Cults in our Midst
Bits and pieces from the above mentioned book
Focus of body of knowledge
Many bodies of knowledge, based on scientific findings in various fields.
Body of knowledge concerns product, competitors, how to sell and influence via legal persuasion.
Body of knowledge centers on political persuasion of masses of people.
Body of knowledge is explicitly designed to inculcate organizational values.
Body of knowledge centers on changing people without their knowledge.
Direction & degree of exchange
Two way pupil-teacher exchange encouraged.
Exchange can occur, but communication generally one-sided.
Some exchange occurs, but communication generally one-sided.
Limited exchange occurs; communication is one-sided.
No exchange occurs, communication is one-sided.
Ability to change
Change occurs as science advances; as students & other scholars offer criticism; as students & citizens evaluate programs.
Change made by those who pay for it, based upon the success of ad programs; by consumer law; & in response to consumer complaints.
Change based on changing tides in world politics and on political need to promote the group, nation, or international organization.
Change made through formal channels, via written suggestions to higher-ups.
Change occurs rarely; organization remains fairly rigid; change occurs primarily to improve thought reform effectiveness.
Structure of persuasion
Uses teacher-pupil structure; logical thinking encouraged.
Uses an instructional mode to persuade consumer/buyer.
Takes authoritarian stance to persuade masses.
Takes authoritarian & hierarchical stance.
Takes authoritarian & hierarchical stance; no full awareness on part of learner.
Type of relationship
Instruction is time-limited; consensual.
Consumer/buyer can accept or ignore communication.
Learner support & engrossment expected.
Instruction is contractual; consensual.
Group attempts to retain people forever.
Is not deceptive.
Can be deceptive, selecting only positive views.
Can be deceptive; often exagerated.
Is not deceptive.
Breadth of learning
Focuses on learning to learn & learning about reality; broad goal is rounded knowledge for development of the individual.
Has a narrow goal of swaying opinion to promote and sell an idea, object, or program; another goal is to enhance seller & possibly buyer.
Targets large political masses to make them believe a specific view or circumstance is good.
Stress narrow learning for a specific goal; to become something or to train for performance of duties.
Individualized target; hidden agenda (you will be changed one step at a time to become deployable to serve leaders).
Puts down competition.
Wants to lessen opposition.
Aware of Differences.
No respect for differences.
Mild to heavy persuasion.
Overt persuasion; sometimes unethical.
Improper and unethical techniques.
(Table found on pages 58 and 59 of chapter on Brainwashing and
The tactics of a thought-reform program are organized to:
Table 3.3. Criteria for Thought Reform.
|Conditions (Singer)||Themes (Lifton)||Stages (Schein)|
(Table from page 63).
Excerpt from Chapter Six: Physiological Persuasion Techniques.
Meditation may not always be good for you
There are many kinds of meditation being promoted by various individuals,
groups, and cults.
Like may cultic groups, meditation cults have varying degrees
of membership and commitment, which become known to members only
as time goes on. Those who sample only the beginning course may
have little or no knowledge of what a long-term association may
A number of persons in the United States have brought legal suits
for damages allegedly suffered as a consequence of their participation
in meditation programs. Settlements to the individuals were made
by the organization offering the programs.
The forgoing brief of the work of several researchers supports
my observations based on interviewing or providing therapy to
more than seventy persons who had meditated from four to seventeen
years in various groups.
A few examples will illustrate these former members' range of impairments, some of which remain after many years out of the cultic group.
Is Meditation ever beneficial?
Meditation, in itself, is not good or bad. But when a venal person
wants to sell you courses and persuade you to turn over your life
to him, you must beware. If you end up a slave to a money-making
power-seeking organization that pays no heed to the real difficulties
you may experience as a result of certain practices, that is a
bad use of those powerful practices.
Herbert Benson, author of the popular book, The Relaxation
Response, says meditation doesn't have to be costly - and
you don't need to buy a mantra. Just pick any word. During any
meditation or relaxation experiences, if you fell any mental or
physical discomfort, I recommend that you stop and consult a professional.
Chapter 7 : Psychological Persuasion Techniques
Trance and Hypnosis
When this method is used in a cultic environment, it becomes a
form of psychological manipulation and coercion because the cult
leader implants suggestions aimed at his own agenda while the
person is in a vulnerable state.
A considerable number of different guided-imagery techniques are
used by cult leaders and trainers to remove followers from their
normal frames of reference.
Cult members often say to their families and friends, "No
one orders me around. I choose to do what I do." Getting
members to think that way is one of the manipulations mastered
by cult leaders who have become skillful at getting acts carried
out through indirection and implication. Accomplishing this task
is easier when the member is in an altered state, fatigued, or
otherwise anxious or under stress.
Peer Pressure and Modeling
We look around and see models, and we comport ourselves to be
like them. Most cults train new members either overtly stated
policies or by more implicit shaping, to act in ways desired by
Peer pressure is an effective means to get people to fit their
behavior to group norms. In cults, this works for new and old
members alike, going far beyond what is generally seen in society
at large. In an atmosphere that states or implies that there
is only one way to be this is it, it is most important to have
models around to imitate.
According to Cialdini, the majority of the thousands of different tactics that compliance professionals use fall into six categories, and each category is based on a psychological principle that directs human behavior. These six principles are:
We can see how transformations occur when the six principles are skillfully put into play by cult leaders and cultic groups. For example:
Chapter 9: The threat of Imtimidation
In 1989, the Religious News service carried a story that Dr. barker's
book was funded by the Unification Church, saying that Barker
"freely admits that the Unification Church paid all her expenses
to attend 18 conferences in Europe, new York, the Caribbean, Korea,
and South America.
One member of Parliament said, "Any
academic who allow themselves to be manipulated to lend credence
to a cult does harm to families all over the world."
INFORM, lost its U.K. government funding in 1993 after much criticism
from churches, parents, and former cult members, and Barker resigned
as the organization's director and chairperson.
They also shelter the cults by trying to discredit the reports
of ex-members who try to tell the world what it was like to be
in a cult. The apologists disparage these former members, calling
them bitter apostates, disgruntled, defectors, disloyal, and turncoats.
David Bromley and Anson Shupe, sociologists. Cult apologists
blame the victims and protect the villians. Like the mad kings
of old, they shoot the messenger bearing bad news.
One of the most illogical positions taken by the apologists is
their claim that only current cult members tell the truth. However,
the findings of many researchers, as well as my own numerous interviews
with former members, show that cult members are so dependent on
the group while they are in it that they dare not tell the truth,
dare not complain.
