DR. MARVIN and JUDY GALPER
Interview of May 28, 1978 in San Diego, Calif.
Dr. Marvin Galper is a clinical psychologist in San Diego with extensive experience with the psychological processes during and after "snapping," breaking out of the cult's mental seal.
The process of rehabilitation takes place in three stages. In the first stage the trance state is lifted. There are various aspects to be taken into consideration here. One part should be built on logic, one part should appeal to their actual feelings. Sometimes I regard it as two Ids in one person, the real person and the sect person, for instance, the "real John" and the "sect John." Internally, they find themselves in a struggle. It is as if the real John is enclosed by a crust. One now tries to break through the crust and penetrate the external hardness and numbness to the real person who is hidden underneath there. This real person has the ability to think logically and to use his understanding, and this real person also has feelings for other people.
So now one confronts the victim at certain times with the family, who is mostly very confused and annoyed about the sect. One now permits the family to state their feeling quite openly to the son or daughter, so that (s)he is inwardly moved, and this movement under the hard crust works to wake one up out of the trance. The real person is shaken up. The emotional disturbance arouses the inner person and brings him out. It could also be a close friend or somebody else who seriously cares for and has taken pains for the sect victim. And it could also be a former sect member who this victim had never known before, but has a strong desire to help, is very attuned to feelings, and can openly express these emotions. My wife, Judy, is such a person. She takes a real interest in other people. She can establish very good, emotional contact.
We worked with three people, and there were five altogether who worked with them. Those three, however, did not want to speak with anybody else but me. I could not explain why that was, so I asked them about it later. They said they had believed me. It is probably because I am familiar with the sect, because I know what they make out of a person, and I know how their families suffer from that. I think I am rather strong, because I can sit together with them for many, many hours at a time, uninterrupted - four, five, six hours. And I get very worked up emotionally. So, for instance, I cry with somebody and I think they see that it is real, and somehow it just works. There is the example of a girl from the Moonies who was like an animal, I had never seen anything like it before. Originally she was quite normal and not upset; now she jumped around the room like a tiger; she was no longer a human being, she screamed at her father, and I stood in the door and knew that she was going to use physical violence, no matter what else happened. She hit me with her fist in my chest, and the only thing I said was, "Is that what the sect has made out of you, out of a human being? You are not behaving like a human being, you are acting like an animal! Don't you see that?" From that moment on she stopped. Those three sentences was all it took.
When I work with a sect victim in the first stage, I have already formed a picture of the strengths and weaknesses of this sect member. Sometimes belonging to a sect has a very definite meaning for the sect member, psychologically and emotionally. This results from his education, the environment in which he grew up, the attitude he was looking for, his constant search in life, all his unfulfilled needs - and they can be very different from one to the next.
It is important to find out what meaning sect membership has for a certain member in order to understand the feelings which lie deep within this person, where he is going with his life, or what his unsatisfied needs were before he joined the sect. And if you recognize this while you work with him in the first phase, then you will be in the position to explain to him how you understand it and you can produce connections for him, show connections between that which he believes to be getting from the sect and that which he believes he was not getting previously. By doing that you can create emotional contact with him on a very personal, very intimate basis which helps him to overcome his feeling of "being deprogrammed." A sect victim very often feels as though he is simply an object in the hands of the deprogrammer. He feels exploited or attacked. And even when the child recognizes the interest of the deprogrammer, he still always feels attacked or like an object in his hand. When you, however, are able to confront him with this understanding and communicate, he feels more and more like a person and not just a sect member. The deprogrammer can, more or less, be thought of as a doctor who treats the whole person. He recognizes certain symptoms and ulcers, which must, in his opinion, be removed. Therefore he concentrates on the ulcer and tries to remove it surgically. And he looks more at the ulcer itself than he does the human, therefore he, in a certain sense, is a kind of technician. However, that is not enough. One must look at the entire person.
That is why it is so overall important that someone who works with a sect victim get together with the family and scrutinize the letters which the child wrote home after he joined the sect, and analyze which personality the sect member had as a child, what his relationship to his family was, and all conditions under which the child lived at the time of joining the sect. So when I work with someone in the first phase, I have my assistants, and I have conversations with the family. Then I work out all the available information before I even get together with the sect victim. I put myself in this person's place, I have the photographs and letters which he sent his family. And I try to put all pieces of the puzzle together to find out which personality this sect member is - not on a sheerly intellectual basis, but I try to feel how this person feels and see life from his point of view. One makes an effort to muster up a type of emotional contact and understanding for the person before he meets him for the first time. This increases the probability considerably that when my assistants and I get together with the sect member, that we will treat him as a personality and not, like surgeons, only concentrate on the ulcer which must be removed.
I would like to describe for you an example of a first confrontation with a sect member. The family asks me, "How can I get my son or my daughter to voluntarily go to you?" The sect teaches them that psychologists and psychiatrists are instruments of the devil and cannot possibly understand what membership in a sect means, since all of us
who do not belong to sects are said to be in the hands of the devil. Therefore, sect members will not voluntarily agree to consultation with a psychologist. They believe they have a problem which needs the assistance of a psychologist. Perhaps they believed they had a problem before they went into the sect, but now that they are a sect member, they no longer have this problem. All these are potential obstacles which make going to psychologists more difficult. I now advise parents to explain to their son or daughter that I am a family attorney who specializes in familial problems regarding religious differences, familial tensions and conflicts, and that my role is more or less that of a mediator between the individual family members, and that I would hope to bring about an understanding which should, at last, lead to more peace and harmony within the family. I advise the parents not to tell their child, "We are bringing you to Dr. Galper because we see that you have a problem," but, "because we believe that we have a familial problem." And that is quite true that there is a familial problem, that tensions, reservations and worries are present! Therefore this is true in a certain sense. It is a partial truth. A sect member who has a relatively good relationship with his family might go along, although he has not been promised anything. He is now in possession of the truth. The family and the psychologist are in the hands of the devil because they do not recognize truth. But perhaps he also has the hope that the psychologist and the family, as unknowing and unenlightened as they may be, could nevertheless be open-minded to a certain degree, and maybe he could show them that they are lost and damned if they do not do anything about it. That could be his hidden motive.
You see, then, that all the participants go into the meeting with some kind of hidden motives. That is the only way we can get people to agree, because if we were all perfectly direct, open and honest to begin with, then such a meeting would not have been necessary.
Now the first meeting! I introduce myself and my wife and say, "Yes, I am Dr. Galper," and they have a seat. We always begin with the whole family, because I have indeed been introduced in this connection as the family attorney, and so I speak to them, "You have all these tensions and this oppression in your family because of the distance which has arisen when you came into contact with the Unification Church or the Children of God, and I hope that we will be able to solve the problem in an intelligent discussion." Even here I speak with those concerned as person to person, and not on the surgeon - symptom basis, otherwise they would react with mistrust. They would feel as though they were under attack from me in a certain way, and I would like to keep their fear down to a minimum. Therefore, after a little while I ask the parents to leave the room for several hours and I say that I am very interested in religious movements and have experience with some of the people of the Children of God or the Unification Church in my work. I ask the member if he would share some of his beliefs with me. Normally I then quite calmly ask several questions, "You have told me that you collect money on the street for the Unification Church. I have heard that members of the Church believe, if somebody in the world who is not a member of the Unification Church meets them on the street, buys their flowers or
gives them money for flowers, nuts or candy, this may perhaps be the only contact which that person will ever have with Father Moon and with salvation; that this is not much perhaps, but it presents a very valuable meeting for these people anyway: he exchanges something with them; while they give him money and receive flowers, they receive a certain amount of salvation in that short contact. Is that right?"
