Congressman Leo J Ryan was gunned down at the airport in Guayana after inspecting Jim Jone's People's Temple. Shortly before members drank kool-aid laced with cyanide, resulting in a mass murder. Scientology's spokesman Mike Rinder, in order to deflect criticism about scientology being a cult, described Jim Jones people's temple as a mainstream christian church, that the Nazi's were in fact a cult was not mentioned.
Scientology's spokesman Mike Rinder, in order to deflect criticism about scientology being a cult, described Jim Jones people's temple as a mainstream christian church, that the Nazi's were in fact a cult was not mentioned.
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Congressman Leo J Ryan Memorial Page
Memorial advertisement placed by Ms. Camburn
I am so worried about dad, he is so tired, he looks like a zombie - from the 1st Letter to Congressman Leo J. Ryan from Ida Camburn
Scientology FOIA Letter regarding Ms. Ida Camburn are here
Letter from Ida Camburn to her son is here
Read about a mother's betrayal by the Scientology run CAN HERE
Just another typical effort to confuse the public by the Masters of Deception - Scientology!
Congress of the United states
House of Representatives
December 10, 1976
Dear Ida Camburn,
Thank you for your very detailed letter regarding
Scientology. We haven't yet found a way to attack
these jackals who feed on children and young adults
who are too emotionally weak to stand by themselves
when they reach the age of consent.
It's too bad there isn't a 20th Century Charles
Dickens to write about the terrible destruction of
these 20th Century fagins who make themselves rich
while they destroy the psyche of so many.
At the present time, I can only encourage you
to do more of what you have been doing.
Leo J Ryan
Member of Congress
[ Note well: other letters written by Leo Ryan were stolen from Ms Ida Camburn's home by Amy Esquith Majors, a Scientology operative who befriended Ms. Camburn ]
Dr. Clark. I am John Clark. I am assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and I am involved in research of subject conversions at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
I am very glad to speak with the Committee.
Nearly 90 years ago, William James wrote, "In this age of tolerance, no scientists will ever try actively to interfere with our religious faith, provided we enjoy it quietly with our friends and do not make a public nuisance of it in the marketplace."
Those of us who have seriously attempted to study the rapidly spreading phenomenon of absolutist groups and effects of extreme pressures on their converts have reason to declare that the level of public nuisance is now so high that both scientists and public servants must react strongly before it is too late.
We have found in examining subjects in those family members who know them best that the act of rapid conversion of a deceived subject results if the conversion is maintained over a few days or perhaps a few weeks, in change of personality, and capacity to think which are already beyond these changes, are almost beyond our limits of understanding or belief.
It is not the religious definition that separates these groups from others. It is their behavior. They may represent political, social, magical, neolith points of view or none at all, but are sustained by their total commitment to some forms of opposition to the accepted surrounding culture. Each selects a slice largely dependent on the original inclination of the founding leader.
The responsibility of the acts of the members is clearly with the leaders. Expulsion or even death are among the punishments for disobedience or defection.
But it is the sudden change in individuals whose conversions have been so rapidly accomplished that is most alarming.webbed by lermanet here:
The Guyana affair, the behavior of members of Synanon, the Hanafi muslims, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Manson murderers, not to mention the savagery of the Nazis, the classical cult, should have alerted us to the change in the individual who does the bidding of a controlling group, committing the ultimate, most unforgivable, most uncharacteristics crimes.
The convert is made capable fo these acts and was not general, from the general run of the population. Having been rapidly converted by utterly determined people whose efforts induce trance states and who have been separated from their customary environments in these states, these individuals become dependent on their surroundings for the validation of reality.
They cannot remembewebbed by lermanet here:r the past or the subtle values which would become conscience.
They are often deluded, hallucinating, and confused in a new highly manipulative environment, in their altered states of consciousness.
Their minds are split.
They are, in effect, living in a second personality modeled on the needs of the surrounding group. Existence is no more a matter of individual free choice, because the individual has lost his past and the capacity to consider complex ambiguous ideas.
