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Second Childhood

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Second Childhood:

After escaping, former members raised in a cult often experience what they would describe as a "second childhood". Their friends, family, spouse, and children watch in amazement as they witness abrupt changes in personality, likes, and dislikes. The sudden changes can be taxing on relationships as the personality shifts and take forms that seem unrecognizable.

In varying levels, children raised in cults are forbidden to experience many things other children experience. While other children form behavior patterns based on deciding for themselves what they like or dislike, cult children are instructed as to what they should enjoy and what they should not. Often, they are forced into "liking" something they didn't, while forced into "disliking" something they longed for. As a result, when escapees begin to feel self-confident, they confirm their freedom by experiencing things they wanted as a child -- even if those things were intended for a much younger audience.

It is the varying levels that are the most taxing on relationships. While one cult escapee may have been raised in a strict family, others were not. This is especially difficult in cases where one spouse is experiencing their personality shifts while the other has no desire to be "young again". Never having been oppressed to the same level, it is difficult to understand why this very important part of forming an individual identity. These former members are not experiencing a "second" childhood" -- they are given a second chance to experience their "first".

Former members who formed a cult identity forced into unwanted likes, dislikes, and behavior patterns must experience personal choices to form their authentic identity. This includes adolescent decisions as well as adult decisions. Even if they dislike new experiences, they must understand why they choose not to like them. Each new decision builds self-confidence, and "second childhood" will quickly turn into secure adulthood.