this is Fifth and you’re watching the ExJw Fifth YouTube channel. I’m very happy today to be joined by dr. Alice Clearman Fusco she’s a clinical psychologist and someone who is very knowledgeable about groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. So Dr. Fusco I know your schedule is very busy I really want to thank you for carving out some time to speak with me it is my pleasure and call me Alice
– okay all right well Alice first of all I would like to ask you a little bit about your background, could you give us some insight into that
– yeah sure I first became interested in cults when my friend’s older brother joined a cult called the Moonies and now they’re called the unification Church and they were a lovely family, really nice, very smart people he was very smart we were maybe 14,15 and he was in college, he was recruited into the cult, he literally disappeared, terrified his parents, he sold all of his worldly belongings as a college student, which was not very much, gave it all to “the real father” as they called him, and he married someone in one of those big group marriages – weddings, and moved to South Korea and begged, you know, spent his life begging and reproducing had lots of kids begging for money and food and so forth and it was so weird to me as a kid I couldn’t understand it and the times that he did come back he told us we were all going to hell because we were in the wrong religion so that sort of stuck with me and then when I became a psychologist in my early college days there was a flurry of new stories about cults, a woman named Patty Hearst who was the heir to the big Hearst newspaper family, I don’t know if you’ve heard of her but she joined a cult and she ended up on video on all the news channels robbing a bank – or photography, I don’t think they had video then as far as surveillance, and then there was some a guy named Reverend Jim Jones who I don’t know if he was actually truly a Reverend, took his crowd to Guyana because in America the government was too annoying and investigating them and he convinced those people to drink kool-aid laced with cyanide when a senator went to look at what they were doing and that’s where the term drinking the kool-aid comes from they literally killed themselves it was a mass suicide of almost a thousand people Charlie Manson you’ve probably heard of he got some young people to commit murder so while I was in school I also was fearful of cults and captivated by them and I think most people feel that way they’re kind of scary and intriguing at the same time like how did they get you – how did they snag a person from their life and brainwash them and make them you know be a zombie and so it always kind of stayed with me and when I got into my training in my degree program I learned that it wasn’t quite the way that we commonly thought about it, they didn’t have magical powers but I I started working in settings where we could work with cult survivors and I’ve worked in other settings as well, I’m not just a cult specialist it’s just something I’ve been interested in and done quite a bit of, not sure if that answers your question.
-sure it definitely does, so may I ask – how long have you been a practicing psychologist at this point?
– oh well I’ve been working, you know, starting with internships since the 80s, mid 80s I see, so obviously you have a great deal of experience, one thing I wanted to enquire about is the term cult because yeah you know a lot of people feel that that is a very inflammatory term and it does cause certain reactions and emotions to to come about so I wanted to ask you what what is it that what is it that makes a cult let’s say from from the you know the opinion of someone like yourself yeah it’s any religion I don’t like it’s kind of the way you know it’s it’s sort of that way I think for a lot of people and you never get anywhere saying you’re in a cult to anybody but generally speaking it is a religious organization and a new religion typically although there are exceptions Christianity was a cult when it started out probably Islam and Judaism were cults no doubt when they started out or certainly were perceived so and everything is within a social context so something that’s a cult here might not be a cult in some other place that would be the way everybody is um so a cult typically is is formed around a powerful figure or a powerful idea or construct so in some cults you have that one leader whose word is is you know inviolate anything he says is absolute truth and nobody or she sometimes can dispute it in a group such as Jehovah’s Witness which is generally considered to be a cult you have the idea of Jehovah which is kind of interesting because it was a misunderstanding of the translation a mistranslation of the name Yahweh apparently that’s my understanding um so you have this structure of of men in the group who sort of take the place of being a pope or high priest or something pardon me I’m low on sleep so my voice is Lola and within that hierarchical hierarchical structure you would have these men and who really can’t be argued with so when someone is um kicked out of out of the group be it why do I want to start naming other groups but you can omit use your imagination typically they are they face the tsunami of disapproval and at first they’re if they’re pushed out they’re desperately trying to stand and they make promises and they’re these behaviors that are required of them that are really cruel it’s it’s cruel really and they if they’re fortunate they fail at that and they’re thrown out in the cold of the terrifying world of uncertainty which is the way everything is cults are comforting their black and white they have answers to everything they have behavioral descriptors you know they don’t have to be faced with the existential angst of life you’re in a cult because all the answers are there and if you are intelligent and you start questioning then you know that’s a big big problem so you have this structure that that has a lot of black and white thinking that wheels power over its members that that exerts thought control you’re not allowed to think independently you have to go to the Scriptures or to the mantras or speaking in tongues it’s a group that tells you