Such persons are left without an appreciation of natural differences among human beings and are utterly intolerant to the point of deadliness.
I must emphasize it is the change in individuals resulting from any sort of sudden and maintaining conversion that is most crucial to understand.
The same changes can result from disease processes and are seen as evidence of injury.
Such injuries the normal capacity of an individual to cope with an alwways uncertain future in a free society.
Their highly manipulated minds are effective only under total control and are less able to manage the unexpected without resorting to psychosis, suicide, or uncontrolled violence toward others.
The apparent certainty of their conception of reality is comfortable as long as they are obedient and their group is not threatened from within or without.
The changes in the personality we have noted have stunned parents who sense that their offspring have been maimed. They appear to have become rather dull and their style and range of expression limited and stereotyped.
They are animated only when discussing their group and its beliefs.
They rapidly lose a knowledge of current events. When stressed even a little, they become defensive and inflexible and retreat into mumbling cliches.
I should have said numbing cliches.
Their written or spoken expression loses metaphor, irony, and the broad use of vocabulary.
They rely on rote memory and cannot play with abstraction. Their humor is without mirth.
Because they have learned to live with greatly reduced sleep time in many cases, they may display a loosening of association and commonly see visions, hear voices, or experience odd delusions of smell.
Often they are physically sick, though theywebbed by lermanet here: have tried to cure their difficulties through prayer.
An acute case of pneumonia, a ruptured appendix, a broken leg, will not easily respond to ministrations.
Even more frightening are the actual techniques of controlling the mind. Unwanted memories or thoughts are forced out of the mind by careful training.
For instance, in many cults, the feeling of panic and the image of satan stops stray thinking.
In another it is an acute migraine headache that chastens the loose thinker.
Mind emptying trances or forced chanting can accomplish the same result; there are many, many other techniques.
To me the latest casualties of these extended manipulations are nearly unbearable to contemplate. More tortured rejects are beginning to straggle home or they are being sent home, because they are useless to the cults now. Some are chronically psychotic, while others painfully can recognize that they cannot control the content of their minds enough to work out their life problems.
Others have no flow of conciousness.
These people are the worst off in the continuum of casualties now struggling to make their lives work.
These are not necessarily people who have been deprogrammed. I would like to emphasize that.
These cults or groups are armies of willing, superbly controlled soldiers who would not only kill their parents or themselves, but are ready to act against anyone.
A society in rapid cultural transition not only offers fertile grounds for these groups to flourish, but it is too preoccupied to notice how dangerous they may have become.
The culminating horror of Guyana which some of us had seen should have alerted a nation and its leaders to the persistent threat.
It was in too many ways our holocaust.
Once again it was caused by a group of fanatic believers.
Senator Dole. Dr. Clark, do you have copies of your statement available?
Dr. Clark. Yes.
Senator Dole. Fine. If you would be able to stay with us. The next witnesses are Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman.
[Question session with Dr. Clark, by Senators and Congressmen, P.147-158.]
Senator Dole. I would like to have Dr. Clark come forward.
Senator Dole. Dr. Clark, do other people in your field have a different view than you have insofar as "so-called cults" are concerned?
Dr. Clark. In my field, there's almost no clear agreement about anything, except, to some degree, that under certain circumstances, people do lose their capacity to think clearly and to care for themselves. This has to do with the contents of their minds.
Senator Dole. Well, as I said, I viewed last night, with a great deal of interest, a tape from the David Susskind show. You were indicating then there was more acceptance now than, say, two or three years ago.
Dr. Clark. Yes. Two or three years ago, the notion that by outside manipulation the will of an individual would be lessened, weakened or gone too far off to judge reality, could be changed, this idea was not accepted broadly.webbed by lermanet here: There were always a few psychiatrists and people who had studied these matters for a long time.
There has always been a notion that the mind is, rather, a phenomenon that keeps on going, is acting the same way, has no shifts sideways, no narrowing, and controls itself.
In these matters, we are beginning to understand, through a lot of research, that the mind is part of the biological system. It's a function of the biological system. Thus it is capable of being manipulated either by the body itself or by information coming from the outside.
