Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: Questions_2 ()
Date: August 01, 2011 09:45AM


I just went back to my co-op apartment after spending 6 months staying with a friend post-cult involvement. 

My neighbour, who "helped" me when I had a massive panic attack once I realized that my ex was involved in a cult that uses Erickonian hypnosis-type techniques - on myself as well has suggested that I google, "paranoid schitzophrenic", because that's her opinion of me and what happened. 

I suggested that she educate herself - she said she had other things she would rather spend her time on. I suggested that wasn't a way to treat someone who she considers a friend, to which she replied, "I don't consider you so much of a friend".

Now I know what's been going around my building, which is a gossip mill. 

Any suggestions? What were your experiences? I admit I was scared out of my wits, and I didn't get everything right at the time, but I did get the main points: cult; hypnosis; I'd been effected by it.

It's very frustrating to speak with people about my life while they give you a knowing look, "Yea, right but you're nuts, dear"



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Re: Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: raymondadam ()
Date: August 16, 2011 08:25AM

Watch what you say to people, you never know who you can trust.

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Re: Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: Questions_2 ()
Date: August 16, 2011 09:11AM

Hi Raymondadam,

Can you be more specific?

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Re: Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: Questions_2 ()
Date: September 08, 2011 10:17PM

Hi All,

The good news is that not everyone believed the person who was spreading the rumour; in fact, one tenant came to me and told me that this person was gossiping, and they never believed for a second I had mental illness, but immediately thought the person spreading the gossip (the neighbour who "helped" me) was unbalanced. In fact, the person spreading the gossip is on medication for mental illness.

I actually feel for the person who is leading the charge with the rumour. I've spoken with her husband about it, who says that she ostracizes him similarly on occasion.

Lesson: people react to others based on themselves.

So, it's all, slowly, working out.



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Re: Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: walter1963 ()
Date: September 13, 2013 01:35PM

oops wrong thread.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/13/2013 01:36PM by walter1963.

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Re: Dealing with Ignorance and Judgments Post-Cult
Posted by: Jupiter ()
Date: July 04, 2014 05:05PM

I'm sorry that you've been through this. In my experience, most of the people who accuse one person of something are usually suffering from that thing themselves. I too have been through some extremely frustrating situations like this.

In the first six months after I left my group, I was virtually unable to function. Thankfully I didn't even have a psychiatric assessment in that time, or I would probably be in a very different place right now.

Leaving a cult is terrifying, and all sorts of messed up things happen to us psychologically in that time. Unfortunately the people around us -- colleagues, family members, friends, flatmates, apartment sharers -- do not see the situation through the same psychological prism as us.

This isn't going to be the only judgment that you face from others, because generally speaking, the general public and other people just don't understand cults.

Cult education is polarized in general consciousness: the idea of cults are either highly sensationalized, or completely denied and ignored.

The two states are linked. They really are. The idea of a "cult" is so exotic and fantastical, so clearly linked with the ideas of "brainwashing," and dramatic images of zombie-like people wearing burlap sacks and chanting in communes, or hundreds of people committing mass suicide, that it seems so remote, so impossible, so much like fiction, so "other." Most people can't handle the idea of that "otherness" being -- literally, in your case -- on their doorstep.

Cults happen in far-off places, if they happen at all. That's what most people think. They occur in remote communes, in weird deserts, where everyone is sleeping with each other and doing drugs. They happen in the fraternity buildings of the top colleges, or in Wall Street, or wherever else movies tell us cults happen.

They do not occur on people's doorsteps. Most people cannot handle the idea of the world close to them being that unsafe, that unstable.

Mental illness, however, can occur anywhere. The guy sleeping on the bench in the park, the crazy lady in the elevator. The general public knows that mental illness can occur anywhere... so it is far easier for someone to believe that the person needing help is just crazy, rather than has been in a cult.

It's sort of how this whole world works, actually. There are too few mechanisms for delivering the help that we need post-cult.

Personally I think the lack of sane language when dealing with cults is particularly frustrating. Almost all non-academic discussions tend to be polarized with vague and dismissive statements, or thick with conspiracy theories, sensationalism, and panic. It makes it very difficult for individuals to get the help and awareness that they really need.

