another kind of cult known as the non-destructive
religion type uses a different manipulation strategy. These cults attempt to alleviate the feeling
of vulnerability by offering spiritual guidance in order to exercise control over members. While some may move on fairly quickly in post-cult
life, others can go through something known as “floating,” in which the former cult
member shifts back and forth between cult and non-cult ways of thinking and viewing
the world. Sometimes they can experience flashbacks. There are also many other psychological and
emotional difficulties that former cult members may endure. Some may experience regret for leaving because
they now feel meaningless in the outside world, unable to hold onto a job or handle money. The cult may have provided the person with
a sense of purpose and community that is now lost to them and they may not be able to rejoin
for one reason or another. Others may feel guilt and shame from past
actions, knowing they had been brainwashed into recruiting new members and collecting
money in illegitimate ways. They may also feel guilty for past treatment
of friends and family members or resentment over their cult leaders who may have had them
commit crimes or acts of violence against others for some presumed purpose. It may often be difficult for former members
to accept their past actions and forgive themselves. Then there’s the fear of retribution. If a former member was a part of a particularly
violent cult with a leader who threatened the lives of defectors, that person may live
with a constant sense of paranoia. In this case, the ex-member may fear chance
street meetings with cult members and the very real danger that would accompany this. There are many other situations too which
may complicate post-cult life in the outside world such as if the former member has family
still in the cult. Some may have left behind spouses or children
and any attempt at making contact is too risky. If a person was raised in a cult or spent
most of their life there, they may lack an understanding of the outside world that would
allow them to function normally. The list of problems is practically never
ending, which can increase the difficulty for people wanting to rejoin life outside
the cult. Overall, the consensus amongst psychologists
for the best way to aid a former cult member with reintegration into society is to provide
them with an abundance of family and social support. Be as loving and understanding as you can
and, importantly, you must exercise patience. Understand that former cult members may be
overwhelmed and terrified, questioning their decision to leave and feeling extremely insecure
and fearful. All you can do is be sensitive to this and
let the person know that you’re willing to listen to their concerns. What would your method of deprogramming be? Let us know in the comments! Now go watch “The Most Evil Cults In The
History of Mankind” and see if your methods would have worked on their members! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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