Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ramblings of a Normal Guy: How cults work

Your cult will never be as cool as Cthulhu. Or cats.

Welcome to another addition of ramblings of a normal guy. This is my special column where I go off on wild rants complaining about the things that happen and effect my (and ours) every day life. Because of the excessive amounts of stupidity that will be featured, a large amount of inappropriate language will most likely be used. Also expect a large helping of calling out and "I don't give a crap". Rated M for mature, and read at  your own risk. 

Today's posting actually came about from a Q&A session on twitter. The person in question had a lot of questions about cults. So good in fact, that I thought it would be a good idea to make a blog post about them.

How can mind control be done on a person by a cult wherein that person forgets his loved ones and is not able to breath without that cult? Is it possible answer in details explaining in depth.  ~Anonymous

Devoted to spheres of religious and/or political influence, such organizations often make outlandish claims to secret knowledge or divine right to justify their existence.  Some cults you may have heard before; Jonestown, Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven’s Gate, and the children of Branch Davidians. And look how well they turned out.  Some recent cults (at least of religious nature) that have evolved are the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the Church of Scientology, The Family, and of course the Westboro Baptist church.

When presented to the general public, cults usually appear with eye pleasing homes, gardens blossoming with life, and faces that never seem to stop smiling. An air of not only authority but tranquility is always presented to shine the group in the best possible light. They are the only light and hope for the world type of bs. This is done so for all intent and purposes, any onlooker would believe the cult houses a wonderful utopian world.  This is also why many of these cults look down on the rest of the world; said cults are just so much better and closer to (whatever) than everyone else.However just like Tauntauns, if you guessed they where bad on the outside, they smell even worse on the inside.  Once exposed for what these cults really are, stories of cult abuse, sexual abuse, and/or greed always follow.  This is why you always find such strong controlling leaders; cults by their very nature seek to control the senses and minds of everything around it to hide this fact for as long as possible. This is also why cult leaders are always desperately seeking fresh blood to join their ranks. They want your unquestioned obedience (by various means), and all of your waking time (free labor) and of course your bank account.  All must bow down before their master.

Disturbing ant it? Today’s interesting question (we do love them) asks about one of the methods employed by cults; Mind control.

When someone mentions Mind Control, what is the first thing you think of? Do you have mental images of aliens using advanced technology to make slaves out of the human race? Maybe some misplaced thoughts of voodoo spells that create zombie hordes? Maybe even some evil sith lord using the force? As much as cults would enjoy the before mentioned, there is no one magical device that can free a person of their free will (at least yet). A whole system must be put in place in order to take advantage of a weaken state, or to deceive the person in question. In the simplest terms, Mind Control is a slightly misunderstood term applied to the systematic psychological techniques used either forcefully or quietly reprogram a person’s way of thinking.  For example, think of it as a mental shotgun and the cult member a mobster. As a mobster would hold up a store and demand “give me all your money”, so to will Cult members. Instead of cash however, cult members will demand unquestioned obedience for your life. They will frequently point the gun at new/possible recruits and say “We are the way; we are the only true way. Leave us and your soul will be damned forever.”
Now since you asked for a break down and some details; let’s see what we can do for you.
  • Deception: Because by their very nature of being self defeating and destructive organization, deception or “twisting the truth” are always employed by cult leaders and recruiters.  Have you ever noticed the new trendy survey takers at the mall? They are often young, dressed expensively and very easy on the eyes. It is a common (but still vane) fact that the better you look, the better the response you will get. Cults know this, and seek to take advantage of this. Slick, trendy, good looking and highly energetic/charismatic recruiters will tell you all about how they help the poor, support peace and love, and are totally for the environment. They will tell you how happy you will be in their group, how joyous and wonderful every day is (and everyone in the cult will always seems very happy and enthusiastic, often under threat of pain) and how much more meaning your life will have.  They will tell you that you will become part of something that is so much bigger than any one person, and how history will forever love and remember you. They will tell you how everything is so super cool and happy in their group. Recruiters have to do this because “in a month we are going to drink some kool-aid” really doesn’t sound that appealing.
  • Just try it, risk free: Just as salesmen will try to pressure sales you into buying what ever junk they have at the moment, cult recruiters will do anything in their power to have you spend a weekend with the cult. They know that once you are inside the cult complex; there is a huge change you will never leave.  Once inside, you will be bombarded with so much fake love and friendship you won’t know which was is up or down. Everyone will become instant friends and will always be happy to remind you how great it is here, and you should never leave. They will use anything to get you to stay, even guilt trips. If this was at a car dealership, we call it pressure sales. 
 Then once you are in:
  • Fear: Either by deception, sneakiness or flat out truth, once you are in, you will be taught the Cult leadership is to be feared.  With a claim that the divine above has given them earthly power to command, cult leaders will claim to have direct authority to control almost all aspects of your life. This also usually includes sex. Anyone who dares speak our against the leadership is committing a most grievous sin, just as anyone who questions the cult would also be questioning God. Guilt will be used to control you. Anything that doesn’t go right will always be your fault, because you didn’t try hard enough or because your heart is still filled with sin. “Give yourself over the cult!” They will say, this would be the only way to succeed. Breaking points will be used to break down any mental defenses as to make you mentally numb and dumb. The only thing you are allowed to feel is what the cult tells you to feel. Everything else is evil.
  • Time based or mental fatigue control: Falling under the “distraction” category, time based and mental fatigue aims to keep current or potential members so busy with large amounts of work that they either do not have to time to think about what is going on, or are too tired to care. As people spend more and more time in the highly manufactured cult environment, they begin to grow accustomed to it and sadly accept it.
  • Be my friend!:  A common human need is to love and feel loved. This feeling of love can be expressed to/from family members, to/from friends and to/from lovers.  Knowing the power of relationships and the feeling of acceptance, cult leadership will often have other members strictly devoted to “insta-friend” activates.  Often employed on new or potential members that have strong feeling of loneliness, they will shower the person with love, affection and feelings of true acceptance and friendship. Over time this will create a feeling of “how could such a loving group be wrong!” Once this is accomplished, these new “friends” will drop hints that if the person ever leaves or disagrees with the cult they will lose all your new friends. This unspoken threat influences the person to be far more accepting of the cult.
  • Information Control:  Otherwise known as propaganda, cult leaders will seek to completely control the informational flow in and out of the cult members. They first begin by drilling their members with the impression that any information that stems from outside the cult is either wrong or down right evil.  Anything that speaks against the cult is considered blasphemous and should be destroyed. Kinda like how your parents drilled you to take out the trash until you did it on your own. The only information that is allowed to pass freely and unfiltered is information from the cult command structure.  Going hand in hand with “If you leave us, you are damned” social reprogramming mentioned before, cults will threaten to expel any members that speak about or distribute contraband material.
  • Big Brother: As a off shoot of the above, cults often employ a buddy or big brother/sister system to encourage, guide and (forcibly) keep struggling members for treading down the “wrong path” In addition to this each member of the cult is highly encouraged to keep an ear out for anything that might be contrary to what the cult wants.  This may even come with award as added incentive. This forces everyone around them, from fear of being expelled or worse, to be perfect little cultist.
  • A lie becomes truth: Finally, the combination of all the above listed (and most importantly the two just mentioned) creates an atmosphere where many members may hide their true feelings in order not to get reported to the leadership. If this is continued for to long, the person will believe the lie is the truth… that is when they will have been fully “mind controlled” by the cult.

