Deprogramming / Exit Counseling
This article discusses Deprogramming, which is similar to, though not entirely the same as "Exit Counseling". Read more about the difference here.
For people that have been
allegedly brainwashed a process that reverses it is referred to as
deprogramming. This process is very
controversial and considered by many to be a very risky process. It primarily begins with the person being
deprogrammed participating in an involuntary manner. It has often been referred to as an
intervention. When people believe that a
person has been brainwashed by a certain political, social, religious, or
economic group it is believed that they need to be deprogrammed in order to get
them to once again become productive members of society. Professionals who are considered to be
anti-cult or counter-cult typically will engage in voluntary deprogramming. This is then referred to as exit counseling - in other words, a mean to "bring back" an individual from a detrimental situation that he or she cannot leave willingly, or simply to regain control of one's life and actions.
Goals of Deprogramming
The main goal of deprogramming
is to get the person who has been brainwashed to begin thinking on their own
and to be able to evaluate their situation.
Many of the methods used include
the education of the person in question to help them recognize what has
happened to their experience. They put
the person in a position to encourage them to ask questions so they can think
in an independent manner.
When is Deprogramming Used?
The practice of
deprogramming was widely used in the early 1970’s. Over the years the methods used became
unfavorable. This happened because it is
very expensive and because it generally entails the act of kidnapping and then
imprisoning the person who is going to be deprogrammed. Over the years this type of treatment has
ended up in lawsuits and criminal charges being filed. Today, many families turn to exit counselors
for help. Exit counseling focuses on the
use of techniques that are primarily psychological in method. The hope is that the brainwashed person will
want to volunteer for counseling and help.
The family is trained in the most effect ways to deal with the person in
question so that they can gain their trust and to inspire them to communicate
with them effectively. Generally
brainwashed persons believe that their family is nothing but mere
outsiders. Family members are encouraged
to remain calm, loving, and to not judge or be harsh.
How Deprogramming Works
Deprogrammers today are
known as Exit Counselors. Normally they
are prior members of a certain type of cult.
They understand what mind control is all about. They are also familiar with the dynamics and
the interworking of the cult membership.
Exit counselors will also know about the cult’s history and what their
leaders are about. With this knowledge
at hand they can reach the person in question they are able to break through
the typical closed off thinking which is critical in helping the person break
free of the cult. The primary advantage
of this type of exit counseling is that those who participate are able to learn
how to adapt to normal moral practices and to see the differences in the belief
structures of the cult. They are able to
learn about any misrepresentations and things that were kept hidden from
them. This process helps the person to
understand the true nature of the path they were following. With exit counseling they can arm the person
who was brainwashed with informative resources that can help them to break free. Afterwards they will need plenty of support
and education to acclimate back to normal life.
Criticisms of Deprogramming
Many methods that have been
involved in deprogramming are considered to be harsh and a violation of the
civil rights of the person who was thought to be brainwashed. These methods have been considered by many to
be more detrimental to the person receiving the deprogramming and it can cause
them to need a great deal more counseling than if other strategies were used.
With the risk of legalities
increasing, many deprogrammers have had to revisit many ethical issues and use
new means of working with brainwashed individuals such as methods that are
non-coercive. Today, deprogramming
approaches are more respectful and offer treatment that is highly more
educational in nature. The goal is to
offer counseling that is not traumatic for the individual going through
it. Even though families may be
desperate to get their loved one out of a situation that they consider to be
harmful, if not handled properly, deprogramming could be even more damaging.
(2012). How Cults Work.Encyclopedia
of religion , Volume 4 , Lindsay Jones , Macmillan Reference USA, 2005,
Cults and New Age Religions, by Irving Hexham, Karla Poewe, and J. I. Packer
comments powered by