Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dealing with cult members: some warnings

There are some crucially important points to keep in mind when dealing with cult members. Here are two of these points:

-      -They will lie to you
-      -They will let you down and leave you stranded

I learned this from personal experience, experience for which I later found independent confirmation online and in books.

Not only do cult members conceal much of the truth about their organisation, they will also often lie about it, brazenly and repeatedly.

I am not talking here about people on the periphery who don’t know anything so pass on wrong information in all good faith, nor am I talking about members who are so confused and in such a terrible state that they no longer know the difference between truth and lies; I am talking about people who lie knowingly and deliberately.

They will lie about their beliefs and practices and procedures inside the organisation, denying for example that members are obliged to hand over their earnings and take part in auditing sessions where they are forced to give personal information and confess to misdeeds.

They will dismiss allegations made against the cult, saying that they come from liars, enemies and traitors.

They will brazenly lie about where donated money is going, saying for example that it will help children when much of it really goes to buy support from politicians and pay the travelling expenses of a rent-a-crowd mob.

They will lie about the purpose of an impending gathering, saying for example that it is entertainment when it is really political.

They want to trick people into joining, trick them into staying, trick outsiders into giving financial and other support, trick people into attending big meetings so it looks as though they have a lot of supporters...

They find plausible pretexts such as ‘security’ for concealing information and deceiving people.

I have experienced much of this for myself. I believed many of the lies I was told because I was not then in a position to know any better.

I remember one man telling me that I had his word that there was no connection between a political organisation and a welfare charity, when actually the charity was the fund-raising arm of the organisation.

I was tricked into attending several gatherings by various lies.

I have seen allegations denied and claims dismissed. For example, I was assured that members were not ordered to cut all contact with their families, when in reality this was standard practice. When I raised the subject of claims of severe ill-treatment made by an ex-member, his story was dismissed as lies when actually he was telling the truth.

Cult members tell all these lies in the name of the cause. They believe that the end justifies the means.

It is important to bear in mind that they cannot afford to tell the truth. It is unwise to trust them.

Leaving people stranded
Cult members can be very unreliable where outsiders are concerned; they will put their colleagues and their cause first. If they are suddenly assigned to some useless, make-work task, they will leave you or not turn up at all for your get-together.

They may suddenly abandon you, leaving you to fend for yourself.
In one of the worst cases I have heard of, one senior member left his little girl alone on the streets of Paris when the call came for him to make a journey somewhere at no notice.

I was abandoned on the streets of Vienna myself; I was an adult at the time though.

It happened at a gathering. The woman I was with, who was supposed to be the guide and arranger, deliberately got herself arrested and I suddenly found myself alone. Luckily, I had money, maps, addresses, useful notes etc. but she wasn't to know that. It was very stressful and caused a lot of suffering. Being abandoned brings back painful memories.

This incident added insult to injury as I had been lured to the gathering under false pretences. I was led to believe that someone I very much wanted to see would be there. I later learned that this woman knew very well that he would not be coming.

I was disgusted with her thoughtlessness and devious behavior. Her responsibilities towards a guest of her organisation went for nothing when the chance came to 'do something for the cause'. It was all just for show too; it was all image: "They are arresting us so we must be a threat"; "Look at me, I am martyring myself for the cause!" It was just so that she had something to tell her superiors.

It was the last straw, and I never went to another gathering.

There are others ways of leaving people stranded. I recently found this in an article about a Catholic cult:

The leaders would tell them to walk out of their job and leave their boss stranded ...”

This resonated very strongly; it independently confirmed another experience. I remember getting an email not long after the Vienna incident while at work on a client’s database from someone who wanted me to go immediately to a demonstration outside an embassy. By that time, I had had enough so I replied that I couldn’t just walk out of my job.

This is another way in which they add insult to injury: they treat you badly and expect you to carry on as if nothing had happened, and even come back for more.

It is important to bear in mind that they may not care at all for you, your feelings, your welfare and your interests. It is unwise to rely on them too much or put yourself into their hands.

