In groups with an idealized leader and a huge, huge membership, a very importan t binding factor that keeps people in, and makes it so very difficult to leave is intense merger and bonding one has with ones group-mates.
You feel as though you share one soul, one body.
And the ache of absence from all that makes it lonely to leave and so tempting to return.
There is an article that describes exactly how this works and I recommend all of you, especially those who ache and yearn for the group to get and read it. You may have to go to a medical school or city library and see if the librarian can run off a copy for you. It will be worth it.
You are not feeling this longing because you are weak. You are feeling this way because you are HUMAN and were massaged and manipulated in some very classic and identifiable ways.
Our glory and our danger is that we are social creatures.
A self psychological approach to the cult phenomenon
Clinical Social Work Journal. Vol. 20, No. 4, Winter 1992.
Doni P. Whitsett, Ph.D.
"It is important to note here that people do not seek out cults." Whitsett writes. We are going through life transitions. We are feeling shaky and looking for social support and self support.
""Cushman has eloquently shown how the cult (in guise of offering normal human support) first induces "pathology" and then purports to cure it. Through various indoctrination techniques particularly an assault on the cultural frame of recruits, which includes their values, belief system, codes of behavior, and language, the cult induces a narcissistic crisis (psychologese for a wounding assault on the victim's core sense of self)
Here is what happens with leaders and YMDs.
The self, thus besieged, fragments and looks for selfobjects (something/someone to hang onto so as to regroup and stablize We do this from year ONE when as tiny kids, we wake from a nightmare and cry out for our parents. Or run to the nearest parent when spooked by a scary situation. This is deep in who we are as human beings, no matter how intelligent and well educated we later become. Cults exploit this very thing. This is as instinctive as when someone who is drowning gasps for air and clings to the nearest rope)
"The charismatic leader and group step in and offer the warmth and reassurance, self confidence, and definitive answers necessary to soothe and cohese the fragmenting self (of the marked recruit). Yet, after the transferance is seductively developed, fragmentation (lets call it freakout or self doubt/self crisis-Corboy) occurs once again as the result of a cult induced narcissistic injury
The entire cycle is repeated again, with cult leaders and other members calming the victim. Thus a cyclic process of vulnerability is established, whereby members search and find soothing followed by repeated injury.
Now..lets look at how you become bound with your group mates.
Recruits are "often people who have felt different as children, alien in some way. Or are just lonely due to being in a strange place, leaving home, bereaved, etc.
"The cult is often the first experience recruits have of "feeling like other people..these are people who feel a sense of differentness yet, like everyone else yearn for a sense of sameness. '(I'd say tie to humanity, kinship, brotherhood, sisterhood, a sense of 'tribe' or 'family'--corboy)
"While certain factors make people vulnerable to entering cults, other factors help keep them there. The development of a strong twinship transferance (that sense of finding one's "soul mate/s or one's "other half" -- Corboy) is one major contributing factor in maintaining people in restrictive groups. While the mirror and idealizing transferance explain, to a large degree, teh strong ties to the leader, the twinship transferance contributes a great deal to understanding the strong (one could call them 'magical- corboy) ties to the group.
"It particularly explains attachments in those cults where members have minimal direct contact with the idealized leader.
"The twinship transferance underlies the often expressed sentiment among former cult members that only other people who have come out of cults can truly understand their experience, a feeling akin to being "war buddies."
Whitsett, page 368