Cult deprogrammers overwhelmed with requests to help de-radicalize pro-Trump conspiracy theorists: NPR

Many of former President Donald Trump's supporters have fallen into a web of disinformation surrounding the 2020 presidential election, as well as the infamous QAnon conspiracy theory.

NPR reports that professional exit counselors, who are brought in to help deprogram cult members, are being overwhelmed with requests for help in bringing Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists back to reality.

"I've probably got almost a hundred requests in my inbox," explains Diane Benscoter, an exit counselor who has been helping people leave cults after she herself spent years in the Unification Church cult.

Joan Donovan, who leads the study of online disinformation at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, similarly tells NPR that the current social media environment is a "free for all" that is producing an "unfathomable" amount of disinformation for Americans to consume.

Pat Ryan, a cult interventionist, tells NPR that QAnon is deliberately designed to draw people in by asking them leading questions and pointing them to "answers" that are actually pieces of the conspiracy theory.

Benscoter tells NPR that she knows from personal experience what draws people into political cults such as QAnon.

"It establishes this camaraderie and this feeling of righteousness and this cause for your life, and that feels very invigorating and almost addictive," she says. "You feel like you are fighting the battle for goodness, and all of a sudden you are the hero."