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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Who, what, when, where, why, and how?

Who:  Lunch with a Sociopath is the story my struggle to break free from the bonds of a cultic one-on-one relationship with an Episocopal priest.
What:  Thought reform is a means by which someone entraps another person or persons by coercive means.  In my case, I believed that the priest was God and to leave him or to disobey would be akin to betraying God only with stiffer consequences.  God forgives.  The priest did not.
When:  I met the priest in February 2001 and last spoke to him in May 2009.  I wrote this book over a two year period often becoming overwhelmed and putting it away for months at a time.
Where:  I wrote at La Trattoria in Alpine, Texas where they nourished my body and soul with chai tea lattes, creamy tomato basil soup, and the best pizza this side of the Pacific--the best being Boston Pizza in Waihiawa, Hawaii.
Why:  At the insistent urging of my therapist at the time, I began to write as a way of remembering what had happened.  The more I wrote, the more I remembered, and the more I healed.
How:  With the help of family and friends, I have made it to the other side of this ordeal.  To them and the staff at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, I am forever grateful.

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