Saturday, 11 October 2008


Cults are a fascinating subject perhaps because no-one seems to agree on what they are, or the main reasons underlying why people get involved, from the viewpoint of those who get drawn in, those who look in from the outside, or those running them.

Certainly it can be hard to leave a cultic situation, partly because people find it hard to accept they may need to re-assess some things in their life. Even if they do realise something has to change, it's hard to achieve that without outside help or information.

Concerned family and friends need the right kind of information and approach for themselves and for the person in the situation. These days the Internet is a useful starting point and books are available.

Try to steer clear of anyone who is dogmatic or tries to lay down the law on one way of perceiving or proceeding. Sometimes people who have been involved in a bad experience think they also know what is right for others - which can feel too much like being in a cult or being abused again.

Keep in contact with the person who has become involved in a cult if you can and be generally supportive, without pressurising them to change before they are ready. It can take a long while.

On this and the following pages are extracts from other websites and you can follow up on links shown with the articles or in the Links section.

If anyone's work is mentioned here and they prefer it not to be, or to have it amended, just get in touch via the Comments.

Inclusion of any ideas does not necessarily mean we are in agreement but that the subject matter and nature of the work may have value.

Some of the articles may not go far enough; some may go too far. They are included for possible usefulness. If any ideas make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, ignore them and choose what feels better.

The Blog is in its early stages but there may be something of interest to you or you can add your own comments and information. The placement of articles may be altered when information is added.



The following is part of the Wikipedia entry as at 11 October 2008 under title 'The Stepford Wives'

Plot summary

The premise involves the married men of the fictional town of Stepford, Connecticut, and their fawning, submissive, impossibly beautiful wives. The protagonist is Joanna Eberhart, a talented photographer newly arrived from New York City with her husband and children, eager to start a new life. As time goes on, she becomes increasingly disturbed by the zombie-like Stepford wives, especially when she sees her once independent-minded friends – fellow new arrivals to Stepford – turn into mindless, docile housewives overnight. Her husband, who seems to be spending more and more time at the local men's club, mocks her fears.

As the story progresses, Joanna becomes convinced that the wives of Stepford are actually look-alike gynoids, manufactured in secret at the men's club. She visits the library and reads up on the pasts of Stepford's husbands and wives, finding out that some of the women were once high achievers, while some of the men were brilliant engineers and scientists, capable of creating such life-like robots.

In popular culture

The label "Stepford wife" is usually applied to a woman who seems to conform blindly to an old-fashioned subservient role in relationship to her husband, compared to other, presumably more independent and vivacious women. It can also be used to criticise any person, male or female, who submits meekly to authority and/or abuse; or even to describe someone who lives in a robotic, conformist manner without giving offense to anyone. The word "Stepford" can also be used as an adjective denoting servility or blind conformity (e.g. "He's a real Stepford employee") or a noun ("My home town is so Stepford") [5]. (See also; Pollyanna).



Below is an extract from website with implications beyond what some cult writers feel relevant or even possible with regard to general cult phenomena:

What is trance; why it is important. Posted January 20th, 2008 by Dennis Wier in
* Questions, Experiences

What's so important about trance?

Maybe you are not clear on exactly what a trance is. What we mean is meditation, hypnosis, addictions, charisma, electronic and chemical means of inducing trance as well as brainwashing, mind control, cults, magic, music, ritual and dance, and advertising.
You might already have a good idea of what hypnosis is. But you probably don't realize all the ways that it is used on you without either your awareness or permission, a form of trance abuse. Increasing public awareness of trance abuse, and showing how to prevent it, is one of the main jobs of the Trance Research Foundation.
Our vision and commitment

The Trance Research Foundation has an ambitious vision because the problems are huge.

Realizing our vision will require the personal commitment of many people just like you. And it means a lot of work, expended over a long period of time. We know it will also require large financial investments from socially conscious benefactors. But the results will be
- a greater public awareness of how trance works
- a greater public immunity to trance abuse
- a measurable worldwide decrease in drug and alcohol abuse problems
- a more enlightened worldwide drug policy
- a greater number of people who practice meditation for personal development
- an increase in consciousness and planetary wisdom.
- And this will result in greater world peace for future generations.

