14 AMERICAN BLUES THEATER Deprogramming refers to measures that claim to assist a person who holds a controversial belief system in changing those beliefs and abandoning allegiance to the religious, political, economic, or social group associated with the belief system. Some controversial methods and practices of self-identified “deprogrammers" have involved kidnapping, false imprisonment, violence, and coercion, which have sometimes resulted in criminal convictions of the deprogrammers. Deprogramming has also led to controversies over freedom of religion and civil rights. In “Colombrito vs. Kelly”, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York accepted the definition of deprogramming by J. Le Moult published in 1978 in the Fordham Law Review: “Deprogrammers are people who, at the request of a parent or other close relative, will have a member of a religious sect seized, then hold him against his will and subject him to mental, emotional, and even physical pressures until he renounces his religious beliefs. Deprogrammers usually work for a fee, which may easily run as high as $25,000.” Similar actions, when done without force, have been referred to as "exit counseling". Procedures There has never been a standard procedure among deprogrammers; descriptions in anecdotal reports, studies, and interviews with former deprogrammers vary greatly. Deprogrammers generally operate on the presumption that the people they are paid to extract from religious organizations are victims of mind control (or brainwashing). Books written by deprogrammers and exit counselors say that the most essential part of freeing the mind of a person is to convince the subject that he or she had been under the mental control of others. Ted Patrick, one of the pioneers of deprogramming, used a confrontational method, enlisting psychiatrists and psychologists to assist him in the deprogramming process. Patrick was tried and convicted of multiple felonies related to kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment of deprogramming subjects. Sylvia Buford, an associate of Ted Patrick who assisted him on many deprogrammings, described five stages of deprogramming: 1. Discredit the figure of authority (ie. the cult leader) 2. Present contradictions (ideology versus reality), such as "How can he preach love when he exploits people?” 3. The breaking point: When a subject begins to listen to the deprogrammer, and when reality begins to take precedence over ideology. 4. Self-expression: When the subject begins to open up and voice gripes against the cult. 5. Identification and transference: When the subject begins to identify with the deprogrammers, starts to think as an opponent of the cult rather than as a member. Effectiveness and Harm Alan W. Gomes (chairman of the department of theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University) in his 2009 book Unmasking the Cults report that while advocates of deprogramming have claimed high rates of success, studies show that natural attrition rates actually are higher than the success rate achieved through deprogramming. The Dialog Center International (DCI) a major Christian counter-cult organization founded in 1973 by Dr. Johannes Aagaard rejects deprogramming, believing that it is counterproductive, ineffective, and can harm the relationship between a cult member and concerned family members. Professor of psychiatry Saul Levine suggests that it is doubtful that deprogramming helps many people and believes that it actually causes harm to the victim by very nature of the deprogramming. Levine argues that deprogramming ABOUT DEPROGRAMMING & EXIT COUNSELING The character of “Stine” in On Clover Road is a “cult deprogrammer”. Below is an overview of the controversial practice of deprogramming and a look at some of the major figures in deprogramming at the height of its popularity.