They get embarrassed by that because they believe that nobody except another Moony could know that. They become disconcerted and confused because I am in possession of secret knowledge. But I do not proceed in an aggressive or in a critical manner, but try to win them over in a gentle way. I do not overwhelm them all at once; I pay attention to the current situation, I look at how they feel and react, wait a little while and speak about something else.
Somebody who asks questions would like to know more, and so I am in the role of one who is still somewhat confused about several inconsistencies and contradictions which I am not able to clear up myself. And I hope that maybe they are in the situation to tell me about these contradictions. Now imagine that you are the sect member. Now I say that I have spoken with another person who belongs to the Unification Church and that he has told me about the belief in heavenly deception; that he has explained to me that they believe that the world outside of their community - the one where non-members of the Unification Church are - is possessed with demonic powers; that the devil tries to deceive them, that the members of the Church could only use a few of their own weapons, and one of those would be
trying to bring people to salvation by deceiving them. Therefore it is the belief of the Unification Church that one must use deception for God in order to fight the devil. Is that right?
By doing that I penetrate the facade which they want to maintain against all non-members of the sect. They would never tell them that because they believe they would not be ready to hear it because they were not in the Unification Church.
Then I go on to talk about a few cover organizations. For example, the "Creative Community Project" has stated that it is not connected with the Unification Church, although it follows several of Moon's principles. I have written to the district office in Mendocino County in California: that is where Boonville is, the training center - the New Ideal City Ranch. I got a copy of the deed to Boonville Ranch. Besides that I have a copy of an article from the students' newspaper at University of California Berkeley in which the director of the Creative Community Project stated that he was not connected in any way with the Unification Church. Nevertheless, the deed to the Boonville Ranch described the property as a possession of the Creative Community Project and, furthermore, said that Boonville was connected with the Unification Church. I then tell the sect member that I was somewhat confused. I show him a copy of the student paper from Berkeley which states that there is no connection at all to the Unification Church. On the other hand I also show him the deed to the Boonville Ranch and tell him that I am not able to make sense of this. By doing that I put them in great confusion.
These are all elements of the first phase, the penetration of the trance with the help of logic.
The second stage of treatment is help in getting through the floating state. In this phase the sect members concentrate on themselves and begin to, as we say, listen to themselves. The real person slowly emerges, although he has not yet frankly expressed himself. A few doubts have arisen about the sects which they keep to themselves and would not like to reveal to us. Since they recognize that this is a very important question for them, they must be clear about it themselves, and hopefully they do this with the feeling that they are not being influenced by us. That means that they begin to think. They think about what we say, although we cannot perhaps see any outward sign of anything other than they are still somehow in the previous phase. You find that out later when they show their reactions and tell you:
"I actually listened to you and thought about what you said, even if I did not want to let you know." It has to do with saving face. At last maybe they will agree with you, that they were manipulated, that the group is dishonest and that they were caught up in something dangerous.
However, maybe they will not admit anything to you, because they have to get over the confusion themselves, they have to battle inwardly. Possibly they do not give you any external sign that they have decided to go back to the sect. But when they have their own confusion under control, they will tell you, "Yes, I realize I have made a mistake. I have been misused." There is a definite point at which they come out of the trance and
everybody in the room notices it immediately. This is a very moving moment, because they begin to show their feelings, their eyes get a certain shine and their faces begin to liven up. They answer with feeling and show that they have emotional contact with their mother and father who are sitting right next to them; they sympathize with them. They feel that they are human beings again. It is as if a transformation has taken place. At this point they do not need to say anything at all; everybody in the room can see and feel it.
The third stage of treatment is the stage of the actual rehabilitation of sect members. Here we help them find their way back into society. We help them by answering the question of how they could more sensibly approach the needs which they fulfilled in the sect. The sect gave them something which they believed. How could they satisfy this need? This can be regarded as a very important requirement. How could they approach it in a healthier and more sensible ways and means? How could they find their place in society?
We help them to realize rationally what sects represent, which psychological manipulation was used on them, and what had happened to them in advance that made them so accessible by the sect. What does brainwashing or hypnosis mean, and what are their effects on people? In order to make them less susceptible to the same or other sects in the future, I would like to point out the dangers for them. They should learn to recognize the sensibility snares which they were up against, and be able to
understand the situations which make them dangerous. They should understand how they can change themselves and their lives in order to lessen these potential dangers.
In other words, the sect gave them a social feeling, a feeling of belonging, and I help them to answer how they would be able to gain this social feeling in a more natural and sure method. I assist them in considering, more or less, the total complex of experience, to evaluate individual pieces of the puzzle taken altogether, and to develop a sort of feeling of success in having mastered the situation. Whenever I have the chance, former sect members should be present and help when I work with another sect victim; this has proven to be very helpful to them since they recognize the same symptoms in the sect victim which are in themselves, and they are looking in a mirror, so to speak. It helps them to rid themselves of the sect when they recognize how much similarity there is between themselves and those whom they are helping, even if the victim is from a different sect. So many parallels exist, and they learn to see more clearly themselves when they recognize these parallels in other people.
The treatment helps people to get back into the mainstream of society. Success varies, and depends for the most part on where this person stood in society before he entered the sect. These are very important questions. How great is the ability of this person to find his way back into the mainstream of society? Someone who was happy before, who successfully swam in the mainstream, was a fully integrated member of social life with friends and community, and is in possession of fundamental self-awareness,
just simply goes straight back into it after he has left the sect. This person needs only short-term assistance. Someone who has had less luck will have difficulty in getting back into things, identifying with friends and the community; it will be difficult for him to know who he is and what he would like to do. For this person, it is a challenge, as it was a challenge before, and the work with him can take longer.
In this process it is of great importance to give this person something in which he can believe. In general, any sect member, a member of the Unification Church, for example, can say, "I believed in the Unification Church. That was my entire life, and I have invested all my energy there. Now I do not have the Unification Church any more" - there is now a vacuum there which has to be filled.
As to the question you asked, of how should parents behave towards their children: the first piece of advice which I give parents whose child is still in the sect is to say nothing negative at this point in time to their daughter or their son about the sect, nor to criticize the belief of the sect. If the parents judge the sect critically or negatively, the danger exists that: the child will break off connection with them, the sect will manipulate their communication, or the child will be sent to a different country and the sect will prevent any contact with the parents.
What I can do in the first phase of treatment is to form a picture of the type of relationships inside the family. However, that is not possible for a lay person. To say it more simply:
Let's take a young man who has a negative relationship with his mother, but a positive relationship to his father. I will try, in the first phase, to keep the mother in the background as much as possible and to involve her in the treatment as little as possible, because we do not want to unnecessarily make the process any more difficult by a negative relationship. At that time I would want to involve the father to the greatest possible extent. The bond of love between father and child should be observed as much as possible by the victim, and so will have a calming effect. They quite simply have to draw upon their own sense of judgment to decide whether something destructive exists for the sect member, and will then keep it away from him.
In this phase, sometimes I talk with the whole family, sometimes only with the parents or with one of the parents, and sometimes alone with the sect member. At the conclusion, we meet together for one or two hours and work out a foundation upon which the family tries to rebuild relations with each other, especially with the sect member.
For the majority of the parents who manage to get their children out of the sect, this is a very painful experience. And most of these parents want to forget the entire experience as soon as possible and get on with their lives as though the experience with the sect had never taken place. They do not want to be reminded that they or their child once had something to do with a sect. They are not interested in publicity. That is very regrettable, because they could help many other families who have been affected.
Interview of May 8, 1978, Minneapolis
Kathy Mills directs a rehabilitation center for former sect members in Minneapolis. She is the daughter of a farmer, a natural talent with no special academic education. She got involved with the problem through her brother, Kevin, who belonged for years to a Bible-oriented, but destructive, sect, in which the members had to feed themselves from garbage out of trash cans.