you are unacceptable the way you are the way you came naturally that you were born of original sin is an idea in Christianity because of what some ancestors did but what court on the planet would do that the terribly cruel if we said in Iraq they have a court that there they’re hanging people because of what their great-great great-great grandparents did everyone would be outraged and it would be awful and terrible well the idea of Adam and Eve is that that they violated the law of seeking knowledge they weren’t supposed to and you deserve to literally die for that what an awful concept I Jimmy the that’s unthinkable to tell someone that that you were born and sent the original value of original sin and all the cultures do that they tell people there they’re not good enough the way they are you need the leader you leave the structure of the group you need the prescription of the political party you need um whatever we have to offer that will make you acceptable however once you start meeting those criteria they actually aren’t enough we need more from you it’s a bottomless pit it’s like a black hole of need of a consuming a person and I sometimes when I’m listening to people talk about what they went through I think this is soul murder it really sounds like it and um I just I’m just so impressed with the resilience of people not only to survive within that structure and whatever way they have to that you get themselves out which is the most horrifying thing you know it it keep you up at night wakes you up at 3:00 in the morning with I maybe they were right maybe I am going to help make you know or there’s an earthquake maybe it’s you know Armageddon or tribulation or whatever you know they’re there term is within their system I control triggers that controls what you think it controls your relationships it controls your time you have to go through services all these these these and time these times you have to pioneer as a JW you’d have to give your time your wealth your intelligence surrender your questioning surrender your independence as a person to to this construct this person this idea this group of people this structure like watchtower isn’t one person that it functions is one person it really does it functions as a an unreasonable angry tyrant and one of the interesting things about a lot of these groups is that there’s mystery amount around what happens to the money hmm have these um faith healers on TV who have jets and I think there was one it recently it hit the social media he wanted his fifth or sixth you know jet so he was asking for money and and they justify it by being outraged that you would ask and it works with their fathers you know their followers think well he has so much on him and oh you know pastor has we should do this for him it is astounding and once a person steps back and gets out of it they they and they begin to look at it they think how did I ever had I ever find that how did I follow myself to be subjugated to such cruel tyranny well it’s terrifying to understand the profound truth that no matter how many people are around us we are alone you’re alone in your head v I am alone in my head and I can extend love and kindness which I really try to do but ultimately we are alone and we are born alone and we die alone no matter who attends us no matter how many are there and to not be in the koi stir of that group is a cold and terrifying thing until you realize that’s the human that’s what we experience because we have self-awareness and so forth and and that’s okay that’s part of the deal yeah absolutely yeah I know you know speaking from experience that is something that you you go through once you’re you know finally on the outside looking in and you realize just how dependent you were on that structure and it helps if you’re able to you know do some research and get some of this knowledge that you’re explaining for us to kind of help to diagnose you know the situation in which you you currently find yourself I wanted to ask you specifically as far as dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses in your practice I understand you you say you were interested in in cult in general but as it specifically pertains to Jehovah’s Witnesses have you were with current and/or former Jehovah’s Witnesses in your practice I’ve never worked with current journalist witnesses I’ve worked with some Jones witnesses who left I haven’t worked with Jehovah’s Witnesses who had just left just right now that’s a that’s a different you there are people that just do that people who are freshly out and they’re just bleeding um so after that then then I work with them for usually a pretty extended period of time so I like to see someone who is just adapting to life outside of the cult so they’ve left it they’ve gotten through that initial period of shock it’s like the triage you know and then there because they’re constructing their life and I like to to be accessible quite a bit and it’s not the same as fostering dependence these people are really hurting they’ve their whole worldview of view of self has being structured around that health in 50 minutes once a week I’m just not adequate that’s why I love your videos you’re my number one recommended channel because a couple of reasons one is I like the questions you you ask and you are a great picture of okayness people look at you and like why can’t you know look he looks good he’s asking intelligent questions he has this channel wow that really gives people hope the other thing is I haven’t yet and maybe I will but I haven’t yet heard from your people that you interview that they have gone into another cost because that happens where you look on YouTube and so I’m very cautious and I say just just watch you know his videos YouTube will give you everything so you get someone who says I left this cult and now I found the true religion well there are 4,200 religions today mine is not the only one nobody’s is um though the thing that thing need to understand is that love and respect itself is where they need to start that needs to be their religion and um so far I haven’t heard interviews I’m here all your interviews of where someone said well now that I’ve found you know whatever it is that’s actually the true