18 Manipulative Tactics Cults Use to Trap Unwary Members

SharePinEmailCults are groups that have a specific set of beliefs that they force on other people to maintain power over them. Many people have been warned about joining a cult as doing so can destroy your life. Cults resort to various tactics and methods to lure people in, often completely blindsiding vulnerable people. Many people…

Cults are groups that have a specific set of beliefs that they force on other people to maintain power over them. Many people have been warned about joining a cult as doing so can destroy your life. Cults resort to various tactics and methods to lure people in, often completely blindsiding vulnerable people. Many people find that they’ve joined a cult without even being aware that they have done so.

Overwhelming Flattery

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Much like how an abusive relationship starts, cults will be extremely complimentary to those they want to recruit. By making recruits feel special and valued, the victim may feel like they can trust them. People rarely knowingly join cults as they are groomed over a long period.

Making You Exhausted

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Many cults will intentionally involve you in a myriad of activities until you’re so tired you’re less able to think logically. This puts them in a good position to be able to exert control over you without any pushback.

Separating You From Your Family and Friends

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Cults strive to get you alone, away from your family and friends, so that you will be more vulnerable and easy to exploit. They may pretend that they are looking out for your best interests, and as usually no one is beaten or otherwise physically harmed you could easily be lulled into a false sense of security.

Restricting Access to Food and Water

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Interestingly, cults may choose to limit your access to food and water as they know that you will be less alert if you are hungry and thirsty. This may not happen all at once. Instead, they will gradually reduce your intake so that you won’t be suspicious.

Fearmongering to Make You Anxious

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Victims of cults slowly become more anxious as they become ingrained deeper within the cult. This is because they have been exposed to threats and intimidation which make them feel that they have no other choice than to fulfill their role in the cult.

Limiting Sources of Knowledge

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Leaders of cults will employ a myriad of tactics to warp the beliefs and emotions of their followers, bending them to their will with precision. This is made easier as they cut off any outside information that could convince the victim to question their involvement in the cult.

Persuade You to Give Donations

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There is a financial incentive for many cult leaders who try to get recruits. These people will put pressure on vulnerable individuals to donate money to the cult. As they pump more money in, the idea is that they become more and more financially dependent on the cult.

Guilt Tripping to Discourage You From Leaving

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Guilt and shame are common in cult settings as they are used as tools to make members feel bad about leaving. Rather than being accepting when someone expresses a desire to leave, they will emotionally manipulate their members, urging them to stay in the cult.

Pain and Pleasure Method to Punish Members

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It feels like an emotional rollercoaster to be in a cult as the leaders will oscillate between being pleasant and withdrawing their affection. This creates an anxious attachment with their members as they continually seek validation from their leaders in a vicious cycle of abuse.

Persuasive Leaders Who Dupe Followers

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At the head of every cult, there will usually be a charismatic leader who proclaims him or herself as having special powers or special insight. This helps to cultivate a loyal following as people will look up to these leaders and try to follow in their footsteps. 

Radical Beliefs That Isolate People From Society

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Radical beliefs are promoted by cults as they try to separate their members from society. They will shame anyone who deviates from a particular mindset and pretend that their friends and family are out to get them.

Peer Coercion To Ensure Conformity

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Group pressure is used in cults to enforce conformity and loyalty. Members of a cult are less likely to break away and develop their own beliefs if they fear being rejected or ostracized by their peers.

Public Admissions To Instil Fear

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Public confessions are the norm in cults as people will be less inclined to leave a cult if everyone knows their weaknesses and faults. These admissions also highlight the important role of the cult leader as they demonstrate that they have all the power. While it may seem like an exercise in honesty, it is anything but.

False Promises to Lure People in

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In the initial stages of someone being groomed by a cult, they will likely be told that they can have all of their wishes fulfilled. Cults have a special talent for spotting vulnerable, needy people. They will lure them in with false promises, reassuring them that all their problems will go away once they join the cult.

Invasive Monitoring to Ensure Compliance

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Control is something that cults rely on to ensure that their subjects are loyal. This can be achieved through surveilling their members by following them or stalking their communications.

Ceremonial Practices To Reinforce Loyalty

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Rituals are a normal part of being in a cult as they serve to promote unity. In these sessions, the belief system and ideology of the cult are instilled into its members, making it hard for them to think independently.

Concept of Being Special To Generate Superiority

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It is human nature to want to be valued as a special or unique person. Cults will play on this by positioning a member as better than everyone else in society. This makes it difficult for them to leave as they’ll no longer be elite.

Reprogramming the Minds of Members

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Conditioning will happen to members of cults as leaders attempt to reshape their beliefs and mold them into willing subjects. Cults try to control the behavior of a person so that they will do whatever they want without question.

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