I am familiar with the sect problem from two perspectives: from deprogramming and from rehabilitation. In my opinion, rehabilitation should have absolute precedence, but of course you can only succeed when the youth is deprogrammed. Experience has shown me that the most intelligent people are programmed most simply by sects, because they have a very large imagination. They fixate on a thing and climb into it. In contrast, a young person who does not think much, who cannot sit still for two seconds, and who is worried about a place to work or about a friend brings fewer provisions with him.
As concerns deprogramming, the most important thing is the spatial, then the verbal, restriction. However, this must happen in a very empathizing and tactful manner. In my work, I have also found out that it helps the young people to read aloud from Lifton's book ("Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism") and, after every paragraph, have them think it over: "Do you understand what this is about? Can you tell me what has happened to you in the sect and what connection that has to what you have read?" It is an immense help to them to be able to put the matter into words and to express themselves. Once they do that, then they can also go over the doctrine. The prerequisite for that, however, is that the youths have recognized what has been done to them with brainwashing.
The youths in these groups have all been subjected to brainwashing. The only difference is the groups have different leaders and teachings which vary somewhat from each other. One gets discouraged and looks for meaning; there is a sect for everyone. They feed the youth only whatever they are ready to accept at a certain time.
Those of them who are or were with me know what has happened with them. They know very well that they have been subjected to brainwashing. I have a complete library with three copies of each publication which has any sort of connection to this subject. I have an entire section which deals only with the theme of Hitler and his takeover of power. In that one, the Moonies find many parallel to their own treatment. I have two sections on psychology and psychiatry, including Lifton's book. In chapter 22, there is an exact description of the procedure on influence by brainwashing in China in 1947. Every one of my young people who reads this chapter can identify with it, no matter what sect he comes out of. This book has proven to be extraordinarily helpful. Every new arrival is confronted with it; we talk about the chapter together in the group so that each time it also helps the other young people. Once the consequences of brainwashing and the fear is out of their heads, the doctrine automatically follows it. But they will never be able to rid their thoughts of the entire doctrine, because something positive, a good thought, also exists in every group. If the young people understand how the indoctrination came about, though, then they can take care of these kind of leftovers themselves. Lifton's book - and especially this one chapter - is quite significant. It takes the contents of the entire book and runs through the eight steps of brainwashing. There are none of my young people who cannot relate to it. They understand what has happened with them. When they later leave my house, they go without this feeling of guilt that something with them is not quite right, instead they understand that they have been influenced by brainwashing. The book was published in 1961, which was long before the great cult wave.
When the young people read Lifton, afterwards they will ask questions completely on their own, and talk about various things. It is important that these questions come from the side of the young person and that you not ask them. Nevertheless, you still have to be able to prove all your answers through facts. You may not express sheer presumptions. You may not present any untruths. Every detail you mention must be provable.
If one does not have the entire collection of documents at a deprogramming, then one points out that this or that question, which cannot be immediately answered, can probably be explained with the help of the informational material at home or in a library. It is better if they look things up in the books themselves after the deprogramming has ended. This serves as evidence of scrupulous interest, and what they do for themselves on their own impulse stays in their memories better than all they have been given.
It is very difficult to describe the process of deprogramming. There is no hard and fast plan. Each case is looked at individually. Nevertheless there are certain guidelines. On the first day you occupy yourself with the Bible because in the first 24 hours you can do whatever you like - stand on your hands and whistle Dixie - the young person will not listen to you. He is just completely disconcerted. Therefore you occupy yourself with the Bible to pass the time which the young person needs to get himself together and decide that he will not be hit, that you will not torture him, that you will give him something to eat and let him relax and sleep, until you gradually gain his trust. Then you begin with your work.
Once the youth understands the process of brainwashing and gains insight, then you once again reach for the Bible and for the sect teachings and point out the differences.
For instance, Moon always quotes the Book of Moses 3,7, where it says in the Bible, "They were naked and then they covered their nakedness (they knew that they had sinned and covered themselves with a loincloth)." Apparently it has to do with sex ... they had sexual intercourse with each other. If they had only eaten an apple, then they would have covered their mouths and not their genitalia. However, Moon ignores the second part of the creation story, in which it says, "Eve was given to Adam as wife." It does not at all say there that husband and wife may not have intercourse with each other. Whatever else Adam and Eve may have done, the sin did not lie in the event itself, but in their disobedience. Just as a mother might say to her child, "I would not like it if you ate the chocolate bar before dinner." The child leaves the room and when he comes back, his whole mouth is covered with chocolate. The wrong is not in the eating of the chocolate, but in the disobedience to the mother. One really has to go back to elementary steps of thought in order to get this across to the young people. But this is the point at which most theologians fail. Most highly educated people are not in the position to imagine a child's thought scheme.
That is how we work it for three to four days. At his point, all concerned are essentially more calm and less laden with emotion. But one still has to keep an eye on the young people. Then one next goes into pointing out parallels. One encourages the youth to tell of his experiences, for instance, to tell some of his own experiences from the group. One must be aware of his feelings of shame so that things of which he is ashamed or which bother him can be talked out.
But some are different. Some young people strictly refuse to talk with anybody. Several yell in the first 48 hours, bite and thrash around. I had one girl who bit me on my back 21 times, and I just could not get away from her. It is mostly the girls who fight. I have not had any boys who fought or got physical. Probably the reason for that is that I am a woman and therefore they do not want to attack me. Many of them say, though, that they have the desire to knock me down. But the girls are the really wild ones. We had to hold one 15 year old with three men to keep her from jumping out the window. Religious groups such as the "Children of God" do not fight. They think of themselves as martyrs, Christians who were thrown to the lions. A Moonie, Krishna or Way adherent fights, though, fights with their fists.
It is always the best if one has a former member of the sect at hand during the deprogramming. One can also deprogram alone - I have done it many times myself - but it basically takes longer. You can only talk about the experiences which the other young people have shared with you, which you have read or which you have otherwise learned about, while a former member can talk about what he, himself, has experienced in the sect, and he cannot be intimidated by the youth. For instance, one Mooney said that he had gotten eight hours of sleep every night, and the former member of the Moon sect countered, "Then you must have been quite close to Moon himself, because I never had more than four hours." That way they are caught in their lies. This is also possible without a former member, but it takes more time and patience.
A normal deprogramming lasts from three to five days, that is, if the youth had ever been normal before. By "normal" I mean the average problems, the average number of things with which 18 to 25 year olds are confronted if the young person is normal and not mentally confused, emotionally ill or already needed psychiatric help before he came in contact with the sect. During these three to five days they are kept confined to space. The reason for that is the lack of the ability of the subjects in this stage to concentrate. I have also deprogrammed youth who were free to move around the whole house. But it is better to restrict their movements to one room, for instance the bed room, and, naturally, the bathroom. There should be nothing in the bed room to distract their attention. So if you were to sit here with the young person, he could look here and there, watch the clock, just like a two year old child. Therefore I believe that spatial confinement is an important criterium in deprogramming.
Outside of the spatial restriction they get everything their hearts desire. They can eat as much as they want; they can sleep as long as they like. If they wanted to, they could shower three times a day. Anything is permitted outside of the restriction that they may not leave the room. This spatial confinement serves several purposes. For one, the young person will listen to you; the second aspect is the lack of attention in the victims at this phase. They cannot concentrate on anything for long, and so I ask the parents to arrange the deprogramming room as simply as possible. There should only perhaps be a bed or a mattress available. We can sit and sleep on the floor. Food is simply brought in and placed so that they can take their own food.
