The difference between the exit counselors and [famous deprogrammer] Ted Patrick seems to be one of commitment, much like what Pavlov worked on for the later years of his life. Pavlov is famous for his work with dogs, bells, and saliva, but his lesser known work with dogs and stress is applicable here. Pavlov spent the last part of his career testing the effects of stress on dogs. He started because one day a flood almost killed all of his dogs that were stuck in their cages. Pavlov found that after experiencing tremendous stress, the dogs stopped behaving like that previously had. Dogs that liked him before didn't anymore, and so on. From Poor Charlie's Almanack (2005):
"[He] spent the rest of his long life giving stress-induced nervous breakdowns to dogs, after which he would try to reverse the breakdowns, all the while keeping careful experimental records. He found (1) that he could classify dogs so as to predict how easily a particular dog would breakdown; (2) that the dogs hardest to break down were also the hardest to retrun to their prebreakdown state; (3) that any dog could be broken down; and (4) that he couldn't reverse a breakdown except by reimposing stress" (pp 435).
I'll be pondering these disturbing claims for days to come.