Attack of the Brain Snatchers
This devastating affliction had no cure, but some parents turned in desperation to the enterprising providers of a behavioral treatment that was said to restore the normal functioning of victims' brains. Although these intensive behavioral sessions were very expensive and were traumatic to the young people who were forced to undergo them, some parents nevertheless spent their savings in the hope of rescuing their children from the hideous depths of the catastrophic abyss into which they had fallen.
What might this awful tragedy have been? You probably wouldn't have guessed "religious conversion," but in the 1970s, there was a mass hysteria in the United States about the danger to naïve college students and other young adults from religious cults such as the Hare Krishnas and Reverend Moon's Unification Church. These cults were said to have a sinister plot to brainwash young people, rendering them incapable of rational thought and turning them into zombie-slaves who chanted mindlessly in airports all day long. Sensational media coverage declared the cults to be a terrifying danger to America's youth.
Some parents sought to recover their adult children from religious cults by hiring practitioners of deprogramming, which generally consisted of grabbing recent converts off the street and whisking them away to isolated locations where they could be "persuaded," with verbal and physical abuse, sleep deprivation, etc., to renounce their new beliefs. The deprogrammers, some of whom gave interviews to the media, were often very personable and convincing individuals who represented their services as a form of behavioral therapy that was reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
Deprogramming eventually lost its appeal after many of its practitioners ended up in prison for kidnapping and other felonies. But even as they were led from the courtroom in handcuffs, there were some who still believed that they had provided a valuable service by helping young victims of cults to become indistinguishable from their peers.