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Glenn Close: “How I escaped a cult”

Glenn Close has opened up about the fascinating childhood she spent being raised in a cult, how she escaped and how she learned to deal with the psychological damage it caused.

“[For years], I wouldn’t trust any of my instincts because [my beliefs] had all been dictated to me,” Glenn, 67, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

At the age of 7, the actress’ father, the late Dr. William Taliaferro Close, packed up the family and took them into the right-wing religious cult Moral Re-Armament or MRA as its known.

“You basically weren’t allowed to do anything, or you were made to feel guilty about any unnatural desire. If you talk to anybody who was in a group that basically dictates how you’re supposed to live and what you’re supposed to say and how you’re supposed to feel, from the time you’re 7 till the time you’re 22, it has a profound impact on you. It’s something you have to [consciously overcome] because all of your trigger points are ,” says the highly acclaimed actress, who even spent a stint living at the Swiss-based headquarters of the organisation.

It wasn’t until the 70s, when Glenn was in her early 20s, that she finally managed to escape the clutches of the MRA, which still exists today but now under the name ‘Initiatives of Change’.

“Many things led me to leave,” Glenn said. “I had no toolbox to leave, but I did it. … I’m not going to go into [the details of leaving]. You can’t in an interview.”

For years after leaving, Glenn said that she was still haunted by her years in the cult.

“I would have dreams because I didn’t go to any psychiatrist or anything,” Glenn revealed. “I had these dreams, and they started with betrayal, a sense of betrayal, and then they developed into me being able to look at these people and say, ‘You’re wrong. You’re wrong.’ And then the final incarnation of those dreams was my being able to calmly get up and walk away. And then I didn’t have them anymore.”

Despite the group playing such a significant role in  the early years of her life, Glenn said that she’s had no further contact with them since leaving over 40 years ago.

“They knew that was it,” she said. “I had nothing to do with them from that point. And I wouldn’t have anything to do with them.”

Despite the traumatic experiences that defined her upbringing, Glenn says that she has forgiven her father for their involvement with the organisation.

“I always thought, the way life works, the burden of forgiveness is on the child,” divulged Close. “That’s the way it goes. Forgiveness is probably the most revolutionary concept there is right now in our world. Because without forgiveness, you just perpetuate what has been before. You [have to] say, ‘It’s going to stop with me.’”

Glenn has obviously gone on to lead a rich and full life since she left this strange world behind. She’s been nominated multiple times for Academy Awards and won Tonys, Emmys, SAG Awards and Golden Globes for her many highly acclaimed performances. She has a daughter of her own, Annie Starke, who is 26, and she is about to make a return to Broadway in the critically lauded absurdist play: A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee.

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