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How do you recognize the fact, that you are in a cult.
Cults are not always easy to recognize at first glance
Readers should know that a number of cults are highly litigious and use their wealth and power to harass and curb critics. Citizens, academics, journalists, former cult members and their parents, and publications ranging from Time magazine to the Journal of the American Medical Association have been the targets of legal suits brought by various wealthy cults in efforts to intimidate and silence critics. Defending himself or herself against the false accusations made by some of these cults can break the ordinary person. It appears that winning is not the most important goal for the cults. Their motivation appears rather to be to harass, financially destroy, and silence criticism.
Cult leaders tend to be determined and domineering and are often described as charismatic. These leaders need to have enough personal drive, charm or other pulling power to attract, control, and manage their flocks. They persuade devotees to drop their families, jobs, careers, and friends to follow them. Overtly or covertly, in most cases they eventually take over control of their followers’ possessions, money and lives.
Cults are authoritarian in structure. The leader is regarded as the supreme authority, although he may delegate certain power to a few subordinates for the purpose of seeing that members adhere to his wishes and rules. There is no appeal outside of the leader’s system to greater systems of justice.
Other groups want to recruit members into pay-as-you-go programs and, therefore, target employed persons with money-making skills, to whom the cults will sell “courses,” gradually hooking these
people into greater and greater commitment to the group, as well as selling them more and more expensive courses.
The key to successful thought reform is to keep the subjects unaware that they are being manipulated and controlled—and especially to keep them unaware that they are being moved along a path of change that
will lead them to serve interests that are to their disadvantage. The usual outcome of thought-reform processes is that a person or group gains almost limitless control over the subjects for varying periods of time.
Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order. If you criticize or complain, the leader or peers allege that you are defective, not the organization. In this closed system of logic, you are not allowed to question or doubt a tenet or rule or
to call attention to factual information that suggests some internal contradiction within the belief system or a contradiction with what you have been told.
In particular, when you question, you may be made to look ridiculous and called a renegade, a spy, an agent, a nonbeliever, or Satan, or whatever disparaging terms are used in your particular group. There’s always an internal language with terms to ridicule or denigrate. In some way, you are made to feel bad for doubting or questioning. You’re convinced by the closed logic of the cult and by peer pressure that to question means you don’t believe enough. So you stop questioning.
Exhaustion and confusion increase cult member’s inability to act. In most groups, members are made to work morning, noon and night. It’s no wonder they become exhausted and unable to think straight. In this context, to think about leaving becomes completely overwhelming. If escape even crosses your mind, you think – where would I go? What would I do? Who would accept me? You have lost so much self esteem that the thought of leaving is unbearable. You can’t imagine abandoning your protected little universe to go out into the horrible world that all the time you’ve been trained to believe is the other, the evil, the bourgeois society, or of Satan. The non-believers are not going to accept you. The minute they find out that you were in “that,” you are going to die on the spot or be chased away. Nobody would hire you; nobody would want you; you will never have a relationship. You are a loser.
Then, back at the cult, they are denounced and defiled. They are entered on a roster of enemies and non-people. Horrendous lies are told about them to reinforce the cult’s line on why they are no longer members. Such denunciation is not a pleasant prospect for someone thinking of leaving. The pariah image takes on enormous proportions and coming to fit that image seems a fate worse than death.