The sect has already warned them that they could be put under the influence of drugs or whatever. So they should serve themselves, and you eat with them. I have had many young people who would not eat unless I did first, or they would insist that I take the first bite from their plate.
After the brainwashing - let's go back to something for a minute - when the young people join the sect, they also change physically. When they leave the sect and are deprogrammed, their bodies go through this physical change again. Side effects such as strong headaches show up. They shiver and become nervous. All symptoms do not necessarily show up, but each of the youths show one or more of these effects. They can be either very hungry or suffer from a complete loss of appetite. They are very emotionally attuned. All of these are signs that they are coming out of the brainwashing. Shivers and headaches are probably the most frequent accompanying symptoms which I have been able to observe. They freeze; in a room where the temperature is a thousand degrees they still wrap themselves up in blankets. They are actually physically cold. And most of the young people with whom I work get headaches. And that shows me that they are slowly getting out of it.
The reason why I do not work more in deprogramming is the same old argument. I was not able to freely use my imagination and felt increasingly dull. However, in rehabilitation the young people gradually begin to show their being, their likes and dislikes. One can follow developments from day to day. Normally,
the separation phase takes from three to five days. Then comes the rehabilitation phase - and after about six weeks, about 95% are again in the position to control their "floating state" so that they do not panic. Until then they are under pressure; a pressure is inside of their heads, like in a pressure cooker. It is comparable to a severe migraine headache which anybody would try to escape.
Normally it is in the reintegration phase, a few months after the rehabilitation phase, that the problems come back to the former member which he had before joining the sect, though not always completely. It is comparable to someone who has a problem, goes gets drunk, and then is confronted with two problems the next morning: he has a hangover, and still has the old problem on top of that. In the rehabilitation phase, the real rehabilitation, and in the reintegration phase, former sect members need instructions so that they do not feel like outsiders. That is, they have the idea that they are carrying a lighthouse on their backs which announces to the world that they were in a sect. It is good, for instance, to bring an ex-Mooney together with other ex-Moonies. Then he will not be so sensitive to there being something wrong with him. We had a young girl from the Children of God. Sure, she listened to me when I talked to her, but not like she did with other former members of the sect who said the same thing I did.
In the real rehabilitation, conversation is important. I speak constantly with the young people in an almost familiar atmosphere, without fixed responsibility. My method of operation is exactly the opposite of that which is done in sects or what is usual in rehabilitation groups for drug or alcohol dependency.
The young people have to make their own decisions. There is no alarm clock. If you want to wake up at 9 a.m., then you wake up and rise. It is your own responsibility. If you do not make your bed, good - I won't make it, either. I do not make breakfast or lunch, just dinner. Everything else is up to them. But in my house I am in the situation to be able to observe the reactions of my wards, to endure their gradually appearing insecurities. It is far better if they are confronted with them under my supervision than at home where they are alone and perhaps overcome by depression. There are often very strong emotions with the young people, nightmares and crying throughout the day or night. When I sit on their bed and speak with them, they do not see me as a mother figure, but more like one of their elementary school teachers. I speak their language.
It does not upset me, or better, I do not show that it upsets me when they curse or tell suggestive jokes. I get in contact with them by putting myself on the same step as they. I would like to create a family situation, and most of my wards do not at all come from such a liberal family. For instance, sex can just as well be a theme at the supper table as can the events of the day. For most of the young people that was taboo, something that was never discussed. In contrast, we discuss whatever comes up at the table, be it the Bible or be it sex. I am convinced that sexuality as a problem comes up as a problem once in all of our lives. I do not know how it is done in Germany, but here at this time one comes across sex everywhere, on a drive through the streets, when one turns on the television or goes to the movies. But there are also
young people with high moral values who came into contact with sects because of their moral training. They have not grown up with this liberal method of thought and are thus greatly confused. On the part of their families, their sexuality was expressed as something secret, yet it was clearly shown on the street. The young person who comes into contact with sects is normally mentally and psychically, if not also physically, immature. The problem with which he sees himself confronted may appear unclear to them or to me, and perhaps would never show up as a problem for you or for me, but for this youth it is of fundamental importance. Then the sect appears in his life and says, "Follow me! All your problems will be solved!"
Rule Number 1 in my house: no sex and no drugs. I am adamant about that. But I try to have both boys and girls in my house because former members need the opposite sex in order to learn how to deal with them. The girls and boys sleep in separate rooms, but have other contact with each other, and that helps them. As to the question of whether and to what degree religion should play a role in young people who have come out of sects, many would not agree with what I am about to say, but this is my belief, and this is how I approach the matter. I think that, in the case where a young person is coming out of the brainwashing phase, he is open to anything, whether it has to do with a different race or a different religion or whatever else. They just have to have something to which they can cling to. I do not build a new religion up in them. If I wanted to, I could make them all Catholics, but I do not do that. I tell them, "It's all the same what religion you belonged to before.
If you want to go back to it, I can put you in touch with the right people." It has cost me much time to find priests, ministers and rabbis who do not try to indoctrinate the young people back into their organizations, who just simply want to help because the person is so vulnerable and could be easily introduced into something else. Many have the opinion that this something must be religion again. That would be, in my opinion though, not much different from the sect ideology itself. I believe that the young people have to get things in hand for themselves. They have been hurt by something which they believe to be God. Yes, it is a regular injury which they have brought out with them. Therefore they have to work at it, and of their own account. It is a similar situation as sending a young person to see a psychiatrist. If he is not ready to do it himself, then you are just wasting your money. In my opinion it is exactly the same way with religion. If they are not ready to get involved with or deal with a religion, then that is just a waste of time. I know several young people - but they are very, very few - who find themselves right after the departure from the sect back in the same religion as their parents. They all feel guilty in a certain way, because they have basically not been able to accept any kind of religion. Therefore I tell them, "I do not think that it is important to God that you sit and pray to Him within these four walls. I believe that it is only important to God that you pray. You can pray sitting under an apple tree, in the bath tub or in church."
I bring it to their attention that the next person they meet on the street is not going to be another messiah or guru. If they think they have met a new messiah at home, then they should call me up right away. When they are released to go home, perhaps they will again find themselves in a "floating" state and will have a strong tendency to cling to something when confused. They turn to religion because religion means belief and, in that, they can experience more of their own soul on a spiritual basis. They feel under pressure to be accepted by God. Because of their experience in the sect, they sometimes also believe they have no right to be accepted by God; they must accept God. But: He has accepted us. Here we are. For them, though, this fact is still very confusing.
We often deal with the Holy Scriptures. The young people continually read the Bible; we sit together and discuss what they have read. Once a week, we then have a kind of group therapy. We sit together at my home and talk about the problems which have bothered one or the other person. That takes up a whole day. Probably that is the best arrangement which I have instituted at my house. On the one side we have the young people who are being rehabilitated, and I sit across from them as a kind of rehabilitation assistant. The assistant is not given glorifying recognition. He is on the same level as the youth so that they have the feeling that they can speak freely and openly about themselves.
One cannot just put a pencil into the hands of the former members and require that they write about their experiences. Few are in shape to be done with their experience report before they go home.
One ward of mine needed an entire year for his report. Outside of group discussions, they also refuse tape recorders. The experience report is probably the most difficult assignment for young people in rehabilitation. Some of them send me their reports when they have gone back home, that but is really the minority. Some have such deeply moving experiences that they are quite simply afraid to reveal them or discuss them openly. I do not put them under any pressure to do that. I have the opinion that an experience report should reflect, line by line, the course of the events in the sect, beginning with the recognition of brainwashing and the isolation procedure. In practice, all my wards have done this well. The essence of the report, for me, are the statements, "These things happened to me. I took part in this matter."
