Cults abound. I grew up in one, and the apologists continue trying to convince more reasonable people of the cultists’ righteousness, that they have the answer(s), and you should give them all your money and worldly possessions in pursuit of oneness with their cult leader – because you can be damn sure there is a hierarchy, and they get the best of the best.
That’s why it’s a cult – or the politically correct assignment of ‘high-demand group’. I don’t understand the more pleasant moniker, I suppose it seeks to lessen shame.
There are so many incarnations (pun intended?) of cults, it’s hard to know whether you’re dealing with one.
Here are a few handy tips, taken from Janja Lalich & Madeleine Tobias’s work: Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It is adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.
Not all of these need to be present for the cult classification, and apologists for cults will read the list, discounting what they read as ‘not entirely applying’, thereby allowing them to justify their beliefs about their group not being a cult.
It took a lot of work to de-program myself, especially when people like my mother still value their experience there.
I ended most of my relationships with ex-culters, and try to only communicate with those de-programmed, or non-apologists.
Several peers with whom I survived the cult continue reinforcing old cultisms such as believing the best, most positive, most understanding people were from their time there, when the reality is that bonds formed in childhood and young adulthood gain stature as time passes because you are known more completely than others recently met, such as co-workers, or casual friends.
The deep friendships I made outside the cult revealed how damaging that place was, because we forged lasting, trusting connections, while acquaintances, and co-workers, currently, and through the years, often increased my sense of isolation rather than connection. Had I not made those honest and abiding friendships, I too, might believe that the cultists were right, and we were a special group, designated by god.
It’s also the ultimate egomania to believe that you were, or are, ‘chosen’, or accepted into such lofty ranks, above all on earth but those who worship or live as you do.
I’m grateful to have claimed back my autonomy, my power, and my voice.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.