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Home arrow Leaving a Cult? arrow The Truth about Exit-Counselling

The Truth about Exit-Counselling

Groups such as Moonies and Scientology continually berate exit-counsellors, charging them with kidnapping, starvation, and other abusive coercion to leave their cult.  This former Moonie gives his viewpoint from his own experience.

How bad are "exit counselors" or "deprogrammers" really?

Imagine you're the leader of a controlling group like Aum Shinry Kyo in Japan that used the deadly poison gas Sarin in Tokyo.  You recruited young intelligent students from the top universities and high class of Japan.  Using unethical methods of psychological manipulation, you got them to accept your teaching and to believe in you as the Messiah, the Return of Christ (who was to bring about judgement day).  They gave up all their posessions to you and your group, and they are now working day and night for you and your "cause", raising money, recruiting and training new members, without any benefits such as medical insurance, retirement or disability provisions.

Now - what would you hate most?  Wouldn't you hate most of all exposure of your practices by the media?  After all, you invested so much time and energy to "help" your members trust in you - so who are those "evil people" to destroy that wonderful relationship, the faith of your members?  Secondly, you would probably hate anyone who was critical of your group, trying to point out to your members what's going on, such as those evil former members and "exit counselors" or "deprogrammers."

As a member of CARP (student branch of the Unification Church), I was terrified of these "evil" people because I was told all kinds of horror stories about them, like that these "deprogrammers" are satan, that they will strap you down, don't give you food and don't let you sleep, that they flood you with pornagraphy ("chapter 2") and work on you until you recant your faith.  All they want is to destroy your faith, your eternal life.  Now, I first of all WALKED out.  I did not have any exit counseling.  But since leaving, I have met with exit counselors and with former members who have been counseled and left.  From all my experiences I conclude that the things "we" were told in the group are a MYTH, a LIE - to perpetuate the fear of communicating with outsiders who could possibly provide the member with information that would make him realize that the group is highly corrupt, deceptive and manipulative, and that it's not what it portrays to be: the only true movement of God's truth and love on earth!  In other words, the leadership does not want the truth about the group to be exposed in order to maintain control over their members.

If you had say 50,000 people ... or even 1000 people working for you for free without benefits - would you want them to find out it's a scam, that they're being cheated?

Talking to people who have left, I found out that all those "terrible exit counselors" did, was to present information about the group and encourage the individual to take an inventory, to reevaluate their commitment to the group.  The person was completely in control and could leave any time - what many of them did at the time because they were so afraid due to the horror stories they had been injected with by the group.  Fear indoctrination is a very powerful tool of information control and manipulation.  If a group is legitimate, it does not need to fear being challenged and criticized.  The truth can hold up to any scrutiny.  The scientology church (which by the way is in close cooperation with the UC) in their magazine "freedom" even spread lies about Wellspring, a Christian residential counseling center that helps people reflect and deal with their own issues after leaving a destructive group, claiming that it was some sort of prison or brainwashing facility without windows etc.  Talking with Josh who had been there just recently after leaving the UC, as well as other people, I was reassured that that's just another lie intended to cover up the truth and perpetuate the "enemy paradigm", the "we - they" mentality.

Even Steven Hassan who is viewed by the UC as satan incarnate, is in reality a pretty nice, normal guy.  The reason the group doesn't like him is because he has a lot of information about the church in the "early days" that exposes its deceptive, unethical nature.  He was one of the first American top leaders in the 70s, working directly with Moon.  Check out his story on his home page!   Another counselor I met, Mary, is a sweet catholic woman who attends mass every morning and who loves God and people.