What is important

Here are some of the areas we see as important:
- Trance - its use and misuse - continues to have important social and psychological effects worldwide.
- Understanding how trance works enables and empowers people to explore themselves and the world they live in.
- The lack of understanding of trance exposes people to trance abuse and can cause psychological pathologies.
- Many such pathologies can be prevented with knowledge.
- Until now there has not been a model which attempts to explain meditation, hypnosis, addiction, magic and charisma with one robust theory. We feel we can provide that now.
- To study important contemporary trances, to understand their structure, their creation, their effects, the mechanisms used to change them or to bring about their dissolution.
- To facilitate advanced psychological study through the open sharing of special known trance mechanisms.
- To provide consultation and practical training to psychologists and therapists.
- To publish in peer reviewed journals the results of research.
- To operate a virtual educational institution to make the results of trance research available as widely as possible.
- To make a strong presence in the media, including audio, video, internet.
- To promote education about trance by means of on-line courses, teacher training, having a presence and relationship in schools, organizing annual international conventions on trance.
- Staying in the news by means of publicity releases, involvment with international personalities.
- Clinical treatment programs for drug/alcohol abuse, prevention programs, individual trance analysis, workshops for medical professionals, workshops and social programs to promote the best practices of trance.

Our interests are in:

- Meditation: religious and nonreligious meditation techniques, their physiological and psychological effects. This includes shamanistic, occult, daydreaming, channeling and other practices which incorporate meditation.
- Hypnosis: advertising, sales, television, video games, virtual reality, and many other hypnotic trance phenomena.
- Addiction: drug, psychic, performance, belief and other repetitive and compulsive behaviors.
- Magic: ritual, devotional and religious magic from witchcraft to contemporary religions.
- Music: many traditional as well as contemporary musical genres including drum and bass, acid trance, goa trance, traditional voodoo, shamanistic, native and electronic forms induce trance.
- Drugs: recreational and traditional drugs create trances through the suppression or modification of cognitive functions.
- Electronics: ultrasound, microwave and electro-biologically based trance inductions have been successfully used in publicly little-known military and neurophysiological applications.
- Charisma: guru-worship, cults, political, religious and entertainment charisma.




GROUPS and CULTS by Doc Matrix

If you sought some kind of spiritual or pastoral help perhaps that was through a well-known religion.

Or it could from what some people think of as a cult type of group.

People naturally have different needs and experiences - What suits one person may not suit another and may even be harmful.

ONLY YOU can decide what's best for you at a particular time

IF someone approaches you at a time when you are vulnerable

IF they are offering TOO MUCH friendship 'out of the Blue'

IF there is A RUSH about it

DOC says Just Be Careful
Take your Time
Don't Feel Pressurised
Step Back if You Need to!
Important Decisions can WAIT

ONE Person can be almost like a Cult just by themselves!

A GROUP can quite easily set up a Scene for YOU to walk into

Things - and People, are not always what they seem:
There may be a hidden agenda, camouflage or trick to abuse your desire to help or to be accepted

There can be a double standards or double-binds

LOOK at what's really being asked or expected of you -SEE how your concerns are dealt with


YOU have a right to know where your Money goes

YOU are entitled to proper Rest, Food & Friends

YOU are entitled to CHANGE your Mind or LEAVE

It can take an Instant to get drawn in but YEARS to get away - CULTS KNOW THAT

Cults Indoctrinate People AND People CAN Protect themselves with some Knowledge

Get some help from Friends or Family

Dissing has become a part of life, whether that means discounting someone, disrespecting, discrediting, disregarding, dismissing; or being rude or unsupportive.

It is a way of Scapegoating. You know the saying 'You are either for us or against us'? Groups often exclude someone - anyone - to suit the majority, as if they feel better to leave someone in the cold. It happens in families too!

It helps to see the dynamic for what it is, see if there's a reason, and if you can do anything about it for the time being.

This is why it is good to have an ally, a 'friend in court' to see some of it from your point of view. You don't need a specialist, just someone to back you up and give emotional support.

Perhaps now you know why groups serve that purpose for the members.

And how cults play on people's need to belong, not feel excluded, and feel a sense of meaning and place. Those are natural needs and they can be exploited, for money - or just for kicks.


