[ot] cult influence and power, 1988-2018
Undiscussed Groomed for Male Slavery, One Victim of Many
gmkarl+brainwashingandfuckingupthehackerslaves at gmail.com
Sat Oct 8 18:54:24 PDT 2022
Chapter 10–Unlocking Mind Control
Wherever I go—to the supermarket, to the gym, on an airplane—I
meet people who are involved with destructive cults. My heart goes out
to them, because I was once in a similar trap. With all the cult
members I meet, I try to remember that they are _enslaved_. They are
also somebody’s son or daughter, sister or brother. Whenever I meet
people like these, I feel extremely grateful that I am free. I was one
of the lucky ones who had the opportunity to be counseled out. Since
people helped me, I try to share my good fortune.
In these fleeting personal encounters, I know that I will have
only a few minutes, but I try to say or do something to help. Usually
I never hear from the person again, but occasionally I find out that
our brief meeting had some long-term impact.
Back in 1980, I started to deliberately go out of my way to
conduct impromptu mini-interventions that are really mini-therapeutic
interactions. I was eager to research and practice non-coercive
approaches to helping free someone. I looked at every cult member I
met as an opportunity to hone my skills.
These encounters taught me more effective ways of communicating
with cult members—methods that serve as keys to unlocking cult mind
control. This chapter offers a summary of those keys, with some
examples of how I use them—and how you can use them as well.
Briefly, these are the three most basic keys to helping a cult member:
Key #1: Build rapport and trust.
Key #2: Use goal-oriented communication.
Key #3: Develop models of identity.
This chapter offers two examples of rescue efforts I have
conducted, as well as a mini-rescue that was conducted on me when I
was still a cult member. These examples will help to demonstrate the
importance of the first three keys, and how they can be effectively
employed. In the remainder of this chapter, I’ll discuss the other
five keys, which enable a rescue effort to be carried through to a
Key #4: Access the pre-cult (authentic) identity.
Key #5: Help the cult member to look at reality from many
Key #6: Sidestep the thought-stopping process by giving
information in an indirect way.
Key #7: Help them visualize a happy future outside the cult.
Key #8: Offer the cult member concrete definitions of mind control
and specific characteristics of a destructive cult.
Key #1: Build Rapport And Trust
I have already emphasized the importance of building rapport;
several techniques for building non-verbal rapport can help. The first
is to simply mirror the body language of the person with whom I am
speaking. I also use a non-threatening/friendly tone of voice and line
of questioning and try to avoid judgmental statements. Like riding a
bicycle or learning a foreign language, rapport building is a skill
that anyone can learn and develop.
Key #2: Use Goal-Oriented Communication
Practiced mainly in the business world, goal-oriented
communication represents the best way to influence people in a
deliberate way. This is drastically different from the approach people
typically use when interacting with family members or friends. When we
are intimate with people we usually say whatever we think or feel,
because we are being “ourselves.” We don’t have an agenda to influence
In the business world, most people have to think through their
goals and determine how best to accomplish them. Business leaders
understand that they often have to establish a step-by-step plan to
make their dreams a reality.
In helping someone break free from a destructive cult, it can be
just as helpful to clarify your goal and then determine how best to
Your overall goal, of course, is to help the person you care about
to begin thinking for themselves (hopefully, to help them leave a
cult.) To accomplish this, you need to use communication to find out
just who it is you’re trying to influence. This means getting to know
and understand your loved one’s new mind controlled personality. It
also means learning more about the real person underneath, if
possible. Next, you need to use communication to build trust and
rapport. Finally, you need to use communication to help the cult
member begin to question, investigate and think for themselves.
Key #3: Develop Models Of Identity
By gathering information, family members and friends can
thoroughly research the cult member they hope to influence. In order
to be most effective, three models, or mindsets, will need to be
The first model is _who the person was before they joined_—how
they thought about themselves, the world, their relationships, their
strengths and their weaknesses. This is the way they viewed all these
aspects of their life. This information is best gathered from what
they have written or have said to friends and relatives.
The second model is that of _a typical cult member of that group_.
Any former member can provide a useful generic model of how members of
the cult view reality. Former members can serve as coaches and teach
you how to think like a cult member. Ideally, people can role-play
what it feels like to be a cult member. Just as the actor rehearses
their lines in character, what is important here is the
characterization, even though the lines are impromptu. Different
family members can take turns interacting with the “cult member” as
well as “being” the cult member. The more they are able to role-play
and practice, the better they will understand how the cult member
The third model is that of _the specific person in the cult, as
they are now_. By contrasting this with the models of the generic cult
member and the person’s real self, you can get a good idea when the
person is being cultish, and when they are being their real self.
Remember, though, that in every cult member, there is a war between
their cult identity and their real identity. At any time, you may
actually see the person switch back and forth.
Many cult members try to fight off their cult identities whenever
they can. For example, in one cult, members were vegetarians and did
not use drugs or alcohol. Yet I met several members from that group
who told me they used to sneak off the communal property and drive 35
miles so they could have a hamburger and a beer. If you have a good
rapport with someone in a cult, you might discover and be able to make
constructive use of this type of information.
When I am brought in to help with a rescue effort, I want to have
as complete a sense of all three mindsets as possible before I meet
with the cult member. Then, when I am with the person, I refine all
three models by asking specific questions. Within three days, I am
able to develop a sophisticated set of maps.
Like an actor, I am able to step into a role and imagine myself as
the person I am counseling. I immerse myself in their reality.