Many of the large international cults have nearly unlimited financial
resources and the power to intimidate publishers, newspapers,
television producers, academic researchers, professionals, and
any of the public who may speak up about cults.
If cults and their sympathizers block publication of scientific
studies about their groups the histories of their leaders, and
fair comment from scholars, the cults become the arbiters of what
the world hears about them. Without a free press, scientific
publications, fair comment, and the ability to express opinions,
all of us are at the mercy of cult leaders who would determine
what we read, what we say, and what we think.
Former CAN president Patricia Ryan, the daughter of Congressman
Leo J. Ryan who was assassinated at Jonestown, said, "The
American courts were never meant to be used as a weapon available
to those with money to destroy with frivolous legal actions anyone
perceived as their enemy. Scientology has a long history of using
the courts this way, and it has to stop if justice means anything
in our courts today."
There are many frightening examples of cults' stark and widespread
efforts at silencing and intimidating critics. Not only have
researchers, journalists, authors, and ordinary citizens been
intimidated, attacked, and sued, but cults have also attempted
to frighten professionals away from the courts, waging concentrated
attacks on professionals who have testified on behalf of ex-members.
In the hope of stifling attorneys, physicians, psychiatrists
and psychologists, social workers, child welfare evaluators, and
any others who might aid cult victims in legal suits or child
custody cases, certain cults have stooped to vicious ends and
Chapter 11: Leaving the Cult / Recovery
Why it's hard to leave.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychiatric social workers dealing
with cult members suggested behavioral changes they labeled the
cult indoctrinee syndrome. These changes included:
Deprogramming - that is, providing members with information about
the cult and showing them how their own decision-making power
had been taken away from them.
Exit counseling identifies the educational process that takes
place in efforts to get cult members to reevaluate their membership.
In fact "deprogramming" is in many ways a more accurate
description of the process, but since that word is now tinged
with memories of the early snatchings and restraint, most people
are reluctant to use it.
Mental Health Professionals and Clergy as Counselors.
Families who call upon these clergy or mental health professionals
are almost always told some variant of "It's just a passing
stage; he will outgrow it," or "There is nothing to
be done; she is forty years old (or seventy)." Because in
most cases these professionals don't recognize how intense influence,
social pressure, and cult interactions affect cult members, they
simply turn away or misdirect the family.
Exit Counseling Versus Therapy
From my interviews with many former cult members - some who have
received exit counseling that participation in an exit counseling
session is far better than ordinary psychiatric or psychological
treatment, both for assisting people who are in cults to evaluate
whether they want to stay in, and for helping those who have already
left but are having trouble understanding and handling what went
on during their cult days and the types of problems they are experiencing
in the aftermath of their cult involvement.
From the very early days of my work with ex-cult members, I have
noticed that those who have been deprogrammed or counseled out
make the easiest, best, and quickest returns to normal life.
Other professionals have found the same thing, which suggests
that the education and information provided by exit counseling
may be extremely valuable, helping those leaving cults to understand
their own situation and feelings and to adapt to life in the regular
Chapter 12: Recovery; Coming out of the Pseudopersonality
Just as cults vary greatly, so do their members, their after-effects,
and the duration of those effects. Yet those who help former
cult members have seen certain patterns in the types of trauma,
damage, and emotional and cognitive difficulties. This has been
true for former members of a variety of cults and groups that
use thought-reform processes.
Not everyone who is exposed to thought-reform processes is successfully
manipulated, however; nor does everyone respond with major reactive
symptoms. An evaluation of what a person may experience after
belonging to a cult requires study of the group's particular practices,
social and psychological pressures, and conditions. Nevertheless,
groups using thought-reform processes can be usefully classed
into two main categories: those that primarily use dissociative
techniques and those that primarily use emotional arousal techniques.
Each category produces characteristic negative psychological
Former members of groups relying mainly on the use of dissociative
techniques - meditation, trance states, guided imagery, past-lives
regression, and hyperventilation - have tended to exhibit these
Eastern based cults and New Age groups doing past-lives work and
channeling fall into this first category.
Former members of groups using primarily intense aversive emotional arousal techniques - guilt and fear induction, strict discipline and punishments, excessive criticism and blame - have tended to experience these aftereffects:
Bible-based, political, racial, occult, and psychotherapy cults
typically fit into this category.
However, although cults tend to focus on one category or the other,
they often use a multitude of techniques and do not restrict them
selves to one or the other of these major groupings. For example,
the large group awareness training programs and some psychotherapy
cults use both kinds of techniques. Moreover, a group relying
heavily on meditation, trance, and dissociative techniques is
also likely to include elements of intense emotional arousal devices,
and the reverse is also true. Some of the most intense emotional
arousal responses can be produced by guided imagery, speaking
in toungues, and other trance-inducing procedures. Thus it is
important not to regard this heuristic division too rigidly, since
the techniques readily overlap and can produce a range of responses.
Some aftereffects may be experienced by former members regardless of the kind of cult they were in. These general aftereffects are:
Recovering from Cult Aftereffects
Once out of a cult, former cult members, although now free, face
the challenge of reentering the society they once rejected. The
array of necessary adjustments can be summed up as coming out
of the pseudopersonality, or as other have termed it, dropping
the synthetic identity or reuniting with the split-off old self.
An additional helpful way to view the many problems faced by
former cult members is to cluster them into five major areas of
adjustment: practical, psychological-emotional, cognitive, social-personal,
and philosophical-attitudinal. Former cult members must:
It is through dealing with all these areas that the former cult
member gains insight into his or her experience and, over time,
sheds the cult pseudopersonality.
I will explore a kind of peeling off of the outer layer of identity
that was taken on while in the cult. The process is a matter
of recovering one's self and one's value system, and of keeping
whatever good was learned during cult days while discarding all
Table 12.1. Major Areas of Postcult Adjustment
|Makes living arrangements. Arranges financial support.
Arranges medical & dental care.
Examines nutrition & eating habits.
Gets Psychological examination, if needed.
Makes career & educational plans, & gets vocational counseling, if needed.
Explains the years in the cult.
Structures daily life.
Copes with difficulties created by distrust of professional services: medical, dental, & mental health professionals & educators.
Has feelings of loss.
Feels guilt & regret.
Lacks self-esteem & self-confidence; exhibits self-blaming attitudes & excessive doubts.
Has panic attacks.