Senator Dole. Congressman Fish, I think you had a question.
Mr. Fish. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Dr. Clark, you are associate clinical professor at the Harvard Medical School at Massachusetts General. In your brief biography we have about you before us, it says that you have been working with ex-cult members for the past five and a half years. I wonder if you could tell us, is there any literature in this field based on the experience of yourself or others over these years?
Dr. Clark. Yes. Let me just add that I have not only seen ex-cult members. I have seen people involved in these organizations from the moment that they became interested, through their involvement, when they came either voluntarily or on court orders because of sickness, through their leaving the cult either by deprogramming -- which I had nothing to do with -- or by some other accident, such as becoming suddenly crazy.
There is more literature. The standards of the '60s would be Schein's book on coercive persuasion and, of course, Lifton's book on -- I am sorry; I have just put the name away. It's a wonderful book.
There has been a small amount of recent writing, including one by Mark Gallanter in the latest Journal of the American Psychiatric Association and an article in Psychology Today by Margaret Singer; a few little bits and pieces over the last few years that have dealt with these matters.
Mr. Fish. Pardon me, Doctor. I don't want to take up too much time here.
From your five and a half years in this work, has a profile emerged of the individual who you work with?
Dr. Clark. I am glad you asked me that question.
The profile is not clear. Everybody has a different profile, which always says that our attempts to characterize the victims are simply working. There is, from my experience, a majority of people who have significant psychological, physical problems before they went in and were rather uncomfortable -- very uncomfortable people who more or less sought conversion.
About 40 percent of them -- that's a small number compared to some other people's figures -- are perfectly normal people by any test that I could apply through gathering information about their past. They were normal people.
Mr. Fish. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Dole. Congressman Giaimo?
Mr. Giaimo. You mention in your testimony about -- describe characteristics indicating a new personality or a controlled mind.
Dr. Clark. Yes.
Mr. Giaimo. What do you mean by a controlled mind, and does it in any way involve will?
Dr. Clark. An individual who has been brought through a process sequence of conversion, which is very similar and, I think, ultimately the same as, the sequence of hypnosis, narrows his attention gradually -- as anybody dealing with a crisis will do -- to the point where the attention is entirely on the surrounding environment. If this is maintained to a certain point, over a certain period of time, there seems to be a kind of a rupturing of the ordinary fabric of the mind, at least temporarily.
These are some of those moments that are called mystical experiences. These are moments of great opportunity for grasping new information very, very rapidly, of making change, or of producing something ingenious.
There are other times when, if the pressure from the outside is very intense, only that pressure will be listened to. There will be no structuring of something brand-new, only an acceptance of the surrounding environment.
Mr. Giaimo. To that degree he would be a captive of that environment?
Dr. Clark. To that degree he is a captive if he is not let loose within the next two or three sleep periods. After that, there seems to be very clear evidence that the individual is technically a multiple personality living in the second personality.
There are great differences in the memories of the past, especially the subtle memories of old relationships and love, which are very complicated. I have pointed in my testimony to the loss of the memory of all of those standards of the past.
They are unable to think as well, precisely because they have lost contact with a great many subtle memories of the past.
Mr. Giaimo. Is it your opinion that the law does or can or should take congnizance of this psychological state?
Dr. Clark. Times have changed since the colonial days. The techniques that are being used for this are now partly based upon available knowledge andwebbed by lermanet here: available tools -- tape recordings that go on all day, all night; loudspeakers all through the camps; music that can be invented and put into electronic form extremely rapidly; repetition of things; printing of things; propagandizing; things that did not happen a long time ago.
These are different times. There is much more known about the position of the mind in the body, what it does with and for the body. I think there is still plenty of room for religious feeling, responses, positions, and other ways of joining together around certain very high ideals. But it would be naive of modern Americans to try to deal with awebbed by lermanet here: problem like this as though were were still in the 18th century.
I think it would also be naive to forget that Hitler was a cult leader in many ways. Many of his acts were based upon beliefs which came from other sources.