Forewarned is forearmed
I learned these things the hard way. This is not compulsory; it is not the only way to discover some of the truths about cults. A little online research will save people from a lot of painful experiences.

Lying and leaving people stranded are just two of the many games that cult members play. There is more to come on this subject.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Leaving a cult - much easier said than done

 “Why don’t they just leave when they find out what they have got into?”

It is much easier to ask why people don’t just leave when they learn what happens behind the scenes in a cult or cult-like organisation than it is to find acceptable and comprehensible answers. It is not easy for outsiders to understand the external pressures and techniques and internal thought processes that keep people inside.

The best sources of answers and explanations are ex-members. They are the ones with excruciatingly painful personal experience of cult life, and some of them may be able to explain what was going on in their minds and in their lives in terms that ‘civilians’ can understand.

The deeper in people go, the worse life often gets but the more difficult it is for them to get out. I am not talking about people on the fringes and in the outer circles who may wander in then drift away or drop out: I am talking about long-term, hard-core members.

I am also mainly talking about people who might think about leaving, not those few who genuinely feel at home in their organisation or the large number of unfortunates who have lost all sense of self and self-preservation.

People are discouraged and prevented from leaving
The message given, overtly or covertly, to many cult members is, “Don’t you dare leave, you traitor. It will be much the worse for you if you do!”

Cults make it difficult for members to leave in as many practical, guilt and fear-based and emotional blackmailing ways as possible. They use coercion and intimidation to keep dissenting members in line.

Committed members are sometimes deliberately made into prisoners and hostages, forced to depend on the organisation for survival. They may be in a state of childlike dependency.

This is from an ex-member of a religious cult based on Catholicism:

“We were told if we left the movement our lives would collapse. It was always pointed out who had left. They were like Judas who betrayed Jesus. We were told they were dead. Ex members would later leave the church, divorce, need mental counseling, suffer from depression and their families would turn to drugs or disintegrate. Fear kept us in for all these years…”

Once again, this seems familiar. It supports what I have read about other cults and experienced for myself. One ex-member of a political group told me that members were warned that they would end up as destitute drug addicts on the streets of Paris or in the Metro if they left the movement.

In addition to fear of the unknown and the outside world, there is fear of reprisal from the organisation. This fear is sometimes justified: ex-members have been attacked and beaten or even murdered; some have had allegations, some false some true, made against them and their credibility and prospects destroyed. Their families may be persecuted too.

Fear is one factor; surveillance is another. Members may be watched and spied on and encouraged to report suspicious behaviour and keep each other in line. Each is a prisoner of the others. They may be permitted to go on the Internet only in pairs. People may listen in to their phone calls.

Lack of resources may stop people from escaping too. Their passports may be taken away and they may not be given any money.

What else is stopping them?
Lack of options and coping ability are major factors.

Escaping is all very well, but what options are there for defectors? Where can the traitors and apostates go and what will they do? How will they cope with a new life?  

There are many practical and psychological factors and consequences that need to be considered. What about people who have no family nearby, no money of their own, no marketable skills and nowhere to go? They may have lost any entitlement to benefits and pensions. Their prospects are bleak, especially for older people. Some of them may be worse off in the outside world than they are inside the cult, and they know this.

Some people realise that they may not be able to live away from the cult, those born into it in particular: they may not know how to make their own decisions and live normal lives and work in the normal way among normal people.

Who is responsible for creating this lack of resource and coping ability? It is all done deliberately.

Fear of the light and fear of the reaction
Perhaps some members are reluctant to leave because they sense that they would have trouble dealing with the painful memories and unpleasant realisations that might emerge once they are free from the time-consuming demands that deliberately keep them occupied and prevent introspection.

They may be dimly aware that they will have to admit to their inhumanity and misdeeds and deal with the results.  

Facing up to the truth can be overwhelming and devastating and put people into an even worse state than they are already in.

Staying in may be the lesser of two evils, psychologically speaking.

How and why do people get away? 
After reading the above reasons, which are anyway just an outline, people who started by wondering why members just don’t leave may well end up wondering how anyone ever manages to escape.

