So-called “deprogrammers” are better described as depersonalizers who kidnap others for profit. Their methods include brainwashing, imprisonment, food/sleep deprivation and various forms of torture. Such activities are clearly against the principles held by Scientologists and have been proven to be against the law as well.
If all of that seems a little unreal to you, it is because the Church of Scientology, working with other religious groups and individuals, put these people out of business, including winning a landmark case against the now defunct Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and several individuals, including Rick Ross. CAN, We Hardly Knew Ye: Sex, Drugs, Deprogrammers’ Kickbacks, and Corporate Crime in the (old) Cult Awareness Network, by Anson Shupe, 2000 CAN was a haven for illegal deprogramming and in 1995 was found guilty of negligence and conspiracy to violate the civil rights and religious liberties of a young man and fined $1 million in damages. It subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
The deprogrammers who have been able to avoid bankruptcy or jail have restyled themselves as “exit counselors.” Except in some countries such as Japan, these “exit counselors” rely on softer methods. But they are still dangerous to the degree that they seek to marginalize new religious movements based on outdated and widely discredited psychological theories about why people join new religious movements.