Experiences relaxation-induced anxiety (RIA) & tics.
Separates from family & friends still in the cult.
Exhibits fear of the group.
Feels generalized paranoia & fear of the world.
Is overly dependent for age; submissive, suggestible.
Worries over reality of past lives; must sort out true past from one engendered by the cult.
Experiences blurring of mental acuity.
Has difficulty concentrating.
Has memory loss.
Cannot recall what was just read or heard.
Must stop using cult language.
Has sense of losing track of time.
Experiences floating, slipping into altered states.
Has poor & unreliable sense of judgment.
Hears what others say uncritically & passively.
Has recurring bizarre mental contents from the cult: for example, waking dreams, orange fog.
|Has pervasive sense of alienation.
Needs to reconnect with family & friends.
Needs to make new friends.
Distrusts own ability to make good choices.
Has phobic-like constriction of social contacts; mistrusts/distrusts others.
Is confused about sexuality & sexual identity & roles.
Faces dealing with marital, family/parental & child custody issues.
Fears making a commitment to another person.
Feels unable to make & express opinions.
Overextends self to make up for lost time; is unable to say no.
Has sense of being watched all the time - the fishbowl effect.
Is embarrassed & uncertain how or when to tell others about cult experience; fears rejection.
|Has hypercritical attitude toward others & society.
Needs to overcome aversions ingrained by the cult.
Has condemning attitude toward normal human foibles & is harsh towards self & others; still judges by cult standards.
Lacks satisfaction with the world & self; feels emptiness at no longer being a world saver.
Is unable to be kind to or supportive of others.
Fears joining any group or being active.
Feels loss of sense of being elite.
Needs to reactivate own belief system & moral code/values & sort them out from the ones adopted in the cult.
Not all former cult members encounter all the problems listed
in Table 12.1, nor do most have them in severe and extended form.
Some individuals need only a few months to get themselves going
again. After encountering some adjustment problems to life outside
the cult, they make rather rapid and uneventful reintegrations
into everyday life. Generally, however, it takes individuals
anywhere from six to twenty-four months to get their lives functioning
again at a level commensurate with their histories and talents.
Even then, however, that functioning may not reflect what is
still going on inside them. Many are still sorting out the conflicts
and harms that grew out of their cult experience long after two
years have gone by.
Each former member wrestles with a number of the problems. Some
need more time than others to resolve all the issues they face,
and a few never get their lives going again.
Most of the practical issues faced by former cult members, such
as where to live, how to earn a living, and nutritional and medical
concerns are nearly universal concerns and need little explanation.
Unfamiliar with handling personal money, unaware of how to earn
money legitimately, or full of resentment at having turned over
family fortunes or money earned to their former cult.
Many former cult members, while in their cults, took in more per
day fund-raising on the streets than they will ever be able to
earn on any job.
After such experiences, it can be difficult to figure out how
to recoup resources or make an honest living, not to mention coping
with the guilt many former members feel at having taken part in
such deceptions. These cult experiences may make it necessary
for former members to contact career counseling or mental health
Education and Health Care
The role of professional services, in particular medicine and
psychology, is important in postcult adaptation. Some cults put
down modern medicine and psychiatry and psychology, along with
education in general.
Cult doctrine preaches that if they only follow certain instructions,
they will never be ill, never feel blue, and will save the planet,
attain nirvana, and become spiritually or politically perfect.
Meanwhile cult chores and practices keep them tired, worn down,
and often ill. But they have to hide these conditions and keep
smiling and working.
When it comes to education, many cults teach that members should
"get out of the mind," stop thinking, and get into the
heart or the everyday work of the cult. Some leaders preach that
we are born with "natural knowing" that has been impaired
by school, parents, and society, and that followers should reject
"old thinking" and live by the dictates of the leader.
Afterward, former cult members of almost any age and background
need some sort of education or training to update knowledge and
skills and to expand their training.
After years of neglecting their minds and their health, former
cult members feel odd and possibly even guilty about their concern
with illness, health issues, and their psychological states after
leaving the group They soon realize, however, that their education
stopped when they joined the cult, that they have neglected their
health, and that they are in emotional turmoil. Yet they have
been turned against the very support systems they now need. As
they struggle to sort out their personal views about education,
medicine, and mental health care, often they may need urging and
explanations about what happened int he cult to create their negative
feelings and attitudes.
Explaining time Spent in the Cult.
Most people think that cult members are a breed apart and that
they must be an odd, dumb, and even crazy bunch. Thus former
cult members need to prepare themselves to deal with the most
frequent responses relatives, old friends, and new acquaintances
make when they learn that the person was in a cult. They are
likely to come forth with some version of "But you seem
like such a nice person, so bright. How come you were in a cult?
Were you really in a cult? You couldn't have been - only weirdos
Application forms for jobs, higher education, and professional
schools will ask for an accounting of one's past education and
There have been no specific studies of this issue, but I have
been told by many former cult members how embarrassed they are
to tell prospective employers they were in a cult. They know
how a blame-the-victim attitude colors the way they will be regarded.
People learn to deal creatively with all these issues as they
reenter society, network with other former members, and get experience
in making friends, applying for jobs, and telling their stories
when they feel safe and comfortable doing so.
Psychological and Emotional Difficulties.
With their twenty-four-hour regimes of ritual, work, worship,
and community, cults provide members with tasks and purpose.
When these members leave, a sense of meaningless surfaces. Leaving
the cult means losing friends, a mission of life, and direction.
Former members also soon realize that they have lost their innocence.
They entered the cult full of reverential amazement and with
wide-eyed naivete only to discover that they had been deceived
and betrayed. As a result, they may be pervaded with a feeling
Former members have a variety of other losses to contend with.
They often speak of their regret for the lost years during which
they wandered off the main paths of everyday life. They regret
being out of step and behind their peers in career and life pursuits.
They feel the loss of a solid sense of self-esteen and self-confidence
as they come to realize that they were used to or that they surrendered
Guilt and Shame.
Former cult members experience an overdose of guile and shame.
In the cult, most were obligated to enlist new members and to
collect money in less than honest ways. They feel guilty about
their treatment of parents, brothers and sisters, and friends'
about having lied, having committed acts of violence, or having
carried out illegal activities at the bidding of the cult leader.
They feel guilty about having tricked others into supporting
the cult in some way, and about those they recruited who are still
int he cult or who never would have joined otherwise.