People working in this field may have different opinions and approaches, so take on board what is useful - and leave the rest:

Cult Dynamics article at

'Cults & Families' by Doni Whitsett & Stephen A Kent. Download

Cults & Sects Bibliography booklist Steven Hassan's website, author 'Combatting Cult Mind Control'; 'Releasing the Bonds' Signs that a group might be a 'cult' and how to get out of one. Book List on page

International Cultic Studies Association - How cults operate and their effects:

FECRIS European site, worldwide links:

Cults, Sects & Heresies free course

Social Identity Theory - Insights into groups & cult behaviours


'Bully in Sight' by Tim Field (workplace bullying)

'Cults, Secret Sects & Radical Religions' by Robert Schroeder

'Gangland Today' by James Morton

'Gangs' by Tony Thompson

'Individuals, Groups & Organizations Beneath the Surface'
by Lionel F. Stapley

'Misunderstanding Cults' by Benjamin Zablocki & Thomas Robbins

'Organisations, Anxieties & Defences' ed. R.D. Hinshelwood
& Marco Cheisa

Out of Character Behaviour website

'Pointed Observations' by Kevin R D Shepherd

'Profiling the Criminal Mind' by Robert Girod Sr
(included as it discusses group pressures, cult crimes, etc.)

'Programmed to Kill' by David McGowan

'Recovery from Cults' by Michael D Longone

'Scapegoating, Abuse & One-upmanship' article HERE

'Secret Societies & Psychological Warfare' by Michael A Hoffman II

'Snapping' by Flo Conway & Jim Siegelman

'Sinister Forces Book Three: The Manson Secret' by Peter Levenda

Social Dynamics of Cult Ritual Abuse click HERE

'Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right' by Sara Diamond

'The Complex' by John Duignan

'The Cult Files' by Chris Mikul

'The Dark Gods' by Anthony Roberts & Geoff Gilbertson

'The Dilbert Principle' by Scott Adams

'The Mafia' by Claire Sterling

'The Neurotic Organization' by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
& Danny Miller

'The Occult Tradition' by David S Katz

'The Secret World of Cults' by Jean Ritchie

'Today's Destructive Cults & Movements' by Rev. Lawrence J Gesy

'Understanding Organizations' by Charles Handy

'Working Across the Gap: The Practice of Social Science in Organisations' by Lisl Klein

People have a need to be A PART of what is going on
around them, other People and so on,
and to keep themselves APART too

And it can lead us into Trouble!

It's important to REALLY THINK for YOURSELF!


The following comes from http://toukanalia/

These definitions of 'social engineering' and 'pretexting' appear at

Social engineering is a collection of techniques used to manipulate people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery for information gathering or computer system access and in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face with the victim.

Social engineering techniques and terms
All social engineering techniques are based on specific attributes of human decision-making known as cognitive biases. These biases, sometimes called "bugs in the human hardware," are exploited in various combinations to create attack techniques.

Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to persuade a target to release information or perform an action and is typically done over the telephone. It's more than a simple lie as it most often involves some prior research or set up and the use of pieces of known information (e.g. for impersonation: date of birth, Social Security Number, last bill amount) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

Search 'social engineering' etc. at Google or on Wikipedia
Basically this is any form of impression management or 'information' which is designed with the aim of creating a desired behaviour or outcome from a 'mark' or 'patsy' - which could be you!

Confidence Tricks & Scams
Some other relevant concepts are Con tricks or scams

Social engineering etc. can be as simple as driving an expensive car, portraying an image, acting a role, or it can be elaborate with several co-conspirators setting up a convincing scene or skit. Social Psychology demonstrates how we tend to behave according to how we view or experience a particular setting, almost like acting out a part. It's easy to believe what is presented - how someone looks possibly using disguise, what they say which probably contains elements of truth, something to convince people known as a 'convincer', and they may also have found things out about you to make it easier.