religion so I was going to hell because I was Jehovah’s Witness and oh great um that’s just more of this thing so I feel like yours from what I’ve seen they’re they’re safe well I pretty definite ly appreciate you saying that it’s always good to hear people’s observations as to you know what it is that that works as far as videos that I put out and I’m sure you know the same could be said about about a lot of activists and it’s interesting what you say about you know leaving this organization this cult and you know going to another one you know people do as I’m sure you know people make all kinds of decisions when they leave you Jehovah’s Witnesses but I think what you say it is very key the first thing is being able to look at yourself I forgot exactly how you worded it you said respect for yourself is where you should start and I yes good no and I think that’s that’s exactly you know what it’s supposed to be because otherwise regardless of what belief system you subscribe to at that point you may just be continuing the same pattern but just with a different name and a different you know face so you know I think that’s very important what you’re mentioning one thing that very often gets asked whether it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses or any other group you know sometimes I’ll get comments of people who haven’t experienced this and don’t really understand psychologically how one could even enter into such a group what would you say is the answer to the question how can how can Colts or how can groups such as these get smart people to join right so what I think I would like to discuss with you is you have two categories right you have category of people who have come in on their own maybe in their late teens or maybe it you know as an adult then later perhaps we can we can go into the category of those who were born in and kind of you know what the effects that they experienced so so dealing with the first category what would you say what would you say is the appeal for most people when they’re choosing to join a religion or join groups such as that you hold its witnesses though that’s a great question and that’s that’s the most often asked question obviously because another question is how did that happen to me and before I forget in addition to videos like yours I’ve there are lots of books that help people so that they can probably get from books everything they could get from me it’s just that you know where to look in the book you know so I’m talking to you I know that chapter 7 of that book would would help but the best treatments for the recovery are the cognitive or cognitive behavioral treatments of people are looking for someone there are a lot of people that are really good at at helping but honestly listening to you interview people reading books that that can be adequate that can be enough for a person and time time just time which is so painful and difficult when I’m trying to live minute to minute and it’s fear of panic that was created by my severing myself from the cult that was everything so how does more people join the cult people are smart and that’s always the question like what is wrong with me that I joined them and as time goes by you see this this sort of arc of anger and resentment which are totally appropriate and understandable and there’s a lot of research that says cult survivors go through the stages of grief that Katherine I’m sorry if Elisabeth kubler-ross identified anger denial although their five stages so and you don’t go stepwise through them you swirl around in them if you’re facing grieving for someone or your own death and also getting out of a cult it’s really similar because it is a death it is a death of that person you were and you’re actually killing that person because that person was killing you that that your pain got to the point where even if they were right and I’m going to help her this I have to leave this group because I’m suffocating I’m drowning how does a smart person get into that like my friend’s older brother who is very very smart um we have a lot of research about that one of the things that worries me a little is that in times of social and political upheaval you see a spike in cults and that’s going to happen now it’s probably happening now it’s very hard to count cults and now with the internet it’s it’s just impossible because there are a lot of cults through the internet that people can get themselves indoctrinated or you know brainwashed whatever term you wish to use into that group in that thinking but there are thousands tens of thousands and um when you’re looking at a person often young people are really great for getting into cults because um young people if by the very nature of being young they are insecure and unsure about a lot of things and one of the things I do what I lecture on this is an exercise where I get the the names of the attendees people are going to be in the lecture and I write up a Zodiac thing a personality profile astrology astrological profile and it’s the same for everyone and it says you don’t always tell everyone exactly what you think even your closest friends don’t know every thought you have sometimes you wish you’ve made some other decisions sometimes you procrastinate you wish that you could go back in time and it’s just different things that everybody feels especially if they’re young and so I put their their name on each one and I pass them out very carefully you don’t have somebody passed and say don’t you know this is your I had your personality profile drawn up by a professional I’m a professional and don’t show it to your the person next to you this is your it’s quite private don’t uh you know you’ve you’ve had sex with people you’re not all that interested in you know just I need so embarrassing things in there right um and I want you to read your your personality profile it’s very private don’t let anyone else see it because you might be embarrassed so they read it and then I get feedback and they say I never believed in astrology but I read this this is exactly true this is me this is I’m astounded at how I’ve heard it is and I feel let’s do an experiment trade with someone and then they see that it was a sham hmm but we’re so gullible we’re so easy