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Second Childhood

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Second Childhood:

Long-term manipulation of behavior has long-lasting effects. Those subjected to the behavior manipulation of a destructive religious cult often find themselves uncomfortable in group settings after realizing the many ways their behavior differs from normal society. Like a child on his or her first day at school, former cult members find themselves watching others to learn acceptable behavior from unacceptable behavior. Not only is this extremely frustrating, it is often embarrassing and even frightening.

Escapees of religious cults often form support groups, which are an essential part of healing. They find comfort in these groups, as they are an outlet to share similar struggles and experiences. Former cult members must be careful to separate "healing" from "adapting", however. In a group of people whose behavior has been manipulated, those with natural tendencies to "follow" can easily adjust their behavior to match those with natural tendencies to "lead". Support groups consisting solely of former cult members adjust minimally, while support groups consisting of several non-cult members adjust significantly. Interaction with people who have never experienced cult behavior is critical to a former member's integration or reintegration into society.

Like the child on his or her first day at school, many mistakes will be made and many embarrassing situations will present themselves. Unlike the cult groups they escaped, however, former members find normal society to be far more helpful and forgiving. Though people may have never experienced a cult, they all understand personal growth. Humans, by nature, want other humans to succeed. Only those with personality disorders or hidden agendas want other humans to fail. When the "new child at school" meets his or her first "new friend at school", they empowered with a new positive outlook on life. Rather than being manipulated into failure, they are suddenly helped into success.