Abrupt and sometimes frightening personality changes
may indicate involvement with groups that use psychological
techniques generally called coercive influence, brainwashing or mind
control, to recruit and keep members.
This article is about and for people who want to leave
religious, military, political or commercial groups, in
which the leaders or group members control their lives and attempt
to resist their leaving by creating psychological bonds. Such
groups may use harassment and blackmail or threats of imprisonment and
torture. Some populations are subject to egocentric, ethnocentric and
Our solutions are also useful
for people whose friends or family are involved in such groups, or who
obsess about such groups and their activities, and who wish freedom from
Words like extremist, cult and sect are difficult to
define. Many businesses, militaries,
governments and professional associations can be described
as extremist - and people admiring one religion may describe all other
religions as cults and sects. (Cults
promote a new religion or a new interpretation of an established religion,
while sects are groups that have broken away from an established religion,
often in protest against what they see as corruption or impure doctrine.
Encyclopedia Encarta 2003.)
Brainwashing and conditioning involves installing beliefs. Examples are:
"Only we know the truth", "Anyone who attacks us is
insane or criminal", "Thinking is evil" and "Criticism is proof
of sickness". Many extremist groups attempt to place their leaders (living
or dead) as substitute high-authority "parents" in the minds of the membership
(father-gods and mother-goddesses), and the group membership are often
presented as (and even called) brothers and sisters. Connections to family and
former friends are often strongly discouraged. Members may then feel
tremendous guilt if they even consider leaving their "sacred new family".
However, such people are typically unaware that they have been influenced,
and often support their manipulators.
Coercive psychological influence overcomes critical thinking and
free will. Victims cannot make independent decisions or exercise informed
consent. Coercive influence takes several forms...
- Increase suggestibility with repeated activities, sleep deprivation and/or
- Control social environment and/or enforce social isolation
- Control communication and/or prohibit disconfirming information and
- Destabilize consciousness, awareness and/or emotional defenses
- Undermine self-confidence and/or decision-making
- Create aversive emotions with humiliation, loss of privilege and/or
- Intimidate with group-sanctioned psychological threats
Coercive influence is commonly used by manipulative sects, military
organizations and totalitarian governments. If government sanctioned,
extremist groups may evade exposure and prosecution for false imprisonment,
involuntary servitude, intentional emotional distress and other tortuous acts.
Coercive mental conditioning; was once fought with "deconditioning"
and "deprogramming"; words associated with illegal, coercive techniques
used to counter brainwashing. These often-brutal methods included abductions,
sleep deprivation, sensory overload, condemnations, isolation and sometimes
physical confinement. Although some ex-cult-members have testified
that these methods released them from "invisible prisons"; others
successfully sued the deprogrammers. Coercive deprogramming involves considerable
legal and psychological risk; and we do not provide, support
or recommend such methods.
A deep understanding of human relationships provides safe alternatives.
Exit Coaching gently helps distressed people
stabilize emotions, communicate effectively and build healthy relationships.
Dependent Relationships . Space for Love .
Coercive persuasion used by extremist groups is more
likely to be emotional than intellectual. Their activities often involve
relationships and rituals while dismissing intellectual analysis. Hence Exit
Coaching evaluates and fundamentally changes emotionally charged
relationships, while assisting people to evaluate factual information about
the group they wish to leave.
Exit Coaching is for people who choose freedom from
previous bonds. It is gentle, direct, intensive and time-limited.
respectfully sharing information, and it should not be rushed. The keys to
regaining freedom of thought and action are: rebuilding trust, dissolving
guilt, improving important relationships and finding worthwhile life goals.
Exit Coaching is available during
regular office visits, or during intensive multi-day coaching sessions. The
total time depends mostly on a person's motivation to be part of the culture in
which he or she lives. Often a person changes their lifestyle (their mini-culture)
to suit their own goals.
As most extremist groups make sanctions against or about
Exit Coaching provides solutions that support healthy
relationships. (If the group supported promiscuous sex, then
sexually transmitted diseases and/or unwanted pregnancies and/or abortions
may complicate this work.)
Coaching Sexual Issues . Solutions for Sexual Issues . After Abortion
Exit Coaching typically costs $2,500 to $5,000 US. This would
cover three 2-hour office visits per week for 6-12 weeks (36-72 contact hours)
or 3-5 days of intensive coaching sessions (24-48 contact hours) at your
location. Long-term follow-up (after a few months) is available.
Exit coaching is for motivated, responsible people who
wish to change relationships and end obsessions with specified groups.
Rapid and effective Exit Coaching requires:
- A motivated client who is well rested, alert, responsible and
- The involvement of as many family members and former-friends as
- Family members and friends contribute respectful,
- All involved are ready to make informed decisions about their
Exit Coaching supports further changework
for resolving traumatic and ritual abuse, substance addictions, existential
Exit Coaching is provided by Martyn
Carruthers and trained systemic coaches.
Helping professionals, trainers and coaches who wish to learn
Solutions may attend experiential workshops, which are also applicable for ex-cult
members who wish to redefine and renew their lives.
Online Help: Coaching,
Counseling & Therapy
Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2002- 2018