I remember being a little kid and an friend’s older brother picking up the St. Pepper’s album and pointing at the back of the crowd to Aleister Crowley’s bald head and saying “look, a hidden cult leader!” I wasn’t sure what a cult was or who Aleister Crowley was but that might have been my first fascination with cults. Initially, I saw them as magical, secret Illuminati groups but that romance got immediately destroyed by photos of of piles dead bodies at Jonestown and Auschwitz.
This conversation I had with Diane Benscoter will be an important one to listen to. When she was 17, Diane found herself sucked into a cult. She was a part of the Unification Church, better known as a “Moonie,” a cult led by Rev Moon. You may have seen pictures of huge, mass weddings which are conducted by that organization.
After luckily escaping, Diane became a “deprogrammer” herself trying to rescue people who had been pulled into cults. That solution involved kidnapping the cult member, which Diane was arrested for.
Deprogramming also didn’t seem like a good solution, so Diane has since written about her experiences in her book Shoes of a Servant, she’s been on the TED stage talking about “How cults re-wire the brain” and today she’s traveling the country meeting with ex members of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and gang members trying to help them cover from being brainwashed.
mentioned in this episode
- Diane's book, Shoes of a Servant
- Huffington Post: The Jonestown Massacre
- 3,000 couples in Unification Church mass wedding
- Brainwashing in Abusive Relationships
- Anne Frank's stepsister compares Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler
- Goodbye Critical Thinking
- Totalitarian cults, deprogramming and the de-radicalization of Jihadist recruits
- Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of 'brainwashing' in China
- Questionnaire: Are you in a cult?
- Kintsugi, The Japanese Art of Fixing Broken Pottery With Gold