to persuade so I could have had them thinking I was an expert in astrology and if I had no conscience I would have a lot more money right now because you’re just all of these groups take human nature and I like to tell people read the ancient Greek philosophers that were that were the big school I see him and then 500 AD Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and those guys they said the same things that I say now and that cult leaders say and I have knowledge and and training and experience and a lot of cult leaders don’t have that but they have they just are good observers of human nature and we’re very we’re naturally tribal species we have to be for our survival we we got off our front limbs about two million years ago to use them to manipulate objects and that’s a huge sacrifice in in flight we’re very slow we can’t fly we can’t really bite an animal you know our defenses are terrible all we have is our fabulous brain and each other so we we survive collective and we’re naturally tribal I think we’re naturally xenophobic because we’re a little tribe and we’re living in a cave or something that new person coming over could be scouting so his group can kill all of us and skill our goats and take our children and young women I see would have killed me I’m 64 hmm I wouldn’t be alive stuff but it’s it’s in our in our DNA it’s in our brains primitively to be tribal to be collective to be in a group there’s safety and security in that and if I watch out of high school into the world and I’m not sure what I want to do and I’ve picked a major but I don’t know if I want to do that the rest of my life I don’t know if I want to marry that thing and I’m not sure about a lot of things that I can’t tell my parents because they know that I should be an accountant and I said I would but I really feel like I’d rather be a sculptor but I’m terrified to tell them and you know the swirls of insecurity and I really my boyfriend’s great but I’m not so sure um so someone says come with me to this meeting and we have these um these we have this you won’t believe what they’ll say this leader says this great stuff or we have this this group that whatever the cell is for the watchtower it can’t be those tracks because they’re ridiculous um but the people coming to the door I’m at home and I’m feeling just really down and they caught me at that moment and they came to the door because that the stereotype of JW’s is there are those annoying people that come to your door there are lots of jokes about what to say when they come you know oh honey the human sacrifice is here and you know that but I’m all alone and I’m feeling insecure and sad and I’m not sure of anything and then these people come and they’re so sweet and they tell me they have the answers and I’m in that mode where I listen to them I will listen to those answers and it’s so comfortable and easy and typically cults love on you know just they’re just so nice to you and you don’t get the full view for a while some cults are not that way like s st is a group that is abusive at the get-go and you’re just you know like you’re not good enough I can straighten you out I can make you better I can make you 300% what you are now okay beat the hell out of me you know it’s like a psychological boot camp except it’s terrible and I don’t even know if s is around anymore I haven’t seen an S survivor for a while but smart people are always looking for answers as more young people are your brain when you’re young is launching you into a separation from your parents and everything you’ve known of the culture you’ve been in it’s called separation individuation if there’s a name for that phase and so here’s something that’s really different so I’m going to give it a go because I know I’m smart smart people know they’re smart I know that you’re highly intelligent I can tell just by the way you talk and so forth and you know 100 languages so I think that’s you that person is susceptible in a really interesting way because if we’re smart we’re really confident in our intelligence so the last thing we would expect ourselves to do is get sucked into a call so we feel like we’re inoculated by intelligence but in fact works not we’re not even inoculated by past cult experience it’s an interesting thing because you end up questioning how did I how did I fall for that stupid business you know how did I believe that rubbish how could I have done that to myself and there’s an anger at the group and then there’s this anger itself how did that happen it could happen to anybody because we’re we’re tribal and we’re gullible and I can convince people in minutes to be to pay me to do their horoscope you know if I had no conscience we’re a very very gullible species and only way to inoculate ourselves is through knowledge and that’s why I like those Greek philosophers because you can say well hey they had great truths and all they did was teach they didn’t they didn’t start a religion in fact one of them had to kill himself because he was speaking against the religion I forgot which one guys Aristotle I think um but we live in a group context we define ourselves within a group context to launch into a world that’s so there’s so many options there’s no role to find for you you have to define you which is terrifying um how comforting to have someone help me to have someone say this deity whatever you want to call that that deity has a plan for you will help you find that plan for you we know what the plan is and then it becomes this terrible thing of you know you’re not good enough you’re actually failing do you even love Yahweh you’re not you’re not you’re not showing your love for Yahweh I show my love for Yahweh by being cruel to others it’s it’s awful but that’s really how it is smart people all the time I think the older you get the less likely you are because you’ve just seen more life and especially my generation because we saw this flurry of cults after Vietnam after Watergate after our turmoil in the 60s and 70s civil rights movement was huge and there were cults the florists after that because we’re trying to redefine ourselves as a nation um and God forbid I should have to spend years figuring out whom I am much easier to have someone tell me for me yeah