This has been shared by a mother concerned about a loved one in Avatar, and also a partner recovering from other hi-control situations.
Hi-control groups often look little like the cults most people associate with hi-control groups; yet they are much the same. They can be run much like businesses, healing circles, or closeknit families.
Some can even be helpful to people when they first join. They can seem welcoming and loving at first, or feel that the group has valuable information. [NOTE: Some are coerced from the beginning: As one ex-Avatar member wrote, “One person committed suicide after the basic Avatar course. I hated my Avatar (9-day) course, but still found myself continuing under their spell due to my desire to help humanity and their intense coercion and manipulation.”]
Some groups continue to be helpful for some members, but many are harmed and left to deal with psychological problems and lack of support on their own once they become sick or leave on their own. [Some leave dealing with self-blame or hidden neuroses; a few are psychotic, or even DEAD!]
The old cults are no more
So sorry this is false. The Moonies are up and running again, even after their leader was released from prison and died decades ago. They still do mass weddings as only those blessed by Moon are valid. Scientology perks along with tax-free status, even though there are plenty of former Victims who have dared to come forward with their stories. [See “Scientology the Aftermath” with Leah and Mike on A and E for facts about inner secret workings provided by brave souls enduring dogged harassment to speak. Also, https://avataruncovered.is/education/ for differences between benign and abusive cults.].
These are genuine cause for concern; however, it is dangerous to overlook the groups “not so bad” that seem innocuous to the outside observer, (Avatar fits this mold, and the one I am most familiar with because of damage to my own family.)
Only uneducated, unsuccessful, or out-of-balance people are susceptible to hi-control groups.
Read the literature! Doctors, lawyers, millionaires have given over their money, lifestyle, and even their lives to hi-control groups. [see Who is Susceptible below]
People in hi-control groups are said to be like people who become drug addicted.
NO! If you want to use a metaphor, use a “drug mule”: An innocent person trying to save their family or to get out of an oppressive country who would never agree to swallow all the drugs if they could see how many there were. (This is why one of the indicators of possible abuse are the many hidden steps which are never seen until well-indoctrinated, entangled, or otherwise controlled.). “It is a prison of the mind.” Mike Rinder ex Scientologist.
Hi control groups are easy to spot.
No, they have become very adept at masking as a spiritual, wealth-making, or “save the world” concern. Also, some hi-control groups are not abusive. (See indicators below.)
Victims of hi control groups who have left need regular therapy or counselling.
Some do fine with attending support groups of those who have had similar experiences; but those with more serious abuse developed over time by the many mind-altering techniques hicontrol groups use need therapists or clergy familiar with PTSD and pseudo-personality or dissociative disorders. (See indicators below.) Also, if heightened sensory awareness (ESP) has been developed in the group the therapist must see ESP as a possibly valid awareness.
Hi-control leaders are lunatics or deranged.
At first, they can be well-meaning people who feel they have a calling to share their insights and learnings. (One I know is actually a college professor of psychology.) Problem is as they become successful they are lured into Ego of having all the answers and being adored. Many become prisoner to their own delusions, and become severely abusive people. This is why most hi-control groups like religions and the military, have built-in safe-guards to insure negative comments are encouraged, received, and heeded by ALL levels of their leadership. [Even then, some of these groups still get into trouble.]
INDICATORS OF A HI CONTROL GROUP
- Is there a hierarchy of information only available to a more select or secret group? Some of this is valid when new members need basic information; however, the whole hierarchy should be plainly seen and visible to be evaluated.
- They are seen as “one big happy family.” Any wrongdoings of the group are not talked about. [This is apparent in abusive families which are hi-control groups.]
- Members are effusive in their praise, and defend against any criticism, (especially of the leader/s.). Members also defend their [family/group] showing how they are “not as bad” as others, or say ALL [families/groups] are dysfunctional.
- Members recruit or proselytize to come to pot lucks, meetings; usually around topics of interest in being healthier, more successful, or safe in fearful times. Group identity, doctrine, solemnity—or childish fun, guilt, dependence, or obedience (to the group, not necessarily to anyone outside the group,) are rewarded.
- Members do not feel free to leave at any time without repercussions. Often a BIG deal is made about how free everyone is. What isn’t made public are the fears of sickness and isolation that are insinuated will happen to those who leave. [Often partially true since the member has usually cut him/herself off from people outside the group.]
- Control techniques like “love bombing”, hypnosis, NLP, or double teaming are used covertly at first to build community. Later sleep deprivation, shaming, isolation, gag orders, gas lighting and other harsher means of control can be used.
INDICATORS OF A HI-CONTROL LEADER
- Do they discourage or discount any negative feedback? Can you question openly? Do you get adequate answers?
- Do they believe they have been given special knowledge or wisdom from some elevated source? [Do they give themselves a title like Shaman, or Priest? If so, are they open about their training, and what other Wise Elders are still guiding them? Holding them accountable?]
