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A film and interactive experience by Mia Donovan.
DEPROGRAMMED chronicles Ted ‘Black Lightning’ Patrick’s anti-cult crusade. His practice of ‘deprogramming’, also known as ‘reverse brainwashing’, started in the early 1970s and quickly snowballed into a vast underground movement composed of concerned parents, ex-cultist-turned-deprogrammers and some sympathetic law-enforcers whose mission was to physically and mentally remove individuals from ‘cults’.
My stepbrother Matthew’s love of heavy-metal-music, juvenile delinquent tendencies and fixation on the Satanic Bible led his father to hire Patrick to deprogram Matthew while confining him to a motel room for 8-days. In 2011, after 18-years of estrangement, I sought Matthew out and discovered that the deprogramming that he endured did more harm than good. This led me to a deeper inquiry into Ted Patrick’s pioneering technique, resulting in a 2-year journey to track down others who’d been deprogrammed. Through interviews and the never-before-seen archives of the actual deprogrammings of those individuals, the film will begin to unravel what it might mean to be in a high-control group under a form of ‘thought-control’, the line where free will begins to blur.
Along with extensive interviews with the now 84-year-old Father of deprogramming himself as he reflects on his career, news archives will also reveal the changing attitude that the public and law enforcement agencies developed towards Ted Patrick’s controversial approach to deprogramming. Looking back at the involuntary deprogramming era (1971 until around 1990) this documentary questions how much the practice was a result of moral panic and how much of it was, in fact, a matter of cultic mind-control?