Throughout the counseling process, I switch back and forth among the
mindsets. I test out the model of who the person is now—i.e., their
cult personality—by anticipating how they will respond by having an
imaginary conversation with them in my head. Then I ask the actual
person the same question and note how accurately I was able to predict
their response. As the interaction continues, I am able to refine this
model more and more.
The faster I am able to create an accurate model of the person’s
cult personality, the faster I can “become” them. Once I become them,
I can then figure out what needs to be said or done to help them
regain control over their life.
Ultimately, it is the person’s real identity that shows me how to
unlock the doors. They tell me what keys are necessary to use, where
to find them, and in what order to use them. This process of discovery
can be demonstrated in the following interaction with a young member
of a cult that stresses meditation, under the leadership of a man
named Guru MaharajJi,[ibid] aka Prem Rawat.
A Sample Rescue Effort: Gary and the Divine Light Mission
A young man and I were both waiting for the bus. I noticed some
brochures he was carrying.
“I’m curious,” I said. “How long have you been involved with
Divine Light Mission?”
“For about seven years,” he answered. His eyes moved up slowly
until they focused on mine.
“That’s a long time,” I said. “How old were you when you first got
involved?” I tried to sound innocent, as though I were an old friend.
“I was 20.”
“Hi.” I said, giving my name, and holding out my hand to shake
his. “I’m sorry if I’m bothering you. What’s your name?”
“My name is Gary,” he said, somewhat bewildered. He looked as
though he didn’t know what to make of me.
“Gary, I’m just curious: what were you doing at that time in your life?”
“Why do you want to know?” he asked with a look of puzzlement.
“I love to talk to people who have made unorthodox choices in
their life. I like trying to figure out why people do what they do,” I
shrugged my shoulders a bit.
“Oh. Well, back then I was working for a construction company,
putting up buildings.”
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Yeah, well, I liked to hang out with my friends. I was also into
animals. I had two dogs, a cat, some tropical fish and a rabbit.” A
warm smile lit up his face as he recalled his friends and his pets.
“You certainly were into animals. Was any one your favorite?” I asked.
“Well, my dog Inferno was pretty special. He and I used to be best buddies.”
“What made him so special?” I asked.
“He had an independent spirit. He loved adventure. He loved to go
with me into the woods.” It was obvious to me that he missed his dog a
great deal. I shared that I grew up with dogs and love them too. This
“So, you love an independent spirit. Do you admire anyone who
stands up and does what they feel is right no matter what others say?”
I was trying my best to empower Gary by reminding him of the qualities
he used to admire.
“That’s right. Inferno did what he wanted to do. And I loved him
for that, too.” Gary’s tone was somewhat defensive and self-righteous.
“So, Gary, tell me—what was it that made you decide that the
Divine Light Mission was the group you wanted to spend your life in?”
“I never thought of it that way,” he said, his face growing sullen.
“Well then, what was it that got you involved?” I asked in an upbeat voice.
“At the time, my girlfriend Carol started going to _satsang_—you
know, group meetings—and I went along. We listened to the people all
talk so glowingly about their experience of _Knowledge_, and how high
it made them feel.”
I continued to probe. “Did you decide to get initiated first, or did Carol?”
“She did. At first I thought the whole thing was a bit strange.
But after she started meditating, I got curious and decided to do it,
“What year was this?” I asked.
“And at the time, what did you think of Guru Maharaj Ji?”
“I thought he was this young dude from India who was going to
usher in an age of world peace,” he said, with a touch of sarcasm.
“Were you at that big meeting at the Houston Astrodome?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered.
“And what ever became of Carol?”
“I don’t know,” Gary said, his face darkening again. “We sort of
broke up a few months after we got involved with the group.”
“When was the last time you spoke to her?” I asked.
“About four years ago she wrote me that she had decided to go back
to school and wasn’t going to practice _Knowledge_ anymore.”
“Why did she say that she wasn’t going to be part of the group anymore?”
“I don’t remember,” he said, staring at the pavement.
“So the person who got you involved left the group four years
ago?” I repeated.
“And you have never really sat down with her to find out why she
left, after belonging to the group for three years?”
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Gary said, looking up at me.
I smiled, looked down, then looked him right in the eye. “Well, I
don’t understand, Gary. If my ex-girlfriend left the group that she
introduced me to, I would certainly want to sit down with her and find
out everything I could from her. She must have had some really good
reasons why she left after three years. And she obviously cared enough
about you to contact you and let you know her decision.”
I paused. Gary stood there, silent. I waited some more. Then I
continued, “I suppose there’s no way for you to get in touch with her
“Actually, her parents probably live at the same address. I’m sure
I could find it.”
My bus pulled up to the stop. “Might be a good idea. Well, I wish
you good luck, Gary. It was really good talking to you. Thanks.”
He waved to me as my bus pulled away.
The preceding conversation demonstrates just how much can be done
to help someone in a mind control cult in only a few minutes. During
that time I was able to quickly establish rapport, collect very
valuable information about Gary, and use what I learned to help him
take a very important step away from his cult group.
If I had used a threatening or condescending tone, I would never
have gotten anywhere with Gary. However, because I used a curious,
interested tone, Gary was happy to kill some time and chat with a
Once I found out how long Gary had been involved, l was able to
quickly determine that he wasn’t enthusiastic about the cult. It was
relatively easy for me to get Gary to reminisce about his pre-cult
life. When he remembered what he had done before, he was able to
reaccess his real identity and get in touch with how he thought, felt
and acted before being indoctrinated. He not only remembered his
favorite dog, but also talked about how he used to value an
independent and adventurous spirit. This was a valuable resource—one
he would need to help him walk away from a seven-year commitment to
Guru Maharaj Ji.
