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Cult Psychology

Date: 10/04/23

Author Name: Sareem Athar

Qualifications: BA (Psychology, Mass Communication & Journalism, Literature), MSc(Clinical Psychology), Diploma in Child Psychology.

Designation: Former Admin Head, ACRO Mental Health & Wellness.

Word count: 780

Reading time: 7 Minutes

Reviewed & edited by: Aishwarya Krishna Priya, Mariyam Mohammed & Ayesha Begum.


The Dark World of Mind Control and Manipulation


The small town of Millwood seemed like any other town in the United States. It had its local diner, its quaint library, and its annual pumpkin festival. However, beneath the surface, there was something sinister lurking - a cult that had taken hold of the community (1,2).


The cult was led by a charismatic figure known as "The Prophet" (3). He had a way of speaking that drew people in and convinced them to join his cause (4). The Prophet promised them a better life, a life of fulfillment and purpose, and his followers believed him (5). They gave up their jobs, their homes, and their families to follow him (6).


At first, the townspeople didn't think much of The Prophet and his followers. They assumed it was just another eccentric group of people. Additionally, as the cult grew in numbers, the townspeople became increasingly worried (7,8). They noticed that the cult members would only associate with each other, that they would hold secretive meetings, and that they seemed to be preparing for something big (9).


As rumors began to spread about the cult's true intentions, a group of concerned citizens decided to investigate. They found evidence of brainwashing techniques, psychological manipulation, and even instances of abuse (10,11). They knew they had to act fast to save their community from the cult's grip.


The townspeople began to organize themselves, sharing their findings with others who were also concerned. They contacted the authorities and local media outlets to raise awareness (13-16). As they delved deeper into the cult's inner workings, they realized that they were dealing with a dangerous group that would stop at nothing to protect their leader and their cause (17,18).


The Prophet had built a fortress around himself and his closest followers, and they were heavily armed. The townspeople knew they couldn't fight the cult head-on, so they had to come up with a different plan. They decided to infiltrate the cult and gather evidence from within (19-24).


They came up with a strategy to overcome the cult's brainwashing tactics and restore members to reason using their understanding of psychology (25). They began to work with former cult members, helping them to overcome the trauma they had experienced while under The Prophet's control (26).


Eventually, the townspeople were able to gather enough evidence to bring The Prophet and his top lieutenants to justice (27). The cult was disbanded, and the townspeople were left to pick up the pieces of their shattered community (28).


The Millwood saga serves as a warning about the perils of cult psychology. Despite how alluring a charismatic leader may seem, it's crucial to keep in mind that no one person has all the answers (29,30). We must never stop being watchful and dubious of those who profess to have all the answers, and we must never lose sight of the importance of community in keeping us safe.


As a society, we frequently discover ourselves enthralled by the ominous and perilous realms that lie on the periphery of human experience (31,32). Cult psychology is one of the most sinister of these worlds, where the craft of mind control and manipulation is finely tuned. In this world, charismatic leaders take advantage of the weak, persuading them to give up their individuality and blindly follow their teaching (33). People frequently suffer devastating effects as a result, losing all sense of reality and occasionally even their lives (34).


Over the years, cult psychology has been extensively researched, with researchers looking at everything from cult leaders' methods to the characteristics of people who are most susceptible to their influence. Studies have revealed that particular characteristics, such as a need for belonging and a desire for personal development, can make people more prone to cult indoctrination (35).


Furthermore, employing mind-controlling strategies like seclusion, sleep deprivation, and public humiliation can erode a person's sense of self and increase their propensity to believe the cult leader's teachings (36).


Some people are fortunate enough to escape cults and eventually reclaim their lives, but others are less fortunate. The notorious Heaven's Gate cult, which committed mass suicide in 1997 (37), is one example of a cult that has been known to engage in violent and dangerous activities in extreme situations. It serves as a chilling reminder of the control vulnerable people can fall under the control of cult psychology (38).


In order to protect ourselves from the risks posed by cult psychology, society must exercise constant vigilance. We can help safeguard ourselves and those around us from falling prey to their influence by educating ourselves about the strategies employed by cult leaders and identifying the warning signs of potential cults. We can work toward a safer and more informed society with continued study and comprehension of this sinister and unsettling area of human behaviour (39).




REFERENCES


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(2)Hassan, S. (1990). Combating cult mind control. Park Street Press.


(3)Conway, F., & Siegelman, J. (1978). Snapping: America's epidemic of sudden personality change. J. P. Tarcher

(4)Keith Henson, H. (n.d.). Sex, Drugs, and Cults. An evolutionary psychology perspective on why and how cult memes get a drug-like hold on people, and what might be done to mitigate the effects. Retrieved June 11, 2023, from Smokyhole.org website: http://smokyhole.org/kh/kh-sex_drugs_and_cults.pdf


(5)La Barre, W. (1962). They shall take up serpents: Psychology of the southern snake-handling cult. Pp, 208. Retrieved from https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/1963-04791-000.pdf


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(9)Lloyd, A. B. (1989). Psychology and society in the ancient Egyptian cult of the dead. In J. P. Allen (Ed.), Religion and Philosophy in Ancient Egypt (pp. 117–133). Yale Egyptological Seminar, Dept. Of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Graduate School, Yale University.


(10)Carlton Best, J. V. (n.d.). Cults: A psychological perspective cults: A psychological perspective. Retrieved June 11, 2023, from Columbusstate.edu website: https://csuepress.columbusstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1356&context=theses_dissertations


(11)Collins, G. (1982, March 15). The psychology of the cult experience. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/15/style/the-psychology-of-the-cult-experience.html


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(13)Retrieved June 11, 2023, from Researchgate.net website: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233367770_Cult_Commitment_from_the_Perspective_of_Former_Members_Direct_Rewards_of_Membership_versus_Dependency_Inducing_Practiceshttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/233367770_Cult_Commitment_from_the_Perspective_of_Former_Members_Direct_Rewards_of_Membership_versus_Dependency_Inducing_Practices


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