I was deprogrammed from a religious cult. This word, deprogramming, implies my mind had been programmed, much like a computer, and that a process could be done to reverse that programming. I see this as an analogy. Of course it is not as simple as working with computer code. The complexity of the human mind cannot be reduced to that of computer bits…yet, but the parallel can be drawn.
Robert Lifton’ work on totalism describes criteria for thought reform. When that criterion was presented to me during my “deprogramming” it was a devastating moment.
My world, as I had known it, was shattered. I remember hearing glass breaking around me in the moment I realized my experience for the past five years fit the description of totalist thought reform in every respect. My teeth began to shake and I felt cold. I screamed, and then wept. That night, staring at the ceiling, I thought of my life like a drum, void of identity. In that sense, my hard drive had been reformatted and I was a blank slate without an operating system.
From an evolutionary perspective it makes sense to find cunning ways to expand power and money. These things offer great advantage, which is the most fundamental aspect of evolution. Building memeplexes which capitalize on human vulnerability offers an opportunity to gain power and money.
It is possible to look at models of brain development and understand why I was easy prey, at seventeen years old, to a memeplex that offered easy answers to life’s hard questions. The memes worked together in symphony to control my decision making processes. Day after day I worked as hard as I could to send money to Sun Myung Moon. I would still be there today if I had not been “deprogrammed”. The infectious system of memes had to be removed for me to access rational thought.
I do not consider myself an expert on deprogramming. I have not been involved in deprogramming since I was arrested for kidnapping in 1988. My experience as a deprogrammer is described in detail in my book, Shoes of a Servant – My Unconditional Devotion to a Lie.
If you are interested in cults, the history of deprogramming people from cults, or need help with counseling someone who you believe to be experienceing thought reform I suggest Steven Hasson’s Book, Freedom of Mind.
You can also contact Steven Hasson through his website.
My goal is to understand as much as possible about vulnerability to coercion and to work toward lowering vulnerability through building and spreading effective memes. I want to shed light on those utilizing coercion for the sake of feeding their addiction to power and money, while making their tactics common knowledge.