Most of us sail through our lives searching for meaning as we ponder our existence. Some of us are born with the unexplainable instinct that we are destined for something big and important. Thus, we go about trying to fulfil this need to belong to something significant.
If you can relate, congratulations! You are exceptionally susceptible to being lured in by a cult.
No need to fret, we shall provide you with a bit of insight so you don’t fall victim and lose all sense of identity to charming narcissists. Actually, we can’t necessarily promise that you will be able to identify these strategies in real time as they’re being used on you, let alone if you would be able to mentally resist.
Identifying a cult in the first place can be incredibly difficult. There is a vast range of cults, most of them surrounding politics, therapy, religion, and self improvement. Additionally, Cult leaders tend to be incredibly charismatic and persuasive people, knowing exactly who to target and how to charm them. Their favourite prey? Vulnerable and lonely people who need a sense of purpose.
The unsettling part is that you’re most likely not going to be randomly approached by a stranger on the street begging you to join their cult. The majority of cult members were initially lured in by a family member, good friend, or colleague.
A very effective and commonly used method in the indoctrination of new recruits to cults is called love-bombing. In order to fully gain your trust and devotion, cult recruiters will go out of their way to make you feel loved and accepted. This is done to disguise manipulation.
You will discover that a recruiter will do just about anything in their power to make you feel special and wanted. They may get to know you over a period of months, without ever mentioning their true intentions. They will pretend to share the same passions and interests, in order to create a false sense of connection. The love-bombing stage can last from a few weeks, to a little over a year. Take this time to re-evaluate all of your relationships. Do any of them draw an ounce of suspicion?
Additionally, coercive persuasion is used to prevent critical thoughts and doubts. In this tactic, fear, shame, and guilt, are all different weapons used to manipulate you to submit. Your darkest fears, secrets, and regrets are all exposed and used against you. This information will be extracted from you even if you’re unwilling; they will simply drug you and trick you into sharing personal information using your altered consciousness, through so-called meditation and chants.
Cults take advantage of your natural tendency to mimic social behaviours in a given environment over an extended period of time. You may think of yourself as above the average person, and assume that you would simply stray away from the herd, but at its core humanity’s objective is to survive. Thus, if everyone in your environment is demonstrating a deeply devoted faith to the cult leader, your mind will subconsciously follow.
A human’s natural tendency to mimic social behaviour for survival is an interesting concept, because it creates a paradox. Are you stronger because you don’t fall victim to calculated manipulation? Or are you weaker, because your natural disposition to engage in survival instincts as a human are defective? Is running away from a cult a fight or flight mechanism? We’ll let you decide on that.