What these methods have in common is that they all intentionally transgress the unspoken barriers which govern nonverbal interaction in our culture. Just as the hypnotist provides confusion, arousal, and expectation in the subject (Haley, 1963), the cult recruiter creates a disorienting and arousing experience which heightens attention, and then deliberately attempts to develop unconscious receptivity. The effects of a typical encounter are described by a former female recruit:
I was standing outside the public library when this guy who was about six feet came over to me. He seemed to be very happy, like he had a lot of answers to things.... He seemed to be in a different place than most people. At the time, he seemed kind of spiritual. He asked me to this dinner they had, and I had to lean against the wall. He seemed to be a very powerful person. (Conway & Siegelman, 1978, p. 30)
The significant element in this description is the obvious intensity in the process of the interaction, although a minimal amount of actual content is shared by the recruiter. By the time this woman and her husband accepted the invitation, they only knew that they were invited to a "group called the New Age Fellowship, just a group of people who come together, and sit around and talk about different things." Nonetheless, they thought the initial encounter had some significance due to its remarkable intensity. Yet, they lacked a conceptual framework to understand how they had come to be influenced the way they did. Upon meeting the cult members, this recruit later said, "My initial reaction to these people was, I don't know what they have but I want it."
In order to begin the process of influencing individuals to change fundamental attitudes, unconscious rapport must be established. This is an axiom of the hypnotherapeutic process, and is present in cult induction as well. The influencer must be sensitive to whatever cues of manner, dress, speech, and behavior indicate about an individual's world view, and must evidence to the subject that he is able to address and include their reality. In cult induction, recruiters have an ideological understanding of the significance of the encounter. Thus, they know that whatever it is, the individuals' "model," doesn't work. Therefore, as a pacing procedure, recruiters often elicit the individuals' life goals, extrapolating the intent behind the aspiration. For instance, in one encounter the author had with a recruiter, she began, "Oh you're a social worker, it must be very important for you to help people." In response to my affirmative reply she continued, "Do you really feel that the ways you have been taught help people in the best or most important ways?" The pattern present in this interaction is comparable to the hypnotic process of pacing and leading. By initially extrapolating the best possible motivation for my work she attempted to create rapport. Once the rapport was established, she could proceed to engage my motivation by appealing to a broader expression of it.
*Most truly thoughtful and idealistic individuals will be aware of the flaws or limitations of their methods, and are likely to be interested in finding ways to improve.(Which makes this kind of person (one capable of doubt and self reflection) vulnerable in the face of a covert recruiter who pretends to be normal but is actually a secret agent operating on a cult agenda that is systematic, has no room at all for doubt (totalist) and a strategy for every possible human response a subject is likely to make when put in a recruitment situation.Corboy)
A former cult member reported, "If you're into rock music, they have a band; into health food, they have an organic farm . . . They'll say anything to make you stay"
(Freed, 1980, p. 70).
A subsequent feature of cult induction is comparable to "cultural rapport" in Erickson's approach (Gordon & Meyers-Anderson, 1981). "Part of everyone's world model is a cultural milieu.... Erickson is sensitive to the importance of the clients' cultural backgrounds and gracefully utilizes his knowledge of cultures and subcultures to help create the rapport necessary for impactful communication" (p. 51).
** Recruiters are often given explicit instructions on whom to approach, and how to conduct the encounter. Utilizing individuals' interests, and extracting the motivations present, recruiters can then expand those aspirations to their more universal expressions.
For example, after engaging me in conversation about the crises in mental health delivery and budget cuts in social services, the recruiter said to me, "Could you imagine a world where everyone was like a social worker, helping everyone else?" Thus she attempted to lead out of the framework in which I operated into abstract realms, the dimensions of which I could not possibly evaluate, and the validity of which I could not argue.
The outcome of a recruitment encounter must include some behavioral response on the part of the recruit.(Corboy emphasis. Decades of social psychology research has established that doing something, no matter how seemingly trivial ( 'behavioral commitment') greatly increases likelihood that a subject's belief system will change.)
In order for the process to lead further, it must influence the individual to change some plans or behavior.
Usually this simply includes accepting an invitation to a dinner or some unthreatening introductory lecture, course, etc. But the behavioral response must follow the arousal of interest. Somehow, the suggestion must be made that this group or recruiter has something to offer. In order to conceive this, recruits must first have become aware of some personal lack or limitation that could change. Thus, the recruits come to the first meeting as seekers, psychologically primed to respond, whether the sense of lack was native to them or had been induced.
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