Australian Cults

Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion points us to a distressing story coming out of Australia. It’s the story of Kylie and Nathan Zamprogno. According to Nathan, his wife was essentially brainwashed through use of the “repressed memory therapy” by an organization run by John Darnell.

Nathan Zamprogno now runs a blog called The Palimpsest. He’s running a three part series on his investigation of Darnell’s organization and his experiences, although as of this writing he’s only up to part two.

The first post, Who are the Shepherd’s Heart and what do they believe?, lays out his take as an amateur journalist examining the organization from the outside.

The Darnells believe they have a special calling. For years, they have received people (disproportionately, women) whose initial presentation may only be of emotional distress. Some may have diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illnesses. They believe that their calling is to assist their subjects recall, acknowledge and then heal from trauma, even abuse, experienced earlier in life. Critically, the subject may be entirely unaware they had endured this abuse and trauma until the Darnell’s techniques produce distressing recollections that then have to be interpreted and processed.

One of the interesting things is that John Darnell has acknowledged that he believes that the British Royal Family are actually reptiles. That means that Darnell is a fan of British conspiracist David Icke. I have a hard time thinking of a more damning statement.

The second post, ">In which Nathan’s wife is stolen away by a cult, is more painful:

I lost my wife, Kylie, to a cult. I believe their influence ruined her health, her career, and robbed a 6 year old boy of his mother. That they unpicked the threads of her life and of her mind. That she cast aside her home, her wider family, even her name for the sake of a pseudo-Christian group that she had never met six months previously. She now goes by a name given to her by the cult, Hope, after she was told that the person named Kylie had never existed. At a point where she was mentally unwell and exceptionally vulnerable, this cult misdirected her therapy, providing instead what a psychologist identified as a “treatment program” written by a group who believe Nazi-built, demonically piloted UFOs kidnap women and impregnate them to create a race of half-demon super soldiers. They took the most febrile delusions occasioned by her illness and convinced her they were real; that she was the victim of Satanic abuse; that she could speak to Jesus Christ and had a gift of prophecy; that her multiple personalities were evidence of demons that had to be exorcised; that she was involved in spiritual warfare against “astral travellers” from local covens who psychically bombarded her and the group; that her real family were evil. Crazy, evil stuff.

Darnell is particularly frightening, because he seems to combine the charismatic cult-leader style with the paranoia of a conspiricist. Consider the cover of his book Satanic Strategies: UFO’s, satanic ritual abuse, nephilim, church infiltration … clearly this man has never met a conspiracy that he didn’t like.

As always, Richard Bartholomew has more information.

  • Rick Miller

    Darnell sounds a lot like Jim Jones did.

  • Jess

    Thanks for posting this, I hope that this will shine a light on the issue, and hopefully help his cause :)

  • PartlySunny

    The end of that video made me want to cry.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Repressed Memory Therapy? Srsly? Didn’t that nonsense go out of style with the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic of the ’80s and ’90s? Who still believes that? Who still doesn’t know about it?

    • Noelle


    • Mogg

      Many fads continue to have a small following long after they disappear from the larger public consciousness, this is a particularly dangerous one. Just like elsewhere in the western world, science reporting is pretty bad in Australia and science in general is considered uninteresting except to nerds. Many people don’t pay much attention and what they do see and hear is often distorted and the boring bits like “this theory has been discredited” are usually not mentioned. Result: People who remember the repressed memory trend from the sensationalised media of the day, but don’t know that it was discredited, can be taken in by someone who seems to be there to help them in a time of mental distress.