smart people yeah amazing insights I feel like I’m in a session myself obviously just all of the all of the things that I’m learning from from what you’re saying it’s very very incredible as I mentioned before in an effort to just kind of show what happens someone who was born in right we’ve kind of talked about what makes an individual especially a smart individual as we’re saying susceptible to one might be a part of that but what is the experience like for someone let’s say someone like myself but there are so many who are born me and I feel like at this point it’s pretty much an established fact that any growth seen within Jehovah’s Witnesses by and large is from children of Jehovah’s Witnesses it’s that right so because that’s so common and you know even years past that’s been so common how would you describe how would you differentiate that from the experience of someone who comes in later in life I think that’s probably one of the best questions a person can ask because um the most important thing I feel like a therapist can do with cult survivors and I have been trying to think of a word other than survivor because it implies a victimhood I don’t like that but I haven’t come up with one and and I looked in the thesaurus I couldn’t find it but I don’t have all the best words so I like to uh just tell these people here’s what happens to everybody when they’re in that situation because that gives such relief and Margaret singer who was really the first in-depth researcher of what cults do to people I was her focus was just tell them what it happened to them and because I am heavy on the the neurology side of psychology and the cognitive side I like to think of what happens to the brain physically to the brain so if you’re a young adult and you join in and an adolescence psychologically is a period that extends to about 25 26 years old sometimes 30 years old because we’re talking about physical brain development the frontal areas that have decision-making and all that judgment um so uh that that’s a period of time that one is quite susceptible to cults being raised in one born into one or brought in as a young child that that is an extra layer of harm to a person I don’t I don’t see people as being damaged I see injuries the thing that happens is so so your brain you’re you’re born with all your neurons or almost all your neurons and there may be of a hundred billion other there are disagreements on exactly how many neurons you have and you have a hundred trillion connections between your brains your neurons I’m sorry so you’re born with this giant head for a baby like if you made a baby six feet tall it would look like a like a your space alien drawing well it’s huge head but there is actually pretty small compared to yours well the growth of the brain after birth is all in the connections between the neurons so you’re born with neurons that are like cell phones that aren’t there just sitting in the store there’s no service and through life experience and also through genetic programming they connect with each other so you get a you know your senses are get wired in and all that but the important part the human parts the parts where our personality and our decision-making in our memory in all those parts those are all wiring together through childhood and within the context of where every bar so if I’m born into are brought in as a young child into a group a high control group like the Joe’s witnesses there are very high control they control your time your thinking your money um agent everything your your relationships uh awful we had a neighbor when my son was little um I didn’t know they were Jehovah’s Witness and they had a boy his age and they play for a while now all of a sudden that boy couldn’t play just couldn’t play I don’t know if they because they learned I was a psychologist or there’s an age that you know I never learned I found out later they were jobless witnesses like that okay what that’s it um the problem with being raised in a group like that is that everything you learned and every part of your brains wiring is in the context of that group everything so um you’re a little boy v and you’re learning how to make a peanut butter sandwich and you’re in the home of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and your parents talk about Jehovah and everything is about Roma and you’re thinking I want to be baptized when I’m bigger you know I’m going to be bad time I’m going to be a bethel i’ts and all that and my parents are thinking me when they pioneering I actually never had anybody bring kids with them that I preferred that sometimes that happened um they don’t come to me very much because uh I don’t invite them in but I’m but I’m kind I just say I’m not yeah um so you’re learning how to make that peanut butter sandwich and your motors of managing how the knife uniquely works in peanut butter and it’s different from the natural peanut butter and the the kind of nor the normal um you know the two types of peanut butter those are that the texture is different and with a natural one you have to sort of stir it up or you get your parents to cuz you’re little and how wide the blade is and the shape of the handle of the friction you have on the handle and the smell of the peanut butter that walks up into your face and the bread whether you toasted or not and how it if the bread can rip from the peanut butter and the jelly how how it sort of breaks up and it you have to balance it on the blade of a knife all of those things there are are countless sensory things that that have to do with making a peanut butter sandwich all of that was in the context of jehovah’s witnesses every aspect of your being has that sort of cloud over it and so you can so easily be thrown back into some memory of some aspect of it because of your brain is is redundantly wired with all of that and the way it works is your neurons each neuron doesn’t hold one piece of information they hold several pieces and how they connect is how they’re talking about which kind of bread is less prone to tearing from the peanut butter and so forth and it’s very complicated if you think about it in the visual field and the angles of the bread and the little crumbs that come off and the edges on me if