The Ways and Teachings of a Cult
Almost every religion, religious sect, government, scientific organization, mainstream medical association, and other kinds of organizations in the world today are cults.
All cults will employ one or more of the following strategies and concepts:
(1.) Immediate environment control - This is maintained and expressed in these ways: group only activities, isolation from other people, psychological pressure, geographical distance or unavailability of transportation, and various forms of pressure. These pressures include, peer pressure from the members, or even physical abuse. This form of control is achieved by immersing a person in a social environment where, in order to function, he must shed his old identity and adhere to the new identity desired by the group. In other words, a radical transformation begins to take place within the person, from an outsider to a member of the cult.
(2.) Confession - Refers to the idea that by confessing your sins to a priest or "elder" of the group you will become a stronger or more spiritual person. By confessing your sins, all of the "badness" inside you will be released. When a new person is first introduced to the cult, his confession can and will be used against him later. He will be shown that there is only one way to achieve his goals, becoming an active member of the group.
(3.) "Sacred science" - This is used by all cults, since in our age something must be scientific to have a substantial effect on people. This refers to the fact that if the ideas of the group have worked for so many other people, it has become "science". This is the most important reason for not questioning it, if the "science" works for others, but not you, then something is wrong with you, not the science or its application. The cult can prove their science works by showing the multiple successful examples, so you need to work harder if the " science" is to work for you too. This is also called the "blame the victim" mentality. "No wonder it didn't work for you, you didn't do exactly as you were taught. It's all your fault." It's not the person's fault at all, but the inherent flaws of the system of the cult itself.
(4.) Group language - This refers to the idea that a group replaces common language with their own internal-group language. This new terminology also serves to replace complex thoughts and ideas with only a simple phrase. In other cases, a whole new list of terms and phrases is required learning for the new person to begin to understand the conversations of others in the cult. The group's clichés, or loaded language, also put up an invisible wall between believers and outsiders. This wall further separates the group's members from the rest of society. In reality, by incorporating the loaded language, they learn how not to think, or learn to think in narrow-minded terms.
(5.) Doctrine over person - This refers to the internalized message that one must find the truth of the dogma and subject one's own experience to that "truth". This is related to "sacred science" since a person shapes his own experiences around the "science" of the group. Eventually, a person's entire emotional state is shaped around the cult's "science". From there, the person learns to control his emotions so they comply with the emotions of the other people in the group. Before long, a member need not think for himself because the doctrine does the thinking for him. A person becomes happy only when he is with other members.
(6.) A unique form of salvation - This refers to the idea that if you are part of the cult, you are somehow spiritually better than everyone else in society, you have "seen the truth" or "seen the light". Conversely, if you are not part of the cult, you "have not been shown the way" or "have not seen the light". Group members approach people with the intent to show them that their group's way is the only way for people to "be saved". Saved from what depends on the specific group's goals, but usually refers to the cult's perceived evils of society.
(7.) Love bombing - This is the act of over-affection by the people already in the cult for a newcomer, usually occurring in the early meetings. This can mean a lot of complements, attention, and physical contact, handshaking, hugging, or pats on the back for anyone who is new. The attention serves as a bond for the new person, he thinks, "This place isn't so bad, everyone here likes me." The new person comes to appreciate this affection and attention, which he may or may not be receiving elsewhere. Under the guise of "being friendly" or "being happy", this close physical contact serves to quickly draw the new person into the group.
New people don't realize the members are taught to suppress any negative feelings they have about the group and always show a continually smiling, "happy" face, especially when new people are present.
(8.) Mental confusion - This is what happens to a person when he accepts multiple, conflicting information at the same time. Rather than having to deal with conflicting thoughts, a person almost "separates" himself from reality. He starts to deny anything is wrong and continues to tell people, "Everything is fine. Just wait until I get there. Then you'll see I was right."
In reality, this leads to both a further detachment from reality and a further attachment to the cult's teachings. And if a person were to question the conflicting information presented to him, he would probably be told, "Your question means you don't understand. Continue learning and then it will become clear." This "separation" occurs at about the same time that a person starts to lose his critical and logical thinking.