I'm glad that you had friends to stay with, and that others in your apartment building are much more understanding. Hopefully that will make your healing process much quicker.

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If you fact check everything you learn who your friends are
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 05, 2014 10:59PM

After what I have been through, I fact check everything.

The old journalist's motto, too often forgotten is, "If someone says
the weather is sunny, look out the window."

(Grim) A version of this journalists proverb is, "If your momma says she
loves you, fact check it."

I ran a check to see who actually owned the house my mother said she had
purchased with my father, the house I had grown up in.

Turned out Dad bought the house with his boyfriend, who lived with us
as Dad's 'student'. And a year or two later, Dad transferred full ownership
of the house to his boyfriend.

All this before he married Mom.

Mom only inherited the place through this man's generosity; Dad died earlier.

So thats the kind of fact checking one learns to do after one has been
burned -- either in a cult or in a family that functions analogously to one.

One person who seemed a friend get mad at me and said that he resented
how I checked every tiny detail on everyone on Google and said it would end
our friendship.

All I could do was say "Glad you said this. It is my human and citizen
right to ask questions every way and any way I consider necessary. And
I will not give that up for anyone or anything. Not after what I have
been through."


I got to the health food store and look at what is on the bulletin board
and their agony column. Someone is giving satsang. Right away I wonder
what the actual back story is.

Posters appear on cafe walls announcing 'free' workshops on meditation or
esoteric exercises.

I think, "It costs money to print those fliers and more money or volunteer
effort to distribute them.

Whoever starts out in the free classes eventually does the volunteer labor
and gives the money needed to pay the printer.

"Who manages that money and who is the leader, anyway?"

Someone will tell me of some wonderful thing she attended.

I will warn that the leader has a bad track record.

She will sniffily reply, "But have you experienced it?"

I can reply, "Experiences can be misleading. People get drunk
and are convinced they are safe to drive. I had a fever of 104F
as measured on the thermometer and was convinced I felt
like a block of ice.

"And mere subjective experience doesnt prove anything. It can be manipulated
through trance and sleep deprivation and group indoctrination and
too many people out there know how to use this stuff to our detriment."

This doenst make a person popular.

And in towns full of Planet Mongo/cultic milieu/crunchy granola stuff,
the real, radical risky counter culture stance is to be a skeptic
and a fact checker.

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Limits of "take what you like and leave the rest" TWYLLTR
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 05, 2014 11:35PM

***If one is born into a cult, or into a dictatorship, this is a very serious
matter, for one was not given choice in that matter. Anyone born into a cult or dictatorship and who gets out has made a moral and social breakthrough.

Some recognition exists for persons who have escaped from dictatorships. But as yet little of this recognition goes to persons who successfully escape from cultic families, especially ones that preserve the appearance of respectability and are affluent, upper class, 'U'.

Corboy wants to step back and state that one atrocious by product of the Western fad for reincarnation belief or the various laws of attraction is
for persons to coo, "But in another life you chose to be born into this family, or you were karmically attracted to such a family because it was a lesson you needed to go through."

Corboy considers this to be a cheap bypass of the pain of injustice.

If one regards this life as the only thing we can know, this brings an urgency
to matters of injustice.

But a cheap and easy belief in re-birth'/reincarnation/"karma" or law of attraction bypasses the justice dimension entirely and takes the anguish out of injustice. One might as well take some Xanax and admit one doenst want to
deal with the pain of human life.

Thats less insulting to a sufferer to say, "I feel horrified by what you have been through, am too anxious to bear this, and want to go have a stiff drink."

Better to say that, than coo, "Oh, you'll just get a better rebirth because of all this, dont whinge or wallow in this."

As Jonathan Swift wrote,

For how can stony bowels melt
In those who never pity felt?

When we are lash'd, they kiss the rod,
Resigning (themselves)to the will of God."

And this between Dr. Johnson and James Boswell

Boswell. “I have often blamed myself, Sir, for not feeling for others, as sensibly as many say they do.”