Gary also remembered what he had first thought of the group before
becoming involved. He stepped back in time and looked at the group
with his pre-cult eyes, thinking that it was a bit weird. Back then he
certainly never intended to join the group for life.
An important strategy for reality testing is to go back in time
and ask, “If you had known then what you know now, would you have made
the same decision?” For Gary, apparently the answer would have been
Then, as I was fishing for more information, Gary stunned me by
telling me that Carol, who initially recruited him, had left the
group. Since everyone under mind control has been made to be phobic
about leaving the group, it didn’t surprise me that Gary didn’t know
why she had left. Four years earlier, he was probably not able to
consider talking with her. However, it was clear to me that Gary was
still curious as to why Carol left the group. He was now at a point in
his life where he was more open to this possibility. I gave him a
nudge to go talk to Carol.
My Own Experience of a Mini-interaction
When I first got out of the Moonies, I searched my memory for
times when I had questions or doubts about the organization. I
remembered several times when I was momentarily thinking outside the
Moonie framework. Even though these experiences weren’t enough to get
me to leave, they proved significant when I was being deprogrammed.
One experience involved a caring person I met by chance. During my
first year as a cult member, I was fundraising on a steamy summer day
in Manhattan. I approached a man who must have been in his sixties,
and asked if he wanted to buy some flowers.
“What are you selling flowers for, young man?” he asked with a warm smile.
“For Christian youth programs,” I answered, hoping I could sell
him a dozen carnations.
“My, my, you look very hot,” he said.
“Yes, sir. But this cause is very important, so I don’t mind.”
“How would you feel if I took you inside this coffee shop and
bought you something cold to drink?” he asked.
I thought, _This guy is nice, but he has to buy some flowers;
otherwise he won’t have a connection to Father_. Then I remembered
Jesus saying that anyone who gives water to a thirsty person is doing
the will of God.
“Just for five minutes,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “It
will refresh you, so you’ll be able to sell even more flowers.”
“Okay. Thank you very much.”
We walked into the air-conditioned shop. It felt so good to be out
of the sun.
When we sat down at a table, he said, “So, tell me a little about yourself.”
“Well, I grew up in an ethnically religious family in Queens.”
“Oh, so you’re ethnically religious,” he said with a warm smile. “Me, too,”
I thought that perhaps God had sent this person for me to “witness
to” (a term we used for _recruit_). We had been instructed that while
fundraising, we should never spend more than a couple of minutes with
any one person. But since my main job was recruiting, and I had been
sent out on Saturday to fundraise, maybe it was okay to spend a few
extra minutes with him.
In the end, I must have spent at least half an hour with him. He
got me to do most of the talking. During that time I became incredibly
homesick—not only for my family and friends, but for playing
basketball, writing poetry and reading books.
Before I left, he insisted that I call home and walked me to the
phone. He put in the dime himself. I remember feeling that this man
reminded me of my grandfather, someone I loved dearly. I didn’t have
the willpower to refuse. Besides, it would look bad for the group if I
refused to talk to my parents.
I spoke with my mom for a few minutes. After that, I felt that I
had to pry myself away from this man. My cult identity was strongly
exerting itself. I started to feel guilty that I hadn’t been out
raising money and allowing people to “pay indemnity” and connect
themselves to the Messiah.
But I was “spaced out” and couldn’t sell for the rest of the day.
Eventually, a Moonie leader told me that I had created a “bad
condition” by going inside for a cold drink; that Satan had tempted
me; and that I had failed. He told me that, in my weakness, I had
crucified Jesus on the cross one more time. That evening I prayed and
repented and tried to quash any memory of what had happened. I never
thought of that experience again, until after I was deprogrammed.
Now, let’s take a look at another full-scale intervention, this
time with a Krishna devotee.
Phil and the Hare Krishnas/ Iskcon
Although most Americans don’t realize it, the Hare Krishna sect,
also known as ISKCON or the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness, is still very much around even though its founder
passed away in 1977.
Below is an account of my efforts with Phil, who had been a member
of the Hare Krishna sect for over three years. Phil had become
involved with the group about six months after his twin brother, Tom,
was killed in an automobile accident while walking to a neighborhood
store. The death hit his family hard, and sent Phil into a severe
depression. He seriously contemplated suicide. He received medication
and therapy, but nothing seemed to help him. Then one day, while
walking downtown, he was approached by a Krishna. Not long afterward,
he became a member.
I met Phil during one of his infrequent visits to his family, and
was introduced as a family counselor who had been working with his
parents and his two sisters for many months. I told Phil that I felt I
needed to speak with him alone, before I could do any sessions with
him and the whole family. I told him that in my view he was a very
significant member of the family, and that his participation was badly
After introducing myself to him, I suggested we go outside for a
walk, so that we could get acquainted. He was dressed in full Krishna
clothes, including sandals. I spent the first few minutes explaining
my background as a counselor who specialized in communication
strategies and family dynamics, and who was committed to helping
people grow and enjoy better relationships with their loved ones. He
told me that he now went by the name Gorivinda.
“So, Gorivinda—Phil (it is best to use the pre-cult name)—would
you mind telling me about how you feel toward your family now?” I kept
my hands in my pockets and my eyes directed toward the pavement.
“I don’t know,” he responded, shrugging his shoulders slightly.