Adding the two, confusion and the loss of logical critical thinking, is a dangerous combination and what is commonly known as "brain-washing". For example, if a person was told by the cult's leaders, "For you to be successful, you must believe that 2 + 2 = 5." From then on, the person will think, "I'm not successful yet, I guess I don't fully believe that 2 and 2 is 5." Rather than realizing he is denying the reality of the facts, a person tells himself to believe the "new reality" of the cult. Before long, it will be he who is arguing to other people, that 2 and 2 really does equal 5. And if a person is in this belief system long enough, leaving the group may require deprogramming to get a person out of these beliefs and back into reality.
(9.) Charismatic leadership - This refers to the idea that the leadership of the cult has special powers or knowledge that the rest of the group does not have, or that the group wants to attain. The leadership has the ability to issue orders that are followed by the cult without a second thought. This is related to " sacred science", if the leaders have done something, the followers should do it as well and expect the same results. The leaders can also control a member's emotions by teaching that "Loyalty and devotion are the most highly respected qualities of all." To question the leadership is to be disloyal.
(10.) Deception - In a cult, deception can take on many forms, there can be lying about the organization's affiliation with other groups, lying about the size of the group, lying about the success in the group, or lying about group practices. There can also be deception about what the end results of the group really are.
Sometimes, the deception is in the form of a hidden agenda by the leadership, an agenda to make money for themselves, sometimes at the expense of the group. Because the cult is offering their own form of salvation, the deception is rationalized because the end goal justifies whatever means are necessary to achieve that goal. As long as the people in the cult believe that what they are doing is "right" and "just" many of them think nothing of lying, stealing, cheating, even murdering.
(11.) Suppression of thinking for oneself - I refer to the idea that a person's ability to critically analyze information becomes impaired or even non-existent. Under the guise of "you are new, so you can't handle all the information at once," a new person is taught not to question the procedures. After all, if a person wants to succeed in the group, he can't be questioning it. As time progresses, the thinking becomes, "Stop worrying about it. It'll all work out, you'll see. You'll learn everything eventually." And in order to keep new people from thinking too critically, older group members learn to answer questions with "non-answers". If a controversial issue is raised, the older member may say, "You know, I used to think like that, but then I got the facts straight." or even, "How can you think that way? I thought you were more intelligent than that." Before long, a person practically stops thinking altogether.
(12.) Discrediting outside information - This causes cult members not to listen to unbiased or "negative" information because those sources are "wrong". Most of the time, the only reason these sources are "wrong" is because they are not promoting the group-accepted view of the world. If you deny a person the information he requires to make sound judgments, he will be incapable of doing so. And if you control the information someone receives, you restrict his free ability to think for himself. In turn, this further places a person under the control of the cult's leaders. Discrediting a source of information is usually easier than trying to debate the truth of the issue. Why discuss the issue when the entire source is wrong? The cult now has complete information control.
(13.) The loss of independent judgment - This refers to the idea that a person becomes virtually dependent on another person to make a decision for him. Over time, a person has one of the cult's leaders make all his decisions for him. This may eventually encompass a person's entire life, or at least all of their major life decisions. A person's transfer of judgment is closely related to a person's loss of critical thinking abilities.
(14.) Fear of leaving - In most cults, members are quickly taught that there will be serious repercussions if they were to leave. When negative images about leaving the group are combined with suppressed logical critical thinking, guilt and fear is created in the member's mind. They start to think, "I don't want that to happen to me. I can't quit." In fact, today's cults know how to effectively implant vivid negative images deep within members' subconscious minds, making it impossible for the member to even conceive of ever being happy and successful outside of the group. Unknown to the members in the cult, this fear is completely irrational, no disasters will happen if the member were to leave the group.
(15.) Sleep deprivation and fatigue - This occurs when activities relating to the cult begin to replace normal sleep and rest time. Disorientation and sensory overload may occur at about the same time, when either too much information or too many sights and sounds overload a person. Put a person into a situation where he is fatigued and his senses are overloaded with non-coherent information and the mind will go numb as a protective mechanism. It gets confused and overwhelmed, and logical faculties no longer work properly. This is what renders a person more susceptible and less critical to the information being received.
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