I replied to a cult post on Reddit and decided to share my answer with you. If you have any questions or need clarification, I'll do my best to help.
I'm an ex-cult member of applied behavioral psychology (ABP). It's one of the most powerful, detrimental cults and is at this very moment ruining our children, friends, and society as we know it.
I'm not calling psychology a cult. It is a legitimate branch of science, meant to be studied by scientists - not teachers, social workers, or "educational specialists". In this post, I'm focusing mostly on school-based ABP, as it's the most sinister.
Rick Ross defines "cult" here: [www.culteducation.com
Robert Jay Lifton's 3 characteristics of a cult:
A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.
A process [is in use] call[ed] coercive persuasion or thought reform.
Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.
Some ABPs jokingly refer to B. F. Skinner as their father - others see him as a weirdo with a creepy box. Either way, they apply his methods as if they're God's word. Indeed, B. F. Skinner is ABPs' (un)charismatic leader.
Thought reform is the foundation of ABP. The concept is to rewire the brain from seeing people as human beings and instead evaluating them as dogs to be trained. ABPs take Skinner's animal experiments and apply them to children without a thorough understanding of the outcomes. Perhaps what I just said offends you. "How can you say psychologists compare people to animals?" Read on.
ABPs are trained to view people as what's wrong with them rather than what's right, categorizing them into arbitrary boxes that have no scientific standard and lack solutions. For example, a student is afraid of speaking in front of the class, so the psychologist labels him as having high anxiety. What does "anxiety" mean? How do we measure it, and how do we know when it's gone? How do we know the kid's problem is anxiety? There is no scientific measure - no blood test, no brain scan - just arbitrary observations, interviews, and questionnaires before Jimmy is put on anti-depressants or another drug to physically alter the way he thinks and feels - not to mention the size of his dad's (and the drug company's) wallet. ABPs are paid pennies when considering their rate per actual hour of work, so they're not in on the scam. They're just pawns, much like scientology's "volunteers".
They also have a low career ceiling. With a masters or Ed.S, your max is $120,000 as a head ABP. Or, continue schooling so you can get your Ph.D and be a professor with private clients. Rarely, you become school principle. Usually, you make $50,000 with no pay increases due to union issues, doing a second job in your free time to make enough money. You're basically a teacher (notice how the degree says "educational specialist" - not psychological?) with far more responsibility and power. No teacher has the authority to give kids life-altering drugs for merely "acting out". ABPs are scammed into the allure of the same time off as students: summers, school closings, holidays. In reality, they hate those days because it means less time to get their reports done (lab rats are useless when they aren't in their cage).
Example: Michelle is a 1st grader who doesn't pay attention in class. ABPs view Michelle as an off-task deviant who would benefit from medication. But first, the ABP manipulates the environment, moving Michelle's seat to the front of the class. Of course, that won't solve the real problem - Michelle sleeps 2 hours a night and eats candy for breakfast because her unemployed parents fight at night (true story from when I was an ABP). Since the school doesn't have enough funding or authority to fix the Michelle's home life, the ABP decides to send Michelle to the psychiatrist to prescribe medication with intolerable side-effects. Also, Michelle is labeled as having a learning disorder for the rest of her life.
That's another way ABP infects people. It starts early, teaching kids that their brains are damaged, and the only way to fix the problem is to worship the concepts of ABP, to respect ABPs as authorities who know what is wrong and how to help. If you act out in class, it's not because you're tired or need food. It's because you have an inherent disposition that only the ABP can fix. Charismatic leader, anyone?
There's no scientific basis for ABP jargon. "Learning disability"? It's a fancy phrase with no measure. They can give you a battery of tests, but they don't have much validity and say nothing about solutions. Michelle gets labeled as having a learning disability, affecting her track in school (not to mention her self-esteem, creating other psychological issues) until she graduates and is thrown into the real world with prescriptions to fill, the understanding that her brain is abnormal, and the lack of sustained help to prepare for a normal, healthy life.
Examples of thought-reform are endless. ABPs are brainwashed into seeing people as problems. Their friends are no longer emotional, complex people. Instead, they are viewed as Bipolar-II. Their mom isn't a loud-mouthed Italian anymore. She's borderline and in need of meds (fortunately, she has countless choices to choose from! Just try them all and see what works best, right?). People are simplified into salivating dogs.
Don't conflate this with doctors. A doctor viewing a human as having cancer is different from an ABP viewing someone as having depression. The doctor distinguishes the cancer from the person and can detect it with proper instruments. ABPs see depression as part of the person without any instrument to prove its existence. Depression is diagnosed with arbitrary, poorly validated questionnaires that usually result in multiple meds they have to take for the rest of their lives. And don't let your employer find out - if you think it's embarrassing for everyone at work to know you're a scientologist, imagine what it feels like to find out you take meds for manic depression. It ruins careers.
3: ABPs are economically exploited. They're duped into attending extra schooling after being tricked into believing their undergrad liberal arts degree is all-but-useless. After 4 years of expensive college, they're told that if they want to make use of their degree, they must pay for 3 more years of school. I've known countless psychologists who judge other psychs for lacking a grad degree. It's strikingly similar to cults - you're seen as inferior and are pressured into paying for more "training".
