Back in the 70s, the Moonies recruited 17-year old Diane Benscoter; her family managed to get her out through using the system in place at the time — deprogramming.
She went on to become a deprogrammer; but then she was arrested for kidnapping. Twenty years after this series of events, she asked herself these questions: how did this happen to me? What happened to my brain? Her book, Shoes of a Servant, explores her experience.
I have asked myself the same question, as have many of my “school” colleagues. In this TEDTalk, Benscoter explains how memes become viral, moving from brain to brain, infecting the thinking of those who are susceptible for whatever reason. She says, “… easy ideas to complex questions become very appealing when you are emotionally vulnerable.” Circular logic takes over thought process and becomes impenetrable, creating an us vs. them, good vs. evil, ethos.
When I look back on my “school days”, I recall a slew of memes: we don’t know ourselves, we are not unified, we are multiplicities; ask for help; self-remembering; self sensing; seal yourself off; school rules; what is your valuation for “school”?; a man or woman cannot do; internal considering vs. external considering; identification; 5-Week Aim; What is your AIM?”; “your AIM is your God”; “When you are working on yourself, any man or woman will do”; “As long as you are working, it doesn’t matter what you do”; etc. etc. etc.
Cult experts call the above examples loaded language — a group assigns new meanings to words, encouraging black-and-white thinking. Educating myself about cult techniques reminds me how malleable humans can be in any given moment. I see that my fellow “school” mates were simply well-intended souls, seeking meaning, who simply got caught in the “school” lexicon/matrix — including the so-called “teachers” (although I would guess that some are more culpable than others).
For, as it turns out, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While individual participants may have had the best intentions, we were unwittingly participating in the fantasy world of one woman, as highly evolved leader of a “secret esoteric school”.
Speaking of memes, “school” loves to quote Shakespeare: all the world’s a stage. All the men and women in “school” play their parts to the AIM of propping up one woman’s delusions of grandeur, retirement and properties, to the detriment of everything else. To think that, for the majority of my tenure, I barely knew that she existed, while “school” funneled the lion’s share of my $350/monthly tuition to her.