Former members may also feel extreme and unwarranted guilt over
almost anything they thought or did, fears of all kinds of things,
and intense doubt every time they try to make a decision. As
they unearth the stark reality of the deception and dishonesty
of cult life, many ex-members also feel great remorse over their
action and frequently worry about how to right the wrongs they
did. They can overcome such guilt only by accepting what they
did and forgiving themselves, making amends with others where
Many former members experience panic attacks, defined as discrete
periods of intense fear or discomfort in which any four of the
following symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within about
Panic attacks and other panic disorders are commonly experienced
by people coming out of the emotional arousal cultic groups which
tend to focus on stimulating fear and guilt.
Fear of Retribution.
Fear of the cult is long lasting, especially if the group has
a tendency toward violence. Many cult leaders threaten the lives
of potential defectors.
Some former members fear that zealous current members will harm
them or their families to show the leader how devoted the current
Some groups have specific derogatory labels for persons who criticize
the cult, and they train their members to avoid or harass these
stated "enemies." For such reasons, fear and anxiety
are high in many former cult members from a variety of groups
- and not without justification, although it appears that most
cults soon turn their energies to recruiting new members rather
than prolonging efforts to harass defectors. Nevertheless, even
after the initial fear of retaliation has passed, ex-members worry
about how to handle the inevitable chance street meetings with
cult members, expecting these members to try to stir up the ex-members'
feelings of guilt over leaving and to condemn their present life.
Fear of Self.
Yet another kind of fear exists - a more inwardly focused fear
that comes from believing that if you leave, you will be doomed
to live a life of unenlightenment, will never be psychologically
whole, never spiritually fulfilled, never healthy or able to live
Some cults inculcate their followers with notions that they contain
hidden selves or hidden loads of stress that may erupt at any
moment and destroy or at least severely damage them. Former members
may worry indefinitely about their inner "ticking bomb"
or the cult leader's dire predictions of the horrible events that
will befall them and their families. Because they have been so
well trained, former cult members may continue to see this possible
fate as something they may bring on themselves by having left
the group, given up on their faith, and betrayed the cause.
Often at the root of the fear is the memory of old humiliations
administered for stepping out of line. A woman who had been in
a cult for more than five years said: "Some of the older
members might still be able to get to me and crush my spirit like
they did when I became depressed and couldn't go out and fund
raise or recruit. I was unable to eat or sleep. I was weak and
ineffectual. They called me and the leader screamed at me: 'You're
too rebellious. I am going to break your spirit. You are too
strong-willed.' They made me crawl at their feet. I still freak
out when I think about how close they drove me to suicide that
day; for a long time afterward, all I could do was help with cooking.
I can hardly remember the details - it was a nightmare."
It is crucial to analyze and work through such fears objectively.
The former member needs to learn that the cult does not hold
magical powers over him or her.
Conflicts over those Left Behind.
Fear and anxiety may be most acute for former members who have
left a spouse or children in the cult. Any effort to make contact
risks breaking any remaining link to those left behind. Often
painful legal actions ensue over child custody or conservatorships,
fought out between the one who leaves and the spouse who remains
loyal to the cult.
Lack of Understanding in the Outside World.
A problem related to the fear and anxieties that former cult members
experience is that often they find it difficult to get others,
even helping professionals, to understand what they are going
through. Some psychiatrists and psychologists who have ex-members
as clients think that they are psychotic, brain damaged, or malingering
when they report seeing fog or hearing the voice of Thor, their
old leader in another life, or being unable to hold down a job.
When I am consulted on such cases, although I cannot make a diagnosis
without seeing the person, I urge the therapists to listen, learn
more, and see what happens when they allow a client to go over
the details of cult life. As was described in Chapter Six and
Seven, many of these phenomena are products of the odd, repetitive
training that goes on in cults, and they generally go away with
simple listening and helping the patient see how the behavior
became conditioned. To diagnose these occurrences as a true hallucination
or a sign of major mental disturbance can cause even more damage
to the person that he or she has already suffered.
While a few cult members may actually have become psychotic in
the cult, more typically, seemingly psychotic behavior is a result
of cult conditioning. For example, someone once asked me during
a consultation if I saw the Devil sitting across the room where
he pointed. I looked over, told him no, and asked if he did.
We then talked about the sources of this idea and when it first
happened. From that discussion, we learned that the cult leader
often used the phrase, "I see the Devil beside you."
He would say it to those being chastised or use it to convey
that a person was not trustworthy but "of the Devil."
When I commented to the man that maybe he wasn't able to fully
trust me yet and that it was sensible to go slowly in trusting
anyone, he was relieved. Further discussion revealed that he
was not hallucinating (and never had), but he had been conditioned
by his cult leader to associate feelings of distrust with ideas
of the Devil.
So some odd event s may well be leftovers from cult days. All
such symptoms need to be checked out carefully, with warmth and
Cult practices can cause members' mental skills to falter and
become inefficient. Since all cult members learn that reflective
thought gets them in trouble, it's no wonder that they emerge
with some mental constrictions. Many ex-members experience difficulty
concentrating, an inability to focus and maintain attention, and
impaired memory, especially short-term memory. It is reassuring
for them to know that these aftereffects will pass. General explanations
of what they are going through will help them.
Most of us who work with people soon after they emerge from cultic
groups note that a lack of humor is almost universal until they
have been away from the group for some time. In cults, people
do not laugh, joke, and think at the multiple levels that other
people ordinarily do and that allow them to grasp the incongruities
central to much humor.
Many former members are also unable to comprehend what they read
for some time. Many are forgetful, fail to meet deadlines, lose
jobs because of inefficiency, and miss appointments. Some become
very literal in their thinking. They've been so obedient and
nonreflective that, like "Jack" in the following example,
they are now highly concrete and literal in the ways they deal
with what they hear, see or read.
Many former members find themselves accepting almost everything
they hear, just as they were trained to do. They cannot listen
and judge; they listen and obey. As a result, simple remarks
by friends, family, dates, and co-workers are taken as commands,
even though the person may not feel like doing the task or dislikes
whatever it is.
Leftover Cult Language.
A prime hurdle for former cult members is to overcome speaking
and thinking in the cult's special language. As we have seen,
each group has its own jargon, usually based on applying new and
idiosyncratic meanings to regular words and phrases. The jargon
creates a sense of eliteness, solidarity, and belonging among
those in the in-group; at the same time, it cuts people off from
easy conversation with outsiders. This is true even in the live-out
cults, whose members work at outside jobs but put in most of their
free time with the cult; during that time with the cult, they
speak the group jargon. In certain groups, the loaded language
is more centrally encompassing than in others and thus harder
to shed afterward. That is, supplies new terms for practically
everything and thereby controls more of the members' thinking.
