Readers should note that the following BBC article, and linked videos, refer to 'Shoko Asahara' (Japanese for 'Great Enlghtened One'), but without explaining that this was, in fact, merely the absurd, made-up grandiose title that Chizuo Matsumoto (the Japanese equivalent of John Smith) gave himself.
It is widely-rumoured that Matsumoto was once refused entry to medical school, because he was almost completely blind, but the only part of this narrative that is true, is the fact that he was almost completely blind.
Japan executes seven cult leaders behind Tokyo Sarin attacks
What was the Tokyo attack?
What is the Aum Shinrikyo cult?
Why has the execution been so delayed?
1). Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how attempts to psychologically condition him or her are directed in a step-by-step manner.
2). Control the person's social and/or physical environment; especially control the person's time.
The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in-group language.
Strip members of their main occupation (quit jobs, drop out of school) or source of income or have them turn over their income (or the majority of) to the group.
Once the target is stripped of their usual support network, their confidence in their own perception erodes.
As the target's sense of powerlessness increases, their good judgment and understanding of the world are diminished. (ordinary view of reality is destabilized)
As the group attacks the target's previous worldview, it causes the target distress and inner confusion; yet they are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it - leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.
This process is sped up if the targeted individual or individuals are kept tired - the cult will take deliberate actions to keep the target constantly busy.
4). Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person's former social identity.
The target's old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or evil. Leadership wants these old patterns eliminated, so the member must suppress them.
Members get positive feedback for conforming to the group's beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
The only feedback members get is from the group; they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment.
Members must learn varying amounts of new information about the beliefs of the group and the behaviors expected by the group.
The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system is and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be.
Esteem and affection from peers is very important to new recruits. Approval comes from having the new member's behaviors and thought patterns conform to the models (members). Members' relationship with peers is threatened whenever they fail to learn or display new behaviors. Over time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties of learning the new system is to inhibit any display of doubts—new recruits simply acquiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and accept the new ideology.
The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.
Members are not allowed to question, criticize or complain. If they do, the leaders allege the member is defective, not the organization or the beliefs.
The targeted individual is treated as always intellectually incorrect or unjust, while conversely the system, its leaders and its beliefs are always automatically, and by default, considered as absolutely just.
Conversion or remolding of the individual member happens in a closed system. As members learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted in this closed system, they change—begin to speak the language—which serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.
any self-perpetuating, non-rational/esoteric, ritual belief system established or perverted for the clandestine purpose of human exploitation.
Such groups are identified by the following characteristics:
- has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
- is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love, etc.
- believes that he/she is special and unique and can only be understood by other special people.
- requires excessive admiration.
- strong sense of self-entitlement.
- takes advantage of others to achieve his/her own ends.
- lacks empathy.
- is often envious or believes that others are envious of him/her.
- arrogant disposition.
A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO CULTISM
Young children’s unconscious acceptance of ‘Santa Claus’ as total reality, stems from a fictitious scenario reflected as fact by the traditional culture in which they live. Up to a certain age, children are not equipped to challenge the model of reality offered to them by authoritarian figures within their family groups; particularly, their parents. Therefore, once children have been converted to a self-gratifying, non-rational belief in ‘Santa,’ the truth (that they are actually being deceived by the people whom they instinctively trust and follow) is unthinkable. The scenario can then be expanded to modify children’s behaviour — ‘Santa’ has magical powers… he can see and hear everything they do at all times… he will reward them for unquestioning belief and punish them for dissent. Only when they attain the necessary level of intellectual/psychological development, can children begin to use their critical and evaluative faculties and come to realise that ‘Santa’ is merely a game of make believe. If you think about it, what I’ve just described is the most elementary form of self-perpetuating, non-rational/esoteric, ritual belief system - perfectly tailored to fit infantile minds, and reliant on the maintenance of an absolute monopoly of information presented using a constant repetition of reality-inverting key words and images combined with pseudo-scientific mystification and closed-logic.
