Friday, February 29, 2008

Recovering from a Cult

Kimkins has been labeled as a cult in several blog posts:
Kimkins Cult Mentality
Kimkins Cult Mentality Revisited
Kimkins - A Cult

And the latest Kimkins defecter, AmyB, is also calling Kimkins a cult on her blog

Magicsmom says: Every one of us who was taken in by Heidi has to go through a process which is exactly like grieving. You go through stages, and I believe it is very similar to this:

The seven stages of grief are:

* Shock or Disbelief
* Denial
* Bargaining
* Guilt
* Anger
* Depression
* Acceptance and Hope

Why do people leave? How do people leave?

Members typically:

1. walk away

2. are thrown out (banned)

3. lose their group to dissolution

4. or are convinced to leave by outside people

in roughly that numerical order.

"Walkaways" may leave gradually because of love for family or friends or what is called "cognitive dissonance" — a growing realization that the ideals of the group are at odds with their actions. They may float into new groups or eventually return to their original group. Frequently they do not face the damage that they have endured, and they experience reduced functionality for many, many years.

Banned members are tossed out by their leaders or groups for real or imagined offenses — or to keep other members in line. This group may experience the most traumatic re-entrance into mainstream society. They usually have not rejected the beliefs or leader of their group and have the added guilt and shame of having been rejected.

Someone involved in the disbandment of their group may experience an ego-strengthening sense of power and control. If the group disbanded against their wishes, they may experience a depth of despair similar to a castaway (banned).

Those who are counseled out, through persuasions, or the like, usually experience the smoothest and quickest recovery.

reFOCUS: Recovering Former Cultists' Support Network

The keys to recovery after leaving a high-demand group or cult are:

Education or knowledge




The over-riding factor is education: educating oneself about what happened to you while in the group and why it still affects you after you leave. Its crucial to understand the techniques that were used to gain your compliance, to shut down your critical thought processes, to manipulate your experiences and your emotions, to isolate you psychologically and sometimes physically from gaining information and feedback from the world outside the group. These techniques have an effect for quite some time after you leave the group. And it is important to understand that these lasting effects are normal under the circumstances, and that they will begin to dissipate once you do understand them and can begin to unravel them.


It is so important to build a support team for yourself. Look for people who are willing to learn and to be there for you when you need to talk or to just spend some time together. The most powerful support can be found in other former members of groups have had very similar experiences to your own and are going through the recovery process as well. It is so good to be around people who really get it!


Yes, I know it is hard to be patient with yourself in the recovery process. Remember, we had a lot of practice living on the edge and being expected to produce results yesterday. A residual effect of living that way is to expect recovery yesterday and to be very impatient with ourselves. Also, remember when you were in the group, the leaders or the ideology could never be wrong if something was wrong, guess who it was! So, we tend to say whats wrong with me in the recovery process. Guess what. There is nothing wrong with you. Recovery takes time. It takes education. It takes support. And it takes giving yourself a break.

Edited to add:
A comment reminded me that I didn't fully finish this post.

While I have no problem calling Kimmer and Singing Ass "Cult Leaders" (even if the latter is just a wannabe) I do not want to attach the label cult to the former Kimkins members.

While many Kimkins members that leave go through stages of feelings that are similar to people that are leaving a cult, Kimkins did not encompass the member's entire life in the same way as a religious cult so the "recovery" process should be easier.

I also forgot to include links to where to find support and to meet up with other people that have left or been banned from Kimkins:
  • Low Carb Friends has an active thread with people trying to shut Kimkins.con down. Kimkins discussions are detained to this one thread. Many ex-kimkinites find it a useful place to vent anger while others see it as Kimkins bashing. Then you might want to find one of the many diet support groups on LCF instead.
  • Jimmy Moore's forum is a meeting place for many ex-kimkinites but the Kimkins Diet is strongly discouraged.
  • Amy Eating Low is also a forum where many ex-kimkinites hang out, including Amy herself.


MrsMenopausal said...

Great post, Mariasol.
I went through so many emotions while I was a member of Kimkins, and after I was banned. While I was a member I remember feeling almost portective of Heidi and the diet. I saw the negative things being said about her as an unfounded attack. Towards the end I was feeling fearful. I was afraid of what was happening to my health and I was afraid to ask questions about it because I knew I was chancing a ban after seeing so many banned for less, or no reason at all. I think my biggest emotion when I was banned was anger. Then came embarrassment and shame (I had fallen for Heidi's lies, and had believed and followed her dieting advice, and I had encouraged others to join). Then relief. Then I was surprised to find myself angry again.
I think anyone coming out of KK, no matter how their leaving came about, should be prepared to go through many different emotions and to realize that it's normal and part of the healing process. It will get better. There's plenty of people who know how they feel. There's a lot of support to be found in all those that have been there, or are currently dealing with it themselves.

My blog: Weighing The Facts

mariasol said...

Mrs - Thanks for your comment and you reminded me that I didn't fully finish the post last night.

Yust Yucky said...

Mariasol, this is so excellent & will be a real help to so many people. If somebody hasn't already sent a copy of your post to AmyB, I'll be more than happy to. This would also be a great thing to post at other weightloss websites where former members of Kcom might have gone. Really profound & moving.

Magicsmom said...

Re: the seven stages of grief
Everyone experiences this differently, and the stages do not necessarily come in any particular order. Its also common to go through the states more than once, as Mrs. M said. She went through anger twice. I went through anger several times also. First, I was angry about being banned, then I was angry about being taken in, then I was angry about things being said about me by SWSNBN. There are so many emotions one has to work through before realizing that life is going to go on. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. There are a lot of strong ducks out there rising up, and if Heidi thinks she's seen the worst, she'd better look out. Oops, maybe I'm not done being angry. Maybe I never will.

mariasol said...

Magics - Thanks for your additional input. And, I apologize for not asking for permission before I quoted your LCF post. It was late at night and I thought you wouldn't mind.