Communication with others is naturally hindered as long as former
members continue to use cult terminology. They don't make sense
when they speak to others, and sometimes they can't make sense
out of their own internal thoughts.
Memory Loss and Altered Memories.
The distorted personal history gradually built up in the cult
is not quickly removed. Perhaps this is nowhere more apparent
than in the recent controversy over "recovered" memories
of child abuse and other highly painful events. Stories of false
memory syndrome, or as researchers in hypnosis have called
them decades, pseudo-memories, are frequently in the news.
A pseudo-memory is a fictitious experience induced in a
person's memory, either by design or inadvertently, through the
user of guided imagery, hypnosis (ranging from light to deep trance
states), and direct and indirect suggestions. During the trance
state, or even without trance via carefully constructed suggestions,
individuals can be led to construct scenes in their minds. They
experience these fabricated, or confabulated, images as vividly
as, or even more vividly than, real-life memories, even though
the events never happened and are products of the interaction
between a manipulative operator and a dependent subject.
Cult members may be trained to have specific visualizations and
then be praised and rewarded and feel self-fulfilled when they
achieve the goal.
Some cults specialize in creating purely fictional identities
through emphasizing how bad the member's past was, as discussed
in Chapter Seven. Cults that focus on past-lives regression and
getting members to think they are communicating with entities
from past lives build into their followers rather firm and puzzling
revisions of history. In such cults, long-term members lead newer
members through processes in which they are encouraged to locate
events and imagine experiences and past lives that date back millions
of years. In all these cases, the revised personal history becomes
part of the pseudo-identity the cult member adopts during cult
Cults have been leading followers to create revised histories
for some years now. Members have been made to gradually accuse
parents and family and separate from them, then they are repeatedly
rewarded for these actions and statements. This practice leaves
many former members deeply conflicted.
Many times, former cult members will have written hateful, accusatory
letters - the so-called disconnect letters - to parents and relatives
at the direction of the cult after they were led to believe that
their parents acted in accordance with the fabrications concocted
during history revision. Within the cult milieu, these "mystical
manipulations" are very believable.
Eventually former cult members realize that their life history
was distorted and manipulated by cult practices, and they will
want to sort out the truth from fabrication. They will desire
to reconnect with what was real and rid themselves of nagging
guilt and anxiety and distorted self-image engendered by the cult.
Triggers, Flashbacks and Floating.
A number of cult practices tend to produce varying degrees of
trance states, disrupt normal reflective thought, and interrupt
a person's general reality orientation (GRO). After practicing
or participating in certain exercises and activities for years,
some of these undesirable habits become ingrained. Both while
in the cult and after leaving, a number of persons involuntarily
enter dissociative states and have difficulty maintaining reflective
thinking and concentration. Time goes by without their being aware
of it. During these periods, they have certain kinds of memories
and slip into altered states of consciousness, which they sometimes
call flashbacks or floating. But these are, in fact, forms
Dissociation is a normal mental response to anxiety. A momentary
anxiety arises when internal or external cues (trigger)
set off a memory, a related idea, or a state of feeling that has
anxiety attached to it. This brief anxiety experience alerts
the mind to split off - that is, the mind stops paying attention
to the surrounding reality of the moment. The person becomes
absorbed and immersed in some other mental picture, idea, or feeling.
This dissociation occurs unexpectedly and unintentionally and
it is this dissociation that can be experienced as a floating
Most of the time the floating is described by former cult members
as "how I felt while in the group." Sometimes the feeling
is one of nostalgia for some aspect of the cult. Sometimes it
is a feeling of fear that the person should go back to the cult.
Most of the time, people describe it as being suspended between
the two worlds of present life and the past cult life.
Triggers, flashbacks, and floating are part of the normal repertoire
of the human mind, but usually people experience them as brief,
infrequent episodes. Because certain cult practices tend to produce
hypnotic states and are used extensively for prolonged periods,
people emerge with years of practice in how to dissociate. What
are transient, brief mental moments for the ordinary person become
practiced and reinforced behaviors for cult members. The moments
of dissociation become intensified, prolonged, and disruptive
experiences; they prevent sustained reflective thinking, concentration,
and the ability to plan ahead.
Because these dissociative responses are overlearned, they become
distracting, immobilizing habits. They often occur when a person
has to shift from one task to the next. It's as though the choice
of what to do next sets off the act of spacing out. In the cult,
that moment of what to do next was stressful: you had to make
a decision knowing that all decisions had to be "right"
and that you could get into trouble if your decision was wrong.
This experience is perhaps the source of the apparent conditioning
that causes decision making to trigger a dissociation.
Consequently, great difficulty in making decisions is common among
ex-members. At times they do not know what to do, say, or think.
It is as though they suddenly become dependent and childlike,
looking for direction. In the cult, they followed a predetermined
path of obedience. Now they find themselves fearful, feeling
stupid and guilty, and not knowing what to do. The newly found
independent decision making process becomes riddled with fears
and anxieties - all ripe moments for floating.
Floating episodes occur more frequently when someone is tired
or ill, at the end of the day, on long highway drives, or doing
highly repetitive tasks - that is, when the person feels weary
and unfocused but must also think. A period of dissociation and
a puzzled moment of wondering, What just happened to my thoughts
and feelings? Will arrive at such times. It helps if former members
can learn to recognize those vulnerable moments in their lives
for the conditioned responses that they are.
Social and Personal Relations.
A majority of former cult members experience varying degrees of
anomie, or alienation, for some period of time. This sense
of alienation and confusion results from the loss and then the
reawakening of previous norms, ideals, and goals. It is exacerbated
as the individual tries to integrate three cultures: the culture
he or she lived in before joining the cultic group, the culture
of the group itself, and the culture of the general society encountered
now that the person is out of the group. The theories learned
and held to so strongly in the cult need to be reconciled with
the person's precult past as well as the postcult present. In
a sense, the former member is asking, Who am I? In the midst of
three sets of competing value systems.
For this reason, former cult members often feel like immigrants
or refugees entering a foreign culture. In most cases, however,
they are actually reentering their own former culture, bringing
along a series of cult experiences and beliefs that may conflict
with the norms and expectations of society in general. Unlike
the immigrant confronting novel situations, the person coming
out of a cult is confronting the society she or he once rejected.
