control mechanisms of cults

Cult expert Ronald Enroth, professor of sociology at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, describes the following as the “primary control mechanisms” by which cult leaders keep hold of cult members:

“Sensory deprivation (especially sleep); the severing of all familiar social support systems (old friends, family); removal to a highly structured environment where all aspects of one’s life are controlled; indoctrination by an exclusivistic group possessing the truth; limited access to outside stimulation; diminished ability to think for oneself; the use of fear and intimidation—these are the ties that bind the spirit and cripple the mind.”

Ronald Enroth, The Lure of the Cults,

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10 Signs Your Church Is Actually A Cult | Dust Off The Bible

“The greatest threat to power are followers who have the will to follow their own thoughts and instincts. In order for a cult leader to have the ability to keep a grip on the cult he or she must be able to disseminate instructions without being questioned. In many cults any type of questioning of authority gets presented as the questioner being possessed by demons or that they are purposefully trying to cause division. This drastic method is taken against the free thinker because the entire basis of having a cult requires followers who are willing to do just about anything for the leadership. Without this power, the ‘group think’ can slowly drift away from the leader and the group could completely leave as a whole. This is often how cults start to begin with, group think.”

—>Source: 10 Signs Your Church Is Actually A Cult | Dust Off The Bible

persecution complex and isolation

Persecution complex is a term given to an array of psychologically-complex behaviors that specifically deal with the perception of being persecuted, for various possible reasons, imagined or real. Its common for unhinged abusive cult leaders to instill a persecution complex in the minds of their followers. They train them to think that the world misunderstands them, even hates them. They cultivate a a sense of us vs them, which pushes them to isolate from the world.

The founder of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), Herbert W. Armstrong, preached coming persecution to his followers, frightening them with visions of an impending crackdown on their church, like what happened to the Branch Davidians. Lila (Deborah) and Jim Green preached this too, way before David Koresh. The day’s coming! They will persecute us! The government will raid us with guns! I remember how scared I was.

“Incidents such as these and the constant drumbeat that ‘secular, godless liberals’ are destroying society creates a cohesion of fear where members band together and tend to socialize internally to the exclusion of the outside world. Members are taught to believe everything that happens in the world they disagree with is an affront to their beliefs and values, and thus a direct threat to their community.”

This also takes the form of ‘mean world syndrome,‘ coined by communications professor George Gerber to describe the ways people believe the world is more dangerous than it actually is, based on mass media portrayals. Cults tend to feed upon this phenomenon by convincing their members the world is a harsh and dangerous place that will erode their values. People outside the cult are viewed as ‘sinners,’ bad influences who will drag them down and threaten their salvation or enlightenment. This paranoia only fuels cult isolationism.”

Silenced. Cult Spottingthe International Cult Studies Association

“…there is a sense, spoken and unspoken, that others will not understand what we’re all about. There’s an assumption that (1) what we say, know or do is a result of being more enlightened (special, among the elite, chosen by god ), (2) others will not understand unless they become one of us (other people don’t know God); (3) others will respond negatively (they’ll criticize us, try to hold us accountable).

In a place where authority is legislated, persecution sensitivity builds a case for keeping everything within the system. Why? Because of the evil, dangerous, or unspiritual people outside the system who are trying to weaken or destroy us. This mentality builds a strong wall or bunker around the abusive system, isolates the abusers from scrutiny and accountability, and makes it more difficult for people to leave.”

—David Johnson, Jeff VanVonderen, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse

TED-Ed – Why do people join cults?


Great little 6 minute clip written by Dr. Janja Lalich who was in a political cult. She shared her story on Investigation Discovery’s Dangerous Persuasions, Season 2 (Revolution Isn’t a Tea Party). She’s now a researcher focused on cult groups, specializing in charismatic authority, power relations, ideology, and social control.

Religious Cult Leaders and Disciples: Who Leads and Who Joins as Paralleled to Fight Club

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.16.17 PMOutstanding article here—written by Carla Dechant Behr, brother of deceased ACMTC member Chris Dechant, AKA Joab Evans

—>Religious Cult Leaders and Disciples: Who Leads and Who Joins as Paralleled to Fight Club.

SPOT ON: How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job

—>How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job – NaturalNews.com.

Sociopaths are masters at weaving elaborate fictional explanations to justify their actions. When caught red-handed, they respond with anger and threats, then weave new fabrications to explain away whatever they were caught doing” 

“A valuable red flag to recognize when trying to spot a sociopath is to see how they deal with attacks on their own integrity. If a sociopath is presented with a collection of facts, documents and evidence showing that he lied or deceived, he will refuse to address the evidence and, instead, attack the messenger!

If you really try to nail a sociopath down to answering a documented allegation, they will quickly turn on you, denounce you, and declare that you too are secretly plotting against them. Anyone who does not fall for the brainwashing of the sociopath is sooner or later kicked out of the circle and then wildly disparaged by the remaining members of the cult group.”   Mike Adams

book by cult expert Rick Ross – CULTS INSIDE OUT

—> Home – CULTS INSIDE OUT

Haven’t read his book yet. He just emailed me of it today in response to an email I sent him. I met Rick Ross in Texas many years ago on a case he worked on involving a family’s loved one in ACMTC. He came with a literal trunk load of books, of research—obviously prior to the advent of laptops! He may be more knowledgable than anyone on the subject of cults. I’m purchasing his book on my Kindle.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 9.27.25 AMget it from Amazon

Rick’s website: http://culteducation.com

15 Narcissistic Religious Abuse Tactics | The Exhausted Woman

Here’s an excellent read from Psych Central. SPOT ON! Thank you Christine Hammond.

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Cult basics: Characteristics of cults.

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Following is a list of social, psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns that are common within cult settings. This list was developed by  Michael Landgone, Ph.D., a counseling psychologist, and ICSA’s Executive Director. Thank you Dr. Landgone.

1. The cultic group displays an excessive, zealous, unquestioning commitment to its leader, and regards his or her beliefs and practices to be the truth, the law, the way.

2. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged, and sometimes punished.

3. Mind-altering practices (e.g., meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

4. The leader(s) dictate, sometimes to great detail, what and how members should think, act and feel.

5. The group is elitist, claiming a special, superior, or exalted status. They’re on a mission to save something, the world maybe.

6. Cultic groups have an “us-vs-them” mentality.

7. The leader is accountable to no one, to no human, to no governing authority.

8. The leaders teach—or imply by their actions—that the “noble end” justifies the means—whatever it takes for their truth to prevail (e.g. falsifying, lying, deceit).

9. The leadership creates feelings of shame and guilt in its members in order to manipulate and control them.

10. Subservience to the leader(s) often leads to cutting family ties, ties with friends, teachers, and to putting personal dreams or goals aside to become one of them, one of the elite.

11. The group is preoccupied with recruiting new members, or making more money.

12. Members give inordinate amounts of time to serving the group, the group’s god, or attending group-activities.

13. Members are encouraged or required to live with or to socialize with only group members. A lot of group members believe that there is no other way, there is no life outside the group. Mostly they’re afraid for themselves or for others on the inside if they should leave, or even think of leaving.

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Leaving the Fold

An outstanding book for anyone questioning or leaving their faith.

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This book by psychologist Marlene Winell provides valuable insights into the dangers of religious indoctrination and outlines what therapists and victims can do to reclaim a healthier human spirit…. Both former believers searching for a new beginning and those just starting to subject their faith to the requirements of simple common sense, if not analytical reason, may find valuable assistance in these pages.”

Steve Allen, author and entertainer