[ot] cult influence and power, 1988-2018

Undiscussed Groomed for Male Slavery, One Victim of Many gmkarl+brainwashingandfuckingupthehackerslaves at gmail.com
Mon Sep 5 12:19:47 PDT 2022

Chapter 5–Cult Psychology

				Since my departure from the Moon cult, I have counseled or spoken
with many thousands of former cult members. These people come from
every sort of background and range in age from 12 to 85. Although some
of them clearly had severe emotional problems before becoming
involved, the great majority were stable, intelligent, idealistic
people. Many had good educations and came from respectable families.
Many were born or raised into totalistic groups, but still managed to
leave. Many were able to form relationships and have successful
careers. Many more struggled and suffered from a myriad of
psychological and life issues related to their cult involvement.

				The fact that many were intelligent, well-adjusted and from good
homes hardly surprises me. When I was a leader in the Moonies, we
selectively recruited “valuable” people—those who were strong, caring
and motivated. Indeed, a cult will generally target the most educated,
active and capable people it can find. People with emotional problems,
on the other hand, always had trouble handling the rigorous schedule
and enormous psychological pressures we imposed on them. It took lots
of time, energy, and money to recruit and indoctrinate a member, so we
tried not to waste our resources on someone who seemed liable to break

				Like any other business, large cult organizations watch these
cost/benefit ratios. Cults that endure for more than a decade need to
have competent individuals managing the practical affairs that any
organization with long-term objectives must do.

				The big groups can afford to hire outsiders to perform executive
and professional tasks, but a hired professional is never trusted as
much as someone who is psychologically invested in the group.
Moreover, cult members don’t have to be paid for their services. Cults
thus try to recruit talented professionals—to run their affairs, to
put a respectable face on their organizations, and to ensure their

				Outsiders who deal with the leadership of destructive cults never
cease to be amazed that they aren’t scatterbrained kooks. I hear
comments such as, “I never knew there were so many brilliant people in
these types of groups,” or “That leader is really a very nice, kind,
insightful person. How could he ever join a group like this?”

				Occasionally I am asked whether there is some kind of typical
problem family from which cult members tend to come. The answer is
_no_. Anyone, regardless of family background, can be recruited into a
cult. The major variable is not the person’s family but the cult
recruiter’s skill and the recruit’s life situation.

				Participation in destructive cults does sometimes provide some
people with an outlet for aspects of themselves that they did not find
in their family life or social activities. For example, many people
have a genuine impulse to work together with others as a team for a
variety of social or religious causes. Relatively few communities,
though, offer such organized activity to idealistic people. Cult life
gives them just such an opportunity, along with the apparent benefits
of “belonging” that comes from an intense group experience. I support
anyone’s search for more meaningful ways to develop relationships with
other people—but, as I have learned, people who are engaged in that
search are often more vulnerable than others to cult recruitment.

				I have also noticed that many idealistic young people recruited
into cults are struggling to assert their individuality, and some are
going through a period of rebellion. For these young people, cult
membership can be a way of substituting cult authority figures who
become a surrogate family when they are away from home. I have
occasionally come across more serious problems, such as alcoholism or
drug addiction within the family, which made the person feel a strong
desire to escape the dysfunctional family as soon as possible.
However, there does not appear to be a consistent pattern in the type
of family from which recruits come. The majority seem relatively

				So, what makes a person vulnerable to cults? How does a friendly,
kind, insightful human being become a member of a destructive cult? If
he or she is like most cult members, he or she is probably approached
during a time of unusual stress, perhaps while undergoing a major life

				Intense stress is commonplace in the modern world. Many people
experience great pressure at work or school, or tension from family
problems, social relationships, health concerns, new jobs, new homes,
money crises, or combinations of several of these stresses at once.
Usually our defense mechanisms help us cope, but we all have
vulnerable moments. Human beings all have these “life-cycle” kinds of
events: graduation, moving, death of friends and family, break-up of
relationship or marriage, loss of job, and so on.

