From an outsider’s perspective, it is very difficult to imagine why anyone would join a cult of their own free will. There are thousands of cults in existence, with millions of members all over the world. According to multiple psychologists and sociologists, there is no stereotype of the sort of person who would join a cult. In fact, it could be any one of us, if we were not on guard to stop it from happening.
10. Seductive Recruitment Process
According to an article written for the American Psychological Association by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, there is no “type” of person who joins a cult. In fact, many of these people are well-educated, sensible, and logical. He claims that anyone, under the right conditions, could be convinced to join a cult. So, instead of blaming the victims, he insists that people need to focus on how the founder of the organization managed to be so seductive, that they recruited their followers in the first place.
More often than not, a cult will promise to solve an issue in society that no one else is offering a solution to. Cults also offer a very structured lifestyle, with absolute answers about what is right and wrong. They are usually very open, loving, and welcoming. There are almost never any obvious red flags to warn people that they may unwittingly end up in a cult. The longer they stay, the more they receive promises for health, wealth, and well-being.
9. Post-Breakup Blues
Just about everyone who has ended a romantic relationship can relate to both the positive and negative emotions that go along with a new chapter in life. Some people cope by jumping into a new relationship very quickly, while others celebrate their new-found independence. Some people, however, join a cult. Dr. Alexandra Stein points out that one common thread is that people are in a transition period in their lives.
Dr. Stein, who grew up protesting alongside her parents during the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, goes on to explain that breaking up with her boyfriend was the catalyst for her to unwittingly join a cult in the United States. After she ended her relationship, she wanted to find a future partner who shared her passion for social justice.
In her 20s, Dr. Stein began to seek out political organizations who claimed to improve the lives of Americans needing health care and other issues. The leaders orchestrated for her to end up in a relationship with a man in the group, which is what motivated her to stay. She would work at her full-time job eight hours a day, and then the remainder of her life was spent living and working for the organization’s leader. Little did she know that she was being manipulated into isolation away from her family in South Africa, and she was trapped in a political cult for many years.