1. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Escaping a cult

    Discussion in 'Research' started by stormcat, Aug 18, 2015.

    My character has been raised in a cult. But along comes a character who teaches him to think outside the narrow confines of this cult and he breaks free. But what exactly does this new character do that shows him that the scripture he's been raised on is wrong or misinterpreted?

    Basically, I need to know how to deprogram someone who has been raised in a cult.
     
  2. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Not my field, so I'd only be guessing (only doing so because you've had no replies yet), but if you want some ideas, I'll underline terms to search :) A psychologist might tell you this is all wrong though!

    I'm assuming the kind of cult you're talking about has 'brainwashed' this person, which I think basically involves conditioning them into a warped rationality/belief system (easier when young with no pre-existing belief system).

    To 'de-brainwash' someone might therefore initially involve counterconditioning to break down positive associations with the old mindset and create positive associations with the new one. While they still have their old mindset, they'll probably resist change, so I reckon you'd need to start with a more gut-level technique like this.

    Once amenable (i.e. once the old mindset has been weakened), then there may be a place for cognitive behavioural therapy and similar techniques (to refine the new mindset).
     
  3. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Link. Link. Link. Link.
     
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  4. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    How did you do that? I figured out the hyperlink once, but it's disappeared and I've never been able to find it again.
     
  5. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So, I wasn't raised particularly fundamentalist, but I know a lot of people who were. They got out of that worldview, usually in college, and because of exposure to different opinions and freedom of choice.

    I think it'd be a little easier to recondition someone who was raised in a cult, than it would be to recondition someone who was conditioned against society on their own accord, based on that. Often times, they don't really know why they believe what they believe, so asking "why" is a big thing. Giving them the freedom to explore their own beliefs.
     
  6. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, there's also a documentary/show on Netflix you might watch. I think it's called Breaking Amish?
     
  7. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    (not that the Amish are necessarily a cult, but I think similar themes apply)
     
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  8. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    You could also maybe watch the movie "The Wolfpack."
     
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  9. No-Name Slob
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    I have that downloaded, but I haven't watched it yet. I can't wait to see it.
     
  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    The film Martha Marcy May Marlene deals with this.

     
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  11. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Um. That looks amazing.
     
  12. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Sadly some only get out of a cult in body bags or hand cuffs.
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    'tis. Starring the Olsen sister that can act!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
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  14. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Alrighty. It looks like the first thing I need to do is make sure my Character realizes he's in far too deep and needs to get out. I've got that all planned out. Next, I need to introduce the character he turns to for help. I still need to develop that character somewhat.

    But, the most important step I need to do is to illustrate how this "therapist" character gets the MC to leave the cult. I still need help with that.
     
  15. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Those are an awful lot of articles to sift through. Could I just have like an abstract of it all?
     
  16. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    I live in an area where a fundamentalist group still practices polygamy, and every once in a long while, someone "escapes" and seeks to join the real world. These transitions are always painful, it is always a sad/hard/scary/confusing decision to leave the community and join the world they were taught to fear and condemn. Even if their motivation is strong, it can still be emotionally traumatizing to enter society until they get their feet under them. And even then, they carry scars. After all, the cult was their family, their friends, their livelihood - everything they know.

    The outsider would have to have very compelling evidences/revelations to offer the person in the cult that opens his eyes to how corrupt things are. Then that person would hopefully be a reliable support system for this man as he considers leaving (i.e. the person promises to help him figure life out again after he leaves.)
    This character should hopefully be full of reassurances and comfort and emotional support as he makes the difficult choice to leave everything he knows.

    Have you ever listened to This American Life? It's my favorite. Earlier this year they had a show about a man who escaped a religious cult with his children. You may want to take a listen. It's very fascinating and may give you some insight into how this process can happen:

    Start at 31:00

    You could listen to the whole thing, but the segment about the father and the cult starts at about 31:20.
     
  17. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Well, from what i have seen on cult mentality is that for a person to be deprogrammed, they need to already have some doubts creeping in about the organization. I would suggest giving the scientology doc "Going Clear" a watch. You will see that many of them had friends try and pull them out, but it wasn't until they saw something in the organization that troubled them that they began to start becoming open to the idea of leaving.

    If you want to have this character pull your other character out, then the one in the cult needs to already have the seed of doubt planted. The other character simply feeds the seed and helps it grow.
     
  18. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Oh he has his doubts. He just witnessed the "loving" cult leader murder another member in cold blood. The cult leader happens to be his father, and the victim happens to be his mother. Such trauma, anyone would doubt the existence of god, cult thinking or not.
     
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  19. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Well that will do it. Watch the HBO doc "Going Clear". There is a section where a guy who had been a scientologist talks about seeing major physical abuse being committed, and the mental awakening that he went through that caused him to make a run for it. I think his story would be very relevant to your characters and the emotional battle that takes place internally as one severs ties with the only world they have ever known.
     
  20. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Not sure if it would actually be of any use (nor if you could even watch it, with your being located somewhere beyond the sea... ;)), but I've just seen a program advertised called "Trapped In A Cult". It's on Channel 5, at 9pm on Thursday. That's here in the UK though, so if you don't live here (and I'm guessing it stands a good chance that you don't!), you can probably ignore this entire post. :D
     
  21. Aaron DC
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    Cool. Having a chink in the cult dogma is key, IMO. In all honesty the cult member has the answers, the therapist just needs to provide an accepting ear to hear, and allow the member to work through the irrational mindset that is keeping him there.

    As realisation dawns, there's a chasm to cross (fear of unknown, fear of rejection), as the cult member is going to come to realise how hoodwinked they were. So the acceptance is key, I reckon. Listen, empathise, accept.
     
  22. Ben414
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    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've read some of this stuff, but not enough of it to be able to give you a good overall abstract.

    If you're short on time, I'd recommend going through the huge list of articles in the 3rd link. Many of the articles have abstracts, so you could zero in on the specific info you want and potentially read the full article if necessary.

    The hyperlink button should be in the same toolbar as the bold, italics, underline, strikethrough, etc. It looks like a chain link. If it's gone, maybe you accidentally switched to the BB Code Editor? If so, you'd need to click on the Use Rich Text Editor to get it back.
     
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  23. No-Name Slob
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    Yeah, I'm still using rich text, but for some reason, it only gives me the option for URL. It used to give me the link option for text and URL, but it's disappeared. @Lewdog showed me a nifty little hack, though. :)
     
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  24. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Yes I did and here are some flowers just for you.
     
  25. No-Name Slob
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    You're the best!
     

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