this came to me recently from apostate mormon friends of mine living in oregon. it has to do specifically with the methodologies of the mormon church but i feel that it has a lot to offer to anyone and everyone associated with a administratively controlling, essentially fear based religious or spiritual organization. as it says in the bhagavad gita knowledge is purifying. the letter is not well written but that only makes it more real to my mind. the friend who sent it to me was also a mormon missionary and went through the same experience basically as the author. if are mormom please don't email me back about this. i don't want to start a debate. i am only sending this out to educate. if you have any axes to grind, grind them elsewhere. it is a long letter. read it at your leisure. if it reminds you of the current american and canadian governments don't be surprised. the american government has essentially been in the grip of the southern baptist convention for 6 years now or longer.
It is a prime example of why the FBI recruits a disproportionate number of its agents from the Mormon church. After a mission, they are primed and ready to do as Uncle demands. Peace, ===
"It was a living hell..."
A Must Read....this is accurate according to my own experience. I'm sure my mother remembers my crying on that phone call I had to sneak from a pay phone on the BYU campus...
Trying not to be angry,
This is an excerpt from a letter a former Mormon missionary wrote about his experience in being brainwashed in the LTC, (which is now called MTC) the place missionaries in training go before their missions. No, he's not a docter or an expert, but he is a real victim, and knows first hand what was going on at this time in his life. He has since separated himself from the church for this, and many other reasons. His full letter can be read in my section "Letters to Melissa" (letter #3). After I returned from my mission, I got married and went to Ricks College to finish off my Associates Degree. During that time I finalized my transition out of the Mormon Church. There were many small things that added together that convinced me to leave the Church, but there was one very large thing that occurred while at Ricks College that had to do with how I had been treated on my mission.
1Things have changed a bit since I was a missionary from 1978-1980. I went to Provo to go to the Language Training Mission (before they made it the MTC) and spent two months there before being sent to Finland.
Up to the time of my mission I was developing into a very intelligent, sensitive and sweet young man. But all during my mission and afterwards I had a lot of trouble with certain aspects of my personality. There had been a very dramatic shift at the beginning of my mission for me. I was sort of at a loss during my mission as to what was going on (so many things to deal with while being a missionary), but after I returned and my life began to settle down a bit, it allowed me to look at myself in a more objective way.
The big eye-opener for me was when I was taking a Psychology 101 class the semester after I returned, and we got to the part where the class was learning about neural programming ('brainwashing' in the vulgate). Basically, according to the textbook we were using, there are six steps that are used to brainwash people. What happens when people are brainwashed is that their brains are physically altered in such a way that their synapses work differently, and their brain patterns change from how they normally worked before the programming. If you took an EEG sampling from a person before and after brainwashing, it would be noticeably different. And this brain pattern stays different under successful brainwashing.
In presenting the brainwashing lesson, I would like to refer it back to what LDS missionaries go through (especially those who spend two months in the MTC – or LTM in my case) during their initial indoctrination. Here are the six steps to brainwash someone:
1) The person has to participate in a "complete agreement" with the program. It works better when it is done as a group of people going through the process together so that there will be peer pressure and they can keep an eye on each other. This agreement phase makes the person mentally submissive to anything that will be done during the brainwashing process to him or her. In the LTM the newly arrived missionaries are given a talk by a General Authority in which they are told that they are starting the most important job of their lives; that if they are successful in the LTM that will help them to be successful as a missionary, and if they are successful as a missionary then that will help them be successful for the rest of their lives and into the Celestial Kingdom. This "pep talk" is designed to get them "on track" and the elements discussed in the talk are reiterated throughout their stay at the LTM.
In surrendering to the `group will' the person's internal chemistry will begin to change as emotional stresses come up and are subsequently surrendered as the person changes from an individual into a member of a larger group. This chemical change aids in altering the brain's physical transformation.
During this phase a lot of brainwashing groups make the victim promise to go out and bring in other people into the group. In the case of LDS missionaries, this already is a given.
2) The second step is to produce a physical and mental fatigue among the victims of the brainwashing. This is accomplished through physical exertion, limited amount of sleep, and no time given for relaxation or introspection. When I was in the LTM the first day we were told (in our first introductory meeting actually) that from now on we were on the "Lord's Time" and that any SECOND we spent not preparing ourselves to be good missionaries during our stay at the LTM would be considered a sin and would be "adding to the suffering that the Lord went through in the Garden." (Quoted verbatim).
We had to run two miles everyday, we were given plastic sheets to put study material in so that we could be studying even during our showers. Our meals were eaten with bookstands on the tables in front of us so that we could continue to study during while eating. If anyone started discussing something about their life in the outside world, their family, girlfriend, or ANYTHING not having to do with learning the discussions, memorizing scriptures, or studying the new language, then everyone in the room would verbally jump on him or her and force compliance.
