Never fear – Cultbusters are here to save us from the menace of brainwashing

– Courtesy of Esteban Lopez via unsplash.

People are understandably curious about fanatical social movements and clandestine groups that inspire intense devotion in their followers. Capturing popular imagination in recent years are multi-level marketing scheme NXIVM[1], the pseudo-religious conspiracy communities of QAnon[2], antivaxxers, and the MAGA movement[3]. The public can hardly be blamed for asking how and why people get involved, and whether this should be a cause for concern. 

Desperate for some sort of authority who could shed light on this topic, podcast hosts[4] and journalists have leant on the expertise of so-called cult experts and exit counsellors, experienced practitioners in the world of anticult activism. Groups like NXIVM and Trump supporters, they tell us, are just like the dangerous cults made famous in the latter decades of the 20th Century, which used sophisticated programmes of mind control to exploit their vulnerable members under the guide of religiosity. By happy coincidence, the damage inflicted by this brainwashing is best remedied through the services of experienced cult experts.

These sorts of explanations are ubiquitous, and have been adopted by figures in media, who are comfortable parroting jargon like ‘deprogram’ and ‘thought reform’[5]. „Never fear – Cultbusters are here to save us from the menace of brainwashing“ weiterlesen

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