Mr. Giaimo. Do you believe that this subject of mind control that you are talking about is a legitimate area of congressional inquiry?
Dr. Clark. Entirely.
Mr. Giaimo. Do you think that it violates any amendment of the Constitution or the Constitution itself? webbed by lermanet here:
Dr. Clark. As I, a nonlawyer, understand the First Amendment, I don't think it does.
Mr. Giaimo. Nonlawyers can interpret the Constitution as well as can lawyers.
Dr. Clark. I do agree with the idea that the First Amendment should protect us from religion as well as protect religion from us.
Mr. Giaimo. So do I.
Dr. Clark. Very strongly.
Mr. Giaimo. You do believe that this new phenomenon -- if it is new -- but at least modern medicine seems to be able to look into it -- this phenomenon of mind control is a legitimate subject of congressional inquiry?
Dr. Clark. Yes. Under certain conditions of, I think, rapid cultural change, these kinds of phenomena have come up before, but not with the technical backing that the individuals practicing --
Mr. Giaimo. Haven't they come up in recent history in matters having nothing to do with religion? For example, in the Korean War?
Dr. Clark. Korean War, the Meinhof gang. It hasn't been mentioned explicitly, but those of us who have watched this also recognize the similarity of the techniques of managing people in religious and nonreligious organizations; terrorist gangs, political organizations are very potent, very absolutist. They require some of the same sort of states of mind, and they recruit in much the same way.
Mr. Giaimo. Thank you.
Senator Dole. Senator Zorinsky?
Senator Zorinsky. I will give my time to Senator Exon.
Senator Exon. Dr. Clark, in yoru testimony you said among other things "have reason to declar the reason of public nuisanwebbed by lermanet here:ce it not so high that public servants must eact strongly before it is too late."
You also said those of us who seriouslywebbed by lermanet here: attempted to study the rapidly spreading phenomenon of absolutist groups and the effects on their convertswebbed by lermanet here:.
If it is true -- and I respect you as a psychiatrist in this area -- would you give us an estimate as to how many people you are concerned about here? Do you measure it in thousands? Millions? If it is important enough for the Congress to look into, how many people are we dealing with now, and how many people do you think we would be dealing with in the next two or three years, based on hte information in the studies you have made?
Dr. Clark. To be as responsive as I can, I would have to say I don't know; and then give you an answer that will give you some notion of where I am.
One of the first jobs that has to be done is find out these numbers much more accurately; but I find now that almost anybody I talk to has within the first or second degree an experience with one of these kinds of conversions in somebody nearby.
It is almost impossible now to talk to somebody and say what do you know about groups or cults; well, my cousin just called me up. She is in a terrible state because something has happened.
It is getting closer, so that there must be many more involved than there used to be. I think it is growing.
The point is that this is a very easy thing to do, start a religion, to set up all the processes, including all the doctrines. There's no problem with money at all.
I could fix you up one in 10 mintues that would probably work.
Senator Dole. Dr. Clark, I appreciate -- I want to ask a couple of questions.
I have to make a speech downtown which started 20 minutes ago. One of the better ones I have made.
I think some of us, frankly, question both sides. We are concerned about whether you call it kidnapping in the first place or kidnapping in the second place. Neither one appeals to me; and I think we have heard directly from witnesses who are in debriefing or deprogramming, whether it is Mr. Alexander or Mr. Patrick. I read the Playboy interview. I am somewhat disturbed by it, whether -- and I don't -- maybe I shouldn't put you on the spot, since they are both here.
I does concern me if someone makes a profit, if they are qualified -- and I don't know what qualified is. I mean I am confused.
What should one be to be in the deprogramming business? Should it be someone like yourself or should it be someone like Mr. Alexander, someone like Mr. Patrick, or maybe a combination of half a dozen?
I think that's a part that distresses us; as much as we are concerned about some of the excesses on the other side, we have to concern ourselves with the excesses on both sides.
Dr. Clark. I will give you a medical answer if I can. Very hard.
