Tag Archives: cult

Landmark: Scientology’s Little Cousin

Self improvement – isn’t it wonderful? If you’re feeling stuck, the market abounds in quick, wonderful books and courses claiming to give you the answer to every problem. Never mind that the claim is bombastic, that your feelings are temporary and that no one can ever know you better than you know yourself, hence the ancestral meme, “the answer lies within”.

Forget your twenty, thirty or fifty years of life experience on Planet Earth, constantly observing, analysing, trying to find the “right path” to happiness, if that even exists. Three days suffice; you will walk out of the Landmark Forum a new person.

Changed, re-engineered – reborn, almost. I don’t know how that sounds to others but it’s not exactly like the wonder pill that makes you lose ten pounds in ten days. This is someone’s mind we’re talking about.

The Landmark Forum, unlike other glorified cults, doesn’t seek to cleanse you of original sin or body thetans, but something easier to grasp – your identity.

“When you came in here Friday morning, you were so certain about who you were, weren’t you? You walked in certain, and tonight you’re walking out uncertain. It could take years to become certain about who you are again. That’s what the rest of the Landmark Curriculum for Living is for: to help you resolve that uncertainty.”

As you sit there for hours and hours daily, you are systematically torn to bits by being told what an arsehole you are, until your entire existence and all its meaning crumbles before you, so you can rebuild your identity from scratch. And all that for the pittance of a few hundred dollars (or whatever currency your country uses, as the recruitment mill operates in no less than 20).

Although satirical, this is a short reenactment of what happens initially. Participants are locked up in a room, unable to leave except for the one meal time (additionally they have a few short breaks during which they are assigned “homework”). They are not allowed bathroom breaks for hours on end, claiming it would be irresponsible to miss even five minutes of the seminar (although up to a third consists of promotion). More importantly, they are insulted to the bone marrow. They are outright told their lives (and therefore achievements) are meaningless facades; “stories”.

It can and does get downright sinister. Part of this deconstruction is to air one’s dissatisfaction with others, as well as painful memories of being harmed – to be told, in each and every case, that they are to blame, even for the actions of others. Applying that technique ends up being cruel and shameless, with no consideration for reality.

The other baffling treatment students endure, aside from being accused and bashed for their every misfortune (even rape), is to have their perception questioned whenever they disagree with organisers. From the article linked to above:

“Mmm, this refund, let’s talk about this. Why do you feel this way? What could you be resisting in your life? What if ‘I want my money back’ is just a story you are telling yourself?”

During the seminar, the leader dismisses doubts or criticism by saying to each dissenter:”This is only your interpretation.” It can be applied to facts from their past (which the leader has no idea of) and even real time thoughts and feelings. By this he means that the student has no ability to accurately discern what is real and what isn’t and must rediscover reality with the leader’s guidance.

Not surprisingly, according to a former Scientologist, the “tech” they use is heavily borrowed from L Ron Hubbard. In fact, Landmark evolved out of Est, which in turn evolved, partially, out of Scientology.

The French documentary detailing this, as well as showing footage filmed by an infiltrated journalist, has disappeared from the internet, aside from a short YouTube fragment. However, the transcript is available on the Wikileaks website (quite a read).

The catch, or hook, comes on the final day, when participants are encouraged to make amends with people they relate poorly to, after intense rehearsals, directed by the program leader, on what to say to them (as shown in the transcript).

Unlike Scientologists, who get a kick out of making members disassociate with loved ones, the founders of Landmark figured out growth was much easier when getting people to be kinder to their families and peers. In emotional prostration, participants invite those they wish to apologise to and publicly relieve their guilt. Meanwhile, “guests” are subjected to unavoidable pitches of the program, which they are invited to join (and sometimes do).

And so it grows.

Of course, this is only the beginning. Those who finish the first brainwashing session are immediately pitched another, twice as expensive, and then another, costing far more.

And if they’re still engrossed, they can always help recruit as many people as possible, as well as volunteer. In fact, the manual labour during these seminars is down to volunteers, at one point 25 per event (apparently now the term has been banned and they are merely “assisting”, as “volunteering” for a for-profit company is questionable). It’s free labour taken advantage of, to put it plainly. In the minds of those showing up to do it, they are helping humanity. Although it’s by no means comparable to what Sea Org members endure in Scientology, the concept is the same – giving one’s time towards someone else’s business, with the pretext of “transforming lives”.