you think about it there’s a vast amount of data just from making peanut butter I bet you never thought that much about making a peanut butter sandwich you never did and so all of that every aspect every song you’ve heard does when you learn how to play the piano when you had a bad cold um when you were mad at your sister everything is in the context of that so when you leave you have a lot of unwire antutu the wonderful news is that you have the power to physically alter your brain simply by thought that we actually have powers to change something physical through thought alone your brain so you change the wiring of your brain your skull your plates of your skull hardened early early you know when you’re still a baby and you can’t grow a bump for learning you know Mandarin you just you’re going to sacrifice some real estate your brain only has so much data it’s like a computer harddrive exactly like a computer harddrive actually um and so whatever other things you learned are archived if you don’t bring them up frequently and we’re placed with new wiring you teach your brain what you want it to work on and remember and have primed and ready to use simply by exposing it to things so I tell people when you have like a habitual thought like I’m not good enough I’m not whatever enough I’m probably not acceptable to God or Jehovah or Yahweh or you know who the great maple leaf whatever the thing is I like Candace I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on all of that those those thoughts sort of habitually pop up and they can pop up when you’re making that peanut butter sandwich because you have all of that wiring about that you have it connected to everything you’re at the mall and you walk by a Cinnabon and you smell a confection that smells like some cookie your grandmother made I was witnesses you have a memory it’s very interesting how it works and so you have to be vigilant for those and say hey that is a destructive memory that’s a destructive thought I reject it I reject that thought I am lovable and worthy just the way I am right now and even if you don’t believe it even if there’s part of you that’s saying that’s just ridiculous I’m actually not good enough it doesn’t matter if you believe it it’s the saying if that matters because you literally rewiring your brain and that to me is the most wonderful and fascinating part of the whole thing is that the rest of your life you can change the physical wiring of your brain to reject those things and so when I’ll do work therapeutically with someone and they they were brought into the group very very young or born into the group I like to explain that and tell them you will have years and probably the rest of your life will be things that pop up and remind you of this thing know of this group of something about it of or another terrible elem the church leader who molested me because you know there’s there’s a lot of that fortunately has sort of come out among the JW’s themselves that they’re talking about I guess Australia was the first flurry of that information um as far as I know all of those things those things that hold me back to that memory of that cult and those had feelings and that memory of how bad it felt that’s when I need to hit it right then say this is this is a hurtful memory this is injuring me I don’t accept it I reject it I am worthy of love and kindness right now just the way I am because you are and when I first see people they are uh they’re wounded and they have these injuries and so I’m putting plasters on the injuries and plasters come out bandages and they come off and sometimes they peel them off like oh I was I was watching videos um about Jehovah not not the videos or John cedar or any of those good ones but actual you know JW type of fun and so you know talk to me about why you did that well I just wanted to know you know you have to control that because sometimes curiosity leads us to you know I wonder what they’re saying I wonder what it’s like I wonder and that’s so seductive but it’s harmful so you have to be a guardian of yourself that’s harmful you have to be your own national guard and say I won’t allow them into me because I know it’s harmful and what exercise it really helps I do not advocate journaling without specific instructions because journaling can hurt me if I journal I’ll never be good enough I’ll never be anything I’ll never forget I’m just making myself worse I’m ruminating on paper but if I journal um when I uh when elder so-and-so said this to me here’s how I felt and write about how you felt and I I reject that now I do not accept his words he is like me a fallible person I don’t have to listen to anything he says because all he wanted to do was control and injure me which is I think what they’re doing um and then keep that and later if there are feelings of nostalgia around it will certainly wouldn’t be around holidays but but something about JW you know that notebook and read how you felt very instructive oh my god I felt terrible they made me feel terrible I would take this insecurity of freedom over the pain and and soul murder of controlling my thoughts of telling me whom I am they act like they are your mirror you know I’m telling you whom you are how dare anybody do that that’s terrible that’s cruel it’s it’s heartless it’s arrogant it’s inappropriate and it seems like the most flawed people get the most kick out of doing that to others that’s just an idea I have I haven’t looked at literature on that but we do have literature on those kind of leaders and it’s not mattering them yeah I would imagine it’s not well yeah this this is a this is a whole lot to consider I hope that when people view this video they may view it more than once to be able to just kind of kind of really absorb absorb all of this you know as you’re talking I’m thinking about myself and you know hopefully others that watch this later will be able to do the same that’s actually all I want is for people to think about themselves and love themselves and recognize that the only person who can define when you are is you and no one deserves to be in your life unless they appreciate you and they want you to tell them when you are not the other way around absolutely very well said so Alice I really