From ArticleWorld

Deprogramming was a very controversial practice carried out in the 1970’s and 80’s mainly in America and Japan. It is exercised upon the request of parents whose children, who are usually adults themselves, have become involved in a cult, or New Religious Movement. It is supposed that the NRM has brainwashed the cultee who then has no free will or free thought and the deprogramming is the effort to free the mind, which means the person will then supposedly renounce the NRM and return home.

Controversy arises because, as most cult members are adults when they join the group, they have the right to freedom of religion and civil rights. In order for the deprogramming to take place, the person is usually kidnapped and held against their will, which are clear violations of their rights.

Deprogramming procedures

There is no one procedure that deprogrammers follow. Some, though few and widely condemmed for the practice, use violence whilst others try to establish a personal relationship with the person. Another technique involves confrontation with the idea that if you get a person off balance, then he or she start to question what is going on. Concentrating on the contradictions between what the cult preach – e.g. love and goodwill- and what they practice – e.g. exploitation and deprivation – is the key of yet another approach.

While the practice of kidnapping is one part of deprogramming that has perhaps attracted the most controversy, the majority of deprogrammers insist that this comprises very few of their cases and most people undergo the process voluntarily. Likewise, the reports of violence- there are those who were threatened with a gun, physically and/or sexually abused and denied sleep and food – but again these are said to have been the minority of cases.

No longer effective

By the end of the 1980’s, deprogramming had fallen out of favour both academically and legally. Cult members, themselves, had also found that if they just pretended to go along with the procedure instead of resisting, they would soon find themselves free to go back to wherever they wanted to go and along the way, file a lawsuit or two.

Since the early 80’s, deprogramming is practically non-existent in the United States.