About three weeks after their release from the sect, the young people normally fall into a deep depression, because they begin to recognize reality. They slowly understand what has happened to them; they stand before an emotional chaos, they don't know where their future lies, they ask themselves how many people they may have harmed while they were in the sect, etc. I was recently in a discussion with my wards. There were about 60 clergymen present with their wives. Erica told her story. For me it is almost unbearable to stand by at these discussions, because I know how much stamina my wards have to muster up when they report on their experiences. I know only too well how difficult it is to express these things of which they cannot at all be proud. So Erica was telling what happened to her in the Unification Church, and while she spoke,
she was suddenly overcome by a hysterical seizure of crying. I immediately went to her and asked her what was happening. She looked at the clergy and said, "Do they understand that? All this happened to me, to me myself!" It had finally come to her consciousness what had actually happened to her, and this recognition hit her like a shock. At the time she had been separated from the sect for a month but was still constantly under its control.
The young people all exhibit different reactions, but basically, all are overcome by depression once reality becomes clear to them. Because of this deep depression phase, I regard rehabilitation as overall important, because if they were at home with their parents at this time, there would be a risk that the parents would not trust them or that they would not understand. With me they are in a household where this is nothing new. I prepare every young person who comes to me right away for this possible depression phase. I tell them to talk about it with us when it happens, and not to try to keep it a secret. They know that everyone here has gone through this phase. They help each other out.
In my opinion, these young people need an open living space. In my old house, conditions were very restricted. I have now moved into a house which imparts a feeling of openness just from the way it is built. Despite that, there is a private sphere, which everyone needs. All doors in the house are wide open the day long. I have a piano and other musical instruments. Most of the young people play guitar. I can get any instrument they want, just not drums, because that really gets on my nerves. I have every conceivable board game in the house, beginning with Monopoly up to the newest card games, puzzles and everything which stimulates mental activity.
This is a very essential aspect. Some of the young people have lost their mental ability to focus when they come out of the sect; they can keep nothing in their heads for longer than two seconds. They are so completely programmed against the reading of books, magazines, etc., that they can hardly even pick up the material. Therefore, one must first train their awareness up to that.
For seven years I have had a dog which has proven to be very helpful in rehabilitation. Some of the young people who are not open at first, and who are not able to speak with us, take the dog to bed, pet it, and tell it their problems. The dog is very patient, and if he were able to speak, he could certainly tell you more than I know myself. The important thing, in my opinion, is that a familiar situation be created. Problems are just as much a part of that as anything else.
Of course there are also problems between me and my daughters. The young people who are with me in rehabilitation also see these problems and learn that their own grown-ups, their own training, is not all that different from others. We have the luck to live here in a very neighborly community. Everything is set up to be friendly for the family, so we can go to the school play, for instance, then go to the ice-skating rink afterwards. That is really appropriate for young people. The overwhelming portion of my wards come from well-to-do families. They complain to me that their fathers do not have time for them. I explain to them that this may possibly be because their careers do not permit them enough time, and that it is not a lack of love or nor is it even apathy. I have to tell them that it does not depend on how much time their parents spend on them,
but on what they do with this time. I go fishing with them, or drive them out over the weekend to a farm - things which most of them are not familiar with. We also go together to play billiards or to dance, which is a situation to which most of them are completely unaccustomed. Several of my wards have definitely not ever gone out together with their families, not even to McDonald's. I tell them that this is less usual today than it was when I was growing up, when money was short and parents had to take their children with them whenever they went out. When we drive out to a farm together, naturally that is far better than tents, but still far below the standard which the young people are used to at home. They really believe that they are in the most primitive jungle. They have a bed to sleep in and something to eat. Any form of entertainment on the farm has to be thought up. It is hardly conceivable, but these young people have no imagination at all. I constantly hear things like, "I'm bored. What do we do now?" One has to make suggestions for them. They don't have any ideas on their own. Why that is, I don't know. I also observe that in my own children, and most of the time I don't know what I should do about it. Hardly any young people today have enough imagination to keep themselves occupied. Perhaps there is a reason for that in the existence of television. Most have one or two years of college behind them, and it is incomprehensible to me that they should be so bored in spite of that. Many are also afraid of doing something wrong, and therefore they do nothing. My brother, Kevin, for instance, used to go ice skating, bowling and played tennis in college, but later he did not play any kind of sports at all because he was afraid of possible defeat. I have found this with very many young people. They cannot just play the game in order to play, they have to win. One is either a winner or a loser, but they have to be the winners!
Ted Patrick does not think much of rehabilitation. He thinks that enjoying themselves for one or two weeks at Disneyland or wherever, along with a deprogramming aide, should be enough, and then they should go back home. I do not agree with this method. However, I do believe that they should enjoy themselves, but in my opinion they should also sit back and think about what made them so susceptible to brainwashing. They should also take some responsibility in the household. There should be a proper balance of learning and having fun. There should not be just fun and games, but neither should there be only working and learning.
Rehabilitation, in my opinion, is very important. I have been working at it for two years and learn more about it everyday. However, every case is different. One cannot depend on one theory. In many families there are problems between parents and children.
For that reason, many of my wards do not want to go back home. They pretend like they want to stay here and work at deprogramming because they are reluctant to meet the people they know back home. Most of the young people also are afraid of their parents' comments, "Didn't I tell you so?" One week before I let my wards go back home, I talk them through what they can expect back there. For instance, when Pam went home, I told her:
"So Pam, now you're 22 years old. I know that. But you have to realize that you have been gone from home for three years. In these three years, your mother has seen you only three days, and that was when you were being deprogrammed. She still sees you as a child who cannot be trusted. So don't be surprised when you go home
if she follows you to the bathroom, suddenly shows up at your bedside, if she calls for you every 15 minutes to be sure that you are still there, if she asks you where you are going or who you are going with. You have to accept that. Because now it's up to you to prove that things are OK with you again."
The young people have to understand that their parents have been through a lot. Most of them do not want to go home again and do not want to meet their parents, relatives or friends. They want to stay with me and work in rehabilitation and deprogramming, but that is only a pretext to avoid having to go back home. Then I tell them, "Go back home. For two weeks or one month. If you are not man (or woman) enough to sit at the same table as your parents and discuss your life and your future plans with them, then you are not ready to work with me." If, after that time, they still have the desire to come back to me, then they are free to do that. But most young people do not want to come back once they have gotten over the initial hurdles with their families and friends. But if I would not pressure them to go home, then they would all stay here with me. I also talk with the parents before I send the children home, and I don't hold back. I tell them like it is, "Don't spoil your child! He doesn't want that. The more you spoil him, the more he'll need it, and the less he'll be in the situation to help himself." I know what I'm talking about, because I'm a mother myself. I know how I would react in this situation. I also give the young people several hints. I warn them not to play cat and mouse with their parents, not to give them heart attacks by going out without saying where.
I speak to the parents without any reservation. I tell them plainly and clearly if I am of the opinion that their child needs treatment, or would be better off not living at home.
NEIL and ANN MAXWELL
Interview of May 20, 1979 in Berkeley, Calif.
The Maxwells are "evangelicals." By profession, Neil Maxwell is a docent at a pharmacy school. He got involved through his step-daughter, who belonged to the Moon sect, and he has helped many cult members and their families.