Building a New Social Network.
Many friends, a fellowship with common interests, and the intimacy
of sharing a significant experience are all left behind when members
walk away from a cult. A cult is a world of its own. Leaving
such an all-encompassing experience means having to look for new
friends in what you were taught is an uncomprehending or suspicious
world. Moreover, a prominent characteristic of cult members,
particularly in those who were in a cult for a long time, is a
developmental lag in their social and experiential lives.
Gradually former members need to start making friends, dating,
and having a social life, as well as either working for a living
or returning to college or both. It's important to give them enough
time to make this adjustment and to catch up. It doesn't have
to be a great deal of time but enough so that they can pull themselves
together in various ways before attempting complicated mental,
social, and business enterprises.
Upon leaving the group, a person usually discovers that the group
practices shown toward outsiders are now turned on him or her
- that is, he or she is scorned and ostricized. Also, there is
no hope of retaining cult friendships because cult members have
been trained to hate defectors, and because members may try to
pull the former member back in. In addition, the former member
may not easily resume relationships with former friends and family
because of the harsh way these relationships were most likely
broken off when he or she joined the cult.
Leaving is a final door slam: the past is behind, and the exiting
cult member is heading forward - but alone - toward an uncharted
future in which the former member has to start all over at creating
a friendship network.
Dating and Sexuality.
Some people try to make up for lost time through binges of dating,
drinking, and sexual adventures. However, this behavior often
produces overwhelming guilt and shame when former members contrast
the cult's prohibitions to their new freedom. It also can lead
to some uncomfortable, regrettable experiences.
Other simply panic and avoid dating altogether.
Often people were struggling with issues of sexuality, dating
and marriage before they joined a cult, and the cult artificially
alleviated such struggles by restricting sexual contact and pairing,
ostensibly to keep the members targeted on doing the "work
of the master." Even marriage and parenthood, if permitted,
are subject to cult rules. Sexuality in cults is almost always
monitored or controlled in some way. Pairing off with another
means you may care more for that person than for the leader or
group mission. So cult leaders develop ways to ensure that allegiance
goes to the top, not sideways in pair bonding. Another result
of this control of sexuality is that cult friendships become sexually
neutral and nonthreatening; rules that permit only brotherly and
sisterly love can take a heavy burden off a conflicted young adult.
In some instances, highly charged interpersonal manipulations
performed in the cult have long-lasting consequences. "Jennifer"
said she was often chastised by a prestigious female cult member
for "showing lustful thoughts toward the brothers. She would
have me lie face down of the floor. She would lie on top of me
and message me to drive Satan out. Soon, she began accusing me
of being a lesbian!" After leaving the cult, Jennifer felt
convinced about her sexual preferences.
Some groups promote a level of membership made up of renunciates,
individuals who are akin to monks in the Far East. Some of these
men and women do not engage in heterosexual lives when they leave
the group, nor are they homosexual. The cult has so affected
their outlook that they simply avoid issues of sexuality.
Orgiastic cults enforce sexuality rather than celibacy, and this
too affects departing individuals. Describing her cult leader,
one woman said, "He uses orgies to break down our inhibitions.
If a person didn't feel comfortable in group sex, he said it
indicated a psychological hang-up that had to be stripped away
because it prevented us from all from melding and unifying."
A few cults practice child-to-child and adult-to-adult sexual
encounters and forms of prostitution or sexual slavery, sometimes
combined with neo-Christian philosophy. There are also a few
aberrant Mormon-based cults that practices polygamy. In some
of the guru-based cults, the guru teaches and demands celibacy
but has sexual liaisons with male or female members.
Upon leaving groups with unusual sexual practices, ex-members
often are hesitant to talk about their experiences lest the listener
be critical of them for participating. This is a case where good
therapeutic counseling - or the sympathetic ear of a trusted friend
- may be beneficial.
When one partner of a married pair is recruited into a cult, pressure
is put on that person to get the partner to join. If the partner
doesn't, most of the time the cult, in effect, breaks up the marriage.
Leaders give talks about how sinful, how suppressive, how negative
the partner is, and the combination of keeping members busy with
cult work while denigrating nonmember partners wrecks many marriages.
If both partners have joined the cult, they do not feel able to
talk with one another about plans to escape the cult because loyalty
to the leader supersedes marital obligations. Therefore one partner
might leave without letting the other know, rather than run the
risk of being stopped because the other had told the leadership.
A number of marriages break up because the ones who leave are
crushed when they realize that love and marital loyalty are nothing
compared to their partner's fear and duty to the cult and that
the partner has chosen loyalty to the cult leader over loyalty
to the spouse.
A number of groups arrange member's marriages. The most publicized
are the mass weddings in Moon's Unification Church, such as one
in which 5,150 members were united in a group ceremony. Smaller
groups do the same on a reduced scale. Legal consultation is
needed for those who leave a spouse and/or children back in the
cult or who simply no longer wish to remain married to a partner
they didn't choose.
Former cult members find themselves feeling phobic in many social
situations. They tend to withdraw and to stay away from crowds
and gatherings of more than several people. Feeling badly ripped
off by the cult experience, they don't trust their own judgment,
and they don't trust other people. Additionally, they lack self-esteem
and self-confidence; they feel incompetent, clumsy, and undesirable
as a consequence of their cult training.
Former members' inability to trust is one of their most frequent
and vivid problems. Not only do they realize that they trusted
too much, but also they often end up blaming themselves for ever
joining the cult and for feeling inadequate about their decision-making
abilities and judgment.
The "Fishbowl" Effect.
A special problem for cult veterans is the constant watchfulness
of family and friends, who are on the alert for any signs that
the difficulties of real life may send the former member back
to the cult. Mild dissociation, deep preoccupations, mood swings,
and positive talk about the cult tend to cause alarm in a former
member's family. Both new acquaintances and old friends can also
trigger a former member's feeling that people are staring, wondering
why he or she joined a cult. Often nether the ex-member nor family
and friends know how to open up a discussion of this topic. The
best advice I can give for dealing with this if for ex-members
to focus on the reality of their surroundings and details of the
current conversation until the sense of being under scrutiny gradually
Former members sometimes want to talk to people about positive
aspects of the cult experience. Besides acknowledging the seriousness
of having made a commitment, the sense of purpose and accomplishment,
and the simplicity of life in the old regime, they generally want
to discuss a few warm friendships or romances, as well as their
unique travels, experiences, or personal insights. Yet they commonly
feel that others, especially family, want to hear only the negative.
