I just recently had someone suggest that I was brain washed and therefore brain washable. This is ridiculous! I was the third generation JW, born into it, with a schizophrenic father who claimed to be anointed, and grew up on Bethel's doorstep! What else was I SUPPOSED to be? Dad was an elder all my life, we moved every 6 months to 'serve where the need was great' (which meant the heat got too high and he had to leave while people still adored him) and this right up until I was 23 years old.
Then the next 2 years saw the personal struggles when he left my mother and ran off with a 'worldly woman' and was disfellowshipped(but still partook--because 'man can't take that away from me').
The next 9 years I struggled with my faith and I got to really see what the WTBTS was---before I was too influenced by my father's own brand of it. And when my natural brain functions kicked in, I left. It took a year to plan the physical break because I was totally dependent on this cult(I am in a wheel chair) but when I left--I left it completely and with no regrets! None whatsoever. No doubts that I did the right thing.
Was I brainwashed? How can you brain wash someone if there is nothing in the brain to wash? I was BORN into it! I was isolated and insulated and completely controlled. I don't see how this can qualify as brainwashed if I was never even allowed the chance to develope my own mind. And I think I did pretty good fairly fast considering I was a grown adult when I first started to think!
So please don't beat yourselves up. Even if this was a conscious adult choice, there was some vulnerability that allowed it to take seed. And a vulnerable person cannot possibly make the same quality decisions that someone who is self-assured and emotionally stable can! And we are not always responsible for our lack of self-assurance and emotional instability--sometimes life overwhelms us and slaps us in the face so hard we reel! JWs jump on that so quickly! And they lie so prettily.
Next time some laughs at you, tell them WHY you became a JW. Ask them if after losing a child to leukemia, or living on the street addicted to crack, or whatever the circumstance you may have been in at the time they handed you a Watchtower, if they can just walk away from the promise of paradise and earthly resurrection and world peace and no more sickness or pain....they may like to think they are cynical enough to not bite the bait, but are they really? Ask them how many Lotto tickets they bought this year?