Recovery from MIND CONTROL


HOW DO PEOPLE GET OUT OF RELIGIOUS CULTS?


Different people leave in different ways. Some WALK out. Some get KICKED out. Some cult members just BURN OUT. Others GROW out. Still others FIND OUT or get COUNSELED out.

WALK OUTS


  • These people simply rebel from the situation and leave.

  • Unless they shed the mind control, walk-outs may lead destructive or fear-filled lives.

  • Some adopt the attitude that since they couldn't measure up to the system's requirements, there isn't any hope for them anyway, so they might as well "live it up" while they can.

  • Some develop patterns of living that they wouldn't have chosen otherwise.

KICKED OUTS


  • These people are excommunicated or shunned for a variety of reasons, usually related to the fact that they failed to fully integrate the four aspects of mind control--information control, thought control, emotion control and behavior control.

  • People who are kicked out of cults are commonly filled with grief and guilt. They are still very loyal to the group's beliefs and its people, even though rejected by the group.

BURN OUTS


  • These people have been so abused spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally and financially, that they are barely able to function on a normal basis.

  • Some "burn-outs" exhibit the Post-Traumatic Stress syndrome that is commonly experienced by war survivors. They are usually very confused, perhaps even physically ill, afraid and unable to trust anyone, most of all themselves.

FIND OUTS


  • These are people who are given, or stumble onto information which explains the situation enabling them to leave the mind control without fear and guilt.

  • These people usually take several years to work through the adjustment to normal living and attitudes. Education, scriptural as well as secular, cultivating new friends and establishing a new environment and restoring one's God-given personality are most helpful. The more one learns, the greater the healing.

COUNSELED OUTS


  • These people are rare.

  • Few studies have been done on the needs of people who were born and raised within a mind control group.

  • Most counselors are ill-equipped to handle the complexities of exit counseling because there are so many factors involved in mind control, and each person's experience is different, even within the same group.


LEAVING THE SPIRITUALLY ABUSIVE SYSTEM THE WITHDRAWL STAGES

One former member observed that she isnít an Ex-cult member she is a "Recovering cult member."

The control in spiritually abusive systems is so strong that people report they have been affected for years afterwards. It is for this reason that the WITHDRAWL STAGES should be well understood by everyone.

STAGE ONE:

This often begins almost immediately after conversion. The mind and will may be completely taken over by the logic presented by the cult. However, the gut feeling, emotions, or conscience often indicates that something is not quite right.

STAGE TWO:

This doubt causes a feeling of guilt which the person attempts to stuff and deny. The guilt drives him or her to deeper resolve to "do right" or submit and to ignore any information that conflicts with the cultsí message. However, the conscience continues to exert itself causing the person to question things. Most people donít know what to question. They may question the "standards", the existence of God or the truth of the scripture. They rarely have enough wisdom to question the history or the doctrine of the group.

STAGE THREE:

The person will give lip service to the group but in reality often behaves or does things that are against the rules. This causes even more guilt and more resolve to "get right."

STAGE FOUR:

If the person is observant and alert, he or she may notice some discrepancies between what the scripture says and what is done within the group. Or he may hear of a scandal or problem that bothers him. This may worry some people but many others just think, "Oh, well, the people arenít perfect but the organisation or church is perfect." Or "Oh well, what can I do?" or "Oh well, God will take care of it."

STAGE FIVE:

The person may hear of the history of the church and begin to wonder why he was lied to regarding the founder of the group. An inquisitive person may begin an investigation. At this point, the person usually becomes very quiet and fearful about letting others know of his questions. By this time he has found out that it is socially unacceptable to voice any doubts.

STAGE SIX:

The denial stage in which the person decides to ignore all the warning signs. They are actually afraid of or angry at anyone who has information that exposes the deceit of the workers. Some people NEVER get past this stage. They are hostile towards any information that spotlights the deceit and errors of the group.

STAGE SEVEN:

The "Donít know what to think" stage. MANY people get stuck here. They will try to figure things out on their own. They are suspicious of everyone. They donít trust their friends or family and they donít trust themselves. They donít trust traditional Christianity. They donít trust the information that exposes the group. They may not trust the scripture and might try to find reasons to believe the Bible wasnít translated correctly. This stage is very critical. The stress of it can cause illness, anxiety, nightmares, emotional problems, marital problems, divorce, destructive accidents because of so much mental preoccupation, suicide, hostility and anger. Some report a problem with nausea, clenched teeth or other outward signs of tension. This stage is extremely painful and frightening. Usually the longer a person or his family has been in the group, the more painful it is.

At this stage, some people try to reason with the leaders. They will either arrange for visits or write long agonizing letters. Some hope that they can change the system or get some to agree with them. They are AMAZED at the total inability of leaders to hear what they are saying. However, some will agree with their arguments, pat them on the head and try to smooth their ruffled feelings.

STAGE EIGHT:

The state in which a decision is made to leave the group. The person may go in several directions. They may become angry at God, or become an agnostic or atheist. They may try to start their own spiritual quest or church in the home. They may reach out to secular psychology for relief. Or, they may hook into another cult. They may decide to just let the spiritual part of their life hang in mid-air for awhile. Some people get stuck in a yo-yo syndrome: they will leave the church, go back to the church, leave, go back, leave and go back. They rarely ever figure out what the church believes or even what they believe. Or, they may become born again as a result of doing some intense praying, in-depth study and reaching out to normal Christian information. This stage is extremely crucial. If a married couple doesnít agree or reach this stage together it can destroy their marriage.

Almost total rejection from the group and professing family occurs if the person announces his new allegiance to Christ instead of to the group system.

STAGE NINE:

The state in which the old personality disintegrates and a new one is formed. The person will get rid of old clothes, old hairstyles, old possessions. Some people experience a lot of anxiety in adjusting to a new identity because their whole self concept was so closely tied to the group attitude towards themselves. New interests, charitable activities and hobbies are found. Bible study and Bible classes become the new excitement if one has been born again. The person rejoices at every new day and has a sense of peace. The world looks beautiful, people seem wonderful, nature seems to glow with the power and beauty of God. If a satisfactory church is found the person finds a great deal of happiness.

STAGE TEN:

The person is in constant amazement at the difference between the old life and the new life. The person is able to pity those who are still in the old group and will eventually be able to laugh about his old experiences. The person will often want to reach out to others whom he has known while in the group. He feels a strong need to talk about the experience in order to understand the strong emotions and confusion he felt while inside the group. Talking to other ex-professing people seems to be the best therapy for those going through this process. Writing down what one has heard, experience and believes also helps clarify oneís thoughts.


This article originally appeared on the Cult Awareness & Information Centre out of Australia, which was run by the late Jan Groenveld. The article is reproduced as it was seen on Jan's site with some formatting changes.


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