This is a short list of elements to know about cults. Obviously there are many more elements to cults beyond this list, and as our technology changes, cults morph and change with it. However, the details below will always ring true no matter how our culture shifts and progresses. If you have any questions or need help please see a professional psychologist in your area, or support groups that will help protect you.
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Cults are attractive because they promote an illusion of comfort.Humans desire comfort, and in a fearful and uncertain world many turn to cults because they tend to promote exactly that. Cult leaders often make promises that are totally unattainable, but also offered by no other group in society. Such things might include financial security, total health, constant peace of mind, and eternal life — the things every human desires at the deepest level.
Cults satisfy the human desire for absolute answers. Many people join cults because they believe they’re being offered solid, absolute answers for questions such as good vs. evil, religion, the meaning of life, politics, etc. Many cult leaders promote messages that are simple and seem to make sense, the exact opposite of what we’re often provided with in typical, everyday life.
Those with low self-esteem are more likely to be persuaded by a cult environment.People are often surprised to learn that those who join cults are, for the most part, average people. They come from all backgrounds, all zip codes, and all tax brackets. But research done in the past two decades has found an interesting pattern: many people successfully recruited by cults are said to have low self-esteem. Cults generally do not look to recruit those with certain handicaps or clinical depression. However, people with low self-esteem are easier to break down, then build back up in an effort to teach them that the cult is the supportive environment they’re looking for.
MIND CONTROL TECHNIQUES:
Public Humiliation: New cult members may be “love bombed” shortly after their arrival, but once they are established members, cult leaders often maintain emotional control through various exercises meant to publicly humiliate a member.
Self Incrimination: A favorite tactic of the infamous cult leader Jim Jones, self incrimination requires cult members to provide their leader with written statements detailing their individual fears and mistakes.
Brainwashing:Cult leaders are known to repeat various lies and distortions until members find it difficult to distinguish between reality and cult life.
Paranoia: To maintain a false sense of comfort, cults often rely on paranoia tactics. Cult leaders convince their victims that a group, their families, and/or the government is out to get them, but that the cult can provide safety.
New recruits are “love bombed.”Once people have been recruited by a cult, they are often “love bombed.” This odd phrase is commonly used to describe the ways in which someone with low self-esteem is consistently flattered, complimented, and seduced in order to train their brain to associate the cult with love and acceptance.
Many cult members have rejected religion. Many people who join cults have experienced religion at some point in their lives, and rejected it. Perhaps this is surprising, considering many cults tend to be religious — or at least claim to be. But Dr. Cath asserts that this trend is a sign of something deeper. Many of those who join cults are intelligent young people from sheltered environments. Growing up in such an environment, says Dr. Cath, often means that “many have a history of failing to achieve intimacy, of blaming others for their failures, and of constantly striving for perfectionistic goals.” These characteristics make them prime targets for cult recruitment.
Women are more likely than men to join a cult. Women make up a whopping 70% of cult members around the globe. Psychologists have different ideas about why more women than men join cults. Dr. David Bromley of Virginia Commonwealth University points out that women simply attend more social gatherings, either religious or otherwise. This makes women statistically more likely to join groups that will ultimately victimize them.
Cults maintain their power by promoting an “us vs. them” mentality. Cults prove powerful because they are able to successfully isolate members from their former, non-cult lives. One of the ways cult leaders achieve this is to convince their followers that they are superior to those not in the cult. This “us vs. them” mentality ultimately leads to cult members isolating themselves socially from friends and family. They replace those relationships with new ones inside the cult.
Cult members often have no idea they’re in a cult.She found that most people enter a cult willingly, without realizing the power it is bound to have over them. Singer theorizes that this is partly because some people are more willing to see the perceived benefits than they are the potential dangers. She also mentions that many people assume cults are only religious, though in truth, cults can also be political groups, lifestyle groups, or business groups.
Cult life can have a dangerous and lasting effect. Cult victims often spend years overcoming the emotional damage incurred during their time spent in a cult. Dr. John G. Clark, Jr., is a Harvard psychiatry professor and the co-founder of a non-profit group which treats former members and their families. He specifically mentions that the “symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy are similar to those seen or reported as resulted from cult conversions: increased irritability, loss of libido or altered sexual interest, ritualism, compulsive attention to detail, mystical states, humorlessness and sobriety, heightened paranoia.”