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AshlynM's avatar

How can I remove a friend from a cult like organization?

Asked by AshlynM (6380 points ) April 23rd, 2012

It’s supposedly a self improvement, personal growth workshop but I know it’s just one big mass marketing advertising scam. They prey on innocent, vulnerable citizens in order to get more money from them by brainwashing them and breaking down their defenses by doing these personal growth exercises and from getting them to recruit others so that this organization can get even more money.

Now she’s trying to get me and my boyfriend to join up. She’s pressing us and making us feel basically like losers, telling us how we’re not fullfilled and we should sign up to better ourselves. I’m all for personal growth, but not for shelling out thousands of dollars to do it. We’ve told her no many times, but she won’t accept that answer. Which I don’t get, because she doesn’t get compensated for doing so. I imagine she has some sort of quota to meet. I’m so scared for her mental state and what she might be learning from this and what info she might be discussing about herself with others at these meetings. You never if they’re secretly recording you to use their advantage.

I just need some advice and maybe some insight on these types of organizations. I’ve done a lot of research on this already but I just want to hear from others.

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22 Answers

tom_g's avatar

What’s the organization?

AshlynM's avatar

I would prefer not to disclose the name for safety reasons. Some of these groups are really shady and don’t like negative attention on themselves.

cazzie's avatar

Please, send me an pm on what this is.

dabbler's avatar

She must be getting something she feels she needs there, probably only a sense of belonging.
While that’s fine in itself, belonging to a parasitic organization is not.
Because she gets a Lot of reinforcement every time she attends anything with them it will be hard to show her anything in perspective. They have probably also conditioned her against the kind of caring response you are attempting.

It’s a shame she won’t accept your answer, if she could do that it is a step in the right direction.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Have them watch penn and teller bullshit on network marketing.

marinelife's avatar

First, protect you and your boyfriend. I would cut off all communication from her unless she agrees to stop talking about the organization.

Second, you can’t really help her if she is a believer. In that case, all you can do is tell her to contact you if she wants help getting out.

Finally, you could hire a cult deprogrammer to work with your friend, but you have no legal standing so that might be iffy. Also, she might not thank you for it.

AshlynM's avatar

Thanks everyone, so far, for your answers. I’ve never encountered anything like this before and just wanted to get some insight and advice on what I should do before confronting her. I’m not very good at confrontation but it has to be done. I love her like a sister and don’t want anything to happen to her.

blueiiznh's avatar

You can’t. They have to do it on their own. Let them know how you feel is about all you can do.

Charles's avatar

“It’s supposedly a self improvement, personal growth workshop
I know it’s just one big mass marketing advertising scam.
They prey on innocent, vulnerable citizens in order to get more money from them by brainwashing them and breaking down their defenses by doing these personal growth exercises and from getting them to recruit others so that this organization can get even more money.

Now she’s trying to get me and my boyfriend to join up. She’s pressing us and making us feel basically like losers, telling us how we’re not fullfilled and we should sign up to better ourselves. I’m all for personal growth, but not for shelling out thousands of dollars to do it. We’ve told her no many times, but she won’t accept that answer. Which I don’t get, because she doesn’t get compensated for doing so. I imagine she has some sort of quota to meet. I’m so scared for her mental state and what she might be learning from this and what info she might be discussing about herself with others at these meetings. You never if they’re secretly recording you to use their advantage.”

There is absolutely no difference from what is written above and what is written about organized religion.

So, to answer your question, ask yourself how you would dump a friend from your church.

Trillian's avatar

You can take responsibility for yourself. Not for her or her actions. Since you apparently already know what the institution does, I fail to see how she can “Make you feel like losers”.
Tell her “No, thank you.” and be done with it and her.
You may be convinced that she’s making a mistake, and maybe she is. You are allowed to voice that opinion to her, but that’s about the extent of it. If she gives away all her possessions, so what? They’re only “things”. She can live without them quite nicely. If she drinks the kool aid, well, some people are bent on self destruction. Look at all the cult related deaths.
The thing is, you can not take responsibility for her life. You can’t protect her from herself. Hopefully she’ll learn from this mistake. That’s what we all do. Live and learn.
Do you plan to follow her around forever, saving her from her mistakes? How will she ever learn anything? That’s the same mistake a lot of parents make, shielding their children from the consequences of their actions. All that does is give an unnatural dependence on the parent, and teaches the child that they have no boundaries.
So, tell her “no” in whatever way you are comfortable with, and cut the ties. Treat her like an adult and respect her decision to live her life as she chooses. Even if it turns out to be a mistake. It’s her choice, like how you deal with your life is YOUR choice.

JLeslie's avatar

How old is she? If she is very young you might tell her family if you know them.

If it is Amway don’t worry too much.

Aside from that there is not too much you can do probably. I would tell her you will only spend time with her if she stops bringing up the organization. If she can’t or won’t, then tell her the offer stands even if it is months or years from now, whenever she is ready to be friends without bringing up the subject you would be happy to spend time together again. That’s basically what I said to my alcoholic friend when she became out of control with her driniking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You can’t remove her without her will. You can however remove yourselves from her.

ninjacolin's avatar

Sounds like Scientology.
Have you asked her what the definition of a cult is?

JLeslie's avatar

@ninjacolin Scientology? I don’t think of them as being so aggressive.

ninjacolin's avatar

Individuals acting on their own enthusiasm might be though.

JLeslie's avatar

@ninjacolin I still don’t understand why scientology came to your mind, that can happen with new converts of many religion, unless the religion specifically warns against it. I have never had a scientologist try to persuade me in any way. But, I have not come across many, so I might be unaware.

@AshlynM I don’t understand why you feel like losers? I would never feel like that, but maybe because I am an atheist. I am so far from being a joiner, that sort of talk usually sounds ridiculous to me. My husband and I did Amway for a short time, because my husband wanted to try, and it felt so “preachy and organized” to me it was weird. Just wasn’t a fit for my personality. I can see how Christians would get sucked into it though, it would be their comfort zone, feel familiar.

ninjacolin's avatar

Iglesia ni Cristo is another guess.

Coloma's avatar

Uh…I’d tell her that self awareness work is a huge part of personal growth and that she needs to be aware that she is disrespecting your “no thanks” and being extremely arrogant in ass-uming she holds the monopoly on what is best for you and your boyfriend.
If she is really committed to personal growth she should know that the cornerstone of such is accepting and respecting others for their own choices and behaving in a pressuring and manipulative manner is the antithesis of such work.
Can you spell hypocrite?

likipie's avatar

Honestly, if your friend doesn’t want to leave the group, there’s nothing you can do. If you explain to her why you think it’s not a good/healthy place to be, but in the end it’s her decision. You can’t force anyone to do anything. Good luck.

Coloma's avatar

This goes without saying, but…do not accept and kool-aide from her.;-)

cazzie's avatar

Anyone remember what was going on with that group, Lifespring? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lifespring

I would sit her in front of the 20/20 expose about Lifespring and also give her some articles about it as well.

dabbler's avatar

Oh yeah Lifespring ! ...and EST, oof! Had their beneficial side-effects but both rather cultish.

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