				Although we may succumb to mind control in weak moments, it is by
no means permanent. Whenever recruits leave the group environment long
enough and they begin discovering revealing books, articles or
testimonies by former members, they almost always break away. The
problem occurs when people rely on the group for all key information.
Not knowing any better, they give the cult the benefit of the doubt.
They may assume that any problem is merely the result of a member’s
idiosyncratic behavior, not the system itself. One particular cult
member I counseled told me that whenever he had caught his Moonie
recruiter in a lie, he disregarded it because he assumed that lying
was just a personal problem she had. Such judgment errors are common
among people who are innocent of the nature of cults.

				This chapter, then, is designed to help you put yourself in the
shoes of a cult member—to understand the psychology and something of
what their life in a cult is like. It endeavors to identify some of
the most basic themes of life in destructive cults, the common
denominators they all share, in terms of what members
do and say.

				The Cult Experience

				What is it like to be in a destructive cult that uses mind
control? How does it feel? How does one think?

				Since there are so many different types of mind control cults, it
would be impossible to describe the beliefs and practices of each one,
or even each type. The best way to learn about a specific group is to
locate a former member, or a former member’s written or video account.
Ex-members are a great source of information.

				Still, certain themes of cult membership are more or less
universal. Here are the nine most common ones.
				The Doctrine Is Reality

				There is no room in a mind control environment for regarding the
group’s beliefs as mere theory, or as a way to interpret or seek
reality. The doctrine is reality. Some groups go so far as to teach
that the entire material world is illusion. Therefore, all thinking,
desires and action—except, of course, those prescribed by the cult—do
not really exist.

				The most effective cult doctrines are those “which are
unverifiable and unevaluable, in the words of Eric Hoffer.”[91] They may
be so convoluted that it would take years to untangle them. By then
people have been directed away from studying the doctrine to more
practical pursuits, such as fundraising and recruiting. Doctrine is to
be accepted, not understood. Therefore, the doctrine must be vague and
global, yet also symmetrical enough to appear consistent. Its power
comes from its assertion that it is the one and only truth—and that it
encompasses everything.

				Since mind control depends on creating a new identity within the
individual, cult doctrine always requires that a person distrust their
authentic self. The doctrine becomes the “master program” for all
their thoughts, feelings and actions. Since it is the “Truth,” perfect
and absolute, any flaw in it is viewed as a reflection of the
believer’s own imperfection. They are taught that they must follow the
prescribed formula, even if they don’t really understand it. At the
same time, the cult member is told that they should work harder and
have more faith, so they will come to _understand_ the truth more

				Reality is Black and White, Good Versus Evil

				Even the most complex cult doctrines ultimately reduce reality
into two basic poles: black versus white; good versus evil; spiritual
world versus physical world; us versus them. There is never room for
pluralism. The doctrine allows no outside group to be recognized as
valid (or good, or godly, or real), because that would threaten the
cult’s monopoly on truth. There is also no room for interpretation or
deviation. If the doctrine doesn’t provide an answer directly, then
the member must ask a leader. If the leader doesn’t have an answer,
they can always brush off the question as unimportant or irrelevant.

				“Devils” vary from group to group. They can be political or
economic institutions (communism, socialism, or capitalism);
mental-health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, or
deprogrammers); metaphysical entities such as Satan, spirits, or
aliens; or just the cruel laws of nature. Devils are certain to take
on the bodies of parents, friends, ex-members, reporters, and anyone
else who is critical of the group. The “huge conspiracies” working to
thwart the group are, of course, proof of its tremendous importance.

				Some groups cultivate a psychic paranoia, telling members that
spirit beings are constantly observing them, and even taking
possession of them whenever they feel or think in non-cult ways.

				Moon once ordered me, and busloads of other members, to see the
movie _The Exorcist_, which showed horribly graphic scenes of demonic
possession. Afterward, we were brought to Tarrytown to hear Moon rant
about “how God had made _The Exorcist_ movie and how it was a prophecy
of what would happen to people who left the Unification Church.” It
was years after I had left the cult when I started studying phobias
that I was able to trace back my own programming to that very night.
After watching that movie and then hearing that speech, fear of
Satanic possession took over my unconscious. I never had any conscious
doubts about Moon or the group until my deprogramming.