“It’s wonderful; it completely changed my life”, claims the odd person on YouTube . “If more and more people went through this program the world would be a better place.” In fact, a few do add this “changing the world” shtick, with sheer enthusiasm, as if they really thought it was possible.

Where have you heard that before? Give us a few hundred dollars and help us recruit so we can help people and change the world.

It’s a pyramid scheme based on emotional fragility. Those going there are obviously not in a good place. There were reports of breakdowns and even suicides over the decades. Their goal is not to change the world, but to entrap people long enough to get them to recruit others and by that make more money.

As those of Scientology and most cults, Landmark teachings are replete with jargon. Paraphrasing a former student in the YouTube video linked to above, when asking two of his indoctrinated friends what it was about, it was impossible to discern, as their explanations were laden with terminology they had appropriated from the cult, such as “racket” and “winning formula”. “Just go and do it”, they said.

One of the key words to watch out for in discussions about Landmark is “authentic”. “Authenticity” is a state you reach through the program (through being depersonalised), apparently, as opposed to your natural one. Devotees often use this term when praising the group or each other.

More problems arise when, akin to any cult members, Landmark students begin to pester their family members and friends to join. In the video, one relative describes them as “speaking like drones, full of jargon, with cult-like glazes over their eyes”. And that’s not by far the only account I came across at a simple search.

They also engage in damage control when negative appraisals pop up. The French documentary featuring actual seminar footage and expert opinions was simply taken off a number of platforms, to the point that it has become impossible to find. When a series of critical videos  appeared on YouTube, the former student making them received a letter and refund, without having contacted them. So they browse the internet for any material likely to affect their business even slightly and then attempt to address it.

If you watch this video, posted by someone who had just finished the advanced course, the level of indoctrination is gob-smacking, akin to that which follows a dramatic religious conversion.

Immediately, you notice the following:

  • She censors her speech as directed by the group (she catches herself  expressing ideas naturally and adapts them to those of the group);
  • She describes the advanced course as a way for people to figure out how they can have an impact on the world (“change the world” mantra);
  • She talks a lot about how everyone should be and live (as opposed to personal improvements, a personal path etc), which proves that the seminar leads to uniformity;
  • Her speech is difficult to understand at times as it is laden with jargon;
  • She alludes to activism, “becoming uncomfortable” (approaching others with her ideas in order to “covert” them).
  • She talks about “going back to normal life outside the seminar” and the difficulties of that (seriously, it’s less than a week).
  • She traces her natural thoughts and feelings back to the seminar (“I’m going to try to not care what people think about me saying this because this is the foundation of the original Landmark Forum”).

From her description it’s easy to understand that the first seminar is about someone’s identity (deconstructing it) and the second about launching this new person into the world to “change it” (which obviously means drawing more people to Landmark). What does that sound like to you, in broad perspective?

In fact, this tendency of “speaking like drones” some attendees display has been noticed before.

Although the person uploading the video remained appreciative of the program, he had not arrived at the level seen above before giving it up. His observations are very interesting. First off, quasi-religious fervour and the belief that Landmark has the solution to the world’s problems. Then, word policing and always referring back to the program (as seen above).

Apparently, the seminar is not one of a kind. Similar ones, employing the same techniques, can be found across the world.

For more information, visit anti-landmark.blogspot.co.uk.

A small note would be that half of the comments in support of the program make heavy use of jargon, without any indication that those reading them can relate or properly understand the message. It’s fairly disturbing and justifies the observation that “they talk like robots”.

The Trump Cult, Radicalising Instead Of Dissipating

Halfway through 2017, one could say the hopes of many who wanted to see the ‘system’ upturned through Trump’s election have been laid to rest in droves, akin to victims of the bubonic plague in the 1300s, so rampant it didn’t allow time for proper burial or mourning.

Arguably, Trump himself seems rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things (a figurehead behind the name of whom the same agenda can unfold, since no swamp was drained and no foreign interventions were stopped or diminished).

It seems that by engaging in numerous raids in foreign countries, his administration is not trying to stop terrorism but breed new waves of people seeking revenge for this untold wave of death and destruction, reported by western media outlets through numbers and statistics, as opposed to real human beings, their homes, their streets and towns. By doing so, these callous terrorist attacks in the west are almost guaranteed to keep happening, and it is not well-protected decision makers in fancy offices who suffer, but innocent people murdered or maimed in these attacks while going about their daily lives.

It is apparent that to the system overall, human beings, regardless of their location, are irrelevant. The engineering of wars and culture clashes in order to grab resources for monetary gains seems to be all that matters.