“Well, are you happy with your present relationship with your
mother? Your father? Your siblings?”
He answered, “Things have gotten a lot better since they stopped
criticizing my religious commitment.”
“How do you feel when you come home for a visit?” I asked, as
gently as possible.
“To be honest, it’s a bit strange,” he said.
I was glad at his response. “What do you mean?” I probed for more
“Well, it’s like coming to another world. It’s so different from
devotional life at the temple.”
“Are there any good feelings you feel when you come home?”
“Yes,” he said warmly. “I love my parents and my sisters and
brother very much.” Then he caught himself and added, “But they’re
living in the material world.”
“I see,” I said, a bit disheartened that he had caught himself and
injected the cult perspective. “Would you mind telling me about your
twin brother and what his death meant to you?” I was hoping to steer
him back into his pre-cult identity.
“Why?” he asked suspiciously.
“Because, as a mental health professional, I believe that your
whole family is still suffering from that tragedy,” I commented,
hoping he would accept my sincerity.
When I said that, Phil started to cry and choke up. I was struck
by the power of his feelings. Then he stopped walking, put his hands
together, and started rocking back and forth. He was chanting to shut
himself down. Thought-stopping. After a few minutes he was recomposed.
“Tom and I were very close,” he said, already beginning to lose
control of himself again.
“Tell me about him when he was alive. What was he like? What did
he like to do?”
Phil’s face started to shine as be reminisced about his brother.
“Tom was bright, energetic, had a great sense of humor. He was the
more aggressive of the two of us. He helped motivate me to do things,
all of the time.”
“Tell me, Phil, what do you think he would be doing today if he
hadn’t had the car accident?” I was hoping to get Phil to think again
about the kind of life Tom would have had
“That’s a hard one,” Phil answered.
“Do you think he would have joined the Krishnas?” I asked with a smile.
“No, never,” Phil said definitively. “Tom was never into religion
much at all, although he was very spiritual.”
“So what do you think _he_ would be doing?” I repeated.
“He always said that he wanted to go into the media—to work in
television. He wanted to be an anchorman for the six o’clock news.”
“So he liked news. Did he like investigative journalism?” I knew
that if he said yes, I would have another angle to work with later.
“That was his favorite!” he said.
Bingo. I decided to explore another angle first, though. I asked,
“Back then, what did you see yourself doing?”
“Back then? I wanted to become a musician,” he said with enthusiasm.
“That’s right,” I said. “Your sister mentioned to me that you used
to play electric guitar. You used to write songs, too.”
“Yeah.” I felt that Phil was making some of the important
connections I was hoping he would make.
“So, did you want to have your own band and make records—the whole
bit?” I wanted Phil to remember as much detail as he could.
“Sure. I loved music so much. I remember singing my songs with
Tom. He would help me with the lyrics sometimes, too,” he said with
“So you could imagine being a successful musician, living a happy
and spiritually fulfilled life?” I asked, nodding my head. I wanted
him to create as powerful a mental image as he could.
“You bet!” Phil said, his eyes defocused. He was obviously
enjoying what he was imagining.
“Can you imagine how good it feels to be up on stage, singing your
songs, touching people with your creativity, making them happy?” I
asked. I wanted Phil to get in touch with how good he would feel as a
“Yes! It’s a wonderful feeling,” he said.
“Great. Just imagine enjoying your music, and perhaps see your
friends there, too. They must admire and respect your talent a great
deal. Perhaps you are even happily married, maybe have kids.” I knew
that I was taking a risk, but he seemed to enjoy adding the wife and
kids to his fantasy. I waited a few minutes in silence until Phil
returned from his pleasant imaginary voyage.
“Now I have another question.” I paused for a deep breath. “What
do you think Tom would say now if he saw you in the Hare Krishnas?”
I have to admit I was caught off guard, when Phil burst into
intense sobbing, which continued for a full five minutes. By this time
we were sitting together in a quiet park. Phil clutched his chest and
rocked back and forth. The loud crying seemed to echo from deep
within. I debated with myself whether or not to put my arm around Phil
and console him; I decided not to interrupt. Eventually, he stopped
and collected himself once more. I looked compassionately at Phil and
decided to try the question again.
“Really, what would you tell Tom?” I asked.
Phil wiped his eyes and stated quite categorically. “I don’t want
to talk about it anymore, okay?”
I nodded and remained silent for a while. I decided to let him
think about the question some more, hoping he would answer it within
himself. I suggested we get up and walk some more. I wanted him to
shift his frame of mind.
“There are a few more things I would like to discuss with you
before we go back to the house.” I started up again. “If you could put
yourself in your parents’ shoes, how would you feel to lose a son?”
“What?” he asked looking up at me.
“Imagine being your mother,” I said. “She carried Tom and you,
gave birth to both of you, nursed, diapered, washed both of you. Cared
for you when you were sick. Played with you, taught you, watched you
grow to adulthood. Can you feel what it must have been like for her to
“Yes. It was horrible,” he said. He was, indeed, talking as though
he was his mother.
“And your father. Can you stop and think about what it was like
for him?” I added.
Phil said. “Dad was always the closest to Tom. It hit him real hard.’’
“Yes,” I said. “Now can you imagine what it felt like to watch
your other son become suicidally depressed and then a few months later
change his name, shave his head, and move in with a controversial
“It would be horrible,” he repeated. “I would feel angry. I would
feel like I lost two sons.”
