In destructive groups, the group comes first. Loyalty and obedience to the leadership are very highly regarded parts of the cult psychology.
Members learn to distrust themselves and trust the authoritative leader, looking to him or her for direction and meaning in their lives. They put aside their own wants and needs in favor of those of the group. To a large extent, cult control causes their own well-being to become enmeshed with the well-being of the leader.
When a new member first joins a destructive group, there is a very strong sense of community, unconditional love, joy, happiness etc. Later, when the member is indoctrinated, he or she learns that this sense of belonging very much depends on good behavior.
If they break the rules, criticize the leadership, express negative emotions such as anger or distrust of the leader, they quickly find themselves ostracized by the group until they sort out the 'problem' (any problem is usually the fault or responsibility of the member, not the leader!)
It's another contradiction in groups that while everybody is encouraged to be equal and the same, competition is used to shame members who are not working hard enough, and to spur the hard work workers on even more.
The members feel quite close to each other, in fact, they may feel closer to people in this group than to anyone ever before in their lives. However, closer examination shows that the relationships are quite shallow (they tell on each other; they can be hyper-critical of mistakes; members may know little or nothing about each other's pasts, families or friends; there is often little or no consideration for the problems or needs of others, unless there is a benefit in it for themselves; and when members leave a group, it is often as if the remaining members simply forget about them; and in reality all they know is the pseudopersonality, they have little real contact with the real identity!)
Besides, true friendships are discouraged because the leader wants all the adoration and attention for himself.
If a person wants to leave and tries to bring his friends with him, the friendhsip is tested. The group typically wins with the person leaving alone and the 'friends' staying in the group. When someone does leave, the anger, frustration, disgust and hatred are directed towards him or her. (In these situations, anger and hatred are encouraged, of course!) A supposedly close bond between ' friends' can change in an instant if one person becomes a nonbeliever or a traitor!
The group members sense of time changes radically. Cult control extends to how members consider the past, present and future.
Typically there is a distancing from their past, that is, a distancing from the former identity. Under mind control past memories are distorted, the negative ones being amplified and the positive minimized or denied. Members often talk about their past being black or greyed.
The sense of present typically becomes all-important. There is a sense of urgency and importance about the things a person is doing right now. After all, the task at hand can potentially change the world!
The future is a time when there will be great rewards, or punishments! The leaders typically create visions of the future in a way that allows further manipulation of the members and maintains cult control.
Some leaders claim to be able to foretell the future or even predict the end of the world. There are even groups where after a failed prediction of the end of the world the members became even more convinced of the leaders powers because of the reinterpretation of the events by the leader.
In most groups what happens is that there is a sense of an 'eternal present' where members are simply doing what they're doing without much critical thinking. And of course, what they're doing is determined by the master program, or doctrine that is controlling them.
Public confessions are often used to maintain cult control. Such things erode the sense of self and destroy any privacy members might have.
Another type of confession is where members monitor each other, overtly or covertly. In some groups members have to report to their monitors to check their 'progress' or they have to report any problems or wrong doings during each day.
It is very common in most groups that members talk 'covertly' to the leadership about wrongdoings that others commit, because they feel they should (the master program running again!); they want to be in the good books with the leaders, or any number of reasons. This information can be used against the wrong doer, sometimes to punish, sometimes to make it seem like the leader can read their mind or is all-seeing etc. as a means of increasing cult control.
Part of the destructive cult tactics is to induce phobias about leaving the group. Members believe that they will die, or that their family will die, or they will be miserable for the rest of their lives, or they won't be able to evolve, develop, grow, find a partner to be happy with etc.
Cult leaders will say that the door is open if people want to leave, they are free to choose. Nothing could be further from the truth!
They have been indoctrinated to believe that if they do leave it is because they are weak, not ready to learn, not willing to do the work and so on, as well as the phobias above.
Add to this the fact that the people are committed to their beliefs (especially beliefs they think they have chosen for themselves), a respect for authority, the fact that they may have broken off all connections from the past, financial dependence on the group, exhaustion, and other factors, and it is incredibly difficult for people to overcome cult control and leave the group. In fact, it said that people don't stay in cults; they just keep putting off the decision to leave.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
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If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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Things you should know!