appreciate you taking time out once again to speak with us you know your insights have really been very valuable and I’m sure many people are going to be able to benefit from listening to those insights what I would like to ask you at this time is a couple of questions that I generally ask all of my guests the first question is what would you say to someone who is beginning to question it hasn’t yet made that determination as far as what they’re going to do or if they still believe part of it or something like that what do you think it’s important for them to to bear and why it’s a great question that’s an incredibly painful and terrifying place to be because that person is trying to find the courage to ask real questions not the questions that the group has prepared answers for but meaningful questions of themselves and the world around them and his groups tend to discourage higher education because they don’t want people asking those questions I would say that you have to think about how you want to spend your life that you’re given this allotment of time and you you know we don’t know how much the only thing we know is how much time we have had we don’t know how much stretches before us and I think I worked in palliative medicine Hospice all my patients were dying and my job was to help them exit to say goodbye to to look at that other book end of life and the worst thing I think I could hear from somebody at the end of a life is I realize I squandered myself my life my personhood my intelligence my desires my wishes every aspect of me for someone else’s idea of me that’s that it’d be terrible I never heard that actually the only thing I heard about remorse was I should have loved better and it’s sort of sideways to that I should have hugged and kissed my my family more I should have told my parents or my siblings or my spouse I was proud of them more than fussing at them I should have not worried about the socks on the floor and scooped up my kids more and hugged them um and I should have loved myself more and I think for good people that’s a hard concept the idea of self-love but it’s not it’s not selfish in fact the person in love with self is the most fun person to be around because they take joy in everything they say look at that sunset and taste these wonderful strawberries they’re perfect and look at this and that and they have a sense of wonder about the world being I’ve never seen anyone and hi control group well I can’t really say that I only see people after they’ve left so there may be people in hi control groups that are that experienced the joy and the humor of life and the wonderful freedom of loving yourself enough to do what’s best for you because that is the definition of love is you want what’s best for that person well why don’t we do that for ourselves as well so I would say think about how it makes you feel about you to be in that group think about when you’re in meetings and when you’re getting a dressing-down or watching someone else get a dressing-down or when you’re asked to do something that’s uncomfortable for you or just doesn’t feel right but you make it feel right because you have to because the leaders of the group said it’s right but this is part of you that says I don’t I don’t feel good about this I don’t like this I don’t like what I’m saying to this person or doing to this person um that’s your true self of talking to you that’s your conscience it’s your own conscience no one can make your conscience for you I can’t no one else can all I do is tell people over and over you have to find out who you are and your job is to tell me whom you are and tell other people whom you are and to fall in love with you if you want to be a painter you need to paint to know you need to do whatever gives you joy because I would hate to see you at the end of your life saying I always wanted to something but I didn’t have the courage but the group told me not to that’s a tragedy so I would say think about how they make you feel about you be honest about that see where you go from there thank you very much for those those insights those are very useful things for people to think about and now the second question that I would like to ask you is about those who have already left and who have even if they haven’t actually left the religion but they’ve left mentally they’ve you know come to the conclusion that this is not the only truth and you know that there’s another way to live life what would be your advice or your words of wisdom to to those individuals well those are the people that tend to come to me sometimes years after they’ve left they say you know I really feel like I’m stuck I want to get unstuck um I think that it’s human nature and good people to have self-doubt and to just trust our own voice and the things that we think that we should be doing or want to be doing and you know sometimes the thing you should be doing is spending the whole weekend watching movies on Netflix and there’s nothing wrong with that some people think that psychologists say that guilt is a useless emotion no one should feel guilt that’s not true if I injure someone and intentionally I should feel guilt but it’s useless guilt is guilt but we shouldn’t be feeling that is so harmful so if I feel like well I should be my Nessie my neighbor painting his house I should go over there and help him paint his house I’m a bad person if I don’t I just want to watch Netflix movies we’re so kind to other people but we’re not as kind to ourselves so I told people when they give me sort of a string of well I’m you know bad in these seven ways I say I want you to tell me exactly how you’re bad tell me give me the whole thing and so though don’t do this well practiced string of words as narrative of how undeserving they are and I’m worthy they are and they’re they’re – they’re lazy they’re selfish they’re they procrastinate they’re too fat whatever the thing is and I say imagine you saying that to someone else imagine saying that to your best friend or your mother or your child but I would never say that exactly but that’s not true is it because you just said it to you and you’re important you’re special you’re deserving of love you are a precious child you deserve all the kindnesses that