01: Deprogramming had become an important issue in the cult controversies of the 1970s and probably contributed in part to polarization in the field.
Readers may be interested in an in-depth article published in Vol. 1, No. 3 of the Cultic Studies Journal, about how the old model of “forcibly deprogramming persons from controversial ideological organizations has given way to…non-coercive models” with an emphasis on a voluntary process, known as exit counseling.
According to authors Stephen A. Kent and Joseph Szimhart, at least in America, “involuntary extractions” have virtually disappeared since the mid-1990s. This partly derives from pressures and legal risks involved, but it also indicates a professionalization in the field (former deprogrammers getting degrees in programs related to mental health).
The article offers an overview on the history and decline of deprogramming as well as describing the various frameworks within which the exit counselors usually operate, such as secular-rational, conservative religious and transpersonal, sometimes involving “fringe therapies.”
For information on this issue write: Cultic Studies Review, P.O. Box 2265, Bonita Springs, FL 34133, or visit their Website at: www.culticstudiesreview.org.
In addition, Religioscope has posted an interview with Steve Hassan, “From deprogramming to strategic interaction,” in which Hassan describes his own evolution: http://www.religioscope.info/article_48.shtml)
— By Jean-Francois Mayer