.. he fear surrounding Satanism and Satanic Cults. Larry Jones, founder of the Cult Crime Impact Network, claims that Satanists slaughter 50,000 children each year (OReilly, 1993). With the quoting of statistics like these, its no wonder that the alarm over satanic activity is on the up-rise. With all of the panic and fear surrounding cults, much research has recently been done to see who is at risk of becoming a cult member and how the cult leaders recruit them.
For the most part the young are at risk. It has been thought that most cult members must have started off with deeply rooted psychological problems, but this is not the case. Predominantly, the kids are normal in every way, but are at some “in-between” part of their lives, such as entering college (McBride, 1985, 115). Usually the recruiter is of the opposite sex and approaches the potential cult member with a smile and an invitation to dinner with some friends. It is there that the complex method known as brainwashing begins (McBride, 1985,116).
Brainwashing, also known as mind bending or thought reform, is professionally known as psychological coercion. There are many different methods of brainwashing, each usually very subtle. Fritz Knabe, an ex-cult member, said “Its very hard for people to understand brainwashing. People think that their mind is a temple and that nobody can force them to think anything. The point is, you cant tell its happening if its successful (Green, 1993, 36).” The main goal of brainwashing is as follows: (1) to drastically alter a persons sense of reality, (2) to get the potential cult member to accept a new reality, (3) to alter the understanding of the potential cult members past, (4) to get the potential cult member to accept a new belief system, and (5) to get that person to be a loyal member of the cult (Miller, 1990, 96).
The book Coping with Cults outlines a very general method of the brainwashing process. The method is as follows: “Isolate the person and manipulate his or her environment. Control the channels of information and communication. Wear the person down though inadequate diet and fatigue. Replace uncertainty, fear, and confusion with the promise of joy but only as part of the group.
And finally, assign repetitive tasks such as singing, chanting, or copying pages from a book (Miller, 1990, 98).” A prime example of the recruiting and brainwashing process is Charles Mansons method. He used the girls in the Family as a recruiting method. He would allow men to have sex with any of his girls as much as they like. After they did it once, the men were his, they would do anything Manson said (Bugliosi, 1974, 120). The family stayed on a ranch that had no clocks and was isolated from the rest of the world.
There was also much drug use by Manson and the Family. The average family member ate LSD at least 300 times while they were at the ranch, while Manson preached about Helter Skelter or orchestrated massive orgies (Bugliosi, 1974, 431). Occasionally he would feed the family LSD and reenact the crucifixion of Christ with himself as Jesus (Bugliosi, 1974, 120). How extreme the cult recruiters will go to get new members seems to be matched with how extreme people will go to get their loved one out of cults. The first method to get someone out of a cult came about in the 1970s and is known as deprogramming.
It was started by the “Father of Deprogramming,” Ted Patrick. Ted Patrick was an ex-trucker with no training in psychology or cults who decided something needed to be done. He offered his services of getting a loved one out of a cult for the cost of nearly $80,000. In his book, Let Our Children Go, he spoke of “fighting fire with fire” meaning going to extremes in order to get the loved one out of a cult (Miller, 1990, 109). His idea sounds good in concept, but deprogramming is illegal.
Deprogramming involves holding people against their will after being kidnapped and then convincing them over many days not to go back to the cult (Miller, 1990, 111). He also openly took part in hundreds of kidnappings and went to jail repeated times for breaking the law. It is a sort of reverse brainwashing, only not nearly as subtle. Ted Patrick was quoted as stating, “I believe firmly that the Lord helps those who help themselves — a few little things like karate, mace, and handcuffs can come in handy from time to time (Green, 1993, 38).” A much safer and legal way of getting the same result is known as exit counseling. It is a much better way of cult recovery because it doesnt involve kidnapping or restraint, which is just as bad as what the cult leaders do.
Exit counseling is really a quite simple process. It involves the cult member that the family or friends wish to get out of the cult having a meeting with ex-cult members and a psychologist. In the meetings, the cult member hears similar experiences from ex-cult members and they learn more about topics such as mind control (Miller, 1990, 110). After the cult member realizes what they have gotten themselves into, they need help getting out and rejoining society. Exit counselor Ayman Aksar, speaking on the topic of exit counseling said, “People can feel very insecure and afraid, and need help (Green, 1993, 38).” Continuing to meet with the exit counselor helps deal with these feelings. Cult activity has been in the headlines for decades.
With each story comes the heightening of the fear surrounding cults and cult activity. Cult activity can take the form of something as obvious and publicized as the Manson Family murders or can come in random and unrelated Satanic acts. With the fear from the public came many questions that were demanded to be answered. It was from this fear that society now knows who is at risk, what to look out for, and how to get someone out a cult safely and legally. Bibliography Bugliosi, Vincent.
(1974). Helter Skelter. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Futterman, Ellen. (1989, February 5).
Hints of Darkness: Satanism Reports Stir Worry. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, pp 1A+. Green, Caroline. (1993, Febuary). The Far-out World of Cults. Focus Magazine, pp.
34-38. McBride, James, Sheperd, Williams C., & Robbins, Thomas (Eds.). (1985). Cults, Culture, and the Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements. The American Academy of Religion. Miller, Maryann.
(1990). Coping With Cults. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. OReilly, David. (1993, July 18). The Devil, You Say.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, pp G1+.