Ones a person is out of their clutches(cults) do they continue keeping a track on that person can they get that person back? Can you also tell their motives what do they want from a person?? ~Anonymous

Once a person is out of their clutches (cults) do they continue keeping a track on that person can they get that person back?
It depends on both the cult, the membership and the circumstances of the person leaving. If the person was proving to strong willed and infectious on others, the leadership will often actively find ways to get rid of them. Better to out the person and be done with it. In most other cases the cult will keep tabs on members that left and will try to get them back. Using the Westboro Baptist Church as a example, we see this in action. When Nate and Marje Phelps both left the cult, because the hate and violence became to much for them, the family kept track of their movements and engaged in a strong campaign to bring them back. It would later prove successful in Marjie’s case.

Can you also tell their motives what do they want from a person??
Their motives are simple. They wish to control everything, and never allow “one of the flock” to leave and expose any secrets they might know. 

Edit: This extra part came from twitter “and for how long they keep a track on that person?”
I may sound like a broken record here, but it again depends on the cult. In my research the longest I ever found was two years.

Is there a way these cults can be punished or reported? Also how they involve aperson sexualy when he has no intention of doing it?? Also you mentioned that they control the senses of the victim how is that possible?? ~Anonymous

Is there a way these cults can be punished or reported?
Like any other organization, “religious” or otherwise they are still bound to the law of the land. When in the public eye (recruiting at the local mall, some type of rally or protest) you will always see them take great care to make sure none of their members step out of line as to be arrested. Regrettably most of the law breaking problems occurs behind closed doors, and the victim will either be to traumatized to say anything, feel that this is the way of things, or wait to long to report the crime.

Also how they involve a person sexually when he has no intention of doing it??
If you have ever studied rape, you may have heard the curious instance where the victim begins to feel bad, or even have feelings for the rapist.  Like rape, there is nothing logical when cults use sex to control.  Feelings are a very powerful emotion, and when wrapped around someones finger, a very powerful control agent.

Also you mentioned that they control the senses of the victim how is that possible??
Torture and mental reprogramming is a very powerful, and very scary thing. While I could easily write all day on this, I want you to watch this video. It will give you a good idea on how torture works, and how it can be effective in controlling people.

