In destructive cults, members are manipulated and exploited, they may distance themselves from their family and friends and even leave their careers to work in the cult, often for little or no pay. Their own beliefs and values have been changed to those of the group, and they identify with the group and the leader. They suffer psychological and emotional abuse, and there may be physical or sexual abuse.
And very often, at the same time, they believe that they've never been happier in their lives. Such is the power of mind control!
Usually there is an elitist mentality because they have access to information or their leader in a way that outsiders do not. They become very defensive of their leader and in a way their identity and their well-being becomes linked the well-being of the leader.
Hence, they will usually be very quick to defend him/her, often aggressively!
In the most obvious cases, family and friends notice that there has been a significant change since the person joined the group. A change in their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and values. They often say it's like dealing with a different person.
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And in some ways this is true, because the member has a new pseudo-identity which represses and dominates their old identity. This pseudo-identity is typically a clone of the leader that has been imposed over time using mind control tactics.
Occasionally the real identity can appear, the person may seem as before, and then the pseudo-identity reasserts itself and the cult person reappears. This can happen very suddenly and is very disconcerting for the family member or friend witnessing it!
This new pseudo-identity lives in a different reality, a reality narrowed by the doctrine of the group, and so the decision making has been limited to things that make sense within that reality. So when we hear about cults and the things that they do, remember that while things may not make sense to outsiders, what the group members do and think is reasonable and rational... to them!
When we think about cults in this way, it is obvious that they are detrimental to society in many ways. Nowadays, young and old alike are susceptible to being recruited. When people think about cults they do not often consider older people, but nowadays old people are targets because they have money, and may be extremely vulnerable, for example, they find themselves living alone after the recent death of their spouse.
When and if members manage to leave, they may need an extensive period of recuperation before they can integrate themselves usefully into society again.
Some cults are so large that they have extraordinary (and frightening!) influence in the media, in politics, and in lawmaking. They may dominate whole communities.
Some cults are violent, leading to suicides and murders.
Destructive cults thrive on conspiracy and fraud, and the legal system is often ill-equipped to deal with them.
Cults deny people their freedom. They take away their possessions.
Frequently there is sexual abuse.
It's possible that many mentally ill people have been in cults, and don't know it. The symptoms they have after leaving a cult are interpreted as mental illness (yes, post-cult symptoms can be that severe!) And they are treated as such, instead of getting the advice and counseling from experts who understand their situation, and can actually help them to undo the harmful effects of cult mind control.
Cults are using mind control techniques to indoctrinate their members with the beliefs and values of their leaders who are often psychopaths/sociopaths. Even after the members leave a cult, if they do not receive appropriate treatment and counseling, these beliefs and values persist. (See mind control for more info on this)
The effect of this on the individual can be disastrous. The effect on society has not been given enough consideration yet!!
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