Neil: My wife and I did not at all know what we were in for when we got my step-daughter out of the sect in January 1976, but people offered us help by word of mouth and by advertisements in the newspapers. And since then we have counselled parents, deprogrammed sect members and helped with rehabilitation. You have said that you do not like the word "deprogramming." I don't like it, either, but unfortunately it describes the process very well. Besides that it is widely used and completely acceptable. I call it "exit counselling." As I have already said, I like neither kidnapping nor conservatorship, because those are both very traumatic for the young people. The process is very, very difficult and, above anything else, frightening. Besides that the Moonies have made the children so afraid of kidnapping and deprogramming that, if it happens, it seems like the end of the world to them. It affects them so strongly that, in my opinion, it is more intelligent for us to do it a different way insofar as that is possible. We have had rather much success in bringing the children to depart the sect through discussion, but that is getting more and more difficult, because the Moonies have found out what we do and they work against us.
Ann: A quick word on the Moonies' latest tactics: last week Dr. Durst was on television. In an interview, he more or less literally said, "We as members of the Unification Church have recognized that children and parents must be brought into contact with each other. This problem has been shouted to high heaven by the newspapers and we have been criticized because of it, so that we - conscious of our responsibility - have encouraged the children. From now on, whenever parents would want to make contact with their children, they should call up the following number." This number was then flashed a
couple of times on the television screen, and he repeated it. Dr. Durst acted very sincerely, openly and was very credible. I almost believed him myself. But, at the same time, this telephone number apparently serves the Moon people by getting parents who are concerned about the whereabouts of their children to call up, whereby they have been warned and know which children are being sought by their parents. They then put the child on the spot and act accordingly: tell them how bad deprogramming is, etc. So that, at the moment, is the Moonies' tactic. We have just had such a case. The parents got in touch with their daughter by calling up the appropriate center of the Unification Church. The girl said that she wanted to see her parents, and that they should call back in a couple of hours. That is what the parents did, and they received the message that they could see her the next day. They were to call back at twelve o'clock. The next day, the girl was beside herself. Apparently the Moonies spent the night indoctrinating her. She was completely hysterical and said, "No, no, you cannot see me because I know that you want to get me. You will try to deprogram me, to kidnap, hit and abuse me." With those couple of hours of leeway, the Moonies had talked the girl into believing all of this and had hammered into her that she could not see her parents any more. Every time the parents called, the girl was not there: she was said to be in a different center, and would get back with them later. When they finally got to agreeing on a place to meet, then they heard from the Moon sect:
"Your daughter called up and said that, unfortunately, she could not be here to meet you." That is how they do it. Apparently this number broadcast on television only serves to warn the sect of which children are being sought by their parents. Then they have the children disappear through the trap door.
Neil: Each new case is completely separate from the previous one, and the one that follows is also entirely different. Because of that, one can never predict what is going to happen or how it is going to happen, because one does indeed work with three or four various people: mother, father and the siblings. They have different personality characteristics and, consequently, different needs. The means by which these needs are satisfied also have to be differentiated. Fulfilling the need of another person is a very intuitive process, which, from my experience, is indispensable for deprogramming. I hardly think that, in deprogramming, that we have gone more than once or twice into "Divine Principles," "The Word of the Master," or other similar things. Deprogramming primarily operates on the emotional plane. We try to identify with the youth, to sympathize with him. We try, through word and deed, to show him that we are not going to hit him, but that we want to help him to free his spirit. We show him that we want to do all this. Naturally, we don't say so in so many words. These young people have a tape recorder, so to speak, in their heads. When they answer, then they are playing the stereotypical recorded text. If you can get them to turn off the recorder and express their feelings - it makes no difference whether it is anger, joy, love, hate or whatever else - in their own words, then you can really begin to work with them in helping to them to get out of the sect. When I ask the question, "What does your Messiah really think of you?" then they all give me a fake sounding answer. I can't think of one
at the moment, but the answer sounds false, and I have already heard it fifteen or twenty times before. When we have progressed far enough in our discussion and I get a good feeling about the youth, I can finally say, "I have already heard what you told me fifteen or twenty times from other Moonies. I would like to know what you think about it, and not what they think about it. I have heard all that before; it is old hat for me. I would like to hear your own opinion. What do you feel deep down inside yourself when you talk about it?" I get them to look at their inner self, their feelings, and to express them openly. Often the young person is really shaken up by that, because they are not used to sharing their perceptions, but just to functioning according to the will of the Unification Church. One such discussion really shakes them up.
Ann: In my opinion, the status of a woman is of considerable importance in sects. I spoke with this one young woman who got away from the Moon sect on her own. She told of a young man who always got a higher position in the hierarchy than she did, and whom she described as a complete idiot. He was the right emetic for her, because she was the emancipated type, and that really got on her nerves. Being held back was one of the reasons for her departure. It seems to me that very many of the women in sects do not understand that they will only ever play second fiddle. As far as I know, only one of the 50 centers of the Moon sect is managed by a woman. In the rest of them, the boss is always a man, and women take either second-rate positions, or no management position at all. That is typical for all sects, whereby women in the Moon sect perhaps carry more responsibility than in other sects.
In general, women are nothing more for sects than servants or slaves. Seen from the standpoint of the international women's movement, this condition is exactly opposite to the growing awareness of women's rights. That is still another aspect through which one can reach some of the young women. Many of them were already second-class citizens in their own families as far as their brothers and fathers were concerned, and were accustomed to their subordinate position. These women are especially susceptible to the sects' propaganda. Sometimes we run into this problem in our parental counselling. I take pains, then, especially to help the mother become more aware of her own personality, and let her know a few of the goals of the women's movement. If she changes herself in the eyes of her daughter by doing that, then the daughter changes, too. At the moment, I am working directly with people - it has to do with a former member of an Indian sect - in which that is the case, and I hope that their mutual relationships will improve to some degree. When dealing with youth, though, Neil and I also like to learn something about their sexual problems. In parental counselling it often becomes clear that sexual problems are discussed very little, if at all. This area is taboo, and, as a result, young people have a lot of problems with their own sexuality. In my opinion, that is one of the most important things which causes young people to go into sects, so that they do not need to pose this problem to themselves. Therefore we first talk about this problem with the parents so that they are at ease with their own sexuality, then with the other children, and perhaps also with the former sect member. We have the opinion that by this process, the core family will be positively changed.
Neil: When we received conservatorship for Leslie and she was deprogrammed, Ann took her back to Ohio. On the way back to Ohio, Leslie was vacillating in her decision, she went to the rest room and wrote two short letters there, one to Neil Salonon, the President of the American Moon sect, and one to the - I believe Texas - Senator Asher, with whom she had worked very closely. She mailed the letters in Chicago. After that, an attorney came from Washington by the name of Richard Benvenista, who had represented the accused in the Watergate affair. He had also contested our conservatorship. With Carl Shapiro as attorney, we went before the court in Mann County. We won the process, and Benvenista's charge was dropped. Our conservatorship remained valid, as it was before. By this time, Leslie was strong enough to want the continuation of the conservatorship herself. In our case, the temporary conservatorship was extended by 90 days, and was set to be dissolved according to her own decision without further court decision.
Ann: Together with my daughter, I spent three weeks in rehabilitation with Joe and Esther. Naturally it was a horribly traumatic experience for her. At the time she was 24 and had six years of membership in the sect behind her. She had a strong tendency to be depressed and have self-doubts as to whether she had made the right decision or not. The inspiration of how one should best deal with this situation came from Joe. He took me aside and said, "Don't you notice that she simply wants to sit beside you and put her head on your shoulder. Just put your arm around her and show her that you care about her." And that is how it literally went for three weeks. She was like a small child, almost like a puppy. She just wanted to sit next to her mother, and I did not ask her any questions and she did not criticize; I just let her talk.
