7 Mind Control Techniques Used by Cults

Have you ever wondered how people in a cult can be so deceived and yet hardly sense or discover that they’re being brainwashed and manipulated? Have you ever encountered a situation where a friend or family member has joined a cult and then his/her personality begins to negatively change?

In what ways do cults use mind control tactics to manipulate and control their members?

Mind control is the systematic effort to deceptively hack the mind of an individual or group of people, in order to control and manipulate them.

Mind control techniques in cults can be defined as a combination of psychological tactics a cult leadership uses to manipulate human thought or action against the full knowledge and understanding of a cult member or its entire membership.

Mind control is also known as brainwashing or coercive persuasion.


Below are 7 mind control techniques used in cults

1. Deception in Recruitment and Beliefs of the Group
Cults are usually deceptive in nature. To a potential or new member, a cult might initially and outwardly appear like a normal and orthodox group with a noble agenda. However, because the main motive of many cults is to initially recruit and maintain a loyal member, cults will deceptively hide what they actually believe from potential or new members.
Cults will reveal their actual doctrines or their controversial and dangerous belief systems gradually or subtly as they monitor the loyalty and acceptance level of the new member.
So cults are prepared to lie and hide information in order to recruit and maintain members. They’re also prepared to tell you what you want to hear in order to initially get you to join and become a member.
If people knew and understood a cult’s true practices and beliefs beforehand then they would not join. So a cult needs to hide the truth about their real beliefs from you until they think you are ready to accept it.
Cult mind control or brainwashing is a gradual process spanning over months or years. Therefore by the time you discover the strange things that the group actually believes, you’re either too committed to leave; too scared to leave; or too brainwashed to realize your deception and the dangerous belief systems you’ve accepted.


2. Love bombing & Artificial Relationships
Love bombing is defined as the action or practice of lavishing someone with attention, flattery or affection, especially in order to influence or manipulate them.
Love bombing is a counterfeit, excessive and exaggerated form of affection. Its goal is emotional control and to make you feel important so that you’re inclined to immediately trust the group.
Within a cult, love bombing disarms the recipient so that the recipient is not logically and mentally on guard. So the member feels obligated to the group because of the overwhelming affection she has been receiving. Love bombing only lasts a few weeks or months.
Through love bombing techniques, the potential or new member makes instant “friends” . However some of these instant “friends” have been assigned by leadership to get close to their target recruits so that personal information and  progress about the potential recruits can be relayed back to the leadership.
Many relationships within a cult may outwardly appear genuine but most relationships are generally artificial. If anyone where to dare disagree with the cult or think critically, they will soon find out that they can be ostracized or attacked by the very group they thought was their friend or “family”.


3. Cults control your time – they keep you busy
Cults demand a lot from you. They subtly demand your loyalty by controlling your time and keeping you busy doing errands and activities for the group. They do not care about your boundaries, but instead they gradually and subtly train you to believe that the group always comes first and everything else in your life comes second.
By keeping the members so busy with cult activities, the members do not have time for introspective thinking. Because their life now revolves around the group, members do not have time to pursue other activities or relationships outside the cult.


4. Isolation and Us versus Them mentality
Cults tend to isolate members from family, friends or anyone who is likely to see the deception and then influence the member into leaving the group.
By using the technique of controlling your time and keeping you busy with cult activities, the group inevitably isolates you from anyone who does not belong to the cult.
Furthermore, within cults it is inferred that anyone outside the group is either inferior, an enemy or is not knowledgeable and enlightened like the group. Therefore cult members are trained to believe that they are superior or more enlightened than outsiders.


5. Cults change your Personality
When you stay in a cult for a certain period, you will ultimately begin to adopt a cult personality. Your entire nature and thinking will change and become very different from the personality you had before you joined.
After a person joins a cult, later that person’s family and friends begin to notice how that person’s personality and character has negatively changed after joining the group. The person acts like a totally different person since joining the group.
This is why many former cult members may require counselling and deprograming to free themselves from the psychological brainwashing and mind control techniques during their tenure in the group.
A cult member might begin to frequently praise, quote and adore the cult leader as if he were perfect, larger than life or a type of demigod. If any outsider were to speak negatively about the cult leader, the member would become upset, grossly irritated or vindictive.
Cults negatively alter your personality due to their deceptive mind control techniques and the false doctrines and belief systems which they feed on their members.
Within a cult, independent thinking or critical thought is no longer allowed. Instead group think and dependence on the group or its cult leader is vital to the group dynamics of the cult.
Cult members are taught not to trust themselves or trust their own thoughts and ideas. Instead members must trust the group and its leader. Members must filter their thoughts and ideas through the group or its leader who will ultimately make decisions for them.
In a cult your individuality does not matter. Instead you will inevitably put on the personality of the group or its cult leader and never deviate from group think or group parameters.


6. Use of Fear, guilt and intimidation by leadership
Fear, guilt and intimidation techniques can be used by cults to control members. Therefore members are systematically taught to fear the cult leader and his leadership. In a religious cult, to question or disagree with the leader is equivalent to questioning and disagreeing with God.
So in the eyes of cult members, the cult leader is viewed as being bigger than life; he cannot be questioned; whether dead or alive his teachings are infallible; he should not be disobeyed; the leader is the key to your success and a mediator between you and God.
Members are also taught that to leave the cult is equivalent to leaving God. Other members are taught that if they question the leadership or leave the group, then God will curse them or punish them with sickness or death.


7. Information control
One major tactic of cult mind control is the technique of controlling what you watch and read. There is always a form of feeding members with propaganda. Therefore most cults use information control as a technique to control and manipulate members.
Since cults do not allow critical thinking, it’s no surprise that many of these cults will not allow members to independently research any information that might expose the true deceptive and cultic nature of the group. In a mind controlling cult any information outside the group that might expose the group is evil and should be avoided.
Instead most cult members are trained to source their information and knowledge from the cult leadership or the founder of the cult. So whether the founder of the cult is dead or alive, the founder is the initial primary source of information for the group.



Cults can be extremely destructive. They can destroy good relationships. They can negatively alter your personality and turn you into a modern day slave who lacks a genuine personality and genuine critical thinking. Cult brainwashing techniques can be subtle or blatant depending on what the group wants to achieve.

Most cults are characterized by a culture of deception, lying and narcissism. Their motive and obsession is to control and manipulate their members.

It is therefore important to understand the nature of cults and how they brainwash people in order to protect yourself and others from being deceived.



What is a Cult? What are the Characteristics of a Cult?

12 Characteristics of a Cult Leader

12 Signs of Spiritual Abuse

How Cult Leaders Use Sex to Control Followers

How to Leave and Recover from a Cult

6 Ways to Heal & Recover from Spiritual Abuse


RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Index of Cults and Religions | Watchman Fellowship, Inc

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