“That’s exactly how they told me they felt,” I said. “Can you see
that now? That is why they were so critical of the group when you got
I paused and let him think for a few more moments before I went
on. “I’m curious to know what was going on in your mind when you first
met the member of the group. What was it that caught your attention
and attracted you to learn more?” I asked.
Phil looked up at the sky for a moment, looked down at the ground,
took a deep sigh, and said, “Well, when he asked me why I looked so
depressed, I told him about Tom’s death. I told him that I just
couldn’t understand why it would happen to such a wonderful person. It
just didn’t seem right. He began to explain the laws of _karma_ to me
and how this material world is just illusion anyway, and how I should
be happy that Tom left his material consciousness, so that he could
come back as a more highly evolved being in his next life.”
“I see—so the devotee helped you understand what had happened to
Tom in a way that took away your fear and confusion,” I said.
“And guilt,” he added.
“And guilt?” I probed.
“Yes, you see, I had asked Tom to go to the store that day to buy
me another guitar string. He was on his way there when he was killed,”
“So you blamed yourself for his death because you figured that if
you hadn’t asked him to go to the store, he never would have been in
the accident?” I asked.
“I guess so,” Phil said, sadly.
It occurred to me that I had better try to offer Phil some other
perspectives on the incident. I began by saying; “If Tom had been
killed in a swimming accident, at the far end of the lake, would you
have blamed yourself for not staying closer to him?”
He thought for a moment. “Maybe.”
“Can you imagine any way Tom could have died that wouldn’t have
been your fault?” I asked.
He paused again before answering. “I guess not. But the fact
remains that he was going to the store for me.”
“Is it possible that he also had some other things to buy, or some
other errands to run? Is it possible that he decided to take a
different route to the store than he ordinarily took, and that was
where the accident occurred?” I asked.
Phil seemed nonplussed.
“How would Tom feel, now, if it had been you who had gone to the
store one day and were killed in a car accident?” I asked. “Would he
get depressed, think about committing suicide, and then join the Hare
I knew this was a bull’s-eye. Within a few minutes it was Phil who
started asking _me_ questions.
“How do you feel about the Krishnas, Steve?” Phil asked.
I thought he was genuinely trying to test his “reality,” not just
trying to find fault with me and write me off.
“Boy. That’s a tough one,” I said, scratching my head.
He then said, “I want to know.”
“My role as a professional, Phil, is to do counseling and not to
make value judgments on what people do with their lives. I do have
personal feelings though,” I said.
“I want to know what you think personally,” said Phil, quietly.
“Well, to be honest, I am very concerned. You see, fourteen years
ago I myself joined a religious group that my family disapproved of. I
too had been depressed before I met the members and wasn’t completely
sure what I wanted to do with my life. Back then, I thought that they
were trying to interfere with my rights as an adult to choose what I
wanted to do.”
“What group?” Phil asked, with curiosity.
I decided to give the formal name first. “The Holy Spirit
Association for the Unification of World Christianity. It is also
known as the Unification Church,” I said. “Anyway, I was a devoted
member of the group for more than two years. I slept three hours a
night, and even did several seven-day fasts, drinking just water.”
“That’s a long fast,” Phil said admiringly. I could tell that he
was listening to every word I said.
“Yeah. I lost an average of fifteen pounds at the end of the week.
Anyway, in my group we revered the leader as one of the greatest
spiritual masters who has ever lived. In fact, we believed that he had
met with Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna and every other great
“You believed _that_?” He was amazed.
“Yes. We believed in a spirit world. In fact, we believed that
whenever someone died, like Tom, it was to pay indemnity for some past
sin in the person’s lineage. In this way, another member of the family
could join the group, serve the man we revered as the living Messiah,
and then later intervene to save the person who had passed on to the
spirit world. In this way, God could not only restore the whole world
back to its original state of goodness, but restore all of the
spiritual beings in the spirit world who were unable to advance
without earthly ‘vitality elements’ provided by those on earth.”
Phil’s jaw hung open a bit. He asked, “You really believed that?”
“At the time, absolutely,” I said. “You see, in the Church,
members were not allowed to ask critical questions of anything the
leader said or did. We were taught to believe that anything that
challenged the leader or the group’s beliefs was ‘negative’ and was
caused by evil spirits. We were taught to do thought-stopping to shut
down our minds. In my group we did this by praying intensely as well
as chanting whenever we started to doubt, or whenever we felt
homesick.” “What was the name of the group again?” he asked.
“The Unification Church,” I said. “You probably know it as the Moonies.”
“You were in the Moonies? No—I don’t believe it!” Phil exclaimed.
“It’s true. In fact, I was a devoted follower of Sun Myung Moon. I
would have gladly died on command, if he had told me to,” I replied.
“That’s incredible!” Phil said.
“Not only that, but we were literally made to feel that if we ever
left the group our lives would fall to pieces,” I continued. “We were
told that we would be betraying God, the Messiah, ten generations of
our ancestors—the whole world, in fact—if we ever left. We were told
that all of our relatives now in the spirit world would accuse us
throughout eternity for betraying God. It was quite a heavy trip.
We were told to avoid all former members because they were controlled
by evil. If someone we were close to left the group, we were made to
feel that he or she was now a Benedict Arnold and was possessed by
demonic spirits. Can you put yourself in my shoes and imagine
what I felt when I was in there?”
“Yes.’’ Phil said. “Amazing. How did you get out?”
