Re: What Happens When a Cult Leader Dies?
Date: July 22, 2013 08:49PM
The group I was in was descended from another group was in turn descended from a fairly well known cult that was ultimately split up by the authorities. All of the leaders of the "clones" had been ex-members who had either seen the profitability of the enterprise or had genuinely believed they had the best way to help people. I've never been truly sure what exactly was the mix, but I tend to believe at least some of the new generation of leaders were sociopaths taking advantage of the situation.
The "clone" groups evolved with each new generation. Some stayed very close to the original while other added new things to the mix. For example, one group of the second generation, in addition to the encounter groups / attack therapy inherited from the original, also added on a series of LGAT style seminars derived from the practices of est and lifeSpring (for example, there was the lifeboat game, something very similar to "i trust you, i don't trust you", guided imagery, etc...). This second generation also added on a comprehensive system of reporting on other members (and yourself) via written reports, which would often be used as material to fuel an encounter group, or as a method to get "clean" before entering into an LGAT. The higher echelons of the group used this information to create the impression they knew everything about everybody at all times (they often did). The particular implementation of this practice is similar to "Knowledge Reports", or "KRs" in Scientology, though it's use was a lot more extensive.
Most of the direct second generation groups are now defunct, many as a result of the authorities, however like the first generation, the group spawned children. A third generation (I was in) combined the multiple LGATs into a single marathon seminar (close to 24 hours) and a wilderness trip (again, no sleeping), while at the same time greatly increasing the already frequent usage of these "dirt lists". New methods were also introduced in this third generation to isolate those who expressed displeasure or doubts about the group's motives or efficacy in it's mission.
With the exception of the second generation, which very briefly nodded it's head to it's lineage (this promptly stopped after the arrest of the parent group's leader), most of the cultic children denied their origins, or only admitted them to those who were sympathetic to the goals and methods of the original. Many of the members, however, especially those higher up, are well aware of the group's origins and generally hold it's lineage, and their leaders, in high regard.
As the third generation begins to shut down (in some cases, as the result of intervention by the authorities), I have no doubt that a fourth generation will pop up. I feel this is primarily as a result of the way the groups are shut down (generally by the authorities). The problem with shutting down a group like this is that the members never go through any sort of exit counseling and still feel it as their duty to spread the "good word" to the world. They see their leaders as persecuted, or at most flawed, but ultimately still preaching the truth. They do not realize that the methods they purport to be beneficial were actually designed to break people down and make them dependent on the group.