People who have recently been exposed to Freedomain Radio podcasts and videos probably accessed them for an in-depth analysis of current events, as the material seems quite popular with the sceptic “community”, as well as the alt-right (the two seeming to fuse nowadays on social media).

Unbeknownst to new listeners, this group is a proper cult aimed at reaching young people at the age of individuation; it used to convince them to separate from their families by cutting all contact, a practice known as “defooing”, which has its dedicated website for members, defoo.org, reminiscent of Scientology or the Exclusive Brethren. Although apparently the advocacy for this has stopped (perhaps for legal reasons) the consequences remain.

The young people lured through discussions about politics, ethics, dogmas and so forth were encouraged to analyse their entire lives in ways which would lead them to think their families were morally corrupt and sabotaging them psychologically, at an age of being prone to rebelling naturally, which exacerbated the effect. They were encouraged to move out of their homes, which led to homelessness in various cases and at least one suicide, leaving behind dumbfounded families who only understood what had happened when discovering their children’s interest in Freedomain Radio.

From the start, members were told it was their duty to “get out there” and “become active” in order to help create a better world, and that occasional support such as the odd donation or product purchase was not enough for them to consider themselves “part of the conversation”.

As former members recounted, the group went way beyond what abuse recovery forums do, as it encouraged them to publicly berate the families trying to bring them back, even reading out private letters and emails for the world to hear, which reaches a deeply disturbing level of arrogance. Instead of the promised liberation, young people found themselves increasingly depersonalised, at least two describing a loss of interest for anything outside of group discussions.

Ad-hoc psychoanalysis was used by the leader to mimic a deep bond and understanding; it was also employed towards “recovering repressed memories”, in order to further antagonise them against their parents or even siblings and friends. They even used to provide those who wished to leave their families with a standard “goodbye letter”, in case they felt they could not formulate their own. Moreover, some of the most dedicated members ended up living together after “defooing”.

The group remains very popular today, continuing to attract those who consider themselves anti-system. Akin to any cult, they reject what their former peers have brought to light and berate them for being “weak enough to return to their morally corrupt families”.

There is plenty material on YouTube and dedicated sites, consisting of testimonies from former members and their loved ones, as well as the input of cult experts, confirming the nature of these dynamics.