Linuxworksbetter.org: A humble proposal

A business focused around deprogramming IT decision makers? How could that not be a success? - read my humble proposal here.
Written by Paul Murphy, Contributor

If you've ever had a boss whose commitment to some supplier or technology exceeded all reasonable bounds, this bit from a wikipedia article on deprogramming may strike as much of a chord with you as it did with me:

Ted Patrick, one of the pioneers of deprogramming, used a confrontational method:

"When you deprogram people, you force them to think...But I keep them off balance and this forces them to begin questioning, to open their minds. When the mind gets to a certain point, they can see through all the lies that they've been programmed to believe. They realize that they've been duped and they come out of it. Their minds start working again."

A number of criminal proceedings against Patrick and other practitioners[citation needed] have resulted in felony convictions for kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.[1]

Patrick described details of some of his violent, forcible abductions in his book Let Our Children Go! (E. P. Dutton, 1976, page 96)

"Wes had taken up a position facing the car, with his hands on the roof and his legs spread-eagled. There was no way to let him inside while he was braced like that. I had to make a quick decision. I reached down between Wes's legs, grabbed him by the crotch and squeezed--hard. He let out a howl, and doubled up, grabbing for his groin with both hands. Then I hit, shoving him headfirst into the back seat of the car and piling in on top of him."

Sylvia Buford, an associate of Ted Patrick who has assisted him on many deprogrammings, described five stages of deprogramming (Stoner, C., & Parke, J. (1977). All God's children: The cult experience - salvation or slavery? Radrior, PA: Chilton ):

  1. Discredit the figure of authority: the cult leader
  2. Present contradictions (ideology vs. reality): "How can he preach love when he exploits people?" is an example.
  3. The breaking point: When a subject begins to listen to the deprogrammer; when reality begins to take precedence over ideology.
  4. Self-expression: When the subject begins to open up and to voice some of his own gripes against the cult.
  5. Identification and transference: when the subject begins to identify with the deprogrammers, starts to think of himself as an opponent of the cult rather than a member of it.

Admittedly reading wikipedia without the excuse of having to stand at the Safeway checkout raises some behavioral questions of its own, but the reason I laughed out loud on reading about the heinous treatment according the poor shmuck shoved into the car was that I was imagining it happening to Dicky.. and Bob .. and, well a few others too.

Not very PC - but then, most Eunix makeovers, real or imaginary, aren't.

On the other hand there is a PC version of deprogramming - more from that same highly authoritative source:

Deprogramming and exit counseling, sometimes seen as one and the same, are distinct approaches to helping a person to leave a cult. Some people blur the distinctions on purpose: some practitioners do so to avoid criticism; some opponents do so to intensify criticism.

Proponents of the distinction, however, state that deprogramming entails coercion and confinement. In exit counseling the cult member is free to leave at any time. Deprogramming typically costs $10,000 or more, mainly because of the expense of a security team. Exit counseling typically costs $2,000 to $4,000, including expenses, for a three-to-five day intervention, although cases requiring extensive research of little-known groups can cost much more. Deprogramming, especially when it fails, entails considerable legal and psychological risk (e.g., a permanent alienation of the cultist from his or her family). The psychological and legal risks in exit counseling are much smaller. Although deprogrammers prepare families for the process, exit counselors tend to work more closely with families and expect them to contribute more to the process; that is, exit counseling requires that families establish a reasonable and respectful level of communication with their loved one before the exit counseling proper can begin. Because they rely on coercion, which is illegal except in the case of conservatorship and is generally viewed as unethical, deprogrammers' critiques of the unethical practices of cults will tend to have less credibility with cult members than the critiques of exit counselors.

Get past the guilt far enough to give the applicability of deprogramming ideas to technical and political discussions some serious thought, and you should see an immediate business opportunity here. Specifically, there are people involved who fit the in locus parentis bit: the owners, shareholders, and taxpayers who pay for the effects of bad decision making. And, since they can be served, herewith my humble business plan: set up a fee based, web and in person, exit counselling service for CIOs, CTOs, and other senior IT people caught in the uni-polar IBM, Microsoft, or Unix worlds.

Deprogramming for former and pretend programmers? I mean, really, how could that not mint money?

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