**controversial issues will be mentioned in this article**
**This may be a sensitive topic**
What is deprogramming? Before we answer that we need to understand and answer the question: What is Brainwashing
Oxford English Dictionary defines Brainwashing as “The systematic and often forcible elimination from a person’s mind of all established ideas… so that another set of ideas may take their place; this process [is] regarded as the kind of coercive conversion practiced by certain totalitarian states…[as well as cults]…and in weakened sense: the action of pressurizing or persuading a person into a belief considered undesirable.” (OED). In a nutshell brainwashing is when one is mentally coerced to abandon their beliefs & ideas for replacement of different ones that are not their own by someone or some system.
So what is deprogramming? OED defines it as ” To release from apparent brainwashing (esp. by a religious cult)”. Simply put deprogramming is the undoing of the brainwashing.
As far as the application for deprogramming there is more than one way to do so. One method that that I don’t recommend nor advocate is the use of violence, kidnapping, or any use of physical force. The main reason is that the use of such method will only backfire. For instead of getting a cult victim deprogrammed it will only reinforce the brainwashing and dogma that the cult member was fed. This is evident with the case of Annie Kang of Columbia UBF in 1995. So you definitely don’t want to be villainized or face any legal trouble for attempting to help a loved one out of cult.
What people like Steve Hassan recommend is to use non-physical methods. One of which is opening up an discussion with the cult member and share research of the cult system beforehand in addition to leading them to professionals that can provided therapy. However, in order for those things to happen the cult member must be willing to listen and open up on their own sovereign will. It should never be rushed and never pressured or else the indoctrination ingrained in the cult victim’s mind will only be strengthened even more and that is not your intention.
So you must always be mindful of how you approach victims of UBF in dialogue.There are things you should never say to those who have been abused such as “No church is perfect”. Yes that’s true but saying such things will not help them open up. They will say or think “okay, but why should I leave UBF then?”. This is just one way things can backfire. Check out the list of things you shouldn’t say to UBF victims at the end of the article.
When a victim of UBF begins to open up and ask questions several things will happen as mentioned in the previous article in the series. To expand even more the “matrix” or illusion UBF has built will crumble apart and the victim will see the hideousness behind the “clean” curtain. All victims will then go through all if not most of the stages below in no particular order:
In the rest of the articles in this series I will be talking about several ways to effective go through the process of deprogramming in addition to guides on spiritual and psychological recovery/healing.
http://deprogramwiki.com/ (wiki solely focused on deprogramming)
https://freedomofmind.com/index.php/Info/infoDet.php?id=543 (Steven Hassan’s research on UBF)
https://vimeo.com/142398363 (Steven Hassan’s interview with Brian Karcher)
http://www.culthelp.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=1&id=4&Itemid=7 (Cult research center info)
http://ubfriends.net/archive2015/2014/01/17/top-10-things-not-to-say-to-an-ex-ubfer/index.html ( A list of what not to say to a UBF survivor)
http://ubfriends.net/archive2015/2015/05/01/what-not-to-say-to-someone-who-has-been-hurt-by-church/index.html (Another list of what not to say to victims and UBF cult survivors)