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Am J Psychiatry. 1979 Mar;136(3):279-82.

Coercive persuasion (brainwashing), religious cults, and deprogramming.


Psychiatric interviews and psychological testing were conducted with 50 members of former members of a variety of religious cults who contacted the authors about the issue of deprogramming. The subjects were divided into four groups: cult members who feared deprogramming, those who had returned to the cult after deprogramming, ex-cult members who had left after deprogramming, and those who had left without deprogramming. There were significant differences between these groups on length of time in the cult, perception of and resistance toward the deprogramming experience, status of parental marriage, and who became a deprogrammer. No evidence of insanity or mental illness in the legal sense was found.

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