How Cults Modify Your Survival Instincts-An Effective Path to Totally Enslave Their Members
The effect of a cult on basic survival skills.
Friday, June 13, 1986 Three Days Without Food
How Cults Modify Your Survival Instincts- An Effective Path to Totally Enslave Their Members
I would like to distinguish between two kinds of cult methodologies- direct and remote indoctrination. Direct indoctrination is an interpersonal method of indoctrinating members. It is face-to-face indoctrination, involving a member’s interaction with a guide or mentor or a group. Remote indoctrination involves books, literature, media programming- audio, video or on the Internet. No cult really operates without something of both, but most cults thrive on interpersonal contact to do their heavy lifting; ie, utilizing mind control to quickly and expediently transform their new member’s personality into a more pliant type of personality, which exit psychology literature calls a “cult personality.” To do this properly, a member’s authentic survival instincts, a property of one’s authentic or Protean Self (a Robert Jay Lifton term) must be modified.
Recently, I came across an immensely interesting, but terrifying National Geographic production of “I Escaped A Cult” on YouTube, featuring the story of a mother, Maura, and daughter, Rebekah, who eventually escaped from Jim and Lila Green’s Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps and Brent Jeffs, the grandson of the founder of FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Days Saints), Rulon Jeff, and nephew of Warren Jeffs, now leader of FLDS. Warren Jeffs is now in prison for life for his so-called marriage and sexual abuse of minor girls. In this short space, it is impossible to even catalog the amount of abuse heaped on Brent Jeffs by his uncle or on Maura and her daughter by the Missionary Training Corps. I am simply focusing on one issue, the effect of a cult on basic survival skills.
In the case of Brent Jeffs, his uncle, Warren, would lead him into a bathroom in his school and tell him how he was doing God’s will and God’s secret work before molesting him, time after time. Complying with Warren’s demand for secrecy, he felt bound by his word to his uncle by virtue of his uncle’s position as leader of a closed community from which he received total acknowledgement as a Prophet of God and leader of the true church of Jesus Christ. Brent’s instinct to survival was remarkably abrogated by his youthful mindset and full dependency on his family, who were core members of FLDS and housed in Warren’s compound. The same could be said for his brothers, also violated frequently by Warren, who kept their secret from their siblings and parents until adulthood.
According to Brent, the FLDS demands were, in a way, quite simple:
What they would teach through everything was perfect obedience and perfect faith. If that was not accomplished… you would become an apostate…an enemy of the church. And at the end of it all, you would be burning in hell. I mean we are brainwashed into thinking this is the only life to live…and that [is it]. This is black and white. You live this life or you have no life. FLDS is a cult because they take away everyone’s choice to be whoever you want to be. It’s a cult because they take away free will.
One of the reasons that Brent held his secret so dearly, despite the fact it was against his interest and basic human happiness, was the fear of hell so well indoctrinated into his young mind. This fear of damnation has many forms in a cult. In AMORC, it meant being cut off from the Egregor, the group consciousness of AMORC and one’s only true connection to Cosmic Consciousness, which means a loss of community, any real relationship to God and loss of the material goodness supplied by being in God’s good graces. In fundamentalist groups like FLDS and the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps, it is more directly put, horrible pain and suffering for all eternity. As Maura put it,
If you left, God’s judgment would come back on you double. We were taught to war against all doubts. We were taught to disclaim our own thoughts… I was told doubting domes from the Devil. …You’re all in or you’re all out.
I have mentioned previously that being in AMORC- and being true to the demands of the monographs, I was constantly up at night reading and meditating, forced to adapt a certain posture when I was going to sleep, doing visualization and breathing exercises during the day- and, since I was never getting anywhere, reading and studying and praying over and over again.
Maura’s group also operated utilizing sleep deprivation but, again, in a more direct way. They would all have to get up at 5:00 AM and stand at attention, according to the group’s militant protocol- and listen to scripture. Worse, they would wake them up in the middle of the night and make them pray for an hour. The Missionary Training Corps called this “Guard Duty.” As Rebekah said, they did this to “wash people’s thoughts out of their head because they’re too tired to think.”
According to Rebekah, the Greens encouraged their parents to beat their children “to make them tougher,” to make them ‘warriors,’ ‘more spiritual.’ Her mother would spank her children with the recommended belt, but would cry afterward. One child was locked in a basement for days at a time, getting food that was slipped under the door, once being beaten with a board with nails in it by a member of the group. Although he prayed loudly when he was incarcerated, no one in the group would help him.
Just looking at these tiny pieces of massive abuse, does not the actions of parents tolerating this level of abuse suggest that these members had abandoned a basic foundation of human survival- protecting one’s children? It is my opinion- and the opinion of Maura, Rebekah and Brent- that these types of actions and non-action were the result of indoctrination, brutal, continuous and in-your-face indoctrination.
In my case, I did many things that were counter my survival. One of those was the belief that a spiritual connection to AMORC would guide me towards material prosperity. It was a paradigm that guided me for twenty-four years even though it failed me again and again. I stuck to it because of fear of losing my divine connection and any chance of material prosperity. Look how far I fell, as evidenced in my diary entry, years before I finally quite:
Friday, June 13, 1986– Three Days Without Food
Today is my third day without any food, the ultimate consequence of my carelessness. This is not punishment. This is karma, absolute proof of the principle of cause and effect and confirms the teachings of the Rosicrucian Order. According to this teaching, both the physical aspect of our life and the spiritual aspect must be fed. Only an evil hand could lead a child of God to neglect to feed himself, one of the two pillars of life itself. This fundamental mistake of self-neglect, which created an obsessive concentration on feeding the spiritual, has created an economic situation from which I am now experiencing three days of extreme hunger. If I survive, that will be by divine miracle.
I speak in the diary of all this being my fault- and that I somehow was fully responsible for not leading a balanced life and this was my karma for not following the doctrine of ‘balance’ advocated by AMORC. Now, I realize, it was my karma for staying in the order and not taking the immediate practical steps to improve myself through education and finding an appropriate job related to my interests and career. Instead, I lived on the edge of survival, thinking allegiance to the teachings of AMORC could guide my destiny. Perhaps there is a great truth in the idea of divine guidance, but it doesn’t exist in a cult that holds its members by hypnotizing them to believe in false doctrines and a really scary fate if they plot an exit strategy.