I remember on one of our P-Days in the LTM I was folding my clothes after we had been to the laundromat within the LTM and I started singing some folk songs. After one song I started singing another and my roommates (there were four of us per room) turned on me (they were folding clothes too, so nobody was actually studying at that moment), and they told me adamantly that I was not to sing any more, that it was not allowed because the songs were not gospel songs (they were instead songs such as Peter Paul and Mary would sing). This basically forced me to give up even that small amount of individuality and self- _expression_, even though we were all busy folding clothes, and therefore not interfering with our studies. It made me feel like crap.
3) In the third phase there is an attempt to create an emotional and physical TENSION among the participants. I discussed this already in the first two steps, and again it is to produce an internal chemical/hormonal process that aids in the physical transformation of the brain structure. When the body is confronted by stress it releases a cocktail of chemicals and hormones in order to help us out of the situation. When we choose to be helped out of the situation by becoming even more immersed into the conditions that are causing the stress, and for a temporary fix the stress is alleviated, then the body begins to "learn" that what initially was considered stressful (i.e.: giving up your personal identity to the group) is actually a "normal" situation, and eventually will no longer produce the same sort of stress reaction.
4) The fourth step is to create a feeling of "uncertainty" in the victims. This uncertainty is not aimed at whether they are uncertain about participating in the program, but that they are uncertain about anything that they personally feel or think. There are many ways to accomplish this, but the most effective are to put people "on the spot" in front of a group of people. This can be to publicly call attention to their shortcomings, to have them stand in front of a group and present a talk or a discussion, to have everyone in the group keep a look-out for when anyone might be breaking any of the rules set up to create tension, and to bring these rule breakers out in front of the group for condemnation, etc. This happens all the time and as a matter of policy within the LTM.
5) A new vocabulary is given to the participants that is only understood by fellow initiates/victims of the program. This new jargon will have many words that are like an 'inside joke' to the victims, and will further create a feeling that there is an "us vs. them" mentality among the victims, thus furthering the idea that they are "different" from the general population, and isolating them from being open to hearing criticism about the program they are being brainwashed into. Among missionaries there is a whole "other language" (i.e.: trunky, humpin, flippin', golden, dear John, etc). In addition, each mission seems to have its own unique missionary slang words as well. Someone should right a dissertation on this. :)
6) Finally, throughout this period it is vital that there is a constant repetition of the new language and new ideas, and that at no time is humor allowed by any of the participants. Humor is one of the ways in which humans cope with emotionally difficult situations, and it cannot be allowed during the brainwashing phase. When I was in the LTM we new missionaries tried on several occasions to introduce some humor into the situation, but on each occasion we were made to feel shamed that we were wasting our time with trivialities instead of doing the real "Lord's work" of learning our discussions, etc. The LTM trainers were about as dour a group of people that you could ever meet, at least while they were training us. There was one who actually did make attempts at humor, but he was fired while we were there, and we were not told why.
As a result of this there were many missionaries who felt like they were being destroyed. I have a friend whose acquaintance I made years later that used to work in the cafeteria of the LTM during the time I was there. He washed dishes, and he said that every day there would be at least two notes left on cafeteria trays by missionaries asking for help. Some of them turned out to be suicide notes, as just about once a month an ambulance would show up at the LTM to take a dead missionary away who had killed him or herself. I myself just about didn't make it on a number of occasions. It was a living hell.
Anyway, when I learned about these brainwashing techniques in college about ten months after I returned from my mission, a light went on in my head, and I realized that I had indeed been a victim of brainwashing during the two months I spent in the LTM prior to leaving for Europe. It was interesting, because the professor who was teaching the class actually broke down and started crying, literally, in front of the class during the time when he was teaching us about brainwashing. I wonder whether he did so because he knew of what the Church was doing to its missionaries?
All of these weird things that had been going on with me during the past two and a half years suddenly made sense! It was like there was this overlying blanket personality that was smothering my inner soul, and when my real personality would try to get out through some of the cracks in the armor that it would produce strange results. I felt like there was a part of me, my real true part, that was trapped by this controlling, limiting oversoul, and that was warping any attempts of my true self into negative behaviors as they surfaced.
My angry reaction to this - the fact that I had been brainwashed - was really what impelled me to leave the Church. I felt that we missionaries had been turned into robots. That any manner of self identity or self _expression_ was squelched if it didn't fit into the narrowly defined constraints of what the Church felt a missionary ought to be. It was like we were an army of droids. I looked at it and said to myself, "What thing could someone possibly steal from me that would be more important than my own self identity, my soul?"