				Elitist Mentality

				Members are made to feel part of an elite corps of humankind. This
feeling of being special, of participating in the most important acts
in human history, with a vanguard of committed believers, is strong
emotional glue that keeps people sacrificing and working hard.

				As a community, cult members feel they have been chosen—by God,
history, fate or some other supernatural force—to lead humanity out of
darkness into a new age of enlightenment. Cult members have a great
sense not only of mission, but also of their special place in history.
They believe they will be recognized for their greatness for
generations to come. In the Moonies, we were told that monuments and
historical markers would someday be erected to commemorate us, because
of our sacrifices.

				Ironically, members of cults look down on anyone involved in other
cult groups. They are very quick to acknowledge that “Those people are
in a cult” or “_They_ are the ones who are brainwashed.” They are
unable to step out of their own situations and look at themselves

				This feeling of elitism and destiny, however, carries a heavy
burden of responsibility. Members are told that if they do not fully
perform their duties, they are failing all of humanity.

				The rank-and-file member is humble before superiors and potential
recruits, but arrogant to outsiders. Almost all members are told when
they are recruited that they, too, will become leaders one day.
However, advancement will be achieved only through outstanding
performance or political appointment. In the end, of course, the real
power elite stays small. Most members do not become leaders, but stay
among the rank and file.

				Nevertheless, cult members consider themselves better, more
knowledgeable, and more powerful than anyone else in the world. As a
result, cult members often feel _more_ responsible than they have ever
felt in their lives. They walk around feeling as though the world sits
on their shoulders. Cult members don’t know what outsiders mean when
they say, “You shouldn’t try to escape reality and responsibility by
joining a cult.”

				The Group Will Over Individual Will

				In all destructive cults, the self must submit to group policy and
the leader’s commands. The “whole purpose” or group purpose must be
the focus; the “self purpose” must be subordinated. In any group that
qualifies as a destructive cult, thinking _of_ oneself or _for_
oneself is wrong. The group comes first. Absolute obedience to
superiors is one of the most universal themes in cults. Individuality
is bad. Conformity is good.

				A cult member’s entire sense of reality becomes externally
referenced. They learn to ignore their own inner self and trust the
external authority figure. They learn to look to others for direction
and meaning. Rank-and-file cult members typically have trouble making
decisions, probably because of the overemphasis on external authority.
In their state of extreme dependency, they need someone to tell them
what to think, feel and do.

				Leaders of different cults have come up with strikingly similar
tactics for fostering dependency. They transfer members frequently to
new and strange locations, switch their work duties, promote them and
then demote them on whims, all to keep them dependent and off balance.
Another technique is to assign impossibly high goals, tell members
that if they are “pure” they will succeed, and force them to confess
their impurity when they inevitably fail.

				Strict Obedience: Modeling the Leader

				A new member is often indoctrinated and groomed to give up old
thought and behaviors by being paired with an older cult member, who
serves as a model for the new member to imitate. In Bible groups, this
is sometimes referred to as _shepherding_ or _discipling_. The
newcomer is urged to _be_ this other person. Mid-level leaders are
themselves urged to act like their superiors. The cult leader at the
top is, of course, the ultimate model.

				One reason why a group of cultists may strike even a naive
outsider as spooky or weird is that everyone has similar odd
mannerisms, clothing styles and modes of speech. What the outsider is
seeing is the personality of the leader passed down through several
layers of modeling.[92]

				Happiness Through Good Performance

				One of the most attractive qualities of cult life is the sense of
community it fosters. The love seems to be unconditional and unlimited
at first, and new members are swept away by a honeymoon of praise and
attention. But after a few months, as the person becomes more
enmeshed, the flattery and attention are turned away, toward newer
recruits. Most members continue to believe that the group has the
“highest level” of love on earth. However, experientially, the cult
member learns that in the group, love is not unconditional, but
depends on good performance.

				Behaviors are controlled through rewards and punishments.
Competitions are used to inspire and shame members into being more
productive. If things aren’t going well—if there is poor recruitment,
or unfavorable media coverage, or defections—it is always individual
members’ fault, and their ration of “happiness” will be withheld until
the problem is corrected. In some groups, people are required to
confess sins in order to be granted “happiness.” If they can’t think
of any sins, they are encouraged to make some up. Many people come to
believe that they really committed these made-up sins.

