Deprogramming is an attempt to force a person to abandon allegiance to a religious, political, economic, or social group. Methods and practices may involve kidnapping and coercion. The person in question is taken against his/her will, which has led to controversies over freedom of religion, kidnapping and civil rights, as well as the violence which is sometimes involved.
Deprogramming is commissioned by relatives, often parents of adult offspring, who object to someone's membership in an organization or group. It was started in the 1970s in the United States by Ted Patrick.
The effectiveness, ethics and legality of deprogramming has been questioned by scholars, as well as by members of the Christian countercult movement.
Similar actions, when done without force, are called "exit counseling". Sometimes the word deprogramming is used in a wider (and/or ironic or humorous sense), to mean the freeing of someone (often oneself) from any previously uncritically assimilated idea.