This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in ICSA Today, Vol. 02, No. 03, page 34. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Edited by Mary O’Connell
Patrick Ryan has been a thought reform consultant since 1984. He is the founder and former head of TM-EX. He was the AFF News editor from 1995 until 1998. He has contributed to the Cult Observer and to the book Recovery from Cults. He co-authored Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants. He has made many presentations at ICSA workshops and conferences. He designs and maintains the ICSA websites.
Patrick was awarded the ICSA Lifetime Achievement Award in Barcelona, 2011. In his acceptance speech he said, “...as I learned more and became more active in this field, I realized that ICSA's emphasis on respect, dialogue, and exploration of diverse perspectives so as to HELP people was essential to the long-term survival of this broad and varied movement to counter the harm caused by cultic groups. That spirit of tolerance enables ICSA to bring into its broad tent people of very different religious, political, and philosophical perspectives.”
In conversation, he expands on this viewpoint when asked what advice he might give to people who are trying to help those involved in cults: “Groups are different from time to time and place to place. People are different from time to time and place to place. What matters most is how a person interacts with a group at a particular time, not merely being ‘anti-cult.’ We can become a source of information if we stay open.”
He encourages people who are considering exiting or in the process of exiting to “Find out why you want to leave. Why isn't the group working for you? What are your own particular reasons why you want to leave.”
Patrick was introduced and became a member of Transcendental Meditation when he was just 17. He had gone to write a story on TM and became enthralled. Eventually, he attended and graduated from the Maharishi University with a degree in business. He remained fully involved for 10 years, not leaving until age 27.
Upon leaving he almost immediately began helping others exit. He became an exit counselor and has continued in that profession for more than 20 years. In his work he emphasizes relationship building and conflict resolution. He finds it enjoyable to connect “with family – so much of what we do is to get families to understand the perspective their loved one has adopted, to fundamentally understand why the cult member loves what they love.”
In addition to his work as a counselor, Patrick has many other talents, as cited by Michael Langone at the Barcelona conference when he received his award. “He won a writing award for contributions to his high school newspaper. He ran a million dollar business. He has a passion for computers....He is a born entrepreneur....We salute him for the many years during which he has devoted his talents and time to ICSA and to helping others.”