I personally am uneasy about either kind of process. I am less uneasy about the deprogramming because I think that it does tend to return somebody back to his or her own original memories, original self; but I do think that the medical point of view is if someone is injured, that if necessary, first of all, one must define the injury as carefully as possible.
That's been very difficult because of the lack of access overall to even the examination of these individuals.
Define the injury. Then apply what is necessary to return the person to optimal operations -- as much returning him back to what he was as is possible.
To move somebody drastically from one personality to another is peculiarly bizarre sort of injury that may look all right on the surface, but the individual inside is simply not like the original.
It is integral -- the change is integral, not laid on like the drug experiences of the last 10 or 15 years.
November 3, 1977
THE EFFECTS OF RELIGIOUS CULTS
ON THE HEALTH AND WELFARE
OF THEIR CONVERTS
HON. LEO J. RYAN
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, November 3, 1977
Mr. RYAN, Mr. Speaker, the activities of the Rev. Son Myung Moon's Unification Church continue to cause distress for many of us. As you know, the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, chaired by my distinguished colleague, DONALD FRASER, is investigating allegations of close ties between the Reverend Moon and some of his organizations and the South Korean government, including the KCIA. As a member of the subcommittee, I am, of course, disturbed over such allegations. My greatest concern, however, is for those young people who have been converted by these religious cults and for their parents, who have suffered the loss of their children.
One of these parents, Mrs. Ida Watson Camburn of Sunnyvale, Calif., brought to my attention to testimony of John G. Clark, Jr., M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, before a Vermont Senate committee, which was investigating religious cults. Dr. Cark's remarks, based on 2 ½ years of research, deal with the effects of some religious cults on the mental and physical health and welfare of their converts. I highly recommend his conclusions to my colleagues:
Testimony of John G. Clark Jr. M.D.
In this statement to the committee established by the Vermont Legislature, I intend to present substantive conclusions drawn from 2 ½ years or research on the effects of membership in some religious cults on personal health of their converts. My conclusions are rather grim: The health hazards are extreme. Though I will talk primarily of the absolute dangers to mental health and personal development, I must also as a physician draw attention to equally serious, often life-threatening, dangers to physical health.
I will state that coercive persuasion and thought reform techniques are effectively practiced on naive, uninformed subjects with disastrous health consequences. I will try to give enough information to indicate my reasons for further inquiries as well as review of applicable legal processes.
From the specific data gathered during the time of my investigations a rather accurate history of involvement in the cults can be now adequately described. In doing this I believe I can adequately demonstrate why I think there are major health hazards as well as many other social concerns directly caused by activities of the particular cults which we try to define as destructive. The destructive cults are numerous and include the very well-known ones such as Hare Krishna, the Unification Church, the Scientologists, and the Divine Light Mission, all of whom are utilizing the same basic techniques. The fact that I use the word techniques indicates that these investigations have delineated a series of technical aspects to these questions which need to be understood and can be explained.
All of the groups that we are talking about have living leaders who are demonstrably wealthy. The beliefs of all these cults are absolutist and non-tolerant of other systems of beliefs. Their systems of governance are totalitarian. A requirement of membership is to obey absolutely without questioning. Bear interest in the individuals development within the cult toward some kind of satisfactory individual adult personality is by their doctrines, very low or nonexistent. It is clear that almost all of them emphasize money making in one form or another, although a few seem to be very much involved in demeaning or self denigrating activities and rituals. Most of them that I have studied possess a good deal of property and money which is under the discretionary control of the individual leaders.
Most of the cults of concern consider themselves purely religious, some others appear to be more political. One of the most important of the common properties of such cults is the presence of a leader who, in one way or another, claims special powers or may even allow himself to be thought of as the Messiah. Such leaders do have special personal qualities including a unique world view and special willingness to effect drastic changes in the thinking and behavior of followers.