Former members need to talk about their experiences as they wish,
explaining to those around them that this doesn't mean they're
running back to the cult. Part of shedding the cult's black-and-white
thinking is learning to see all sides of an issue, and that learning
will apply or the way the cult experience is seen as well.
Fear of Commitment.
Many people coming out of cults want to find ways to put their
altruism and energy back to work without becoming pawns in another
manipulative group. Some fear they have become "groupies"
defenseless against entanglements with controlling organization
or people. They feel a need for affiliations, yet wonder how
to select properly among the myriad contending organizations -
social, religious, philanthropic, service, and political - choosing
a group in which they can continue to be their own bosses.
For a period of time, most will experience this reluctance to
join any type of group or to make a commitment to another person
or an activity or life plan. They will fear going back to their
old church, old club, or old college; they will avoid social activities
and volunteer organizations.
This may, in fact, be a healthy reaction. Those of us helping
ex-cult members advise caution about joining any new group and
suggest, instead, purely social, work, or school-related activities,
at least for the time being, until the person is more fully distanced
from the cult experience and better understands the recruitment
Philosophical and Attitudinal Issues.
Most cults claim their members are the elite of the world, even
though individual members may be treated subserviently and degraded.
While in the cult, members identify with this claim and display
moral disdain toward others. They internalize the group's value
system and its sense of moral pretentiousness, intellectual superiority,
and condescension toward the outside world. In the cult, members
get points for showing moral disdain for nonmembers and for members
who faltered of left the group.
Aversions and Hypercritical Attitudes.
Aversions and loathing are taught by many cults, sometimes in
subtle forms. Ex-members of various cults talk about how they
must struggle to not fuss at women in pants suits, not rage at
relatives who eat meat, and not scoff at mainstream political
or social advances. They may find themselves clinging to cult
ways, such as wanting to wear dark, dingy clothes to avoid looking
like a "harlot," wanting to be on the side of righteousness
in their thinking, wanting never to spend money, show closeness,
or have fun.
Some are taught prejudice toward certain races, religions, ethnic
groups, or social classes, or even something as simple as people
who wear clothing of the "wrong" color. While in the
group, members are praised for sounding off about these pet hates
of the leader. Out of the cult now, the person wants desperately
to stop spewing hatred.
Teenagers raised in such groups need considerable training in
how to live in a multethnic, multicultural, multiracial world
with ecumencial practices. Never instructed in how to live in
a democratic world, they learned to exist in a fascist one, where
followers echo the leader's values. One teenager and his parents
came to me for help because the boy had attended only cult schools.
Now out of the cult, he spouted the venom of the cult leader
and was being beaten and ostracized by others at school; he was
terribly confused. He sobbed as he told me, "I told the
class what the leader taught us - that the Pope and the United
States Postal Service were part of a Communist conspiracy - and
everybody laughed at me and said, 'There goes crazy ["Joey"]
again.' After school they beat me up and say they will get me."
Through the school principle and teacher, we worked out an educational
program for him and eventually he and his parents instructed the
class about cults, showed educational films on cults, and discussed
how to avoid getting recruited.
To newly emerged ex-cult members, people on the outside do not
seem dedicated or hardworking enough. They appear lazy and uncaring
about the world. Cults preach perfection and condemn members
for not being perfect, and cult members spend years trying to
live up to the ideal of perfection, always failing because the
standards are beyond human capabilities. Conditioned by their
cult's condemnation of the beliefs and conduct of outsiders, former
members tend to remain hypercritical of much ordinary human behavior.
While in the cult, members not only learned to be harsh to those
under them who were not perfect, but were sometimes punished for
the shortcomings of others as well their own. Upon entering the
general society, some former members continue to be punitive,
critical, confrontational taskmasters. The simple human errors
and forgetfulness of others can bring an ex-cult member to look
down on them. Cults organized around paramilitary, political,
and psychological themes tend to teach some of the harshest and
most confrontational practices.
No Longer a World Saver.
Nothing on the outside seems as vital and grand as life was supposed
to be in the cult. Members were told they were doing "world-class
work." Upon emerging, the ex-member looks at the jobs people
do, and sees them as hopelessly small and without meaning compared
to his or her work for a group that was purportedly saving souls
or the world itself.
Helpful Tasks for Individuals Leaving Cults.
Knowing that others before you have experienced many of the symptoms
you may now be experiencing as a former member is a great source
of comfort and relief for many. Rather than thinking that you're
hopeless or going crazy, you can educate yourself so that you
will see that the experiences you are going through are recognizable
consequences of having been in a cult.
Be alert to the possibility of dissociation and try to find activities
that will break the rhythm of monotonous work, so they will not
fall into cult habits and periods of floating. These early insights
also cued me to start looking more precisely at some of the effects
on people of the highly repetitive activities typically found
in cults and the power of thought-reform processes.
"Don't worry," I say. "It eventually all goes
away." And it does. It's a matter of time, plus learning
to label what you are experiencing and hearing some good explanations
for what's happening to you, including your physiological reactions
and the up-and-down process of recovery.
Recovery is a psycho-educational process - the more you learn
about the cult and what to expect afterward, the quicker your
healing process and integration into a new life outside the cult.
Past Lives and Altered Histories.
In sorting out past lives from real-life experiences or recapturing
your history and family connections, part of the recovery work
is to remember and review life experiences before you joined the
cult and to compare them with the specific attitudes and contents
inculcated by the cult. Working actively to ascertain what was
real before, during and after cult life, and thinking over how
to reestablish family connections is crucial work for most former
I often recommend to ex-members with the kinds of cognitive inefficiencies
described earlier that they take time out and give themselves
a break, and that they not enroll immediately in college or graduate
school, because their reading retention, ability to sit, and capacity
to recall and reflect will get better in a few months. To attempt
high-level functioning in a demanding and competitive situation
like graduate school may create undue stress.
Reversing the loss of mental acuity takes time and effort - you
may want to try reading again, going back to activities that interested
you before you joined the cult, or taking some relatively less
demanding evening classes for a start. Making lists and keeping
a notebook are two of the most useful and most popular remedies
for cognitive difficulties. You can make detailed plans of everything
you need to do and everything you want to do, day by day. Then
you follow you plan, checking off items as you go along, so you
can see your progress.
