How Cults Recruit, Mind Control And Psychological Coercion - UK Cults (Part II)
In my recent conversation with Ian Haworth from the Cult Information Centre, Ian shared insights about his experience being an ex-cult member, his mental journey and anecdotes about ex members who tried to escape. Read Part I of the interview here.
"The people safest from cults are the ones who are seriously mentally ill." - Ian Haworth
In this piece, he shares insights about how cults recruit new members into their group and how we are all susceptible to be lured in.
Ian, in your opinion why do people set up cults and how do they start recruiting people into them?
Power, money and people to grow the community. Some might be power mad and want to use this opportunity to use their influence on people or others might be interested in acquiring wealth. There is also a slight possibility that some people might think they are saviours or an incarnation of God, here to help the world. These could be mentally unstable people, so there's an ensemble of leaders in different cults and they may well have slightly different motivations.
Do these groups tend to be run by one or multiple people?
More than nine times out of ten, it is run by one person. I only know of two cases out of the thousands I have dealt with , where a cult was run by more than one person.
So from your experience, do you think people who get recruited are slightly vulnerable or in turmoil compared to people who are strong willed and intelligent?
No. That is a myth which makes it easier for cults to recruit.
The big myth is ‘it will never happen to me’. Most people wonder, ‘Why would someone join a cult?’. They assume people who do must be weak minded, uneducated etc. And while it can happen to anybody, people who you deem as ‘vulnerable’ are unlikely to be recruited.
The people safest from cults are the ones who are seriously mentally ill.
The likely candidate is someone who has got a healthy mind, someone who is sharp, quick-minded, intelligent and often well educated and from an economically advantaged family background. The people who get recruited are people who care about improving the world or improving their community.
What I am suggesting here is no one joins a cult knowing it’s a cult, they just walk through the wrong door and the door psychologically closes behind them.
How are people lured into these groups?
Most cults use techniques commonly referred to as mind control. This includes techniques of psychological coercion or radicalisation techniques. I am using the words carefully here because they are the same techniques that would turn someone into a terrorist.
Tell us, after joining how quickly does a new cult member start recruiting other people?
I was a recruiter and I was only there for 2.5 weeks but boy did they put me to work quickly. I went for a top up course and after the course was finished on a Sunday night, I was willing to do anything and everything they told me to do. One of the things they taught us was to do to others what they did to us. Tell people you are doing a survey, it was a lie because we weren’t actually doing surveys - it was just a ploy to get people to talk to us and then invite them in or entice them enough so they would attend the introductory meeting. The words they used were ‘go for motherhood and apple pie and stay away from space cadets’ and always go for the opposite sex so you can charm them.
Do you think the leaders deliberately use mind control techniques?
Some stumble upon these techniques, I am not sure if they recognise it is mind control but they know it works. These are people without any conscience. The leader of PSI Mind Development Institute Joseph Dippong used to work for a company called Mind Dynamics. This company was putting very intense courses and people started to have psychiatric breakdowns as a result of it. While it was being hit by lawsuits, local people started to complain and there was a California State Government investigation into it. Long story short, it shut down and people who were working there like Joseph and several others were made redundant. These people went off and scattered around wherever they settled. They then reinvented the mind dynamics wheel. The people from this company then branched out and called the groups by different names but eventually it is/was the same course.
Many groups can be formed by people who were involved in other groups, who have become victims but never ever got out and they restarted the wheel because of circumstances.
According to you do any of the cult leaders ever start off with good intentions?
I haven’t found many that started out with good intentions but I have to be open to the possibility that some might have and one or two could apply to that theory. This is possible in some of the pseudo Christian groups because you get the odd one that was a legitimate pastor and then maybe the power of Lord turned into the Lord of power.
So the actual procedure of converting someone and getting them to be a member is very quick, is it?
Absolutely. The average cult will completely control someone in three to four days. Some will take longer than that and there is that exception.
Do cults capitalise on social media messaging to recruit?
They use Facebook and social media for propaganda purposes but I’m still of the opinion that since the advent of the internet, it works more in our favour than theirs. Because the critics, ex-members and others can conspire together to produce websites that condemn these organisations and put solid stories of people’s experiences out there for people to read.
The problem is most people don't check these out ahead of time, yet they are more likely to check a second hand car than these courses and the consequences of getting on the wrong course can be far worse than getting the wrong car. But the internet still works in our favour, some cults use it and also don’t use it to the best of their ability to pull people in to get them to come to the first meeting.
When you look at technology changes over the years, has the recruiting process changed? Do cult members target meetups for meditations and spiritual revival as a spot to recruit more people?
Sometimes, when they sense people are going through turmoil they’ll claim to have stability, if there is stability they'll work on that being boring.
Members of the cult will come up with any old ploy they can to get you through the door. The techniques are always going to be the same you see, that’s why in our website, and booklets, we talk about 26 techniques in mind control. The only thing that changes is the combination a particular group uses. The cult I was in probably used 23 out of 26 and anybody being subjected to those techniques can be mentally broken.
Part III of this interview will be published next week. To ensure you don’t miss the final instalment of this CULT SERIES on ‘How to identify a cult and their mind control techniques, subscribe to our weekly newsletter and also get a chance to WIN our limited edition t-shirt.
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