“Well, I was in an automobile accident in which I was almost
killed,” I said. “After two weeks in the hospital and an operation on
my leg, I was able to get permission to go visit my sister. She had
given birth to my nephew over a year earlier, but I had never seen
him. I had never been able to get permission from my central figure.
Anyway, my parents hired some former Moonies to come talk with me.”
“Didn’t you try to resist?’’ asked Phil.
“Of course. I had been taught in the group about deprogramming,” l
said. “I was told that they would torture me and try to break my faith
in God. Of course I tried to get away, but, with a broken leg and no
crutches, I couldn’t get very far.”
“So then, what made you decide to leave?” said Phil. I could see
he really wanted to know.
I explained to him all the things I had learned during my
intervention. I told him I had realized that former members still
loved God and were genuinely good people. I described them as people
who had decided to leave the group, because they no longer wanted to
follow a demagogue who was interested in creating a world in which
everyone was identical in thought, feeling and action. The ex-members
told me of their belief that God gave them free will, so that they
could choose to do the right thing, and not be forced by mind control
to do what the leader thought was right. I told him that any group
that told its members not to think, but rather to obey their leaders
blindly, was dangerous. I told him that any organization that told
members not to talk to former members or read critical information was
exercising information control—an essential component of mind control.
I told him that during my counseling I began to remember specific
questions I had buried, and specific contradictions that l had
observed, but had never had time to ponder, while I was surrounded by
members, because as a “good” member I had to use thought-stopping
nearly all the time. Once encouraged to get in touch with who I really
was and rethink my entire experience objectively, I was able to see
that I had really been very unhappy in the group: I had given up my
individuality, my creativity, my autonomy.
“I was also involved in bringing others in the group and forcing
them to be the same way. I had a lot of guilt over things that I had
done while a member, Phil.”
We talked for a long time before we went back to the house. I told
the family that maybe we should take a few hours out before we started
family counseling. Not surprisingly, Phil wanted to be by himself for
a while and do some thinking.
The family counseling that took place later built on the work I
had done with Phil. By the time we stopped for the evening, the family
had communicated their intense desire to Phil that he give himself a
chance to really listen to the “whole story.” Phil agreed to spend
several days listening and talking to former members, and
re-evaluating his involvement in the Hare Krishna group. Several
people were brought in to assist him in this process. I was able to
help the family resolve some of their pain and conflict, and Phil
eventually made the decision to leave the cult.
I’m very happy to report that Phil is presently pursuing a career in music.
For Every Lock There Is a Key
In my intervention with Phil, I built rapport, used goal-oriented
techniques of communication, and developed models of his identity. I
also deliberately tried to get Phil to look at his situation from
another perspective. I then intentionally applied the keys to the
remaining locks of his mind control, and he responded positively.
These keys can often reach into the deepest levels of a person,
beneath any mind control virus, into the hardware of their real self.
Phil’s sudden collapse into cathartic sobbing and surrounding his pain
and guilt of his twin’s sudden death was his key. The changes these
keys unlock can be profound.
Key #4: Put the Person in Touch With Their Real Identity
When a person begins to remember who they were before becoming a
cult member, I am able to re-anchor them to a time when there was no
cult identity and, consequently, no mind control. I enable the person
to review what they thought and felt at each stage of the recruitment
process. Almost always, the person had significant doubts or questions
at the time, but these were long ago suppressed.
It is within this pre-cult personality that I can learn exactly
what the person needs to see, hear or feel in order to walk away from
the group. For some people, this can be seeing how their leader
misinterprets the Bible. For others, it may be to learn about the cult
leader’s criminal background and dealings. For still others, it is to
be shown specific contradictions within the group’s doctrine.
Contradictions in the leader’s biography can also be pivotal. For
instance, Scientology’s creator, Ron Hubbard, claimed in My
Philosophy, issued in 1965, that he had been lamed with ‘physical
injuries to hip and back’ and ‘blinded with injured optic nerves’ at
the end of WWII, but this is contradicted by a 1957 lecture, where he
claimed to have won a fight against three petty officers, only two
weeks before the war finished.
The question, “_How will you know when it’s time for you to leave
the group?_” can help to reveal that individual’s bottom-line
criterion. Will they leave if God tells them to? Will they leave if
they discover that they’ve been lied to? As soon as a member can tell
me explicitly what they would need to know to leave the group, then I
can try my best to find them the proof they require.
In Phil’s case, before joining the Hare Krishnas he was a
depressed, suicidal person wracked with guilt because he felt
responsible for his brother’s death. If I hadn’t been able to help him
face his feelings and reframe his brother’s fatal accident, he never
would have been able to leave the group. (One could speculate that, on
some unconscious level, he was punishing himself for his “sin” by
being involved in the group.) Until he could rethink the circumstances
of his brother’s death and verbalize what he felt, he would never be
able to take a fresh step forward.
In this, and other cases like it, if the individual was not happy
or healthy just before joining the group, it is imperative to find
some positive reference point for the person to use as an identity
anchor. If there are no strong positive experiences to use for this
purpose, then one has to be either created or cultivated.
Imagination can be used to create positive experiences. For
example, one might ask, “If you had had a warm, loving family, what
would it feel like?” or “If your dad had been everything you wanted
when you were growing up, what qualities would he have had, and what
kinds of things would you want to do together?”
In order for Phil to even consider leaving the Krishnas, he needed
to remember his previous, authentic self, and recall how good it felt
to play guitar, write songs and have fun with his friends and family.
