You know what I’d say to defooers? I actually had that chance once. Someone who was thinking about it decided to briefly debate the act over at Liberating Minds.

That was a pretty courageous thing to do, since Molyneux tends to ban members who post on sites he hasn’t approved. (I know, I know…I guess you can only have a Free Domain if you keep your members from being “corrupted” by outside opinions, but that’s for another Quickie!)

The conversation was about a pretty knotty problem—about the feelings and motivations behind a defoo. Defooing is a painful, emotional experience for all involved. Blame can get thrown around a lot, along with accusations of insensitivity on either side.

I don’t know if the person actually defooed or is still an FDR member. Anyway, this is what I said (after I edited some unnecessary junk out and deleted the user’s name):

Hi, there!

Welcome! I appreciated your thoughtful post and I hope it is the first of many. I don’t think anyone can really understand the child who leaves his or her family until one understands what a tremendously terrifying and painful step it must have been—a desperate step people take when they believe they have no other choice, when they believe the family has become entirely insensitive to their basic needs.

In fact, I think that having a clear understanding of how everyone is experiencing the family is so important, it’s universal.

In other words, it should exist on both sides.

Unfortunately, people who become associated with FDR are given equally insensitive claims about the hurt their families experience following a defoo. These claims—and most attempts by Molyneux/FDR to extend the defoo—bring the issues no closer to resolution than ignoring the pain of the child before the defoo.

Stefan Molyneux repeatedly—as sweeping generalities—counsels defooers that the family isn’t hurt when they leave. Or if there is pain, it isn’t real or legitimate. Repeatedly, he has used clever phrases such as “you don’t defoo your family, they defoo you.” He characterizes the heart-wrenching and anguished attempts of the family to reach out to their child as simply the wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who have lost their ability to control or humiliate. He counsels defooers to cut off all communications which, not coincidentally, also shields them from seeing first hand what the family is experiencing.

Any attempt by Molyneux to claim he does this on a case-by-case basis is clearly false. In books such as “On Truth,” and many, many podcasts, he makes blanket condemnations of parents and families.

If it is wrong for parents to ask a defooed child “did you set out to hurt your family?” without really understanding what the child has gone through, it is just as wrong for a counselor to consistently claim–“go ahead and leave—your parents don’t understand you anyway and you aren’t going to be hurting them in a way that should matter to anyone.”

Because in summary, that is Molyneux’s opinion and that is his advice.

My question has always been—once the defooed child has made his/her escape, once they’ve established the separate peace they need and deserve for their mental health—what next? If hanging around FDR is the answer, then why do the closest members of Molyneux’s inner circle seem no happier today—and in fact are still posting with their same family complaints–than the day they joined FDR? (In my opinion, the longer they stay, the worse the family complaints actually become!)

Clearly, clearly there are unresolved feelings. For those who have such feelings, why not just say to their families: “I left because I felt I had to. I’m not apologizing for it and I’d be disappointed if you didn’t make an earnest attempt to understand why. However, I do have unresolved feelings. Some of them are anger. Some of them could be love. I’m willing to do the work to see if we can have a family relationship, but only if you are prepared to do the same. If so, then we all need to go into counseling together and resolve these feelings and I need your commitment that you will fully participate. This is the only available, non-negotiable, next step for us—take it or leave it.”

That seems so extraordinarily common-sense to me. Yet, in hundreds of thousands of posts on FDR and in over a thousand podcasts, I’ve never seen it seriously suggested—not once—that troubled families should seek joint counseling. Only separation.

Why is that, do you suppose?

I wish more FDR members were curious about that last question.

Addendum: Several months after this was originally written, I discovered that this person—who has never returned to Liberating Minds—had remained an FDR member and has apparently defooed.

I don’t think this person ever attempted joint counseling as a solution but I hope he/she has found happiness.