To learn more about charisma get and read Prophetic Charisma by Len Oakes, a clinical psychologist who interviewed 20 charismatic leaders, many of whom could
be said to be cult leaders.
Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Many gurus and spiritual teachers do use manipulation if they start life as a particular type of person who inwardly fragile, feels estranged
does not feel at ease in peer relatonships.
Psychologist Len Oakes lived in a commune led by a charismatic leader. Oakes
appreciated that commune, felt he benefitted. But he saw that the leader
had blind spots. After leaving the commune, Oakes learned that the leader and
group had come apart.
With an interest in charismatic leaders, Oakes sought to learn more about
charisma and how charismatic personalities form and how such persons
go on to become charismatic leaders and acquire followers.
Oakes found that charismatic persons follow a fairly typical life course.
These persons are highly intelligent and charming - they learn all they can to be charming.
They cannot function or enjoy friendship or erotic partnership with equals, cannot be vulnerable, are incapable of accepting rejection or refusals from partners, unable to reciprocate loyalty, incapable of gratitude -- all of which are necessary for enjoying ordinary peer relationships.
To compensate, these persons study all they can on how to attain social influence and enhance their charm.
Unable to relate, they learn to manipulate.
They often become gurus and religious leaders. They may teach quite useful skills, including meditation, but there is a problem, in that these people do not teach
from selflessness, no matter how much they claim to be selfless, no matter how
serenely they present themselves.
They teach because they need validation and because they need approval and trust
from an audience, and they teach because they need to acquire --and keep--
There's the rub. They have infinite, insatiable needs.
Oakes is a research psychologist/clinician and after being in a commune led by a charismatic leader, he left, and decided to research how people become charismatic leaders.
Oakes was able to interview 20 charismatic leaders* and found amazing similarities in their life trajectories. Early in life, all these persons had difficulty with ordinary intimacy with peers, and compensated by becoming avid students of social manipulation/communication
. Quite a few were in previous careers as entertainers, musicians, teachers, and in some cases, business.
If they later became gurus, they continued to use these social manipulation skills but claimed this was given to them when, out of the blue they became enlightened.
They do not tell disciples they have spent hours practicing verbal judo behind closed doors.(Several other leaders refused to expose themselves to scrutiny and declined to participate in Oakes study. One, who never met Oakes in person, presumed to tell LO that his life was meaningless)
All were risk takers, and learned how to stay on top of all that went on in their groups. They could talk their way out of awkward situations and learned how to identify even the slightest bit of hesitation in an adversary or potential recruit and adroitly throw that person off balance.
'A common manipulative strategy used by leaders in this study was an argumentative style that was calculated to subtly shift the ground of any discussion from whatever matter was being talked about toward some area of an opponents personal insecurity. In this technique, the leader observed the process of an opponent's conversation and identified some point of hesitency and uncertainy. This was not always a flaw of logic or error of fact; the conversation may have been on some topic about which the leader would have known little and been unable to detect such a mistake. Rather, it was more likely to be some personal unsureness on the part of the opponent, that the leader's exquisite social perception targeted.
'...Typically what was said (by the leader) was an observation that the opponent seemed to be "a bit steamed up about this" or was "finding it hard to say what this is all about." In this was, the opponent was invited, sympathetically and seductively, to expand upon the very point of weakness.
'Or the leader claimed not to understand what was meant at a particular point, perhaps even saying that the opponent was not making sense.'This usually lead to a further exposure, and then another, until the opponent stumbled over his words and began to look uncomfortable. At thsi point a well time dismissive glance from the leader was all that was needed to intimidate, the other person being glad to have the subject changed to how he might redeem his soul or however
(Oakes, pp 89-90)
Werner Erhard's library was more than a library. It was his armory his collection of high tech mental and verbal weaponry for conquering as many minds and hearts as possible in one lifetime.
If a charismatic leader becomes successful, aquires disciples and assembles an entourage, trouble is likely. The leader may feel pressured by the many
disciples and then begin to hide. Gone are the early days when disciples
were on a first name basis with the teacher, ate together, shared meals
and jokes, gone the free and easy mood. Instead, the leader becomes less
Rumors take the place of direct contact.
Favoritism rears its ugly
Those with access to the guru become an elite. Those who fall from favor
Tension sets in.
Loyal older members who donated hours even years of time are shoved aside in favor of new recruits with glamour and money. Or, new recruits who are cute, beautiful and more entertaining than old timers who know the leader's human quirks and flaws.
If the leader spends years insulating him or herself with the the help of a selected entourage and large bank account, he or she will probably lose quite a few ordinary social skills (eg patience, the ability to accept differences of opinion, the ability to feel frustrated without exploding and dumping on an underling).
By this time, the leader will have little incentive to function any other way than as this kind of leader---someone who functions in a drastically unequal power imbalance and who hides the real self behind a public persona and whose emotional needs and flare ups are modulated and managed by an entourage who parent and nurture the guru and cover up for him or her.
A leader may teach a useful skill such as meditation. But the problem arises when
the teaching situation claims to be for the benefit of students but on the unspoken level, operates for the benefit of the teacher - to reassure the teacher that he or she is desirable and prop up the teacher's fragile self.
And here is where belief systems may play a role.
If the belief is taught that there is such a thing as a living human being who is free from ego, remains permanently free from ego, permanently incorruptible, then
that belief can keep us trapped.
a) Trapped with a teacher who claims to be such a person
b) Trapped in the quest for such a person. If we believe a fully realized living person exists somewhere, we may spend too much time with someone who appears tobe that person but is not - and damage ourselves by spending too much time in
the company of such persons.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/05/2018 11:41PM by corboy.