Before mentioning cognitive biases below, here are a couple of concepts generally used in connection with individuals but which could perhaps be applied to groups also, explaining some anomalies in how they function:
Egodystonic is a psychological term referring to behaviors, (e.g., dreams, impulses, compulsions, desires, etc.), that are in conflict, or dissonant, with the needs and goals of the ego, or, further, in conflict with a person's ideal self-image.
The concept is studied in detail in abnormal psychology, and is the opposite of egosyntonic. Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered to be an ego-dystonic disorder, as the thoughts and compulsions experienced or expressed are often not consistent with the individual's self-perception, causing extreme distress.
Egosyntonic is a medical term referring to behaviors, values, feelings, which are in harmony with or acceptable to the needs and goals of the ego, or consistent with one's ideal self-image. It is studied in detail in abnormal psychology. Many personality disorders are considered egosyntonic and are therefore nearly impossible to treat. Anorexia Nervosa, a hard-to-treat Type I disorder, is also considered egosyntonic because many of its sufferers deny that they have a problem. It is the opposite of egodystonic. Obsessive compulsive disorder is considered to be an egodystonic disorder, as the thoughts and compulsions experienced or expressed are not consistent with the individual's self-perception.
. . . . .

Cognitive Bias

From Wikipedia as at 12th October 2008

A cognitive bias is a person's tendency to make errors in judgment based on cognitive factors, and is a phenomenon studied in cognitive science and social psychology. Forms of cognitive bias include errors in statistical judgment, social attribution, and memory that are common to all human beings. Such biases drastically skew the reliability of anecdotal and legal evidence. These are thought to be based upon heuristics, or rules of thumb, which people employ out of habit or evolutionary necessity.

* 1 Overview
* 2 Types of cognitive biases
* 3 Practical Significance
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links


Bias arises from various life, loyalty and local risk and attention concerns that are difficult to separate or codify. Much of the present scientific understanding of biases stems from the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and their colleagues,[citation needed] whose experiments demonstrated distinct and replicable ways in which human judgment and decision-making differ from rational choice theory. This led to Tversky and Kahneman developing prospect theory as an alternative.[citation needed] Tversky and Kahneman claim that the biases they identified are at least partially the result of problem-solving using mental short-cuts or "heuristics", for instance using how readily or vividly something comes to mind as an indication of how often or how recently it was encountered (the availability heuristic). Other biases have been demonstrated in separate experiments, such as the confirmation bias demonstrated by Peter C. Wason.

Not all of 'biases' are necessarily errors. David Funder and Joachim Krueger have argued that some so called 'biases' may in fact be 'approximation shortcuts', which aid humans in making predictions when information is in short supply.[citation needed] For example, the false consensus effect may be viewed as a reasonable estimation based on a single known data point, your own opinion, instead of a false belief that other people agree with you.

Types of cognitive biases

Biases can be distinguished on a number of dimensions. For example, there are biases specific to groups (such as the risky shift) as well as biases at the individual level.

Some biases affect decision-making, where the desirability of options has to be considered (e.g. Sunk Cost fallacy). Others such as Illusory correlation affect judgment of how likely something is, or of whether one thing is the cause of another. A distinctive class of biases affect memory,[1] such as consistency bias (remembering one's past attitudes and behaviour as more similar to one's present attitudes).

Some biases reflect a subject's motivation, [2] for example the desire for a positive self-image leading to Egocentric bias[3] and the avoidance of unpleasant cognitive dissonance. Other biases are due to the particular way the brain perceives, forms memories and makes judgments. This distinction is sometimes described as "Hot cognition" versus "Cold Cognition", as motivated cognition can involve a state of arousal.

Among the "cold" biases, some are due to ignoring relevant information (e.g. Neglect of probability), whereas some involve a decision or judgement being affected by irrelevant information (for example the Framing effect where the exact same problem receives different responses depending on how it is described) or giving excessive weight to an unimportant but salient feature of the problem (e.g. Anchoring).

The fact that some biases reflect motivation, and in particular the motivation to have positive attitudes to oneself[3] accounts for the fact that many biases are self-serving or self-directed (e.g. Illusion of asymmetric insight, Self-serving bias, Projection bias). There are also biases in how subjects evaluate in-groups or out-groups; evaluating in-groups as more diverse and "better" in many respects, even when those groups are arbitrarily-defined (Ingroup bias, Outgroup homogeneity bias).

The following is a list of the more commonly studied cognitive biases.
For other noted biases, see list of cognitive biases (link at end of this piece)

* Anchoring on a past reference.
* Framing by using a too narrow approach and description of the situation or issue.
* Hindsight bias, sometimes called the "I-knew-it-all-along" effect, is the inclination to see past events as being predictable.
* Fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior.
* Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions; this is related to the concept of cognitive dissonance.
* Self-serving bias is the tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests.

A fuller list of cognitive biases including social or attributional biases appears at