A friend of mine who is having difficulty leaving a cult told me about the manipulation techniques they use to keep him from leaving. This cult's ideology is that everything bad that happens to a person is their fault and that by recognizing that, a person can change their lives for the better. The cult pressures people into paying a lot of money for seminars in which they are indoctrinated to recruit others. This cult told my friend that they would bring about a transformation in him so that he would become a happy person. He says the transformation has not happened. When he tells them that, they say that he is not passionate enough.
I pointed out to my friend that they are blaming their failure on him. They have the ideology that their recruits should always blame themselves but when the cult members fail to transform others into happy successful beings, they don't blame the cult and its methods, they hypocritically blame the recruits instead.
This cult also manipulated my friend into making a commitment to working for them. Every time he wants to leave, they make him feel that he is betraying them by breaking his commitment to them.
When he wants to leave they ask him, "Well are you happier" and "What have you accomplished?" and so make him feel like a failure for giving up the transformation process. They tell him how shocked they are that he is leaving.
While he is in the group they ask him to speak about the transformation the cult has created in him. He tells me he feels a lot of pressure to tell them what they want to hear. He then becomes part of the indoctrination process. When other people hear him say how great the cult has been for him that reinforces their beliefs that the cult is wonderful.
During group sessions they also ask him what he has done to recruit new members. This puts him under a lot of pressure to go out and encourage others to join.
He said that he has told the cult members that his friends say that they are a cult. The cult members reply:
"Well people thought Gandhi was a cult leader and people considered Martin Luther King a leader of a cult and they were wrong."
That is a clever response. They imply that it is their greatness that causes people to think that they are a cult and not because they are one.
My friend told me that he thinks he's strong enough to resist pressure from them to give away all his money. I pointed out to him that so far he hasn't been strong enough to leave and that these cults have perfected mind control techniques. He admitted to me that he was afraid to leave.
The power of these cults and the influence they have is frightening. My friend told me that his therapist recommended that he join the cult. He also told me that he has a friend who he met before he joined, who is in the cult.
Some cults have therapy sessions in which one cult member listens to the confessions of the other. These confessions can be used to blackmail the confessor into cooperation in the future.
An example of an organization that has enormous influence is the Church of Scientology. It is speculated that it was their influence on President Clinton, that resulted in Madeline Albright traveling to Germany to stop the German government from cracking down on Scientologists in Germany. A critique of an offshoot of Scientology, the Landmark Forum, by a former member is on the Landmark Forum web page.
An excellent book about cults and how to fight them
is called Combating
Cult Mind Control. Another excellent book on the topic is Cults in Our
Midst. An excellent book for someone who is trying to leave a cult is: Captive
Hearts, Captive Minds : Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships.
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