Blind, or Just Don't Want to See?

Blind, or Just Don't Want to See?
Brainwashing, Mystification, and Suspicion

By Alberto Amitrani and Raffaella Di Marzio

Published in:
- Cults & Society: An Internet Journal
, Vol 1, No.1, 2001
- Cultic Studies Journal: Psychological Manipulation and Society, AFF, Vol 17, 2000, p.122-142.



This paper examines slected points of dispute among scholars and professionals interested in /new religious movements: the degree to which the reports of former group members should be accorded credibility; the meaning and existence of the concept of brainwashing; the proper interpretation of certain actions taken by European governmental committees; and the degree to which ideology and/or money provided by new religious movements has or may in the future corrupt scholarly research in this area. The paper concludes by embracing a pastoral letter on this subject by the Italian Bishops' Conference.


From a letter written by a mother:

I am a desperate mother. Ten years ago, I lost my daughter to a ferocious "cult"…. The unfortunate people whom we meet are completely taken over… they tell them that their mothers are devils who give out negative energy, thus hindering their perfect introduction into cult life… I hardly ever hear from my daughter now. She doesn't take part in our family meetings and calls me only when she needs money. You can well imagine the tragedy of this poor mother... Please do something to help these poor people who are in danger and want to live the life that Our Lord Jesus gave us… I am afraid she will commit suicide like the others… do something, I repeat, we cannot leave these kids at the mercy of gaolers, of murderers of the worst kind… I pray the Lord will help you in your work to help all these kids who are prisoners of murderous cults.

Says a former member:

I then started to write a farewell letter to my spiritual guide. This cost me a lot: every word was like a dagger blow, and every now and then I had to stop since the tears would block my vision. I wasn't able to do it all in one stroke, but every now and then I went back to what was a small calvary for me, a deserved one however, unlike that of the Lord. My mind went back to the Good Thief and I hoped Jesus would answer me the same way. When I got to the end of the letter, I had a feeling of liberation… It had been a long trail, lasting over 20 years, but this was what had happened... What I thought was heaven was actually a pink-coloured hell, painted over with falsehood... I got hold of my ancestors and my roots again. For years, everything which makes a person free and conscious of what he is doing had been stolen from me. I was picking up my pieces one by one, slowly but surely. However, many wounds would never close again. It was still hard for me to free myself from what I had thought was reality but actually was conditioning: the notion of being one of the elect, somebody different, one of the Eternal's chosen… The feeling I had deep inside is hard to describe: like being a flower which slowly raises its petals again after having spent a long time without any water and having risked death… When we realised that what we had been through was a true cult, we understood we could no longer go on this way, pretending nothing had happened, as other former members had done before… All my fears went away one by one and were replaced by a single, increasingly clear awareness: that diabolical thing, that tremendous octopus, must stop, or at least we had to make others know it existed… you can defend yourself from an enemy only when you know you have one.


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