It appears that the techniques utilized by these cults are very similar overall although each one uses its own peculiar style. It would appear obvious that all of these cults have worked out ways of gaining access to susceptible individuals in order to have served to any degree. Those who succumb to the enlisting efforts seem to be divided into two rather distinct groups. The first is composed of the "seekers" , of whom we all know, popularly though incorrectly thought to constitute the entire population of susceptible people. They are schizophrenic, chronically so, or border-line personalities. It is quite clear that the existence of emotional or personality problems is a reason for becoming involved in the cults and that most mental health professionals consider only this reason at present. These inductees involve themselves in order to feel better because they are excessively uncomfortable with the outside world and themselves. Such motivated versions are "restitutive," in that the "seekers" are trying to restore themselves to some balance of comfort in a fresh, though false reality. We also see this attempt at restitution in the development of the so-called secondary symptoms of schizophrenia and other forms of mental illness as the attempt of a troubled or damaged mind to put together a new, simplified mental world and style of reasoning in order to compensate for the terrible awareness (or near awareness) of personal vulnerability. Approximately 58% of inductees were found to be in this first group from my studies.
The remaining 42% of the examined sample, however, were not ill or damaged in the sense I have mentioned before. That is, they were found to be apparently normal, developing young people who were going through the usual crises of development on the way to becoming adults, who, for any number of reasons, had fallen into the trap laid by the cults and had been taken in. On examination they were strong growing students on the average who were facing the normal pains of separation from their families, the normal depressions therefrom, the new, clear slightly feverish view of the complexity of outer reality which is a part of early college life. I think of they are joining the cult as being "adaptive"; that is, they are presented with certain problems by the cult and adapt themselves to it by psychic, social and physiological processes which are not in themselves as pathological as those involved in the "restitutive" conversions. In some ways it is this more healthy "adaptive" group that is most alarming to the observer.
From a clinician's point of view the first or restitutive group under the influence of cult indoctrination and practices is very much at risk. In many ways it can be very easily shown from long experience within the mental health field how very much more damaged they may become by being given a thought disorder by a group that conforms to a prior tendency to this sort of thinking disability. Their chances of ever developing a good relationship to outer reality and becoming autonomous individuals must, perforce, diminish with the passage of time. I am reminded of the chronic schizophrenics of some years ago whose psychotic style of thinking became totally institutionalized when placed in the back wards of hospitals for such a long enough time that they ultimately could no longer think at all effectively. The healthier second group, though theoretically less totally vulnerable, is more easy to identify with; their problems may be especially revealing as I will try to explain.
These people tend to be from intact, idealistic, believing families with some religious background. Often they had not truly made any of the major shifts toward independence and so, left home at the appropriate time believing they were ready for freedom. When this belief was seriously challenged in this brave new world by their first real set backs or by any real crisis they became covertly depressed , thus enhancing their susceptibility to the processes of conversion.
For individuals in this state of vulnerability to be converted a series of circumstances, techniques and events must occur to bring about the complete subjugation of the mind and person which I am attempting to describe. The first event is the gaining of access to these potential converts which is raised to a high art by all of the successful cults. Some even have printed manuals describing where to approach prospects, exactly what types of initial pressure to put on each of them and what the odds are that they will acquire a certain number of converts from a given amount of pressure well applied. The general openness of manners of this group adds to the ease of access. Once such a prospect has agreed to investigate the rather simple propositions expressed by the representatives of the cult he or she is brought into the next and highly sophisticated activities of the conversion process. From the first, intense group pressure, lectures, lies, false use of facilities and other inter-personal pressures, unexpected by the individual, are brought to bear. Singing, chanting and a constant barrage of the kinds of rhetoric which catch the young idealistic minds, are constantly in play. So intense is this that individuals who are under such pressure and are susceptible tend to enter a state of narrowed attention, especially as they are more and more deprived of their ordinary frames of reference and of sleep. This state must be described as a trance. From that time there is a relative or complete loss of control of one's own mind and actions which is then placed into the hands of the group or of individuals who have been the direct contact with the individual inductee. This induction
period has also been described as "coercive persuasion".
