Ted 'Black Lightning' Patrick's rise as the notorious 'Father of Deprogramming'



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?


Written and Directed by Mia Donovan

Produced by Bob Moore

Executive Producers Mila Aung-Thwin Daniel Cross

Director of Photography Mia Donovan Nathan Truesdell

Editor Hannele Halm

Additional Editing by Omar Majeed Ryan Mullins

Original music by Ramachandra Borcar

Featuring (in order of appearance)
Matthew Robinson
Ted Patrick
Aaron Christ
Steven Capellini
Dr. Stephen A. Kent
Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman
Gene Griessman, Ph.D (Interviewer)
Cheryl Prokosh
Kathleen Crampton
Rick Alan Ross
Dr. Dan Eyink
Sondra Sacks
Ruth Patrick

Line Producer Valerie Shamash

Rights Supervisor Edmund Duff

Production Manager Daniela Flori

Production Secretary Marina Serrao

Location Sound Recording Mia Donovan Thomas Corkran

Story Editor Bob Moore

Sound Editor Kyle Stanfield

Re-Recording Mixer Cory Rizos, CAS

Additional Dialogue Editing Cory Rizos, CAS

Narrator Mia Donovan

Post Production Supervisor Victor Sandrasagra

Post Production Services Post-Moderne

Colorist Charles Boileau

Assistant Editors Stephanie Vaillancourt Guillaume Pelletier

Coordinators Annie Dionne Anne-Marie Bousquet

Online Editor Guillaume Pelletier

Title Graphic Dpt. Raed Moussa

Research Assistant Kristian Klippenstein

Festivals & Screenings

Camille Jacques at EyeSteelFilm

International Sales