He needed to remember Tom as a person full of life, not just as a
victim. In Phil’s inner life, he was able to resurrect Tom—his desire
to be an investigative journalist, his dislike of organized religion,
and his assertive stance toward life. Since twins are almost always
extremely close, it was imperative that Phil reestablish his positive
emotional link with Tom.
Key #5: Get the Cult Member to Look at Reality From Many Different
During my interaction with Phil, I asked him to look at himself
from a variety of viewpoints. When I asked Phil to switch
perspectives, and think like Tom, a dramatic shift occurred. I asked
him, “What would Tom do, if you were the one who had died? Would he
have joined the Krishnas?” Phil had become so frozen by grief that he
had never been able to find a perspective on it. When I asked him,
“What would Tom say, if he knew you were in the Krishnas?” the answer
came back, “He’d laugh at me and tell me to rejoin the real world.”
Another important perspective I wanted Phil to have was that of
his parents. He needed to connect with _their_ grief and sense of
loss. Phil had been so wrapped up in his own pain that he hadn’t
realized how deeply everyone else had been affected. Indeed, his
parents had kept themselves together in order to help their children.
As a result, they had never been able to go through all the stages of
Helping Phil remember and process the experience of being
recruited into the cult was also important. When I asked him to
verbalize what he thought and felt when he first met the devotee,
Phil’s long-suppressed guilt feelings about asking Tom to buy him the
guitar string came to the surface, for the first time in years.
Furthermore, by recalling his recruitment, Phil was able to remember
some of the questions and doubts he had at the time. He also
remembered that when he first started chanting, it made the pain go
away. He remembered thinking at the time, _This is a whole lot better
than feeling suicidal_.
In all rescue efforts, it is important to introduce different
perspectives. Each time a cult member takes a different perspective,
the cult’s hold on them is weakened.
In addition to asking a person to remember who they were before
joining the group, it can also be quite valuable to ask them to
imagine the future. What will they be like in a year, two years, five
years, or even ten years? What do they realistically see themselves
doing then? Selling flowers on street corners? If not, how would they
feel if they were unable to do anything but sell flowers on the street
in ten years?
Another valuable perspective can also be that of the cult’s
leader. In one rescue effort, I asked a Moonie, “If you were the
Messiah, would you live the way Sun Myung Moon is living—in a palatial
mansion, with two $250,000 personal yachts, limousines and an array of
high-end luxuries?” She answered, “Definitely not. I would give all my
money to help the poor. I would live very simply.” I was then able to
ask her why she thought Moon lived as he did. She told me, “It
troubles me. It has always troubled me!” Most cult leaders lead
opulent lives, while their followers live relatively poorly.
When I told Phil what it felt like to be in the Moonies, I
especially tried to convey what it felt like to be around Moon—the
excitement, the honor, the awe. I could have asked him to imagine what
it feels like to be a Moonie who believes that Moon is ten times
greater than Jesus Christ, to feel the incredible honor of living on
earth and meeting the Messiah in person. When Phil stepped into the
shoes of a Moonie, his experience as a Krishna devotee was altered
Each time the member is able to step out of his shoes and into the
shoes of another—whether a member of a different group, or even his
parents or his leader—he is weakening his psychological rigidity.
Indeed, encouraging a cult member psychologically to take another
perspective enables him to test his reality. In this process, the
virus of mind control that they have been infected with, is exposed to
The way to undo blind faith is to introduce new perspectives.
Key #6: Sidestep the Thought-Stopping Process by Giving
Information in an Indirect Way
Every person in a cult has been programmed to stop all negative
thoughts about the cult’s leader, its doctrine or the organization
itself. This thought-stopping process is triggered whenever the person
feels that someone is attacking the validity of the group. In this
way, thought-stopping acts as a shield to be held up against any
perceived enemy. They have also been indoctrinated to believe that
their group is superior to all other groups and distinct from all
However, a cult member does not use thought-stopping when there is
no perception of danger. Since the person believes that they are not
in a cult, but that certain other groups _are_ cults, it is relatively
easy to have long, detailed conversations with them about cults
without them ever feeling that you are attacking their leader or their
Therefore, the way to communicate with a cult member is
indirectly. If the person is a member of The Way International, they
will not feel threatened in the least if you tell them about the
Moonies. If you’re talking with a member of the Moonies, they will not
feel threatened if you tell them about The Way. In this way it becomes
possible to outline mind control processes and techniques in a soft,
subtle manner. Meanwhile, you will provide the person’s
unconscious—their real self—with some essential frames of reference to
begin to analyze what has happened to them.
Notice that in Phil’s case I was careful not to attack the
Krishnas. If I had done so, he probably would have become defensive
and started chanting; if I had kept up my attack, he would have walked
away. All the information I gave him was based on the Moonies and
other groups. This indirect method of conveying information bypasses
the thought-stopping mechanism.
Key #7: Help the Person Visualize a Happy Future Outside the Cult
Phobia indoctrination—fear of ever leaving the group—is usually
accomplished on an unconscious level. The cult identity never thinks
of leaving the group. Indeed, they are perpetually happy, enthusiastic
and obedient to their superiors. It is the authentic self which has
I helped Phil begin to unlock the phobia indoctrination, by asking
him to visualize a picture of the future that he would really
enjoy—playing music, friends, a wife, kids, being close to his family.
Then I asked him to step into the picture and enjoy the experience. By
doing this, I was helping Phil open a door out of the Krishnas. This
simple visualization technique began to dismantle his phobia
indoctrination. It became a bridge to another possible life.