Meanwhile, people are distracted by media frenzies around what Trump does and the ever-changing structure of his staff. On a bureaucratic note, the ridiculousness of the events unfolding around the White House was depicted recently in the New York Magazine, in the most appropriate terms:

We were entering, it seemed to me, the Caligula phase of the collapse of the American republic. Pretty soon Trump would be announcing that the new FBI director would be a horse.

Remarkably, it is still too early to confine Kek to a side show oddity (perhaps a ragged piece of taxidermy). For some people, all that has happened since January is still not enough for them to see that this  – too – was a farce and that the ‘deep state’ was still very much in control.

For some reason, some keep feeding into this illusion of a revolutionary president with no background in politics, as if if politics itself, as a concept, and not cronyism, were the real problem.

When the image of a widely acclaimed personality or group crumbles and most followers become disenchanted, there is always that bunch of fanatics resembling the tail of a dead animal wriggling in the grass, independently of the carcass, as if it had a life of its own.

It seems the uncanny remarks made by Alex Jones on inauguration night, regarding the new president and a very friendly Holy Ghost, were not out of place in Trump’s America.

As RightWingWatch so often expand upon, voices in the US Christian community, regardless of denomination, expose their ‘flocks’ to rationalisations such as “God is behind Trump’s tweets”,”Donald Trump was sent by God to subdue nations that are threatening God’s purposes” or “God will punish those who oppose Trump.”

As proven by cults time and time again, fanatics will sink with the ship in delirium and consider it a privilege. The higher the water level, the more ecstatic they become, thinking the abnormality of the situation must be mystical. But alas, the UFO never shows up in the end. Neither does Armageddon, or anything of that otherworldly or colossal nature.

It’s far easier to claim the influence of a deity than admit the success of a sleazy marketing campaign on one’s own mind, so bold in its claims it has literally managed to sell polished manure for the price of pure gold.

By no means is the comparison to a fully fledged cult an outlandish one. There have been articles in GQ, The American Interest, The Independent, The Huffington Post, to count but a few, on this subject.

It was worth the wait to see how far people could march on in this charade and what particular demographics would persevere the longest.

The religious right, it appears, is gaining ground at the moment and thus has a vested interest in standing behind Trump, seemingly oblivious to the devastation caused abroad by his policies (the system’s unchanged policies, more accurately) as if to say war weren’t profoundly un-Christian. Private religious schools are gaining more funds, religion-inspired curricula are considered and overall, this long pushed under faction of society is manifesting itself in its full glory, managing to alienate those formerly supporting it as the underdog.

Another die-hard ideological group seems to consist, confirming the left’s warnings (seen as hysterical at the time) of those who support imperialist agendas, with their bigoted and racially supremacist undertones, failing yet again to see how committing mass murder with impunity abroad attracts consequences on ordinary people in the west, through terrorist attacks. Each attack hypes them up more and more, driving them to call for even more death and destruction, the irony being lost on them completely. Those who envisage an imminent, bloody clash between civilisations fail to see how it’s being engineered and how their minds are played on a daily basis.

As unfortunate as some ways of manifesting dissent were for the left, it seems clearer every day that there was no hysteria involved around Trump’s election, but objective observation. It would bring out – and is continuing to do so –  the worst tendencies people experience.







Internet Cult Posing As A Philosophy Group

People who have recently been exposed to Freedomain Radio podcasts and videos probably accessed them for an in-depth analysis of current events, as the material seems quite popular with the sceptic “community”, as well as the alt-right (the two seeming to fuse nowadays on social media).

Unbeknownst to new listeners, this group is a proper cult aimed at reaching young people at the age of individuation; it used to convince them to separate from their families by cutting all contact, a practice known as “defooing”, which has its dedicated website for members, defoo.org, reminiscent of Scientology or the Exclusive Brethren. Although apparently the advocacy for this has stopped (perhaps for legal reasons) the consequences remain.

The young people lured through discussions about politics, ethics, dogmas and so forth were encouraged to analyse their entire lives in ways which would lead them to think their families were morally corrupt and sabotaging them psychologically, at an age of being prone to rebelling naturally, which exacerbated the effect. They were encouraged to move out of their homes, which led to homelessness in various cases and at least one suicide, leaving behind dumbfounded families who only understood what had happened when discovering their children’s interest in Freedomain Radio.

