In Reply to: What this tells me posted by Thinker on December 13, 2003 at 19:00:07:
(Here's one example. Below are some excerpts from "The Cult Survivors Handbook” written by Nori J. Muster, an exKrishna member--after leaving the group she went back to school and obtained a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. For the complete document go to: http://www.surrealist.org/norimuster/handbook.html)
"This book is for people who have suffered betrayal in a group situation. The worst abuse potentially happens in religious groups where people's full faith is invested.....Even people who suffer horrible childhood abuse have a sense of what a good childhood would have been like and may convince themselves that their upbringing was fine. Most likely, they grow up blaming themselves for the dysfunction.....In a cult, charismatic leaders successfully attract submissive people who are afraid to point out when something is wrong.....before an organization gets to the point of committing big, obvious crimes like murder or mass suicide, it has already tolerated hundreds and thousands of smaller, subtle, abuses. Sexual abuse and abuse of power are the hallmarks of exploitive cult leaders. Ironically, some innocent people in the groups never suspect anything is wrong; they may even leave before getting hurt, but it is also painful to realize when the leader had clay feet.....Cult leaders are often sociopathic and power hungry. They teach their followers that the outside world is evil; that the cult offers the only salvation. This creates an atmosphere of isolation, leading to hopelessness.....Cult recruiters target people with low self-esteem, presenting the group as a loving surrogate family. Members are taught to do whatever the family asks. They must repress their individuality and work for the good of the group. New people may receive excellent treatment, but once they are established members, they may be exploited and abused. Demoralized, they change their personality to please authority figures and fit into the group.....Cult leaders preach that society is on the brink of destruction, then they isolate their members and control the flow of information to reinforce the party line. They manipulate members with guilt and fear. Cults portray themselves as benign and may hide undesirable aspects of their operation from the public and from members. Hence, the stereotype of the "blind" follower.....One of the most insidious things about my cult experience was that they told us we had to give up our previous "material" life and devote one hundred percent of our time and energy to the group. Some ISKCON gurus still preach this as the meaning of surrender. At ISKCON's request, I abandoned all my friends and family without thinking about how I may have hurt them or made them worry about me.....
If you suspect that you are (or were) in contact with a cult, ask yourself some serious questions about the group:
--Do you have to change who you are to fit in, please others?
--Do they set up a duality of "us and them" and tell you that people outside the group are bad, less important?
--Do they treat "outsiders" badly or talk behind their backs?
--Do they treat members badly?
--Do they give a false impression to the public?
--Do they predict that society is on the brink of destruction?
--Do they say that they have all the answers and you would be lost without their help?
--Do they request excessive donations of your time and money?