Although it seems like the script of a satirical comedy sketch, the BBC is now seriously-asking whether Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop (b. 1961, a former Red Army sergeant: turned factory worker: turned redundant policeman), who (since 1991) has been pretending to be 'Vissarion (the Giver of New Life)' a reincarnation of 'Jesus Christ', is a fraud?
Cult leader who claims to be reincarnation of Jesus arrested in Russia | Russia | The Guardian
Torop (who was arrested by Russian security services agents in September 2020) has been charged under Russian law with 'running an illegal religious organization' and with 'extorting, and physically/emotionally harming,' his followers. Ironically, journalists describe Torop as a 'Russian Cult Leader,' but they fail to point out that, legalistically, there is no such thing as a cult.
Given recent alarming developments in the USA (with the demonstrably-deluded followers of Donald Trump/'QAnon,' including members of Congress, exhibiting slavish acceptance of a comic-book fiction as fact), a far more interesting question for journalists to be asking is:
Why, when all cosmopolitan people know damn-well that cults exist, has this evolving criminogenic phenomenon never been accurately identified by legislators?
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 by deception.
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.