Cult contradictions exist in how destructive cults work, in what the leaders say, and because the doctrine is totalitarian in nature, typically there are cult contradictions here as well. They are usually a product of the leaders thinking and are used by the cult leaders to justify their own actions, to manipulate the members, or both.
Let's have a look at some of them.
Many cults offer freedom in different forms, freedom from sin, financial freedom, personal freedom and so on. And, of course, this is one of the first things that people actually lose! They lose the freedom to think and choose for themselves, the freedom to do what they want, and sometimes even the liberty to go where they want, have the relationships they want or even eat what they like.
The interesting thing however, is that the members continue to think that they are free, even more free than at any other time in their lives. Such is the nature of mind control!
Typically cults are offering the Truth, with a capital T. They have THE way, THE knowledge, THE method for living life. The leader makes himself out to be a person with special knowledge for his followers.
Of course, the truth of what is actually happening, the mind control, is totally hidden from the members.
A second aspect is that lies are frequent in cults and in cult leaders. In fact, one psychopath says of psychopaths "they lie as easily as they breathe". The doctrine, the ideas of the leader, are an invention or a distortion of other ideas. That is to say, they are frequently lies!
Another aspect of the cult contradictions is that the members are expected to be honest and open (especially with the leaders), and particularly if confession is common in the group. At the same time, they are told it's okay to lie to outsiders to collect funds or recruit new members. The members are taught that, after all, it's for their own good.
Outsiders often consider that cult members are weak, easily controlled, stupid, mad, fanatics, full of nonsense, and a host of other names that you could say exist at the opposite end of the spectrum to elite.
If you have been caught out by mind control help others to avoid it and write about your experience here.
The reality, of course, is that they are extremely vulnerable to the whims and desires of the leadership. Whenever the leadership says, they do or follow. Whatever the leader wants, they provide.
They may spend a lot of time trying to please the leaders, to earn brownie points, and especially trying to avoid upsetting the leader because they are very vulnerable to his or her mood changes.
The leaders will also be very critical of group members, as a way to control them and motivate them to do more for the group.
However, criticism of the leaders is not tolerated. Even if the group members think they are learning how to think for themselves, make their own decisions, be independent etc., they cannot and must not criticize the leaders. Any criticism from the members is directed at outsiders.
The closed doctrine of cults creates what has been called a bounded reality. It's as if the members have blinkers on and have a very particular way of seeing the world. Within this narrow field of view, they know what decision to make because the doctrine tells them how to think and act. The doctrine is like a master program, controlling thoughts and actions, and if a member has any doubts he or she simply has to remember the doctrine and the decision becomes obvious.
Even if the group is teaching them how to make their own decisions, the process will typically push the members deeper and deeper into the doctrine of the cult.
Join our group and learn rapidly, earn money quickly, fast-track your way to XYZ...
And then members spend years involved with the group, giving their money, energy, their bodies if there is sexual abuse, their souls and, of course, their time.
However, the members are expected to be humble with, you guessed it, the leader!
Cult members believe that they are becoming more and more independent the more time they spend in the group. After all, they are learning how to make their own decisions, do their own thing in the world, break free from the chains of the past, no longer be influenced by others, and on and on.
It's another one of the cult contradictions that the cult leader has created a dependence on him or herself that is typically invisible to the cult members. They have no sense that they are dependent on him or on the group. In fact, they will argue for the opposite. It's another one of the interesting effects of mind control.
Tied in with this is a sense that they have control over their lives, they control their destiny, they have a sense of generally being in control.
And yet to family and friends, it's glaringly obvious that the group is controlling practically every facet of their life.
Lots of personal development cults offer programs where you can learn to be the real you, the ideal you. They will teach you how to access your real identity, how to get rid of all the layers/masks that you have accumulated over years.
And with mind control, the person actually develops a pseudo-identity, they become a clone of the leader. And when you consider the leader is often a psychopath, this new pseudo-identity may have nothing to do with who the person really is!
Sex is one of the common cult contradictions because it is used as a very powerful way to control and dominate. For example, in many groups that propose celibacy, the leader is often having a sexual relationship with many of the members (sexual abuse actually, when mind control is involved).
Or the leader says: "It's ok to have sex with me because my wife and I have an open relationship. Just don't say anything to her about it.