you would give to someone else you deserve them for yourself spend that weekend watching that place do it um enjoy the things that you were given to enjoy my father is almost 98 and he is one of those people who has always been able to find joy in everything you can’t get that man to complain about anything just kind of a problem because I want him to tell me what he wants um but you know he has more happiness in his life for it that he doesn’t fault himself and I’ve talked him about this and said you know what are you regret and he said well I have regrets and I have remorse but I decided when I was in World War two and um there were other people really trying to kill me and I was I was killing them he was a lieutenant in the Navy so he was ordering fire and killing he said children of Japan which he is impossible for him to talk about without weeping it breaks his heart he says I saw some of their faces um he said I just decided that remorse is a special kind of self-injury and that life injures us enough just things happened and we get knocked down in the mud and we have to get up and scrape it off and pick ourselves up and move on and there isn’t always someone there to lend that lend ahead to help us get up to help us make it home limp home sometimes we’re just sort of battered and he said I I decided I wasn’t going to do that to myself he’s the kindest person he would never hurt another person but he said I didn’t want any kind of remorse more than I already have everyone had collects some amount in life um so I decided I needed to treat myself as kindly as I treat everyone else and it’s a beautiful role model it is it’s not selfish to take care of yourself if you’re out of that group and you realize that it’s not the right thing for you I know that you have moments of doubt and I know that there are times that you when you wake up to pee some thought comes to your head or you had a dream and you’re flooded with panic and by the way dreams as far as we know are the product of what what was going on in our brains recently so if you’re at the mall and I guess I like them all I actually hate most and you are shopping for new trainers and athletic shoes and and you walk by that Cinnabon and you smell that fragrance of your grandmother’s cookies and it’s Christmas time so they have the Christmas music and a tree and maybe a mall Santa and you get the shoes then that night you have a crazy dream that your grandma came in Santa’s sleigh wearing shoes and throwing cookies well obviously that dream came from all that and when we’re in a dream it makes sense within itself because that’s how the brain works um so talking about these things are remembering these things or being reminded of something up from the JW group or whatever group you’re in and then having a dream a powerful dream a terrifying dream a dream that you wake up convinced you are really going to be killed by God that God loves you so much so much that if you don’t love him back in the exact right way out of 4200 religions he’ll kill you and you wake up in the middle of the night thinking that makes sense and you really are on the wrong side of things and you’ve done something terrible and you’ve doomed yourself you dream the dream because you were talking about it and thinking about it that day or something reminded you of it or just it’s in your head it’s everywhere in your brain and you’re weeding it out by living authentic life as authentically you as the person who goes home from work and those watercolor painting because that’s what gives you joy you should be doing that give yourself time do not be impatient impatience is the biggest problem as far as we’re covering from this it goes how long will it take I get asked that it’s an impossible question to answer but it takes a long time and it’s kind of a lifetime project of pruning and culling and working in the garden but there’s a lot less to do as time goes by time is your friend as long as you tackle those destructive thoughts that those automatic pods those things have come into your head and the journaling is is one way to accomplish that can be helpful but only journaling by countering those destructive thoughts but you don’t have to do that not everybody has to do that just telling yourself this is destructive I don’t accept it I banish it just singing that’s yourself violently it’s very powerful mm-hmm and it’s very effective over time very good thoughts to keep in mind I think for anyone including those who have been out you know for a longer period of time you know some of us I know I could speak for myself and say you know I’ve been out for three years but I don’t know if all of the healing that I’ve done I don’t know if I’ve used the time as wisely you know as I was supposed to as far as you know thinking the right things and putting the right things in motion so it’s great to hear those things not to feel bad about oneself for you know what you did or did not do but rather it’s just so that you can you can you can know where you can go from here you know to be able to to do things more purposefully alright I’m glad you said that I’m gonna stop you sure because using your time wisely um can be a self-destructive thing to say to yourself let yourself if you have a week where all you think of is JW and maybe I was wrong that’s okay that’s where you need to be then um just never put that on yourself that oh it was I feel that you know working on healing because I will perpetuate it into that thinking should just say Bob I guess that’s what happened to me this week but that’s okay because I am powerful enough to change my thinking and I’ll move on so be kind and forgiving to yourself I’m gonna try to do a better job with that from this point forward thank you so much this has been just very eye-opening very informative you know appreciate the benefit of all of you years of experience and you’re looking into this topic particularly I’m sure it’s something that that this audience is going to be very very grateful for so again you know thank you you know you have a busy schedule thank you for taking time out and speaking with me today um thank you it was fun talking to you and I want you to enjoy the perfect strawberries hi I’m free pass right back at you you