From the start, members were told it was their duty to “get out there” and “become active” in order to help create a better world, and that occasional support such as the odd donation or product purchase was not enough for them to consider themselves “part of the conversation”.

As former members recounted, the group went way beyond what abuse recovery forums do, as it encouraged them to publicly berate the families trying to bring them back, even reading out private letters and emails for the world to hear, which reaches a deeply disturbing level of arrogance. Instead of the promised liberation, young people found themselves increasingly depersonalised, at least two describing a loss of interest for anything outside of group discussions.

Ad-hoc psychoanalysis was used by the leader to mimic a deep bond and understanding; it was also employed towards “recovering repressed memories”, in order to further antagonise them against their parents or even siblings and friends. They even used to provide those who wished to leave their families with a standard “goodbye letter”, in case they felt they could not formulate their own. Moreover, some of the most dedicated members ended up living together after “defooing”.

The group remains very popular today, continuing to attract those who consider themselves anti-system. Akin to any cult, they reject what their former peers have brought to light and berate them for being “weak enough to return to their morally corrupt families”.

There is plenty material on YouTube and dedicated sites, consisting of testimonies from former members and their loved ones, as well as the input of cult experts, confirming the nature of these dynamics.


Is This A Support Group Or A Cult?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you probably know the answer.

Many former members of abuse recovery forums use the word “cult” freshly after ending their group experience, in what I believe to be a spontaneous manner. Without connecting with other former members, they leave isolated testimonies on the web, mentioning this uncanny resemblance.

Although unlike proper cults, forums don’t seek to lock you away in a compound so you can spend every waking moment devoting yourself to their cause, they certainly want a monopoly on your view on human relationships, as well as obedience and loyalty. And, of course, some money, if you’re easily persuaded to reward them for their time. A few of them pitch books written by staff members (I know four such groups at least), some ask for donations and one offers paid counselling sessions by people with no training whatsoever in this field.

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A quick list of strikingly similar features between some support groups and cults (freshly edited as the initial one was very long, poorly written and repeated a few points):

The “guru”

All forums of this type I’ve come across  – described by many as toxic – are built around a charismatic leader, thought to have superior knowledge; there is obvious adulation and never any criticism. The so-called expert has no studies related to psychology or psychiatry but instead has written one or more books about abusers from personal experience. It is not unheard of for them to ask members to discredit the competition (other authors writing on the same topic). The forums themselves are littered with brownie points; it’s little wonder these people get such a big head.

The clique

A tight-knit group around the leader is chosen to maintain order; they never display any originality and act as if they represented an institution. They are always cheered on by sycophants in swarms, regardless of the absurdity of their behaviour. Brownie points in their direction also abound. It is known that once inside a controlling group, one absorbs the leading team’s attitudes and after a while cannot realise how absurd they seem to the rest of the world.

No dissent 

There is a clear demand for complete acquiescence to the group’s understanding of the world, as well as the chosen path to whatever the group aims for (in this case, recovery from abusive relationships) . On PF for instance, a single disagreement means you are one foot out the back door. You will be ”tackled” within minutes for any slightly unconventional opinion, as it will immediately be reported to staff members by the vultures of common orthodoxy, posing as loving, supportive peers. Of course, they are not all like that; many people are truly kind, yet I have to wonder how they can look the other way when others are being mistreated. People are even targeted for making common sense observations, such as the fact that it is preferable for the recovery to be quick as opposed to lasting for months or years. If the group agrees on a standard period of time recovery is expected to last, no other option is considered, as insane as that sounds, since every individual and situation is different. And they expect others to treat their estimations as science, being outraged when contradicted.

The false image

They present themselves as a loving, non-judgemental community while being a gossip-ridden wasp’s nest. People join both support groups and cults in hopes of finding a few all-embracing human beings with a higher capability to love, to connect with others. Just before the people at Jonestown commited mass suicide, they briefly managed to keep up that appearance during the official visit. Initially, they were believed.

Disdain for people with actual knowledge in the field

Akin to so-called Christian cults, who hate it when one of the main denominations exposes their aberrant doctrines as non-compatible with Christianity, such forums have an overt dislike for actual therapists or people who have studied their chosen fields in general. The latter will never last there as it is strictly forbidden to ”profess having higher knowledge”, even when you genuinely have it. Just as a quack would not ask for endorsement from an actual doctor, they know they run an improvised show there and are most likely aware they make tons of mistakes.