Joe told me to hold my daughter and just be there for her the whole time. Really, for 24 hours a day (she didn't notice that, but that's the way it was), I was her bodyguard, her mother, a type of religious counsellor, a psychotherapist, just a person with whom one could share happiness, and, quite simply, a friend. For Joe and Esther, not approaching young people in the rehabilitation center in any criticizing way was essential. Both were purely supportive and also expected this attitude from all parents who came into the center. They especially welcomed the mothers, because they had the most time, but the fathers were not turned away, either. If whatever parental half was there was very receptive, amicable, not criticizing and wanted to have their child with them, then Joe and Esther would encourage them to stay with their child. Sometimes there were two or three parents there at the same time, which, of course, led to much discussion. We were there primarily to produce a feeling of love between parents and children. We parents would go to bed about twelve or one, and the children would stay up until three, four or five o'clock to speak with the other former sect members. The next day the parents would get up earlier and the children later, and we would divide the housework. A plan was never made ahead of time. No matter what came up between several people in dealing with each other, it was just OK. I am not sure how Joe and Esther were able to live through it, but that is how they pulled it off. I learned very much there about how you have to take care of young people. I can describe it only by saying that each individual one of them had been spiritually hurt in an incredible way; one could almost
talk about their minds being black-and-blue, in a manner of speaking. That is the best description which I can give. Hurt children who need help and love. They get out of their situation gradually. I remember a young, Jewish mother who was there. She was completely hysterical over her daughter, whom Joe had gotten out of a Christian sect from Texas. She was completely beside herself, and wanted to immediately take her child back home with her. It had to do with a reformed Jewish family. The mother had wanted her daughter to participate in the activities at the Jewish temple. Now there was no communication between mother and daughter to speak of. However, Joe encouraged the mother to stay for one or two weeks, because he could see that the mother and daughter had great love for each other. But he worked tirelessly with the mother to calm her down and to get her to stop putting pressure on her daughter. In this case, and in many others, he told the parents when rehabilitation ended, "This child should not go back home, but should live with other former sect members, stay in the rehabilitation center longer, or become a member of our rehabilitation team."
Rehabilitation, of course, would progress especially well if a former sect member wanted to help others get out. Joe let some children go home, and with some he sent a former sect member along. Sometimes he would say, loud and clear, "You cannot go home," or "Your child cannot go back home with you, because that would be a complete catastrophe." Rehabilitating some of these young people took a rather long time. Some of them also came out of hopeless family situations. But if the parents were concerned enough
to get their child out of the sect, if there was some parental love there, then something could be done in those kind of cases. Somehow relations had to be re-established. Joe had convinced some parents to let the child grow up by himself. In our parental counselling Neil and I have found that, in many cases, it is of vital importance to re-establish familial contact between parents and children. Only all too often the problem would lie with the fathers who frequently had a hard time expressing their feelings to their sons. Father-son relationships are very problematic, mother-daughter relationships sometimes, too. In general, that is because it is difficult for the father to share his feelings, or because he is not often there, or simply is just not accessible. All family members must begin by making a touching relationship. What we advise as being extremely important is physical contact right from the start. The parents must put their arms around their child and show him that they love them; in no case may they criticize him. The positive aspects of the relationship must be strengthened. It is very difficult to get that through to some parents.
Neil: The best setting for rehabilitation is the way the Freedom of Thought Foundation in Tucson or in Ohio was built, with the presence of a family structure, a family-like environment with a mother and a father figure, and partner relationships. That is not the only rehabilitation process, because we have recognized that even more important than the family structure itself is that fact that in deprogramming, a part of the process - the tearing down of thought control - take place.
The shackles which have been put in the mind are removed by deprogramming, and what you have left is a young person who has been following a messiah. Most of them have very deep feelings for their messiahs, and they question themselves as to whether they are behaving properly: whether leaving the sect in spite of their love for the messiah is right or wrong. We parents cannot answer this question. I was never a Mooney, and therefore I don't know first hand how it is to dedicate myself to a messiah. But a former sect member is familiar with that situation, and, by the way, it makes no difference whether you're dealing with the Children of God, Hare Krishna, Divine Light Mission or Maharaji Ji. In each of these sects there is the relationship to a messiah. The young people who have just been deprogrammed need someone who can answer these very deeply situated religious and emotional questions for them. Therefore, I think that one can get the rehabilitation process in motion when another young person is available who can answer the above mentioned questions.
Ann: You could almost die laughing in the rehabilitation center, and it was definitely one of the most effective factors in rehabilitation, when the young people would start to make comparisons between their messiahs. "My messiah was a real messiah," or "My messiah was better than yours." They would end up laughing over it. I think that the recognition that others had also honored a different messiah was rather unpleasant for them.
Neil: I also think that there is really no difference among sects, because all honor their current leader as a messiah, as some kind of guru. As Ann said, the comparison of views is a good beginning. When, for instance, a Mooney and a Hare Krishna adherent or a Mooney and one from Scientology begin to compare their views, and the Mooney claims, "Moon is the second messiah;
Moon is god," and the other would retort, "No, L. Ron Hubbard is god," then the question would come up of how that could be possible. By doing that, a start has been made. When the question is asked, "What did you feel when you got out of Scientology? What do you think of L. Ron Hubbard?", these questions can be answered by others for the person being deprogrammed in that they describe what perceptions they had at the time of their departure from the sect and how they got over it.
People who have just gotten out of the sect have problems. One young man I knew slept for an entire year with the lights turned on, because he was afraid of the dark. He said he had nightmares in which he turned his back on Christ. Of course, he also asked the question, "Have I turned my back on Christ? Have I left Christ, and am I therefore perpetually damned?" While I could tell him that that was not so, he could, understandably, not believe me, because I had never been a sect member. All my information was second-hand, and, as far as he was concerned, I was just another empty blabbermouth. But another Mooney or a Hare Krishna adherent were credible because they had first hand experience.
Ann: The exceptions are the first-rate deprogrammers like Joe Alexander. Of course, neither he nor Ted Patrick were programmed themselves. They were never really sect members, but because of their vast experience and their knowledge of the different sects, they can go through the entire process. You could say that they had almost gone into a sect, without having taken the last step. They would know what these children have been through and could answer very many of their questions, but many they cannot. In such cases, Joe often gives them to a former sect member.
Neil: What I still also think is important - and perhaps particularly in the case of your daughter - is, clearly said, my conception of rehabilitation as a psychological, even a psychiatric counselling process, because it does, indeed, deal with the emotional problems of young people. I think that deprogramming, despite the employment of former sect members, continues to be a psychiatric process. But when a former sect member gets involved with rehabilitation, then the time for recovery is shortened. Even Leslie needed a year to gain back her stability. But with some young people whom we have gotten out of sects and perhaps were only members for two, three or four weeks or a couple of months, it still took them a long time to recover - six months to a year, if, during rehabilitation, they do not have a former member with them, at least for a short amount of time. By having someone to talk with, the duration of rehabilitation can be reduced down to six weeks, or even less. When they have then been restabilized and have found themselves again, then they can help others with the rehabilitation and thereby further stabilize themselves. Helping others seems to improve the state of former sect members. It is as if they are constantly answering their own questions.
Ann: One of the interesting things, in my opinion, is the difference between those who get out of the sects on their own, and those who have been gotten out or talked into leaving. According to what I have heard about this from Margaret Singer, the first group, to me, appears to consist of non-conformists.
