“From my time studying cults and helping followers escape them, I can reassure you that QAnon will disintegrate in the United States over time if effective measures are taken if and when Trump is defeated,” writes prominent mental health counselor Steven Haasan:
When cult adherents get confused, then ashamed, then realize they’ve been scammed, they get angry and exit. While some followers may continue to believe in the cult for some time — especially if they stay in an information silo — eventually contact with family and friends who care about them and others who have escaped from cults can and will help people come back to themselves. People are not permanently programmed, despite what some pundits and politicians may say. Like fashions and fads, movements end.
How do we dismantle a dangerous cult safely and turn this into yet another American fad as embarrassing as bell-bottoms, polyester and pet rocks? By dismantling the power of its mythology so people who have been pulled into it return to independent thinking. Fundamentally, QAnon is a mind virus, and we must bring the rate of transmission down. For starters, stop mocking QAnon and calling it a conspiracy theory; it is a psy-op, an intentional online cult movement aimed at recruiting and indoctrinating people into an all-or-nothing, us-vs.-them, good-vs.-evil frame. It is important to understand that QAnon believers think they are heroes and believe they are aligned with a righteous cause. We must take them seriously and build a rapport of respect. In other words, agree and amplify that human trafficking is bad and wrong. Then show legitimate groups fighting trafficking… Reclaim this issue and demonstrate that QAnon is talking about it but does nothing, while others are taking action to make a difference…[W]hile QAnon promoters are currently being removed from the internet platforms they use to spread their propaganda and interact with adherents, as they should be, this approach will only temporarily disrupt and slow down new recruits, rather than help anyone exit. In fact, these moves can validate followers’ beliefs that they are being persecuted, while a large percentage of cult members will simply be directed to alternative platforms… The key to helping these folks out is more respectful interaction — not cancel culture, demonization or mockery. People need to be able to exit with dignity. We need to find ways to allow people to return to society with their humanity intact, in a way that honors the very real questions that led them to look toward alternative answers in the first place.
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