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Episode 2: The Students

Many former members of the Students of Light tell strikingly similar stories about why they first chose to join the group. One of these is a woman named Treva Olson, who claims her time in the group turned her into a mindless, brainwashed follower. She says it wasn’t until her family kidnapped her and had her forcibly “deprogrammed” by a famous anti-cult activist that she snapped out of her brainwashed state.


  • Written and narrated by Daniel Munro

  • Audio editing and production by Carolyn Smillie

  • Additional research by Robert Munro

  • Artwork and web design by Megan Hilario 

  • Voiceovers by Robert Munro

  • Excerpts of interviews with Lorne Dawson, Treva Olson, Cynthia Watson, and two anonymous contributors

  • Excerpts from CBC Newsworld’s On the Line with Patrick Conlon; CBS’s 48 Hours; KPBS-TV’s Your Information with Anasa Briggs


Sources consulted: 



  • Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman, Snapping 

  • Lorne Dawson, Comprehending Cults

  • Marc Galanter, Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion (2nd ed.)

  • Mary McPhail, I Met a Moonie

  • Hugo Mercier, Not Born Yesterday

  • Robert Pollock, Twenty-Five Years with Jesus



  • Edmonton Journal, “Deprogramming of Woman Frees her from ‘Cult Chains’”

  • Edmonton Journal, “Cult Information Group Under Way”

  • LA Times, “San Diego: It’s back to Jail for Ted Patrick”

  • Maclean’s, “Nightmare Tales”

  • Pittsburgh Press, “Amish Woman Charges Deprogramming”

  • Red Deer Advocate, “Former Cult Member Fighting to Save Others from Mind Control”

  • Washington Post, “Breaking the Spell that Binds Ted Patrick”

  • Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements: Volume II, “Brainwashing and 'Cultic Mind Control',”



  • Affidavit of Treva Steele (supplied by Info-Cult Centre)

  • Docket Entries for United States v. Kollmar (4:19-mj-70677)

  • Mia Donovan (director), Deprogrammed

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