ABP training is a scam. You pay $1,000s per course for a part-time professor / drug dealer so they can run through power points, call on you to explain what you (didn't) read in one of your 3 $100 textbooks, test you on different material, and give you an A or B in the class. Of course, grad programs don't want to give out Cs, Ds, or Fs. That doesn't look good for them, hence why almost everyone graduates with a 3.75 GPA or above. The classes are easy to pass, but unless you really buy into the brainwashing, you're going to be terrible at your job. But it's OK, because almost everyone else is, too. And your specialization isn't useful in other fields. A masters in ABP isn't even hirable in most school districts (3 years of Ed.S is more attractive), so most pay for the Ed.S, which is universally less attractive than a masters. Cultish mind games, anyone?
In my ABP program, I had to take a multiculturalism class, led by a professor who got in our faces and insulted us if we didn't admit that white people are evil. I'm not exaggerating. I called him out for brainwashing us into being racists; he smiled and thanked me for thinking critically (another way for him to insult everyone else). We reported him, but since he's one of the heads of the program, it went dismissed. We reported other professors for unethical, poor teaching, but our concerns went unheard.
Due to the corrupt nature of public schools, many ABPs have to be unethical. Example: Jimmy's IEP was due for review last week, but since the ABPs are backed up with 20 kids to observe, interview, test, and diagnose, they don't have time to meet the deadlines. Jimmy's IEP mysteriously vanishes, only to be found a month later when the school has gone on strike and an ABP has some time to work on Jimmy's case instead of attending to their own family. Since there's no room in the special ed class, they'll pretend Jimmy's shown improvement so they can check his name off their todo list. True story.
Once the ABP is indebted with $50,000+ from at least 7 years of schooling, they have to spend most of their unpaid overtime on kids who don't need drugs or IQ tests that pull them out of class, stunting their learning opportunities. They spend their summers attending "conferences", acquiring credits to fulfill their club's requirements. For school-based ABPs, that club is NASP, which decides how they shall think, spend their money, and waste their free time.
Summary: Psychology itself is a science to be studied by scientists. Applied behavioral psychology is the cult-like practice of indoctrinating well-intentioned, intelligent people, tricking them into paying to be brainwashed by a mediocre, part-time professor whose primary job typically involves selling drugs to kids. These well-intentioned students "graduate" with a degree that gives them the license to take your children out of their classrooms, testing privately without anyone else around, teaching them words to label all of their problems, brainwashing them into viewing themselves as disabled or inferior to others unless they take pills.
Charismatic leader? Skinner, professors, and countless other "authorities" and "experts" revered by their "students". Check.
Thought-reform? Learning Disability, Cognitive Impairment, Character-Building, Bipolar, Depressed, Schizotypal, Autistic, Anxious. Check.
Economic and other exploitation? 7+ years of "training" (except kids think college is only 4 years) plus additional courses to pay for on their own dime every year until they choose to stop and lose their license. That doesn't include the personal expenses we paid to find internships, find students to experiment on, purchasing unnecessary textbooks, and so on. Check.
By now, you might be ready to tell me I'm an idiot. "How can you compare psychology to scientology!". I have 9 years of experience as an applied behavioral psychologist. I also spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on therapy, only to continue suffering. Ironically, I attended another cult-like program a few years ago, and it made me realize how similar it was to psychology. I eventually opened my eyes and left the field for good. I also found peace when I stopped focusing on abnormal psychology and its tortured participants every waking second of my life.
Kids don't need a psychologist taking them out of class, giving them invalid tests, labeling them with jargon, making them take medications that create new side effects that can only be alleviated with more drugs. Oh, and don't stop taking the pills, or you'll have even worse side effects!
What they need is what ABP currently lacks: proper responses to intervention. Some school districts try to implement this, but it doesn't work because the approach is wrong. You can't give a kid an IQ test and know what to do with the results, because there is nothing to be gained from them. Think about this: Jimmy's taken out of class for 2 hours so he can find out he has an IQ of 69. Not only is he officially labeled as "cognitively impaired" (a jargon term for mentally retarded), but there are no instructions for fixing the problem. And that's because there is no scientifically valid experiments proving that IQ says anything about the solution. Same goes for any other ABP's "tests". Solutions are essentially pulled out of thin air, at best borrowed from other ABPs who package their unproven solutions as products for residual income.
Yeah, giving the kid 2 medications and taking them out of class once a week to remediate their behavior will save them from 2 hours of sleep a night and no breakfast because all little Susan can hear is her mom screaming from broke dad's beatings every other night.
If you're an ABP or know someone who is, seriously consider what I just said. Again, psychology itself (and even psychiatry, which requires an MD) isn't a cult. Applied behavioral psychology, on the other hand, is one of the most devastating cults we have today, if not the worst. If your child is seeing the psychologist at school, demand to be present with the child at all times. Never allow the "psychologist" to be alone with your child. You wouldn't want a "doctor" to be with your child. You want a doctor with an MD. Take them to a psychiatrist and insist on no medications. Most kids don't need meds - they need a good family, discipline, and room to err and learn. Stop drugging kids for acting out in class, and find the real root of the problem.