Thought Reform?

Thought reform or mind control seems like something that only happens in a movie or a novel, but it is prevalent in our society today. One only has to look as far as the Catholic Church to find victims of spiritual abuse. While the stories of altar boys molested by priests have made headlines, countless victims are still suffering in silence. Whenever there is a power imbalance in a relationship, there is a danger that the person who holds more authority will abuse his or her power. It can occur on a large scale as with the Unification Church (the Moonies) or in smaller groups such as Heaven's Gate (39 members) or even in one-on-one relationships such as a priest and parishioner or a professor and a student. Victims of mind control are not crazy cult followers. They are people like me and you who have fallen into a trap set by a predatory leader. In my experience, the trap was built with trust and words and compassion which lured me into thinking that I was safe until it snapped down on me. Victims of mind control are robbed of time. Sometimes years or decades are lost while in the group or relationship. Victims of mind control lose family and friends. Most are told to end contact with outsiders. Many who are able to return to their families find the relationships fractured. Victims of mind control lose their identities. It's difficult to know who you are after being told by someone else how to feel, how to dress, how to act. It's one of the darkest and most frightening feelings in the world. There are very few facilities that treat these victims or therapists who are equipped to handle these cases. It makes for a long, lonely journey for these victims. Compassionate understanding and education by society is lacking. This novel is dedicated to raising awareness and giving a face to victims of mind control.

1. Every person should have the right to his or her own thoughts, ideology, and identity.

2. Thought reform does not simply exist in cults that are on the news. It can occur in one-on-one relationships and in small groups in your neighborhood

3. In any situation where there is an imbalance of power (priest/parishioner, therapist/client), there is potential for abuse.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Impatience should've been my middle name.  I am anxious to share more with you, and I hope you'll keep checking back, but there is a reason I am pacing these posts.  First because I chose March 3rd as our official date to publish via Amazon Kindle.  Second because I am tying up loose ends.  I would really love to just finish with it and be done.
It took me almost two years to write this book although the actual time spent writing was drastically less.  I wrote for a couple of hours two days a week often making up excuses to not write and avoid it all together.  I pushed through because I felt maybe my story would one day help someone and because I thought it would be healing for me.
I was wrong.  It wasn't healing at all.  In fact, it was nightmarish.  Even now when I do something as seemingly benign as reformatting this book, I begin to have insomnia and, when I do sleep, I have nightmares.  It that old post-traumatic stress disorder rearing its ugly head. 
Soldiers are not the only ones who suffer from PTSD.  Battered women, survivors of plane crashes or natural disasters, or victims of mind control suffer as well.  Anyone who suffers a trauma in which they feel their lives are in danger can develop PTSD.  It is a condition that is little talked about because you cannot see the scars and you cannot hear the silent screams.  The National Institute of Mental Health has a link ( ) that gives an overview of PTSD, the symptoms, and ways to help yourself or a loved one.
Recently the diagnosis of CPTSD or complex post-traumatic stress disorder has been given to victims of thought reform/mind control.  This would apply to survivors coming from large groups (think Unification Church--the Moonies), smaller groups ( Heaven's Gate--39 members), or one-on-one cultic relationships (like me).  It's not only religious weirdos who prey upon the universal vulnerabilities of humans.  Cults can be political or psychological or scientific.  There have been beauty salon cults and horse cults and art cults.  If you are live and breathing....there is a cult for you, but I pray you never find it.
Cult members are not crazy or mentally unstable or stupid.  On the contrary they are usually the "cream of the crop".  They generally are intelligent and gifted in some way.  It wouldn't make sense for a cult leader to recruit someone who wasn't.  How do you exploit a mentally ill person?  You would end up taking care of them when you really want them to serve your needs.  Also, as a cult leader you would need thier specific gifts to further your cause.  Need help with money problems?  Recruit someone who has a knack for numbers and money.  Then they can help you cook the books.  Need help with your cult literature?  Recruit someone who is gifted in writing.  Then they can help you put a new spin on your lies.  No one is immune to recruitment...because it happens so slowly, so masterfully, that you don't even know it's happening.  I spent a long time thinking I was stupid and that I was to blame for my experience with the priest.  A long, long time.  But it is simply not the case.
So, beloved reader, please embrace that characteristic which I lack which calls itself patience.  I plan to post Chapter 3 next week.

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