				Real friendships are a liability in cults, and are covertly
discouraged by leaders. A cult member’s emotional allegiance should be
vertical (up to the leader), not horizontal (toward peers). Friends
are dangerous, in part because if one member leaves, they may take
others with him. Of course, when anyone does leave the group, the
“love” formerly directed to them turns into anger, hatred and

				Relationships are usually superficial within cults, because
sharing deep personal feelings, especially negative ones, is highly
discouraged. This feature of cult life prevails even though a member
may feel they are closer to their comrades than they have ever been to
anyone before. Indeed, when cult members go through hardship
(fundraising in freezing cold or broiling heat) or persecution (being
harassed by outsiders or arrested for violating the law), they often
feel a depth of camaraderie and shared martyrdom that is exceptional.
But because the only real allegiance is to the leader, a closer look
shows that such ties are actually quite shallow, and sometimes just
private fantasy.

				Manipulation through Fear and Guilt

				Cult members come to live within a narrow corridor of fear, guilt
and shame. Problems are always their fault—the result of _their_ weak
faith, _their_ lack of understanding, _their_ “bad ancestors,” evil
spirits, and so forth. They perpetually feel guilty for not meeting
standards. The leader, doctrine and group are always right. They are
wrong. They also come to believe that evil is out to get them.

				Phobias are the ultimate fear weapon of mind control. Shame and
guilt are used daily through a variety of methods, including holding
up some member for an outstanding accomplishment or by finding
problems in the group and blaming members for causing them.

				In every destructive cult I have encountered, fear is a major
motivator. Each group has its devil lurking around the corner, waiting
for members so it can tempt and seduce them, to kill them or drive
them insane. The more vivid and tangible the devil, the more intense
the cohesiveness it fosters.

				Emotional Highs and Lows

				Life in a cult can be like a roller-coaster. Members swing between
the extreme happiness of experiencing the “truth” with an insider
elite, and the crushing weight of guilt, fear and shame. Problems are
always due to their inadequacies, not the group’s issues. They
perpetually feel guilty for failing to meet objectives or not
conforming to standards. If they raise objections, members are likely
to get the “silent treatment” or be transferred to another part of the

				These extremes take a heavy toll on a person’s ability to
function. When members are in a high state, they can convert their
zeal into great productivity and persuasiveness. But when they crash,
they can become completely dysfunctional.

				Most groups don’t allow the “lows” to last very long. They
typically send the member back through indoctrination programs to
charge them up again. It is not uncommon for someone to receive a
formal reindoctrination several times a year. The Scientology
‘Rehabilitation Project Force’ usually takes several years to complete
and reduces members to abject slavery.

				Some long-term members do burn out without actually quitting.
These people can no longer take the burden or pressure of performance.
They may be permanently reassigned to manual labor in out-of-the-way
places, where they are expected to remain for the rest of their lives.
Or, if they become a burden, they may be asked (or told) to leave. One
man I counseled had been sent home to his family after ten years of
cult membership, because he started to demand more sleep and better
treatment. They kicked him out because, as they told him, they didn’t
want him to “infect” other members, who might start making demands as

				Changes in Time Orientation

				An interesting dynamic of cults is that they tend to change
people’s relationship to their past, present and future. Cult members
tend to look back at their previous life with a distorted memory that
colors everything dark. Even the most positive memories are skewed
toward the bad.

				The cult member’s sense of the present is manipulated, too. They
feel a great sense of urgency about the tasks at hand. I remember well
the constant feeling that a time bomb was ticking beneath my feet, and
that the world might become a heaven or a hell, depending on how well
I performed in my current project. Many groups teach that the
apocalypse is just around the corner. Some say they are preventing the
apocalypse; others merely believe that they will survive it. When you
are kept extremely busy on critical projects all the time—for days,
weeks or months—everything becomes blurred.

				To a cult member, the future is a time when they will be rewarded,
once the great change has finally come. Or else it will be the time
when they will be punished.

