during the blogathon, one of the entries was about about a woman leaving a cult. coincidentally, just a few days later, one of my stumbleupon friends pointed me to steven hassan’s work. interestingly enough, this also led me to another article relevant to a blogathon post about guru shopping.

from what i’ve seen so far, i quite like steven hassan’s approach, which is informed by his own experience in the moonie cult. his organization is

dedicated to respect for human rights, spirituality, and consumer awareness. we endeavor to be a safe and responsible place where you can turn to for resources, news and information about destructive cults, and mind control techniques, as well as learn how to help yourself and others. steven alan hassan is a nationally certified counselor (ncc) and also a licensed mental health counselor (lmhc) in the commonwealth of massachusetts and is an expert on destructive mind control issues. he offers a unique method of specialized counseling, called the strategic interaction approach.

here is some information on this approach, which again sounds good to me – it is respectful of the whole individual; i.e. it looks like it does not replace one form of brainwashing with another:

the strategic interaction is a customized approach that encourages everyone to develop positive, constructive patterns of communication. … the goal is to restore the creative, flexible, interdependent adult. we want the cult member to understand what happened to him by helping him fully digest and integrate the cult experience. …

the strategic interaction approach liberates and then integrates the parts of the pre-cult identity that were co-opted by the cult identity. in addition, we draw out the individual’s “authentic,” or higher, self and enlist its help to make new associations with the cult self. for example, we recognize that idealism is an integral part of our loved one’s authentic identity. by pointing out discrepancies between cult doctrine and hypocritical cult policies, the idealistic component of the cult identity can be encouraged to begin the questioning process.

by taking an oppositional, “i’m right, you’re wrong” approach, deprogrammers and exit-counselors often unwittingly create a win-lose mentality. strategic interaction encourages adaptability and creativity by widening one’s experiential base, which results in a win-win environment. for instance, if family members have never meditated and their loved one is in a meditation cult, then i encourage them to experience meditation. …

i urge you to scrutinize the beliefs and affiliations of people who offer to rescue your loved one from a destructive cult. many of these people will seek to impose their own ideological perspective. the ethical approach is to avoid imposing any ideological or theological viewpoint on a mind control subject.

if you’re interested in getting a closer look at steven hassan, watch this video:

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