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Cults: The Mind Enslaved

"Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise without a sound... then a shape enters, slips though the tightened silence... reaches the heart, and dies." - Rainer Rilke

by
Jeanette Pryor

Bio

September 6, 2012 - 2:57 pm
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The Cult Mind frequently violates conscience, that internalized voice of universal right and wrong. For Jason Beghe, it was continuing to recruit for Scientology when he saw that expensive training was not helping him. For David Goldman, he knew assisting an antisemite spread the “Jewish Banking Myth” was wrong, but he was not willing to substitute reality for the emotional comfort of LaRouche’s inner circle.

The need to limit contact with people who live according to reason explains alienation from family, friends, and non-members. Living extensions of the Gnostic group-mind are only comfortable with people who affirm the illusion in which they live. Within a cult, subjects serve to continuously monitor one another’s level of blind adherence to cult ideology and to suspension of critical thought. Deviations such as questioning or criticism are met with social sanctions that vary in intensity depending on the cult. Anyone who threatens the unity of thought is deemed an enemy. Such a person threatens the essential psychologically dependent state that constitutes the essence of the cult.

The Gnostic Mind is often compartmentalized and people who eschew reason in one area of life are able to function at high levels of professionalism in others. The more dangerous cults are precisely those whose members seem relatively normal on the surface because they offer fewer external warnings to the vulnerable.

Gnostic knowledge provides profound emotional pleasures. True believers are certain that they see the truth and their fellow human beings are ignorant and duped. This conviction generates a sense of importance that many people lacked “in the real world.” Men like Beghe and Goldman were not “losers,” but both confessed insecurities or a sense of personal lack of completeness that was remedied by their place in the cults. The cults teach that life “outside” is devoid of meaning. It takes a great deal of mental energy to refute the constant influx of reality and this is why so many bury themselves in the “cause” of the cult to the point of obsession. Laser-focus on the group’s mission produces “white noise” that blocks doubts and contributes further to the isolation of cult members from those who have no interest in the one-track-mind of those in the organization.

Understanding the cult-imprisoned mind leads to more effective intervention. Deeply addicted to perceived emotional benefits, cult members resist any threat to their voluntary mental captivity. Being ostracized or shunned by family reinforces their attachment to the group. Friends and family who want to help others leave a cult must start with providing a sense of security and kindness that will permit, imperceptibly, the relaxation of the Gnostic Mind. There will already be plenty of “stored” impressions of failure and contradiction in the cult. If the imprisoned subject feels he or she doesn’t need the cult, they may have the mental strength to begin to listen to their own mind again.

Whatever its inception, cult exodus almost always entails tremendous mental and emotional suffering. The deepest pain is the sense of betrayal, of having tolerated or committed acts one knew (in the healthy mind) were wrong. There is a “honeymoon” period during which members see nothing but the good. Sooner or later the contradictions and flaws appear. Because they are dependent upon the group to supply emotional needs, the members often become bystanders as they participate in or justify abuse or irrational behavior. Providing a place without judgment is crucial or the member may return to the cult just to escape internal or external condemnation.

In Part II of Cults: The Mind Enslaved, we will examine the particular challenges to cult exodus posed by the Gnostic mental process. We owe a debt of gratitude to ex-members like Jason Beghe and David Goldman for their confessions, self-revelations which are anything but cowardly. By speaking candidly of their experiences they put to rest the harmful myth that only the ignorant fall prey to the enticement of cults. Their honesty paves the way for a new way of helping those imprisoned within their own minds.

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Also by Jeanette Pryor:

Toxic Activism: Is Politics Your Drug of Choice?

Underestimating the New Nazis in Greece: The Golden Dawn Party

Selling Reagan: The Unconscionable Hypocrisy of Ron Paul

5 Ways to Ruin a Commencement Speech

Related stories at PJ Lifestyle:

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Jeanette Pryor is a native Californian residing in Topeka, Kansas, with her husband and five children. A freelance writer and blogger, her published articles focus on the growth of antisemitism and misogyny in conservative organizations. Her PJ Media piece "Toxic Activism: Is Politics Your Drug of Choice?" chronicles Jeanette’s thirty-year experience in the heart of the French religious far-right. A 2012 graduate of Kansas State University (Interdisciplinary Social Sciences), Jeanette is the recipient of the 2011 Washburn University Nall Scholarship for her speech, The Freedom Writers and the Transformative Power of Holocaust Education.
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