Once this state of passive, narrowed attention and willingness to be influenced is achieved, the true work of conversion, (or of thought reform) begins in earnest. This is always a program of unbelievable intensity! During this, all of the cults step up their ideological reform pressures by increased group pressure, change of diet, and introduction of elements of guilt and terror. The question of supernatural pressures that one must face in the future are brought out more and more explicitly and concretely. Many promises are made of redemption or safety, in the certainty that the world will soon end at which time there will be enormous rewards or terrible punishments to believers or non-believers. The threats may be implicit but are sometimes increasingly physical and explicit physical threats. Preaching is constant from all sides: supervision is absolute and privacy of body or of mind may not be allowed for days or weeks into the future, even to use the bathroom. All relationships to other people are organized and stereotyped and no chances given for idiosyncratic expression. The victims are induced rapidly to give up all familiar and loved past objects -- parents, siblings, home, city. etc -- and they are physically and emotionally moved to as foreign an environment as is possible to imagine. Thus, it becomes increasingly hard for them to reconstruct in imagination what one has once experienced sometime in the past. Reality becomes the present and includes in it elements of the supernatural, magical, terrifying thought which has been expressed constantly all around. There is no base left for reality testing.
Perhaps as important a factor as any is that the base of each individual's language which has been part of the mind and the body function from the very early stages, is slowly and deliberately changed. All words of any emotional importance have had some shifting of their meaning to an over simplified, special sort of related definition. Each person is given more and more tasks to learn, to study, to grasp, and has last time to believe that the past ever existed. By this time the indoctrination has defined parents as being infected by Satan's influence and parenthood is reinvested in the leaders of the cults. The urge to go home has been replaced by the need for absolute authority of the cult and its leaders, and at the same time the value of education and need to go to school has disappeared from the consciousness. This much radical change of attitudes loyalties and thinking style occur and regularly does occur within a few days to a few weeks.
From this time the problem of maintenance of the state of mind is apparently rather simple. Leaving the old familiar life setting and renouncing it for a new communal theology the accepting of a new family with new definitions of love and denouncing of natural parents leads as individual to think all bridges to the past are closed and that a very brave move into a new world has indeed it made. In some cults members are taught intensive chanting and meditating procedures which in case of any attack on their beliefs can cover up all possible thoughts and doubts. Others can apparently reenter a trance state with a narrowed consciousness of reality the first moment that somebody questions or challenges their beliefs. They are then promoted to the next steps or stages in their cults usually as proselytizers, money raisers or in some cases garbage collectors.
In my opinion, the last stage of this process in both adaptive and restitutive groups probably may evolve after four to seven years. This would be "acculturation" and would be irreversible. This stage may be compared to that of the untreated person with a schizophrenic illness who slides without proper help into a kind of personal degradation which, if unchallenged or untreated in time finally becomes acculturated and permanent. Anyone trying to nudge a person from this acquired style of thinking and behavior as we in mental health field know very well is going to feel that he is the natural enemy of his own patient. In my opinion, I repeat, by acculturation this new style of thinking may become irreversible.
Before this final state cult members seem to experience two forms of personality, the original and the imposed. The original is complex, full of love relationships, expectations, and hopes and, especially, rich language. This richness of language is that which parents suddenly miss when they first see their thought reformed children. Their reaction is appropriately panic! They recognize and correctly identify terrifying, sudden, unacceptable changes in the style of language and the style of relating as well as a narrowing and thinning down of the thought processes. Formally bright, fluent and creative individuals are rendered incapable [of ] the use of irony or a metaphor and they speak with a smaller carefully constricted vocabulary with cliches and stereotyped ideas. They also appear to have great difficulty using abstractions in their speech or arguments. They do not love except in cliches and established forms. Almost all of the charged, the emotion-laden language symbols are shifted to new meanings. Parents notice this long before professionals because they'd do not need cumbersome and elaborate tools to analyze language patterns. Their memories and intuition are sufficient.