				In most groups, the leader claims to control—or at least have
unique knowledge of—the future. He knows how to paint visions of
future heaven and hell that will move members in the direction he
desires. If a group has a timetable for the apocalypse, it will likely
be two to five years away—far enough not to be discredited any time
soon, but near enough to carry emotional punch.[93] In many cults,
these predictions have a way of fading into the background as the big
date approaches.

				In other groups, the timetable is believed right until it actually
fails to come true. Often the leader just issues a new timetable that
moves the big event up a few years. After he does this a few times, a
few long-term members may become cynical. Of course, by then there is
a whole set of new members who are unaware that the leader has been
shifting the timetable. The Jehovah’s Witnesses failed in many
predictions for the end of the world, yet it remains one of the
largest contemporary cults, numbering millions.

				When I was in the Moonies, no one knew about Moon’s failed
prophecies that the old world would end and the Moon movement would
take over, first in 1960 and then in 1967.[94] Moon predicted that
World War III would occur in 1977. When that didn’t happen, all eyes
were on 1981. People recruited around 1977 have told me how clearly
they remember the magical, whispered excitement of the word “1981” on
their lecturers’ lips.[95] When 1981 produced nothing more dramatic
for the Unification Church than President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration
(which Sun Myung Moon himself attended), talk had already turned to
dates farther ahead.

				No Way Out

				In a destructive cult, there is never a legitimate reason for
leaving. Unlike healthy organizations, which recognize a person’s
inherent right to choose to move on, mind control groups make it very
clear that there is _no_ legitimate way to leave. Members are told
that the only reasons that people leave are weakness, insanity,
temptation, brainwashing (by deprogrammers), pride, sin, and so on.

				Members are thoroughly indoctrinated with the belief that if they
ever do leave, terrible consequences will befall them, their family
and/or humanity. Although cult members will often say, “Show me a
better way and I will quit,” they are not allowed the time or given
the mental tools to balance the evidence for themselves. They are
locked in a psychological prison.

				This belief—that there is no way to leave and still be fulfilled
and be a good person—is at the heart of Lifton’s eighth criterion,
“Dispensing of Existence” (first described in _Thought Reform and the
Psychology of Totalism_, and found in the essay in the appendix to
this book). Essentially, Lifton outlined the totalistic notion that if
you are in the group, you have a right to exist and if you leave, you
do not. Violent cults may take this to an extreme, to justify the
killing of former members and reinforce the notion that people have to
stay. They must work, fight and follow orders or else they will
die—not just symbolically, as in the Moonies, but in actuality.

				People who do actually leave cults are extremely courageous—and
they can have a very important role. They can provide inspiration to
those who are under mind control, especially if the former members are
happy, accomplished and open about their cult involvement. These
heroic people, by speaking out about their experience, are a potent
and dangerous force to cult leaders and mind controllers everywhere.
When former members hide their cult involvement—whether through shame,
doubt, guilt, fear or anger—they are missing a valuable opportunity:
to free themselves and, by their example, to help free others.

Chapter 5 Endnotes
				91.  Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (New York: Harper & Row, 1951), 77.
				92.  Yeakley, Flavil. The Discipling Dilemma, (1988), Gospel
Advocate Co, Nashville TN.
				93.  For instance, Ron Hubbard: “A handful of us are working our
guts out to beat Deadline Earth. On us alone depends whether your kid
will ever see sixteen or your people will ever make it at all. A few
of us see the world has got a chance if we don’t dawdle along the way.
Our chance is a thin chance at best. We are working as hard as we can
in Scientology. And, the only slim chance this planet has rests on a
few slim shoulders, overworked, underpaid and fought —the
Scientologist. Later on, if we make it, what will be your answer to
this question? Did you help? … The world has an optimistic five years
left, a pessimistic two.After that, Bang or just a whimper.On us alone
depends whether your kids will ever see sixteen or your people will
ever make it at all.Our chance is a thin chance at best. We are
working as hard as we can in Scientology.”Auditor Magazine, (1967), 9.
				94.  Michael Warder, “Bribemasters,” Chronicles (June 1988), 31.
				95.  “Central Figure,” Master Speaks (Feb 13. 1974), 6.“Untitled,”
Master Speaks (Jan 3. 1972).“Parents’ Day,” Master Speaks (March 24.

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