When passive behavior or troublesome indecisiveness comes up,
it can be helpful to dissect the cult's motives and injunctions
against questioning doctrines or directives. This will shed light
on the effects of your having lived for months or years in a situation
that encouraged acquiescence, and also help you think on your
own once again and voice opinions. During this process, the cult
and its power become demystifies as you realize that leadership's
orders were meant primarily to reinforce the closed, controlled
cult environment and keep tabs on members.
How to Stop Floating.
Behaviorally orientated educational techniques are the best methods
of counteracting and dealing with floating episodes. The triggers
are just associations and memories, and only that. They are not
arcane implants put in your mind by others; they do not reflect
uncontrollable suggestions. Floating is simply getting stuck
for a few minutes, or sometimes hours, in a familiar, detached,
and conflicted state, such as you experienced while in the cult.
Three types of remembrances are experienced by ex-cult members
during floating episodes:
Often former cult members don't distinguish among remembrances
from cult life. But learning to recognize and identify the types
just described is helpful in the process of getting rid of them
for good. It demystifies your cultic experience and the power
you think it holds over you. You will no longer feel you are
at the mercy of some strange phenomenon that you cannot control.
Some cults even have their own terms, such as restimulation,
which they use to predict the recurrence of these episodes (both
while in the cult and later). This, of course, sets members up
to expect what does occur once in a while. The cult that uses
this particular term also imbues the involuntary state with the
implication that "you can't help it because it's in your
wiring." This frightens members, who then carry this notion
with them when they leave. Myths such as this cause former members
to become very anxious when the dissociative episodes occur.
Remember, there are no mysterious, mechanical, out-of-our-control
events. No cult and no person has the power or skill to implant
such things in the minds of their members or to cause these episodes
to happen after members leave. There is no scientific evidence,
no valid clinical observation that such a possibility exists.
Individuals newly emerging from a cult can almost expect and need
not be alarmed by periods of seeming to lose track of time or
where they are. It's normal for them to think often about various
experiences from cult days and sometimes feel as they felt back
in the cult. During exit counseling, families should be told
that floating is likely to occur for a time after the cult member
leaves the group. They are advised to ex-member to talk about
and deal with these episodes.
Floating does not mean you want to return to the cult. As described
earlier, floating is most likely to happen when you are stressed,
anxious, uncertain, lonely, distracted, fatigued, or ill. Once
you recognize when these episodes may occur, you can prepare for
them. Then the event will be less distressing when it happens.
Realizing that floating is a dissociative moment will help.
Once you understand that you are merely temporarily psychologically
disengaging, you won't think that your memory is shot or that
you are losing your mind. You can say to yourself, "I'm
not damaged for life. This is just a momentary dissociation.
I can pick up where I was. It's just a thought, just a memory.
I don't have to act on it."
Here are some helpful Antidotes:
All these techniques will help break up the floods of emotion
and emotional memories that come in at you. Taking a down-to-earth
and aggressive stance against triggers and floating will propel
you to take great leaps forward in your recovery.
Former cult members remain rigid in their attitudes for some time. This rigidity is a remnant of the cult's moral relativism, which provided reasons to hate and condemn. It takes much constant personal monitoring of your attitudes to change these ingrained reactions. It is necessary to make a conscious effort to understand human frailties. Reactivating a personal sense of values and good standards without being maniacally condemning of everyday human failures and foibles in yourself or others is a needed step in recovery.
Learning to Trust Again.
Regaining your sense of trust will grow partly out of the gradual
awakening of your ability to tolerate thinking about and discussing
the abuse and betrayal you experienced. Members' massive anger
over injustices and abuses is kept hidden in the cult. This anger
surfaces in ex-members, along with anger over the dishonesty and
deceptions that had to be ignored or the facts that weren't known
until the individuals left the group.
Trust is difficult to reestablish. Regaining trust is sometimes
easier for those who have the chance to speak with exit-counselors,
to spend some time at a rehabilitation center (see Chapter Eleven),
or to engage in psychotherapy after leaving the cult.
One of the most poignant aftereffects of cult life is the distrust
of the self. Many people start blaming themselves, asking, "Why
ever did I join?" Part of exit-counseling and the subsequent
psychoeducational work is helping former cult members analyze
their involvement. As they recognize the deceptive, step-at-a-time
influence program that led them into the group, they will be less
hard on themselves. They will be able to forgive themselves and
carry on with life.
Regaining a Sense of Satisfaction.
Most of us get a sense of satisfaction from doing life's little
Many ex-members describe struggling along, feeling they are wasting
time by being nice to fellow employees or watering flowers for
a neighbor or visiting a sick aunt. They don't allow themselves
to feel any satisfaction, since they are still judging by the
"It is all right to enjoy once more. It is all right to
be kind to one person at a time. In fact, it is impossible to
do whatever 'save the world' means. Such abstract goals are just
that - abstract - and keep you from living and doing good day
The discussion in this chapter does not cover the conflicts, turmoils
and disturbing aftereffects that ex-cult members have struggled
with. But it should help the reader begin to understand the breadth
of the recovery from cult conditioning and cult experiences that
Coming out of the cult pseudo-personality is about reeducation
and growth. Self-help through reading can be invaluable for those
who live far from knowledgeable resources such as exit-counselors,
cult information specialists, former member support groups, and
mental health professionals.
There is Life after the Cult.
From working with so many former cult members, I have a new picture
of the railroad station and the tracks. I think people standing
alongside the railroad tracks, hucksters, pied pipers, scam artists,
and self-avowed saviors of the world hop off the trains and display
their enticing wares, trying to get as many as possible of the
people at the stations to hop on board and go with them into the
vision of perfection.
Watch out! That can be the last train stop on the way to hell
I want to applaud all of those who keep on wanting to try to do
good, and to be good to their families, friends, and humankind.
I applaud them for springing back after the betrayal of a spiritual
abuser, a psychological exploiter, or a political fraud and for
not allowing a fascistic pseudo-guru to keep on controlling them.
I applaud those who speak out and believe that we all need to
continue trying to prevent these abusers from taking over more
of the world. Truly, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,
and the ability to recover from defeats, scams and harassment.
A free mind is a wonderful thing. Free minds have discovered
the advances of medicine, science, and technology; have created
great works of art, literature, and music; and have devised our
rules of ethics and the laws of civilized lands. Tyrants who
take over our thinking and enforce political, psychological, or
spiritual "correctness" by taking away our freedom,
especially the freedom of our minds, are the menace of today,
tomorrow, and all eternity.