So what I did was to deprogram myself by surrounding myself with things that had been important to ME before I left for my mission. I reread books that had been important to me in my teens, listened to my old LP records, re-subscribed to magazines I had read before my mission, etc. I made it a "study" to re-learn who I had been.
Then when I got a firm idea of that, I started to dissolve the overlying brainwashed personality be doing things that were fun and exciting that were in complete opposition to the missionary way of life. This included going to rock concerts, having parties with friends, going on road trips to do fun stuff, etc. After about three years I felt that I had pretty much deprogrammed almost all of the brainwashing that had been done to me while at the LTM.
This is what is difficult; the fact that this process takes a long time, even for someone who is doing it consciously and in earnest. Of course, I was pretty much doing it without any support at all from anybody in my family or former friends in the Church. I did get lots of support from newly acquired friends, though none of them had gone on a mission so they couldn't quite totally understand what I was going through.
If I were to compare what it is like to come back from a mission and try to get your head back together, it would be to compare it to a Vietnam War Vet returning, because there is definitely an element of delayed stress syndrome going on.
Once missionaries come home they are instructed to continue to try to live up to the standards and rules that they were living while on missions. When I was getting ready to return I was looking forward to the "Exit Interview" that I would have with my Mission President. This is supposed to be a very spiritual event, from what a lot of returned missionaries would describe in their talks at church after coming home. I thought it would be nice to hear words of counsel and advise before setting out into my new calling of returning to society and all. The Church had put such an incredible amount of resources into preparing me for my mission, and I had done my two years service to the Church, I thought it would be not too much to expect some help in getting set up for returning back into society.
So the time came for my Exit Interview. I went in to the Mission President's office, and he gave me a pamphlet that talked about how I should continue to live as if I was still "on a mission" once I returned. He told me that my mission had prepared me to live the rest of my life in such a way that I would be able to gain my salvation if I continued to live by the precepts and such learned as a missionary.
Then came the bizarre part. I basically had heard all of this stuff previously, so nothing was new. But the Pres then began to tell me some of the wisdom that I had been so anticipating. Here's what he told me: "When you are looking to marry someone, make sure that you look at what her mother looks like, because that is who you will be married to in about 20 years."
That was his big wise advice to me. Boy, I felt like I'd really been set up! What kind of dumb--- advice was that?!?
Anyway, with that pamphlet, and with the advice to look at older women before marrying their daughters, I was "prepared" to re-enter society.
After I got done deprogramming myself I began to help other returned missionaries in their transition back into society. There are so many RMs that once they get home they do something that is against the rules they lived so strictly while on a mission. This could mean that they have a beer with some old buddies, have sex with one of the oh- so-compliant Mormon girls who are programmed to GET a returned missionary any way they can, masturbate, or any number of things.
From what I have seen personally with these guys, once they do something that in their minds is totally bad, then it's like they think to themselves "Well, I really MUST be a failure", and so they think that they are going to hell. This "black or white" mentality creates a situation in which indeed, they do "go to hell." I have known returned missionaries who "fall off the track" so to speak, who start doing horrible things to their lives. I've known RMs who become cocaine addicts, abuse their wives and kids, have illicit sexual affairs, and even one who had robbed several banks! It is like either they are totally pure or totally defiled in their minds.
So for a long time while I was still living in "Zion" and was encountering RMs frequently whose lives were a wreck I took it upon myself to help these guys out. Sort of what happens to Vets in the VFW organization a lot of times. Except with returned Mormon missionaries there is almost no support whatsoever - nowhere to turn. I would help them by first showing to them that they were brainwashed and that the Church is not the only true church of God, and that they can live successful and happy lives without being in the church. This of course means that they have to come to grips with the fact that they have wasted two of the most important years of their lives doing a bunch of bull----.
These boys are brainwashed by this self-serving bureaucratic cult machine and then just dumped back into society without any support for the difficult things that they will encounter other than to tell them that they must live more "righteously" if anything negative happens to them.
Perhaps there will come a time when the Mormon Church will be able to retreat from its intrusion into peoples' lives. Instead of being a cult, the Mormon Church would become a real religion that seeks primarily to act as a support for people instead of a control. But whether it does or not, it is too late for me. I can never forget those friends who were victims of the soul-destroying machine that brainwashed so many trusting, innocent young men. And some of those friends are here no more because they could not take the pressure from their families to conform. The codependent tradition of placing strings on love is something that kills people. And even if the Church became a paragon of enlightened spirituality, I would still never return because of the memory of those who didn't make it…
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