The evidence for what I call a shift in personality which may be what we call in psychiatry "depersonalization", comes from several kinds of observation. The first is that despite the appearance to very experienced clinicians of flagrant and classical schizophrenia in many converts, the induced mental state being discussed does not respond to the most effective antipsychotic drugs or any of the methods of treatment customarily applied by the mental health professionals to restore effective thinking.
Thus, we are relatively helpless to restore thinking processes because under the current interpretations of the laws we cannot maintain physical control for long enough to bring about the confrontation therapies which might be effective in reestablishing the original personality style in the way it was done with the Korean war prisoners. On the other hand antipsychotic medicines are still effective in treating acute psychosis in these same people though not affecting the state of conversion.
The second and rather compelling piece of evidence is that the thought reformed state is dramatically altered by the process of deprogramming about which, though I cannot legally advise it as a therapy under most circumstances, a great deal is known. The deprogramming process as it is now practiced effects, in a large number of cases, a fairly rapid return to the old organization of the mind, a repersonalization, and brings back with it the old language skills and memories, original personal relationship patterns and of course the old problems. Furthermore it is regularly observed that for some time after the deprogramming the affected individuals are very vulnerable for about a year, and, especially during the first few weeks to two months, they feel themselves aware of and close to, two different mental worlds. Their strong impulses to return to the cult are altered by logical reasoning processes and the great fear of someone taking control of their minds from the outside once again. During this time a former convert can quickly be recaptured either by fleeting impulse or by entering a trance state through a key word or piece of music or by chanting or by a team from the cult.
In general, however, after a return to an original state of mind the individual's problem[s] begin to seem like ordinary health problems. Most of them are depressed, depleted people reminding one very much of that status of patients who have recently recovered from acute psychosis who are able to feel that for the first time in their lives they had lost a clear sense of reality and of control. They feel ashamed of what they have done and the pain they have inflicted, are very scared and for a while unable to manage their lives effectively. To remain within the strict mental and social confines of the cult experience for even a short time is disastrous for some, who have become psychotic or have committed suicide. Continuing membership appears to invite a deeper acceptance of the controlled state of mind and, in my opinion leads to the gradual degradation of ordinary thought processes necessary to cope with highly differentiated and ambiguous eternal life problems of the future. In this state after some time the intellect appears to lose a great many IQ points; the capacity to form flexible human relationships or real intimacy is impaired and all reality testing functions are difficult to mobilize so that judgment is poor. An individual with even moderate prior psychological disability is likely to be set back considerably and permanently in his or her maturation to adulthood and will certainly be impaired in the ability and capacity to deal with the real world opportunities and dangers. The loss of educational and occupational experiences will confirm these losses beyond any doubts.
This is the rough picture of the phenomenon of thought reform as practiced by present-day cults and the natural history of this process and its effects on the involved individuals. Though incomplete it is based on examination of 27 subjects at all stages of involvement in six different cult's as well as interviews with many more interested and informed observers. I believe the overall outline is sound though, of course, incomplete. The fact of a personality shift in my opinion is established. The fact that this is a phenomenon basically unfamiliar to the mental health professional I am certain of. The fact that our ordinary methods of treatment don't work is also clear as are the frightening hazards to the process of personal growth and mental health
In this paper I have tried to describe the phenomenon of involvement of young people in destructive cults. The problems of special vulnerability to conversion were described and two major groups of susceptibles were identified. A natural history of access, induction by coercive persuasion, the processes of thought and attitude reform and the maintenance of conversion described. An opinion that a permanent state of acculturation was likely to occur after a number of years was expressed. The rapidity of these catastrophic changes were emphasized as well as many of their qualities and these were related to mental health and maturational concerns.
Specific and important problems such as suicide, depression, psychotic reactions and psychosomatic disorders are most serious and deserve another discussion and much more study it is also clear that the multiple, serious and often bizarre problems of physical illness need careful and official attention. Both the mental health and physical health problems presented by the activities of the cults should be investigated in much greater detail by official agencies. I believe that they merit active interest of such constitutive authorities as this Legislative body who I trust can see some of the greater implications of all that has been discussed and will be further revealed in these hearings.
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