What can be the reason for any cult to keep a victims clothes do they have any power or they use voodoo? What can be the reason for visiting the birthplace of the victim? are they good hackers too? ~Anonymous

What can be the reason for any cult to keep a victims clothes do they have any power or they use voodoo?
Being a Pagan myself, I am fully aware of the power of the “unseen world” as some call it. However when it comes to this, cults have a devious method to their madness. Taking of clothing from new members is akin to a alpha dog act disguised as a act of compassion.  It says “Rejoice brother/sister you are throwing your old evil life behind!” while also saying quietly and maybe even unknown to the new member “You belong to us now”

What can be the reason for visiting the birthplace of the victim?
Your birthplace (while good or bad) has a very strong emotional tie within you. When a cult allows you to visit it is the final test to see just how brainwashed you are.  Cult leadership will often only let the person visit home when they know perfectly well the person belongs to them.

are they good hackers too?
That depends on person to person. Many cults actually seek to cut themselves of completely from the world, this includes the internet too.

How exactly the recruiters control the senses of a person also how is reprograming done? Do they use hypnosis but in that case a person should remember that he was hypnotised or drugged? ~Anonymous
We actually just had someone ask that question. Controlling the senses, mind control, and reprogramming come in many types, shapes and sizes. From pain and drugs, to imaginary and emotional overload.  Here’s a you tube link that best sums it up: click here

Is there anything cults are scared of? Do they feel insulted if one of their new member goes back to his family? What is the difference between a leader and recruiter how the whole system works? ~Anonymous

Is there anything cults are scared of?
In one simple word: transparency. By their very nature, cults want to keep everything in horse, and have none of it seen by the public eye. When free exchange of knowledge is present, cults have a habit of running.

Do they feel insulted if one of their new member goes back to his family?
Insulted, more than likely not. If it was a relatively new member, they would pay it very little mind. After all a newest member would know very little of the true purposes of the cult, or what went on behind closed doors. At best there would be a announcement to the cult that “X member was not worthy of being saved” and let go.

What is the difference between a leader and recruiter….
Cult leaders will always be the ones who have the final say in everything, and always be the ones with the most money in the group. In short, their word is law and it is everyone else job to follow it. Recruiters are specially picked people who have high energy, high charisma and very high loyalty to the cult. As their name implies they are tasked by the leader to get as many new members as fast as they can. 

….how the whole system works?
The system can differ from cult to cult but generally the command system is as follows;

Leader (unquestioned leader who’s word is law)
A special trusted counsel of people who assist the leader to keep control of everything. (This may or may not include recruiters)
Everyone else.

In one on one cult relationship is recruiter aware of the background of the new member in advance? How they target the right person? How are recruiters trained?

Have I mentioned yet how much I love these questions? It’s very refreshing to be asked these good questions by someone who actually wants to learn!

In one on one cult relationship is recruiter aware of the background of the new member in advance?
In cases where they are targeting one specific person, then any and all information will be attained by the cult before hand. However this rarely happens as cults either wishes to get as big as possible in the quickest period of time, or is not very picky on their membership. Generally recruiters prefer to target specific places in a city/town rather than a person and different social habits.  Think of it as social profiling but for cults.

How they target the right person?
When speaking about cult members, the “right person” is anyone who is willing or weak willed enough to fall for their recruitment methods. Being weak willed (aka dumb) and having a rather large bank account is also a plus for any cult.

How are recruiters trained?
Curiously enough, being a cult recruiter is much the same as working in retail. In retail you are trained to see signs in  the customer to see if they partial to a item, to see if asking price is to high or low, and to see their general mood. You are basically trained to judge from body language what the customer is feeling. When it comes to cults, the product they are selling is bondage to the cult, to they are trained to see certain signs in people. Such actions as always keeping your head down, avoiding eye contact with people, uneasiness in groups of people and even attempts to avoid people are flags to recruiters. They see these people as social outcasts wanting little if anything to do with people around them. In many cases these are people that are easily forgettable, to which the cult can do with them as they please. In many other cases, these are people who basically don’t “fit in”. This is pure joy to a cult, because they can appear as the person place for the person, a place of acceptance and belonging.

What happens to a new member who leaves his family and join the recuiter?Is he handed over to other ppl or stays only with the recruiter? Also if a cult can mind control he can anyway take that member anytime but why in most of the cases they want the member to leave his family by his own wish. ~Anonymous

What happens to a new member who leaves his family and join the recuiter? Is he handed over to other ppl or stays only with the recruiter?
Didja ever change from one school to another mid school year? Having experienced it myself, I think what happens is a lot like that. You see when you change schools; the teacher in charge will always surround and pair up the newest student with “the good kids” of the class. This is in hopes that the good kids will make a good lasting impression on the newest member of their class.  This is in much the same way as what a cult does. New recruits are immediately surround with “insta-friends” who will be all to happy to be the persons life long friend (and keep them in the cult). 

Also if a cult can mind control he can anyway take that member anytime but why in most of the cases they want the member to leave his family by his own wish.
I was a bit confused with the wording of the question, but I think I got it right.  The use of mind control is more like mental reprogramming that takes time and effort to properly pull off. The amount of time it takes to pull this off differs from person to person.  While cults would ideally prefer for members to ditch their friends and family by their own accord (and right away), this rarely happens. In most cases, let’s say a month just for the hell of it, after the reprogramming is done, they will allow the now fully loyal member to return home and denounce the family.

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