The pledge

A pledge is sometimes put before members, which they are encouraged to sign as the symbol of starting a new life. It refers to what they will and won’t do in their private life; very intimate things one should think twice about before jovially signing. And that’s because no stranger has any business interfering with or questioning what you do in your intimate life. It’s one thing to receive advice, and another to adopt a pre-packaged set of rules and morals you  find on a website. Even if they sound sensible, for me it’s a bit much. We are all individuals and should never feel accountable to an internet group for what we do privately.

Knowing you better than you know yourself

Such people will boldly tell you not only who you truly are (as you are presumably unable to figure it out by yourself), but who your family members and friends truly are, to the point of lambasting you if you disagree. They will make statements about people they’ve never met and expect you to accept their evaluations, or else. They will draw dramatic conclusions from fleeting online conversations, proving their lack of depth and their sole intention of ”converting” you to their ideology.

Targeting vulnerable people

These sites target people who might not think clearly when joining; staff members are well aware of it and take advantage. The same method is used by cults; they prey almost exclusively on those who are at a crucial junction and don’t know which road to take. Some are suicidal and some just want an ideology to embrace, a new system to live by, if their belief in their former one is shattered.

Attachment and fear of exclusion

One’s journey there consists of love-bombing followed by the swift threat of exclusion, and often swift exclusion as well. At first one is made to feel fully accepted and included; they develop a bond with the group and some of the  members in particular, to be coldly reprimanded for trifles and ultimately thrown out. After establishing that the group is the safest environment in the world, the next thing on the list is establishing you might not be worthy of it; you will be permanently scrutinised.

Walking on eggshells around petty tyrants

There is a lot of nit-picking and placing the group’s technicalities above general principles such as compassion and fairness, demonstrating clear pettiness. The examples are countless. Cults are also obsessed with every small rule which helps them believe they re organising themselves according to a well-crafted system.

Former members describe a tightly controlled environment; an overall feeling of walking on eggshells and insecurity about expressing one’s opinion. You just never know when you’ve used too many semicolons.  Even if you agree with their principles they will manage to find fault with your posts. Out of the blue, someone will pedantically tell you ”you’re on a recovery forum” and you’re ”detracting from the sole goal of giving and receiving support”. Whatever that means to them.

Paranoia regarding group members

On PF at least, members are told not to trust each other but to trust the leadership instead. They are advised not to make friends straight away, not to communicate privately and so forth. Trust the leadership only. There is also a constant hunt for people who are lying about their situation and have a hidden agenda; new members are targeted immediately, without their knowledge. While they apparently receive you with open arms, they regard everything you post with suspicion and encourage all members to have the same approach. This is very very common in cults and extremist political organisations, where paranoid leaders are always wary of a threat to their status, as well as ”enemy infiltrators”. However, on a recovery forum, that is even more ridiculous.

Permanent ban for trifles

One is subjected to quick and permanent exclusion, no explanation needed. Some cults operate that way, whilst others hardly ever allow you to leave. Scientology can ”declare you a suppressive person” for reading material they disapprove of and associating with people they don’t like , and once you’re out, you’re out. They claim they couldn’t save you from yourself and are suspisicous of anyone who still keeps in touch with you. So does the PF admin.

The enemy

Both cults and said groups target a particular category of enemies against whom all morality must be dropped. In this case, it is of course the huge army of psychopaths and narcissisits sweeping the world.


Forum staff and members constantly push others to cut ties with various people in their entourage. The few weeks I was active on PF, I never once saw advice such as ”maybe you could try to work things out” when a partner or family member was involved. Moreover, they encourage cutting contact with the suspected psychopath’s family and common friends, even when children are involved, as if that person were radioctive material contaminating everyone they met.

The Stasi and the lack of transparency

Since only parts of a forum are visible to all members, the ”backstage” is full of  reports, suspicions, gossip, false accusations, and they require no proof to be investigated by staff members, who then analyse a member’s posts for clues of  a rotten personality. On PF, there’s reason to believe even  data such as their IP, location, other profile information etc is shared  with other sites to find matching profiles of ”trouble makers” (LE, this suspicion was confirmed and what is more, they track people’s on-line activity). There is no limit. All ”investigations”, or should I say witch trials, take place behind closed doors, often without the person being aware. Staff members are never accountable before other members. Accusers are never accountable before anyone. This creates an atmosphere of distrust, not to mention omnipotence on the team’s part.