Johnson. “Sir, don't be duped by them any more. You will find these very feeling people are not very ready to do you good.

"They pay you by feeling.” commute.

Re: Social Commute -- How Much will a Group Ask of You? new
Posted by: corboy (
Date: September 24, 2013 06:05PM

"Take What You Like and Leave the Rest"

This is usually good advice. But it has very serious limits.

You cannot take what you like and leave the rest if you have not been
told completely and in full what 'the rest' consists of!

A) If a recruiter doesnt know the full extant of the belief system and doent know the actual history of the group or its leader or what is done with the money, that recruiter cannot give a full disclosure.

A group house may have a very nicely appointed dining room for low rankers and for their guests/prospective recruits.

The low rankers may be totally unaware that off in another part of the house
there is a luxury dining decorated in expensive but non-U glitz, a room in a locked portion of the compound, unknown to recruiters and low rankers, accessible only to the guru and the most select of the inner circle.

If a new recruit or very new member saw that dining room, he or she might be so
disgusted by the greed and luxury as to turn tail and leave.

But once a person has been slowly 'cooked', indoctrinated and vetted for a decade or more, he or she might finally be allowed to see that dining room
and not be shocked at all. Instead by this time the person would so adore
the guru as to believe the guru deserves this luxury and that it is beautiful
and not atrocious at all.

That luxury suite would be 'the rest'. Take what you like (the subaltern's dining room) and leave the rest (The guru's gilded suite that you and your recruiter are not told about)

How can you take what you like and leave 'the rest' if you dont even know what 'the rest' consists of?

People say, reassuringly, 'Oh, take what you like and leave the rest"

They themselves may be unaware of the full extent of the belief system, which means they can say this and radiate sincerity.

They may be high on the mood generated by a groups social technology and not know or care what's behind it. Its like junkies who are so desperate to fix that they will shoot up with anything that looks like smack if handed to them by The Man.

How can you make an informed decision to 'take what you like and leave the rest' if you are not told in the beginning, up front and in full, what the entire belief and behavior complex consists of?

For example, that they are actually led by a guru considered infallible, but this is not mentioned to new recruits who might otherwise refuse to join.

In extreme cases, you may be told Guru A is focus of the group, but actually someone named X is the one actually venerated. Guru A is the fig-leaf.

To join a group of this kind is to become part of a secret ridden family, to live a lie.

We are all influenceable by social context if we stay in long enough.

B) Human beings, no matter how intelligent, well educated, and socially sophisticated, are influenceable by social context. We rapidly normalize even bizarre and horrifying situations if we remain in them too long. Forget the fantasies peddled by Hollywood movies about heroes uncorrupted.

We honor heroes because the real ones *are* unusual -- and often what makes them
heroes may cause them to have trouble adjusting to the quieter routines of military and civilian life.

It is better to recognize that most of us, including Corboy, are influenceable
by social context, influencable by the company we keep or that is imposed on us unless we are vigilent. It is much more liberating to recognize that where we
**do** have agency is identifying our true values, and then choosing our company and our pleasures accordingly.

Robert J Lifton interviewed German physicians who had become agents and involved in torture experiments on prisoners in concentration camps. He wanted to know how they had come to violate their own ethics.

* The doctors had already bought into the ideology that there was such a thing as a 'real German' and others were subhuman. Their social surroundings taught them an ideology that dehumanized others.

**By staying in the laboratorys of the concentration camps, the doctors got used to the shock and coped by creating a dissociated doubled personality. It took anywhere from half an hour (!!) to two weeks to adjust.

And once they did so by remaining in the KZ camp that long--they became active perpetrators.

Thats the danger of staying in a warped, even shocking social situation for too long. What seemed stupid or horrid becomes normal after awhile -- unless one
gets out.

It empowers us very much more to accept we are influenceable - even the most intelligent of us--and remove ourselves as rapidly as possible from a situation that shocks us and violates our ethics.

Otherwise if we remain, we risk adjusting to what should never be adjusted to--and become capable of harming others.

There are some lines which, when crossed, grow dim and are difficult to find and re-cross.

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