May 26, 2012
Conformity To Cult Behavior
In the early 1960s, psychologists in the United States interviewed several U.S. soldiers and American Prisoners of War returning home from combat against North Korea. Their main focus in particular were on those who had suffered an extreme change in their personality. These young soldiers had experienced being brainwashed under the communists. Psychologist have later realized that people involved in cults may have experienced similar psychological changes. Cult leaders use the same structure known as, mind control or mind reform. The book "Combating Cult Mind Control", by Steven Hassen explains that mind control is more refined than brainwashing. Cult members are considered to be a good friend and righteous people. As a result, the person being indoctrinated offers less defiance and contention than if they being forcefully coerced. Through compliance with the process of mind reform, the victim slowly begins to surrender over his personality and accept the doctrines of the cult as biblical truth. Mind control does not involve physical abuse but it is limited to certain hypnotic processes to create a compelling effect of precepts (Cephas, 2010). Many of the individuals who are deceived are not just naive people, but they are often successful educated people.
There are several methods of mind control which are not considered harmless. People who find themselves getting deep into cults need to be aware of this. There are a variety of religious groups who employ mind control strategies which are kept unrevealed. Most cult leaders earnestly believe they possess the answers to the obstacles of life. Rulers of the religious groups require loyalty and obedience from their followers in order to keep them under their control. Obedience is the act of following instructions given from a legitimate authority without question or hesitation. There are many authority figures that a person may look up to such as parents, pastors, older siblings, and spiritual leaders. From a very young age we are taught to respect these authority figures and obey their commands. There is a strong sense of security and dedication that people may have towards their leaders. Devoted members receive limited amount of information. Most groups will not allow their members to watch television, read magazines or any other books contrary to their teachings. This type of practice is used to keep the members under complete submission and to also keep them from straying back into the mainstream society. Several religious groups deliberately adopt harsh work regimes to break down individual will. One former member from the "Nation of Yahweh" reported having to work 14 to 16 hours each day. His life consisted of working at the Nation of Yahweh's print shop and going to services to listen to lectures (I Survived- Cult, 2010). This type of technique prevents member from having any freedom of thought or personality. Members are not allowed to remain in contact with those have been expelled from the religious group. This method is often used in order to keep current cult members from knowing why the person left (Cephas, 2010).
Environmental Control- Cult leaders can control a person's environment by approving what a person wears and what they are allowed to eat. For example, some Pentecostals do not allow women to wear pants, jewelry, or make-up. Mormons are forbidden to drink coffee, tea or any beverage that contains alcohol or caffeine. Most members follow these religious practices to avoid being chastised or rebuked by their leaders. There are many tactics formed to create feelings of fear and shame (Cephas, 2010). A former member from the "Zionist Society" was taught that if she leaves the church her soul would be condemned to hell (I Survived- Cult, 2010). This type of teaching makes people afraid to leave the religious sector. Members may also fear losing contact with relatives and close friends. A young woman named Elishah made a difficult decision to leave her parents and friends behind to escape the abuse she endured in the "Alamo Christian Foundation" (I Survived- Cult, 2010). This young woman left the only home she ever knew and she had to accept being an outcast from this group. In addition to being afraid of leaving the cult, most people will continue in the religious practice for the hopes of being rewarded with the gift of eternal life in the future. Making the choice to leave a cult may not be an easy decision but its its important to find people who can bring forth support. If an ex member receives any threats from the cult, they should call the police. Before joining a religion, its important to do research on it first and check to find out if the religion is legal. Make sure the religious group does not condone violence or discrimination against others.
Cephas-Library. (2010). Mind control in the cults. Retrieved from- "http://www.cephas-library.com/mind_control.html". Rodney Stark. (1983). Religion and conformity- reaffirming a sociology of religion. Vol. 45, No. 4 (Winter, 1984). pp. 273-282. David Bromley. (1981). Strange gods: the great american cult scare. Retieved from- "http://mail.csj.org/infoserv_bookreview/bkrev_strangegods_schuller.htm".
Jonathan, Luftman. (2010). Bill Morris, "Director" Alan Hall, "Producer". I survived- cult.