Deprogramming is a term initially developed by opponents of new religious movements that began appearing in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. The term refers to a process designed to separate affiliates from those movements. The deprogramming process was premised on the assertion that there was a distinctive set of pseudoreligious groups, referred to as cults, that possessed the capacity to brainwash (program) individuals such that they were rendered incapable of resisting affiliation with the group or later disaffiliating from it. Deprogramming was promoted as a means of reversing cult programming and thus restoring individual autonomy and self-determination.

The 1960s and 1970s were tumultuous decades in American history. Protest movements of various kinds emerged that attracted primarily well-educated, White, young adults. Religiously based movements, ...

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