“How Did I End Up in a Cult?” An Anatomy of Indoctrination into Social Control Systems.

“How Did I End Up in a Cult?” An Anatomy of Indoctrination into Social Control Systems.

Attempts to recruit – “My system is great! It’s the answer to your problems.” The club is inclusive and willing to let me be a part of it.

I travel to a ‘home turf‘ of the believer to learn about their system. Most of the people here are members. I, as a not-yet-converted, am in the minority at this place. There are other newcomers here, too. Social pressure is easier for opponents when they outnumber me.

The problem is addressed as a core concept of the belief system. Usually, I am the one with the problem. Other times, there is a problem ‘outside of the group’ that is responsible for the problem. Without a sense of danger, they would not be able to offer me the safety of their protection.

The philosophy explains the stance I, as a member, must take and adhere to if I am to solve the problem. This is a lifestyle being proposed to me – There is no retirement. (See: Us vs. Them)

packaged explanations, a.k.a. ‘slogans‘, are thought-substitutes. Slogans stifle original thought and require no mental effort to use. They will interrupt my previously-held beliefs.

Hierarchy – If there are no clear chains of command, there is likely still a moral leader, guru, “guy who originally knew”, etc. There are winners and losers in everything… and if the icon of adoration is not successful in a worldly sense, there is a sense of being morally correct in the face of a wicked enemy/environment/world.

Us vs. Them” I am told that non-participants that will not convert are to be shunned. There are two categories of non-participants. Either, ‘they don’t get it’ or ‘they choose to oppose what we know is right’. Choosing to oppose makes that person evil. This not only creates a black-and-white mindset in believers, I also am reminded that I too can be shunned. There is pity for the ones that don’t fit in with this system, and enmity for those who reject us.

If I start believing, they can tell me just about anything they want. As long as it fits with the doctrine,I will believe and buy just about anything. My mind, in accepting these stories as good, accepts both the poisoned and edible fruit. My guard is down. The antibodies in my mental immune system have allowed the viruses.

As a novice in the system, I am looked at with modest suspicion by members. They are watching to make sure I am earnest in my participation. If I am around enough that I become familiar, I am encouraged to take part in the club which, ironically, is much more exclusive than I was led to believe.


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