Using Mind Control
For Cult Recruitment

You can read part one here

Let's have a look at how some groups are using mind control in their seminars, courses and workshops to indoctrinate the new recruits into their way of thinking.

The story so far...

To continue our story, our new recruit arrives at the place where the weekend seminar is to be held on Friday night. The member who invited her has very graciously driven her to this remote location in the countryside. When she registers, she is handed a disclaimer and she's told it's just a formality, to confirm she is fit and healthy and has no mental illness and so on.

After signing the form, and paying for the course, she enters the seminar room and immediately surrounded by three of four smiling, happy people. She was made to feel incredibly welcome, lots of hugs and touching with the introductions, she is flattered about the fact that she was brave enough to come to the course, she's open to new ideas, she's intelligent and will do very well on the course, and so on.

These happy people have all done the course before and say they have benefited hugely from it. They seem to have their own jargon and the new recruit asks what the words mean.

She is quickly reassured that she will learn all this on the weekend and that she shouldn't worry.


So what's actually going on?

The isolation in the countryside is a common way of using mind control techniques. The person is taken out of the normal environment into a strange place to separate them from their normal reality. It also means it's difficult to leave because she is dependent on the person who drove her there. There is nowhere to go during the rest periods, so she is subjected to the cult environment 24 hours a day.

The disclaimer? More commitment. Very often, people won't have fully read it. However, during the course, if anyone thinks of leaving they will be 'reminded' that they have committed themselves, in writing, to stay for the full duration of the course.

And all the initial love and attention? This is called love bombing and it makes the person feel extra special. They feel that people care, people are interested in them and there's a great sense of companionship in the group. This may continue during the seminar with frequent breaks to 'say thanks' and hug other people.

The jargon is called loaded language. Initially the new recruits don't understand it and feel a bit left out. They want to know what it means. Very soon, when they start using it, they will get compliments and approval for doing so. However, it's called loaded language because complex ideas have been condensed into simple phrases. Using the phrases means the members don't have to think, all the thinking has been done for them. It's used as a way to shut down critical thinking.


No thinking allowed!

And this is exactly what the group leaders want on these weekends. They are using mind control tactics so that the new members listen and absorb the doctrine, without complaining and without questioning. Doubting is not allowed either. And the leaders will be continually using mind control techniques in a variety of ways to achieve just this.

They may also control the environment by not having any natural daylight in the room and having members remove their watches. This can be quite disorienting. They will keep the members busy throughout every moment of the day, and even late into the night. When their heads hit the pillow, they won't have time to think, they will be straight off to sleep.

During the day new members will never be left alone. There will always be older members with them. They may even be accompanied to the bathroom! Reflection, critical thinking and reasoning will not be allowed. The older members will continually talk, reinforcing the messages of the group leaders. Frequently they are using mind control techniques with the new members without realizing it. They are simply repeating the formulas that were used against them when they were 'newbies'.

Repetition, repetition and repetition will be a common theme of the weekend, again and again, over and over and over...


Group pressures

The older members have been instructed to be on their best behavior. They have learned how to behave in the presence of new recruits. They may have been warned that if they cannot maintain their state, or do the things they should be doing, they should leave the room, sort themselves out, and only then return.

The older members, of course, are the models for the new recruits. The new recruits will be learning things during the weekend, and initially there are small changes. As the changes get bigger, or when the activities seem a little weird, and the new recruits are not sure what to do, they will look for what Robert Cialdini calls 'social proof'. They will look around to see what other people are doing. For the older members this stuff is all normal, and the new recruits think 'well if everyone else is doing it, it must be okay'.  So they join in. And they start to change their behavior… bit by bit… insidiously…


The emotional cornerstones for using mind control

Guilt and fear are induced. Guilt over their weaknesses, their problems, past sins, the fact that there is hunger in the world, guilt over having put their needs ahead of the group… whatever the leader can think of. And fears, fear of God, fear of being poor, fear of not doing well in life, fear of the devil,  fear of leaving the group because if they do they won't get the benefits and this is the only group with these benefits!

Guilt and fear are central to using mind control in a destructive way. Interestingly, the members are not aware of how much fear and guilt they are experiencing!

Members also learn that the love shown at the very start of the programme is actually conditional. Only if they continue obeying the rules of the group, continue making decisions that the leader approves of, does the 'love' continue. So they may fear losing this as well.


Emotional highs and lows

Destructive cults using mind control typically manipulate emotions so the group members are literally on an emotional roller coaster. That's because when there are very strong emotions, there is little rational thinking going on!

So they start with love bombing, then fear and guilt. Very often they will be led to re-experience other negative emotions from the past, followed by happiness, excitement and euphoria. All this leads to an enforced dependency on the group and especially on the leader/s. The members become dependent on the leader to know how they are doing, how they are feeling and even who they are.

They end up being in awe of the leader. It seems the leader is so much more advanced than they are. The leader seems to have all the answers. A wonderful person, clever, enlightened, caring, charming etc. etc.

Cult leaders are very often psychopaths, and their aim is to dominate and control people. So they're constantly using mind control tactics (without ever feeling guilt or remorse!) in whatever way they like to maintain their grandiosity and power.

For them, the end justifies the means. They have no 'conscience'. Think of the possibilities that that allows them! It's frightening!!



The members (new and old) typically finish the weekend on an emotional high, even feeling grateful that they have this new information, and many are ready and more than willing to make the decision to sign up for the next program. They have been hooked!

So let's look at other proven mind control techniques used to maintain the manipulation.

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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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