How Does a Cult Leader Indoctrinate the Work in a Destructive Cult?
Over time, I became the one that was quick to use the spiritual jargon and shop talk. It was recycled talk that we were always being exposed to at every turn. The more Michael Guen (cult leader) would put out those words, the more we tended to use them as our own. This also helped to create the pseudo personality, the alter ego cult identity that sounded like a completely foreign person. I remember how my family and friends told me how much I changed. I did sound like a tape recording of the cult leader, especially when I was trying to defend my position. They wondered what happened to the lively Ruth that they had known for years.
Two of the greatest indoctrination techniques were how Michael Guen would talk ceaselessly for hours in our class as well as make sure that we were encouraged to do personal one-on-one sessions with him. Talking for hours on end, we were hypnotized by his words. When I re-read some of his lectures now, I begin to see clearly how none of what he was saying made linear or logical sense. Sometimes, we would end some of our classes in a complete daze. His supposed level of “expertise” would make us believe that everything that came out of his mouth was meaningful. In reality, it sounded convoluted and confusing.
The other technique he used for indoctrination was the one-on-one acupuncture appointments which members had to pay for in addition to their monthly tuition fees. The following is an excerpt of an email that he wrote one of the newer students, encouraging her to do the private sessions:
“As a first rounder, you haven’t completed study of the entire system. Other newcomers with a burning penchant to do inner work, have simply come for regular weekly appointments, and allowed whatever potential there was to unfold within the one-on-one context. I understand that finances may not allow you this freedom, so I suggest that perhaps we do a fixed number that you can afford, aware of the limitations beforehand.”
Clearly, he was setting up his expensive sessions as a way to “go deeper into the system.” But it was just another way to brainwash (mind controlling) the women. During the acupuncture sessions, he has you lay vulnerable on the table. Many times after getting the sessions, I would be in a trance-like state. Sometimes I would have to rest or go to sleep. Oftentimes, I almost felt disoriented. Throughout those sessions, he had so many opportunities to suggest anything to the client.
We believe that he used mind control techniques and manipulation specifically during those times. It is important to note that the woman above that he encouraged to have one-on-one sessions with ended up having feelings for him and eventually left the group. She was just one example of many women who ended up falling in love with him. This was one of the main ways that he hooked into women and indoctrinated them into a new belief system.
This indoctrination process happens gradually step by step in a destructive cult. I was exposed to it from the very first day. Over the course of ten years, it was drilled into me and became another part of myself, which we called the cult identity. Fortunately, this indoctrination process can crumble through sheer determination and education. All ten years of this cult identity vanished once I was educated how the whole thing worked. It was as though I could finally see clearly for the first time in my life.
– Ruth –
Photo Credit: Mordy Steinfeld via Flickr