Cultism is a trap. Obviously, anyone who only examines the bait in a trap and who remains unaware of its true purpose, risks getting caught themselves. Just like a mousetrap, the basic design for the cultic trap has remained the same down the centuries even if the presentation of the bait has become evermore sophisticated. Sadly, many commentators have found it impossible - when faced with the apparently illogical results of cultism - to abandon their existing academic, and professional, disciplines, which are anchored in the logic of the traditional world. Consequently, their understanding has often been made impossible by misplaced objectivity. However, it must be remembered that a counterfeit banknote might be 99.9 % perfect, but the bit that is not makes all of it a fake. Similarly, in order to have any chance of understanding cultism, it must be approached from the apparently subjective point of view that its results are always the product of a contagious deception, the victims of which unconsciously accept fiction as fact. Only then, can the phenomenon be examined with genuine objectivity. Once this vital principle has been learnt, the apparently authentic words and images reflected by persons under the influence of cultism - like those printed on counterfeit banknotes - are revealed as dangerous distractions. They should never be taken at face value and, therefore, I try to remind the reader of this at all times. Any commentator who repeats the reality-inverting shielding-terminology of any cultic group, but without detailed qualification (or heavy irony), demonstrates that he/she remains at a pitifully low-level of understanding.
The many new readers coming to this Blog should be warned that there exist in the world a number of psychologically-dominant individuals, and bodies of psychologically dominant individuals, holding impressive, traditional, academic qualifications who have pretended intellectual (and in some cases, moral) authority, but who, in reality, by constantly-repeating the thought-stopping words 'religion' and 'religious freedom,' have sought to block all intellectually-rigorous inquiry into the cult phenomenon. Furthermore, these same academics have systematically categorized, condemned and excluded as, 'anti-cultists' or 'members of the anti-cult movement,' all free-thinking commentators applying common-sense to the study of cults. Indeed, they have generally tried to denigrate anyone, and everyone, who doesn't subscribe to their own inflexible, and uncritical, point of view, as alarmists with a hidden agenda.
|J. Gordon Melton (b.1942)|
|Eileen Barker (b. 1938)|
Although they are now in semi-retirement, probably the two most high-profile of these dogmatic 'Scholars of Religion' (in the anglophone world) have been, John Gordon Melton, founder of 'The Institute for the Study of American Religion' and Eileen Vartan Barker, founder of the 'Information Netwok Focus on Religious Movements' ('INFORM').
These two venerable academic/authors claim to have spent their entire careers gathering facts and applying objectivity to the study of the religious phenomenon, but they have completely failed to spot the first universal identifying characteristic of a cult, for the very simple reason that they were not looking for it.
Deception. Pernicious cults are presented externally as traditional associations. These can be arbitrarily defined by their instigators as almost any banal group (‘religious’, ‘cultural’, ‘political’, ‘commercial’, etc.). However, internally, they are always totalitarian (i.e. they are centrally-controlled and require of their core-adherents an absolute subservience to the group and its patriarchal, and/ or matriarchal, leadership above all other persons). By their very nature, pernicious cults never present themselves in their true colours. Consequently, no one ever becomes involved with one as a result of his/her fully-informed consent.
Short-sighted academics like Melton and Barker can have no excuse, for, in 1945, whilst most, contemporary mainstream commentators were unable to look beyond the ends of their noses, with a perfect sense of irony, George Orwell (1903-1950) presented fact as fiction in an insightful 'fairy story' entitled, 'Animal Farm.' He revealed that totalitarianism is merely the oppressors' fiction mistaken for fact by the oppressed. In the same universal allegory, Orwell described how, at a time of vulnerability, almost any people's dream of a future, secure, Utopian existence can be hung over the entrance to a totalitarian deception. Indeed, the words that are always banished by totalitarian deceivers (and by their apologists) are, 'totalitarian' and 'deception.'
To give readers some idea of the rigid vocabulary, and resulting intellectual limitations, of academics like J. Gordon Melton and Eileen Barker, in May 1995, Melton and two associates, James R. Lewis and Barry Fisher (a US attorney), suddenly dropped everything and jetted off to Japan at the invitation and expense of the deployable agents of Chizuo Matsumoto a.k.a. 'The Great Enlightened One.'