It is typically considered that when a relationship moves into a sexual phase, it indicates a marked rise in the level of intimacy. However, in mind control situations the introduction of sex is often the last step in the objectification of the victim. That is, the victim is now considered by the manipulator as an object to be used solely for his or her pleasure.
Many destructive sects offer friendship, companionship, and the option to make new friends with like-minded people. And indeed, the new recruits are often exposed to what is called 'love bombing', where they are showered with affection, pleasantries and made to feel special. Note that this is how psychopaths typically build artificial relationships with their intended victims.
However, closer inspection of friendships in groups usually reveals them to be very shallow. For example, when somebody leaves a group, the friendship typically dissolves and they are quickly forgotten, no matter how 'strong' a bond there was with other members within the group.
Or if somebody commits a 'sin' within a group or breaks the rules in some way, very quickly they may find themselves ostracized by the group. It may even have been their best friend who informed the leadership of their misdeed!
The leader does not want friendships, he or she wants the attention for himself.
At least that's what he says. In reality, he is cultivating an environment in which he is all powerful, all knowing, a supreme being, and anyone who does not demonstrate adoration may be punished. Or more commonly, they are not giving benefits or rewards. And a reward may simply be getting to spend time with the leader!
The cult contradictions here are that they typically also have to distance themselves from their real family.
Everyone in this group is equal, says the leader. We're all special, we believe in the cause, and we are better than outsiders.
And at the same time people who follow the rules or gather most money or recruit most members are praised publicly. This sets up competition, because they all want praise and recognition from the leader. The cult contradictions are that they believe that they are equal but are trying to be the best.
Typically the members are not aware of this or any of the cult contradictions.
The vast majority of destructive cults have some idea about saving the world or changing the world in some way. The members come to believe that the work they are doing is of vital importance.
At the same time most of the world has no idea this group even exists.
Even if the members believe that they are donating money to charities, helping others in a variety of ways, changing the world one person at a time, oftentimes even the group that is supposed to be being helped, doesn't know the group exists!
(This is not to say that cults are not influential. Some cults control political parties, newspapers, television and radio stations and so on.)
Each group offers something different. Unique. That you can't get anywhere else. The leader is special, different. He has special abilities, you can learn things from him that you can't learn anywhere else, no-one works at the level he works at… Etc. etc. etc.
When you begin to look at different groups and leaders there are remarkable similarities. In fact, you could say there are more similarities than differences! Each group may have its own jargon. But very often it's the same ideas as other groups, just with different words.
This page is an example of the similarities in the groups, or more specifically, the similarities in the cult contradictions. Anyone who is just leaving, or has left a destructive cult will be able to recognize most if not all the cult contradictions on this page. In your group it may simply have been described differently, or called something else. The important thing is to recognize them for what they are - ways to control and manipulate.
This is list of the more common cult contradictions that are present in many destructive cults. Within any particular group there may be cult contradictions specific to that group because of the particular doctrine.
For example, there are frequently cult contradictions with respect to the emotions that are allowed or not. In some groups you learn how to access best states or peak states and supposedly within this state you can experience all the emotions. But if you are experiencing a bad emotion, then you are not in your best state.
Do you have personal experience of any cult contradictions, whether listed here or not?
Here's your chance to write about your own experience. To get it off your chest, if that helps!
Let the world know that there are unscrupulous and evil people around, and explain how they manipulate others. Much of the defense against mind control is understanding how it works. Use your experience to educate and help others!
Your entry can be totally anonymous. We know this can be very important! And lastly, all submissions and comments are screened before publication to make it safe for people to write without fear of 'retaliation'. Read some important considerations
Click below to read other examples of cult contradictions and how they affect people...
Amma Cultist Friend
It wasn't until after I fell out with a friend that I realized her weird outbursts of angry, controlling behavior towards me were a symptom of her involvement …
I met Him in high school. I remember feeling how different His energy was when He walked into the classroom. It was very strong. He had come from nowhere. …
The church disfellowshipped my best friend
My best friend was lied to by the pastor's son. He also questioned the pastor on having to pay 15% of his disability settlement. After calling his …
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
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.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think that you might be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that the group you are in may be a cult?
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?
But don't know how to make money from your passion or hobby?
Here's how to transition at your own pace...