What is a Cult Pseudo Personality?
One of the most fascinating yet disturbing occurrences is the formation of the cult identity which is also called the pseudo personality. This does not happen over time, but in fact it occurs over a period of time through the assistance of lots of repetition and manipulation. Thus, the pseudo personality is born. Karl and I affectionately called my pseudo personality Ruth 2. She was cold and defensive. She would fight for the cause to the bitter end. She would go off on anyone who tried to threaten her reality. Mostly, the cult identity has been crafted and composed from the doctrines and beliefs of whatever cult that person is in. I learned also that there can be a wide array of cults out there – psychotherapy cults, personal growth, yoga, New Age, political – you name it. And each of these mini-clones is born from the cult philosophy and the leader’s thoughtful manipulation.
I was basically a mini-clone of Michael. I could parrot his words perfectly. I knew how to set up all the talk and the jargon and believe me, it rolled off my tongue freely. Every time someone would get mad at me, I labeled it “reactivity.” I was always on the lookout for someone who did not display “upright character.” We were supposed to stay vigilant on ourselves and be in utter and complete self-control all the time. No wonder the people around me thought that I was too serious and didn’t have enough fun.
Michael Guen would consistently make comments that I was too serious and had to lighten up. If I had a good time with my friends, I felt as though he was frowning on it because I was “leaking energy.” This According to this made up terminology, he said that women “leak” all over the place with their energy and they don’t even know that they are depleting themselves. We were asked to hold containers and to become “medicine warriors.” The only thing it was doing for us were creating mini versions of the cult leader, complete with the fancy language. This way of speaking actually binds the group members to each other because they begin to feel that they have something special. It is a method of isolating people from being “ordinary.”
These were just a few examples of the tape recording that we all had to learn. Michael wanted us to become clones of him so that we may teach underneath him in the guise of “individuality.” We were supposed to be coming out with our individual teachings and missions, as long as he was able to manipulate the message to have it fit his monetary propaganda needs. His vision was to pull more women into his cult kingdom in order to work for him for free. Business contracts were never discussed. But my own cult identity did it willingly because I was completely and utterly devoted. That was a feature programmed into my pseudo personality. I would not question the leader. I would go with the flow, even though he was always changing course all the time. The only person generating “original” material was Michael and he manipulated everything that came out of our mouths.
We acted like children when the leader was present. In that child-like admiration, we were never able to fully criticize him. He had a false humility of saying that he was just a man who had his own flaws, but he conveniently hid them from view. One example that Karl noticed immediately happened during the set up black sash testing last year. Michael basically created an event for the senior followers to obtain their black sashes, something that would bound us further to the lineage. It was the equivalent of getting a black belt in a normal martial arts school. But apparently our sashes were hard earned from all the “character” work that we had supposedly done on ourselves throughout the years. The judges happened to be members of the cult who consulted with Michael after every move was made. We had to perform set martial arts routines and it was physically and emotionally exhausting. Because Karl was there, Michael even went out of his way to give a speech about how we were not a cult.
After the event, some of the senior black sash candidates presented Michael a gift of a special pen. The woman who gave it was in her sixties and her husband had also been involved in the teaching for ten years. Even though she was older than Michael, she still gazed at him with utter admiration, waiting for his approval of the gift. She completely lost herself. I was also always quiet around him, as though I were holding him in fear and reverence. This was how we treated him – like a god. He claimed that he never wanted to be on that pedestal, but he stayed there anyway. He told us that we had a free will and that we were “creating our own destiny.”
Looking back, I can see how the pseudo personality is essential ingredient for maintaining a cult. Michael Guen barely has to say or do anything to help us maintain this cult identity. We are conditioned to react to things in a certain way and we would always promote “the teaching.” It is true that we had Mini-Michaels installed in us and we became walking talking replicas of him. All in all, it keeps us from thinking critically about our roles within the group. We were programmed to think and feel a certain way. He was ready to take advantage of us.
– Ruth –
Photo Credit: Riccardo Cuppinni via Flickr