- Do they hide, discount, or blame others for their mistakes and failures.?
- Do they want MONEY, SEX OR POWER: Sometimes all three? Remember they usually don’t start out this way; the desire builds over time. Any leader who never hears “no” is susceptible. [Good critical questions can help here, i.e., “Where is the money going?” “What has happened to people, especially children, no longer there?” “Who is the leader answering to?” “What if the leader/s becomes paranoid or delusional?”]
- They are usually very likeable and charismatic. Can also be elitist, grandiose, falsely humble, deceptive, or secretive.
- [Again, I highly recommend Steve Hassan’s Combating Cult Mind Control, c. 2015. Take Back Your Life, by Lalich and Tobias, c. 2006. and Avatar Uncovered’s site:
WHO IS SUSCEPTIBLE
- People feeling alone or misunderstood are often susceptible to the lure of a loving “family.” We are, after all, social beings.
- People who have been raised in a family of hi-control; usually emotionally or physically abusive, and hidden. [Careful here: sometimes the children who avoid abuse by being “good” don’t realize that they were victims, too.]
- People who find themselves separated from their family or community: [i.e. teen rebellion, college, change of religious beliefs, moving.] As sub-conscious fears have risen in these uncertain times more and more people are susceptible to this siren call of belonging. [One respected healer I know has become part of a questionable Shamanic group, and said, “He was just so tired of doing it alone.” A valid point; but keep your Critical Thinking handy, this can be a slippery slope of comfort and refuge.]
- Highly intelligent, gifted people are susceptible because they often are highly sensitive, overly excitable and/or unusually curious. They may also be attracted to the groups promise of making a better world. (p 307, Take Back Your Life, c. 2006). [Steven Hassen’s story of how he was hooked into the Moonies is one of many examples.]
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Talk about the possible abuses openly in your own family or community, and with others. Remember, secrecy is the hi-control group’s friend.
- Sharpen critical thinking skills and discernment to see if there is hidden abuse and mind-control going on. This applies whether we are in a hi-control group ourselves; trying to help someone get out; or trying to stop the abuse happening to others behind the cloak of secrecy or freedom of religion.
- Educate yourself on the ways to determine if there might be hidden abuse in your
- family/religion/business/ group/ community. [Steve Hassan’s Combating Cult Mind Control, c.2015. Take Back Your Life, c. 2006. and Avatar Uncovered’s site: https://avataruncovered.is/education/
- If you feel you might be in an abusive family or group, find help. As Leo Buscaglia says, “Get out of a dysfunctional system and get heathy; then you can be a window for someone else to get out.”
- Beware cherry-picking comparisons to show how your [family/group]. is not abusive by showing others that are worse; or finding help which supports “burying the bones” and moving on.
WHY SHOULD THIS MATTER TO ME?
Because these techniques are being used on us daily in many differing forms: For example, illegal gag orders and non-competition contracts are being forced on employees with threats if not followed. Advertising, and even scientific research studies, are carefully vetted to “guide” people toward the choice the business or leadership want. Even governments: We know about ISIS, but here is a blurb from Steve Hassan’s upcoming book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President uses Mind Control, that may give you pause:
Over the past two years, Trump’s behavior has become both more disturbing and yet increasingly familiar. He relies on phrases like, “fake news,” “build the wall,” and continues to spread the divisive mentality of us-vs.-them. He lies constantly, has no conscience, never admits when he is wrong, and projects all of his shortcomings on to others. He has become more authoritarian, more outrageous, and yet many of his followers remain blindly devoted. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and a major Trump supporter, calls him one of the most persuasive people living. His need to squash alternate information and his insistence of constant ego stroking are all characteristics of other famous leaders—cult leaders. [from Amazon preorder listing—emphasis mine.]
This was added, not as a political statement, but to show one of the most insidious aspects of mind control damage: The victims are reluctant to speak against—even loyal beyond reason— to the very person/s who abused, or are abusing them.
Let’s start having open-Hearted dialogues with a sense of exploration and learning; rather than debating and polarizing. Let’s uncover whatever abuses, (whether physical, mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual, or sexual,) we have hidden or made excuses for in our own lives. Let’s work together to bring to light cultures of fear and the “us-vs-them” thinking, and to heal them with loving-kindness and compassionate-wisdom.
Please share this with whomever you feel might benefit from it. Please don’t ASSUME! Please TALK!
To quote MLK Jr.: “Our lives begin to end the moment we remain silent about things that matter.”
[Author’s note: My name has been removed to encourage discussion among you readers; instead of with me. Of course, I do welcome feedback, positive or negative, from those who know me. I pray this helps dispel misconceptions about this abuse growing in our midst, and bring more empathy and understanding for often unwitting victims. February 2019]