In other cases, I often ask cult members, “If you had never met
this group, and you were doing exactly what you wanted to be doing,
what would that be?” I usually have to repeat the question several
times. “Really, just imagine, if you were doing exactly what you
wanted to be doing, so that you were totally happy, spiritually and
personally fulfilled, and you never knew the group even existed, what
would you be doing?”
The answers vary. “I’d be a doctor and work in a clinic serving
poor people.” “I’d be a tennis pro.” “I’d be sailing around the
Once the person verbalizes the fantasy, I try to persuade them to
step inside their visualization of a new life, and become emotionally
involved in it. I am then able to begin neutralizing their programmed
negative fears about doing something outside the cult. Once this
positive personal reference point is established, the cult-generated
picture of a dark, disaster-filled life outside the group begins to
When a positive picture is in place, a bridge to other
possibilities opens. People outside the group can be seen as warm and
loving. Lots of interesting things can be learned outside the group.
There are lots of pleasures to be experienced. Religious and spiritual
fulfillment can be found.
Once the outside world is seen as potentially filled with positive
experiences, the cult loses some control over the person’s sense of
reality. They are then in a better position to decide whether they
want to stay where they are or do something more valuable and
Key #8: Offer the Cult Member Concrete Definitions of Mind Control
and Specific Characteristics of a Destructive Cult
My intervention with Phil shows the importance of giving a cult
member specific information about cults. Because I established good
rapport with Phil, I was able to get a lot of personal information
from him, so that I could better help him. In the process, Phil became
curious about me and wanted to know my opinions.
At that point, I was able to convey specific information about
cults and mind control through my own story of being in the Moonies. I
was able to explain what happened during my deprogramming, and show
how it enabled me to understand that I had been subjected to mind
control and that, in fact, I was in a destructive cult.
In my own case, until my counselors taught me what the Chinese
Communists of the 1950s were doing, I did not truly understand the
process of “brainwashing.” Until my counselors were able to show me
how other destructive cults, like the Krishnas, were structured
in the same authoritarian manner as the Unification Church, I had
believed that the Moonies were different from any other group.
I was also able to show Phil that, as strange as they sounded,
some of the Moonies’ beliefs did seem to make sense, if you believed
in Moon and therefore the whole doctrine. I made sure to include the
Moonies’ view on accidental deaths, so he could see that there were
alternative belief systems that offered other explanations. It was
also important for him to see that there are other groups which are
led by people claiming to be spiritually superior. When I eventually
told him that there were over 3000 cult groups, and that if one of
them was in fact led by the one legitimate great leader (which I
seriously doubted), then the odds that he would have found the right
one on the first pick were 3000 to one. Not very good odds.
I also showed him that I had been a dedicated cult member, and
that I chose to leave the group for the “right” reasons. I wanted to
challenge his indoctrination that people who leave do so because they
are weak or undisciplined, or want to indulge in materialism. I wanted
him to know that I left the Unification Church out of strength and
integrity. I came to see objectively what I had been doing. I had
devoted myself to a fantasy created in the Moonie indoctrination
workshops. I thought I was following the Messiah—the person who would
be able to end war, poverty, disease and corruption, and establish a
Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. I didn’t mind sacrificing myself for these
noble causes. I thought that as a member, I was teaching people the
ultimate standard of love and truth, and living an exemplary life.
Instead, I realized that I had learned to compromise my integrity
in the name of God. I realized that the higher I rose in the
organization, and the closer I got to Moon, the more obsessed I
became. Power had become almost an addiction, and I began making
choices based on what would protect and enhance my power, not on what
was morally right.
I left when I realized that deception and mind control can never
be part of any legitimate spiritual movement, and that through their
use, the group had created a virtual Hell on Earth, a kingdom of
slaves. Once I was able to realize that even though I _wanted to
believe_ that Moon was the Messiah and the Divine Principle was Truth,
_my belief didn’t make it true_. I saw that, even if I remained in the
group for another 50 years, the fantasy I was sacrificing myself for
would never come true.
By being given clear definitions of mind control, I was able to
see clearly how I had been victimized and how I had learned to
victimize others. I personally had to come to terms with my own
values, beliefs and ideals. Once I did that, even though I had
invested so much of myself in the group, become a leader, and
developed close bonds with many members, I had to walk away. I could
never go back to becoming a “true believer” again.
Endnotes for Chapter 10
170. Elan Vital, Inc. is a newer name than Divine Light Mission.
See Michael Finch’s Without the Guru: How I took my life back after
thirty years, (Babbling Brook Press 2009).
171. Steven J. Gelberg’s, India In A Mind’s Eye: Travels and
Ruminations of an Ambivalent Pilgrim, (Spiraleye Press, 2012) and
Muster’s Betrayal Files
http://surrealist.org/betrayalofthespirit/betrayalfiles.html And her
book, Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life behind the headlines of the Hare
Krishna Movement. Urbana: U of Illinois, 1997. Print.
172. Indemnity and Unification,” Master Speaks (Feb 14, 1974),
11-12.Christopher Edwards, Crazy for God (Englewood Cliffs, New
Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1979), 173-174.
173. Douglas Lenz, “Twenty-two Months as a Moonie,” Lutheran
Church of America Partners (Feb 1982). 14.
174. Steve Kemperman, Lord of the Second Advent (Ventura,
California: Regal Books, 1982), 87.
176. Hubbard, PAB No. 124, (15 November 1957), Communication and Isness.
177. John Hubner and Lindsay Gruson, “Dial Om for Murder,” The
Rolling Stone (April 9, 1987), 53.
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