Paranoia regarding outsiders

Cults are famous for this, and so are forums like PF. It’s in their policy to obsessively distrust others. They insist there are psychopaths at every social gathering, in every work environment, in every group. The world is  riddled with these monsters and one must always be on guard.

Baseless arrogance and holy literature

The clique has a chip on its shoulder regarding an advanced level of knowledge in the chosen field etc, which is not substantiated by any recognition in real life. They wear their no contact time like a badge of honour, as if they were eerily competing with anyone along those lines. Such groups almost always sell so-called educational material which is improvised, subjective and misleading, usually authored by their guru; in time this material becomes sacrosanct and above all criticism to them. There is a quasi-religious adherence to the principles and rules of the group, forgetting they came out of thin air and are prone to error.


Such groups commonly seek financial support from members, to aid them in their ”sacred mission” of bringing awareness. Some even make a fortune out of it.


Such groups regularly swarm any dissenters or critics with smear campaigns, putting aside all human decency, any positive interaction they had with them and so forth. They gang up on people on the forum and outside of it.

Idealising the group

Even though they’re aware of all the conflicts, drama and complaints, they shamelessly promote their groups as the best thing since sliced bread.In complete denial, they dismiss any reports of negative experiences as unimportant or false, while praising the positive ones. Perhaps they even believe their own lies.

The mission

They seem to truly believe their groups have a special mission on this planet and behave as such (they also behave like others should accept that claim). This, in spite of being aware they are all just improvisers with a strong enough attitude to convince others of their legitimacy. They justify their viciousness through the belief that they are fighting the ”dark side” and everyone they attack is hell-bent on jeopardising their ”sacred mission”; they demonise those who disagree with their actions in order to treat them in any manner.

The lingo

Staff members use slogans and memes, as well as a jargon, and encourage members to use them. Many cults have a specific language, especially those based on space aliens; Scientology must have hundreds of terms. Besides using clinical terms, these groups often use “narc”, “spath”, “P” and so forth, to somehow feel they are in the inner circle of understanding.

Corporate speech

They are no longer acting as individuals but as an institution. Plenty messages reek of corporate PR. ”Here at so&so, we pride ourselves in supporting a creative approach to healing. We take great care to ensure every member benefits from personalised advice…etc”. Besides the hypocrisy, this style is ridiculous through its pretentiousness, since they are only running peer support groups.

Tough love

They claim to put pressure on members and treat them with ”tough love” for their own salvation. Cults do this all the time, applying all kinds of public scoldings and punitive measures to ”save people from themselves”.

The common road from an ideology based group to a cult

a. A few people gather to discuss a subject they are emotionally affected by and develop a common understanding of it. They theorise their view with no science behind it and establish a strict guideline they never deviate from. Any members who show critical thinking and keep an open mind are expelled or leave and the group is now made up of extremists, often led by one person.

 b. They attract proselytes by love-bombing them at a vulnerable time of their lives; they offer answers to confused people who are desperate to be guided, for unconditional support and a space of self-expression; new members develop a high sense of gratitude and attachment to the group. At first they can’t believe their luck, considering the fact that they are improvisers, but the more proselytes they attract, the more arrogant they become.

 c. They market well and gain popularity. They now consider themselves authorities in the matter and there is increased talk about their “mission”; the focus shifts from helping individuals onto the general success of the group, to which members start being sacrificed if they don’t agree 100 per cent with the group view. The initial guideline becomes a fiercely enforced doctrine. Its enforcers become “warriors of light” and anyone who challenges them or disagrees with them is seen as opposing their noble purpose. They start looking down on those who are not “enlightened” enough to fanatically embrace their views as soon as they come across them.

 d. They are now paranoid and see enemies and infiltrators everywhere. They spy on their members and each other; any decision-making goes on behind closed doors. The leaders are too important to be held accountable for any decision they make. They should never be questioned or contradicted. They start using duplicitous tactics to spot infiltrators, while maintaining the facade of a loving family to draw more people in.

e. The leaders have now lost all humility and are absorbed by their self-constructed expert status. They solidify their theories by writing more and more material, building a public image of legitimacy in the field. Among their members, they are know-it-all’s and regularly break the rules of decency they impose on others. They are condescending, dismissive, controlling, secretive and abuse the confidence of the unsuspecting. All their empathy is gone. They quickly stick derogatory labels on all critics in order to silence them and engage in outright manipulation of public opinion to defend their behaviour. They contradict themselves by inflating their role in the betterment of their members’ lives and minimising it when members are negatively affected by their experience with the group.