There are those who question what they are told. There are the instigators among the youths who want their own way and for whom, as sect members, it got under their skin if they were told what to do and what not to do. These people wanted to get out. And I believe that these young people don't do especially well with deprogramming unless they ask for it themselves. Most of them will want to answer their own questions, and you have to let them go their own way. However, once they've taken the first step on their own, then the battle is half over. Then they also have to get through the other half on their own, unless they ask for help. I know two young men and a young woman who made it on their own. It was very, very difficult for them, and each of them needed about a year. The girl had gotten out after having been a sect member for two years. She studied at the University of California, and had a very strong will. She didn't know why she wanted to get out, but she had a feeling that something was wrong. After she left the sect, there was nothing and nobody who would help her. Her parents weren't there and nobody knew anything about sects, because they didn't start making headlines until two or three years later. Linda, that is the young woman's name, said that she spent one and a half years in bed. She sought counselling from a mental clinic, where she got out-patient treatment. But the treatment didn't solve any of her problems, and she had to come to her own conclusions by her own self-searching. And when she finally worked her way through everything after about a year, she came into contact with parents who began to care about their child. Afterwards she became an attorney. She is quite an extraordinary, dynamic and emancipated woman;
I think she was very much her own boss. The two young men were not the type who let everything get by unquestioned either. Both of them bore down hard and are now very strong, but it was still very difficult for them to free themselves of the sect. So there are these two different types of people. And then there are, of course, a few for whom the sect works like a cocoon. Among other things they are so disturbed that they need a hard and fast support mechanism around them. Separating this type of young person from the sect is extremely difficult, even if they recognize for themselves that their relationship to the sect is not rationally founded. They want to return to their mother's womb, so to speak; for them, the sect is security. And you almost ask yourself if it would not be better to leave them in the sect instead of letting them spend the next ten years in a mental institution. One can also say that these people would always be outsiders; and some of the young people definitely belong to this group. I'm thinking of one young man, in particular, who acted very disturbed. It was the sect that gave him a firm grip, and it was six or seven years before he was really getting along OK with his environment. And I ask myself what would have happened if David - that's his name - had been left in the sect. They would have supported him insofar as they had him do certain things every day: he had to wake up and help with the house work; he had to do what he was told. He was told everything that he had to do, and there were no questions to ask and no answers to receive, no reality which he had to imagine. He only had to do what he was told. That was his support mechanism. So far as I know, he was already rather disturbed before then, but now he appears to be doing all right.
Neil: I think I heard you say, in regard to your rehabilitation plan, that you have no means to carry it out as Joe and Esther did. That is really a problem. Our parents group here in Berkeley has gotten involved rather extensively with that problem. We wanted to offer rehabilitation here in the Bay area because so many youths come here. There was, however, no financial opportunity. Along with this are many legal and moral factors, and besides that you have to count on some young people backsliding and going back to the sect, in which case you have a civil suit over your head. Naturally, the reason for the suit is pulled out of a hat. Most of the suits only serve to harass and annoy us. The sects do not at all intend to win in court, they just want to cause us difficulty.
One of the things which we have discussed about rehabilitation, but have never really gotten around to, was the rotating use of parents' private residences. As Ann has said already, for the initial phase for long-term sect members, one has to be there 24 hours a day for the patients. For example, my wife and I are both employed. If we had a former sect member with us at home for rehabilitation, then we would have to take him to work with us or leave him alone day after day while we were gone. It is not good or even impossible to carry out that type of rehabilitation.
Ann: Another alternative for the parents of a deprogrammed youth would be that they pay one or two former sect members to stay at their home for the duration. But then they would have at least two, maybe even three young people staying over at their place for several weeks. But even if the parents could pay for the deprogramming - I think that is conceivable and would let them do it -
the family atmosphere would be destroyed. I still think, though, that that would be better than nothing. Depending on the severity of the original trauma of the youth, a solid support mechanism is required for weeks or months. My daughter, for example, went in at 16 and came out at 24. We noticed that, at 24, she had the emotional and social problems of a 16 year old. She had accumulated much experience with management missions, but her spiritual, her psychic development had come to a complete standstill. She was literally 16 or 17 years old when she got out of the sect. Her recuperation went relatively quickly, but still lasted about a year. So if the support mechanism had not been been there and available 24 hours a day, nothing would have happened. During the rehabilitation of our daughter, we and her grandparents were always there for her. She stayed with her grandparents for a month, but a former Mooney stayed with her for sixty days. I don't know if she would have done so well without that help. I would like to make one comment about Joe Alexander - in my experience in social work I have been rather much involved with psychological background - he is a very strong character. I don't know if you could call him a family patriarch. He comes from a devout Catholic family with very loving relationships between him, his wife and his five children. There are many uncles in his house. Friends and neighbors are often there, in his house and outside of his house. Because his wife is not employed, she can always be at home. He has a strong relationship to all deprogrammed youths that have been there. What he says is accepted as standard. The young people do not respect him as a substitute for some kind of sect leader, instead they trust
that he knows what he is talking about. I have seen him a lot at home. Of course he was often on the road and deprogramming somewhere or another. But when he was there, then his attention, his eyes and ears and his other senses were directed on the young people who had recently gotten out of the sects. I recall how he said, "Something's not right with Susie. I'll have to talk with her. I'll be right back." Then he would go over to Susie, take her by the hand and say, "Come, I have to talk with you." And then they would go into some corner, maybe into a bedroom or down in the family room or outside, but not on the street, because then the young person would have run away. In any case, someplace in the house where they would not be disturbed. Joe would sit down, put his arm around Susie, and say, "What's bothering you? I'm really worried about you and would like to talk with you." And then he would usually devote his full attention to the young person for a half hour, during which time he mostly just listened but was still attentive. And then he would just make a couple of gestures - mostly a pat on the back - and say, "You're coming along great, you're just magnificent. Now I would like you to go and talk to someone." And then he would lead the girl to the person concerned and say, "I would like you to help Susie out a little bit; she's feeling a little depressed at the moment." Then he would go and continue with what he was doing. He would maybe eat a sandwich or something else and think about whatever he was involved in. And then, you could physically see it working in him - he might say, "Something isn't right with Johnny. It would be better if I had a word with him; I haven't had a chance to talk to him for three of four days." -
Then he'd go to Johnny, sit down and treat him exactly like Susie. He'd put his arm around the young man. This physical contact was very important to him when speaking. But whatever this strong, friendly man would also like to say, these young people had their doubts, and he would answer them, "Everything's all right. You can talk to me about anything, and I'll listen. And you're coming along really magnificently." There could almost be something magical about the way he said, "You're coming along really magnificently." These magical powers were based on his friendly demeanor which was never associated with some kind of obligation. He had understanding for everything. Besides that he didn't put any religious, emotional or other kind of conditions on the young people. He would just say, "Tell me what's not right, and I'll see if I can help you." If he could help, all the better. The young people could follow their own judgment without feeling guilty or obligated to Joe. I think that is also very important.
Ann:What this method initially depends on in textbook psychology is Transactional Analysis, by Eric Burns. This deals with the state of the egos of parents and children. In the work with young people this means that you act like a strong father or leading character. There is no reason why a woman should not have this air. As far as Joe is concerned, he expressly grants the young people all permissions and will say, "It is right that you have left the sect. It is right to be grown up. It is right to ask questions. It is right to cry. Everything is right. Yes, everything that you do is all right. I give you permission to do it. You may feel panicky anxiety that you have left the sect. You may ask the question of whether you have betrayed your messiah, and I will always answer
that you have not betrayed, because he was no messiah at all." That is what Joe tells the young people, and they have confidence in him. Joe's behaving the same way day after day helps the young people in recuperation, and so, somehow, does the fact that he has a strong character. Because the one who carries out the rehabilitation must actually be stronger than the messiah whom the young people have left. After his departure there is a transitional period in which the youth recognizes that he actually does not need a sect, in which he realizes that he can make decisions for himself. When they get out of the sect, the youths are at first quite worn down and need something on which they can get a grip. They have to be encouraged to get up and stand on their own two feet. That is exactly what Joe does, and Ted probably does that, too. Although he doesn't take as much time for a rehabilitation as Joe, the young people listen to him. They know that he has the ability to be able to tell them what is actually wrong.
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