Some people do manage to leave a cult. I am not talking about interventions by family members or liberation by an army or the police - that is a whole other story, as is the dissolution of a cult after the death of the founder.

Much depends on options and opportunities and the cult in question.

One ex-member said that one way of escape is to become ill and unable to work. They let you go or throw you out because you are a liability and they have no further use for you. His bad back got him out. The cult may let people go back to their families if expensive operations are needed and after experiencing normal life, the members may decide not to go back.

Some cults will lose interest in people who can no longer give them any money.

Some people get expelled when they start to rebel against the rules and question the ideology. Rather than try to convert or break them, the leaders will want to get rid of these troublemakers.

Some get out when life gets so bad that ‘anything must be better than this’ or they can no longer bear to commit crimes in the name of their cause.

Some are encouraged to leave when they see others doing it successfully and learn of resources and support groups.

Some members may get angry because of the way things are run: they think they should be the leaders. They may even leave to set up cults of their own!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Princess Diana’s death and the backfiring feature

I noticed the sacrificed son feature in this case a while back: the ruthless self-made social climber Mohamed Al Fayed lost his son Dodi in the crash that killed Princess Diana.

I have just noticed another familiar element: the backfiring. This is where not only do some people not get what they want and think they are about to get, but they often also lose what they already had. Everything goes horribly wrong. Their hopes and ambitions are raised sky high only to be shattered. Instead of elated, they end up devastated.

This is what happened to Mohamed Al Fayed. He may have been delusional or indulging in wishful thinking, but he thought that his son Dodi was going to marry Princess Diana. Not only did this not happen, not only did he not get any of the publicity, respect, acceptance and attention he counted on, not to mention the opportunity to live in reflected glory and ‘show’ everyone that he confidently expected, but he also lost his son too.

I know that many people believe that Diana had no intention of marrying Dodi, saying that she just liked free holidays on the yacht and wanted to get attention and make Hasnat Khan jealous, but Dodi’s father did everything he could to further the relationship. He ordered Dodi to leave the model he was engaged to and give attention to Diana and ensure that she had a good time.

It is putting it mildly to say that all his wishes, plans and actions backfired.

It is said that by wanting something very much, we attract forces that prevent us from getting it.

It is possible that uncontrolled ambition is both caused and thwarted in disconnected, unprotected people by some sadistic and evil force.

As always, identifying a feature is one thing; understanding the mechanics behind it is something else.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Karmic retribution and sugar in the tea

A very minor incident has provided the material for an article about how the punishment sometimes fits the crime.

I visited some people a few days ago and was offered tea. When asked if I wanted any sugar in it, for some strange reason I said I would have a small spoonful. I don’t know what came over me to make me say that: I never ever take sugar with tea as I think it ruins the taste. I drank it without much enjoyment.

When something unpleasant happens, I have learned to work backwards to find the cause. There is almost always some connection between the incident and one of the items on my checklist. For example, it could be that I had been in the company of an energy vampire or had a horrible jarring shock.

It is worth making similar checks if I make a mistake or act out of character, even in very minor matters. In all cases, one possibility to consider is that I am getting back what I sent out and the chickens are coming home to roost.

By coincidence, two days earlier someone had visited me and asked for a little sugar in his tea. We were talking a lot about databases and work and I forgot to put any in; he didn’t say anything and I only realised my mistake a few hours after he had gone!

It may be a relevant factor that my resistance is very low at the moment. Not only does a tiny task seem like a huge project and a small setback like a big disaster, but a minor mistake also seems like a major crime, and I feel guilty as hell. When I suddenly remembered that he had asked for sugar, my automatic reaction was: “Oh no, how awful of me to forget!”

Even in the case of very trivial incidents, it is always worth trying to find a possible cause.

Perhaps I transmitted some signal and it was picked up and interpreted as a desire to be punished for my crime! In other words, it was my reaction to what I did - or rather forgot to do - and not the crime itself that triggered the fitting punishment.

Connecting cause and effect is one thing; trying to understand the mechanics behind it all is something else.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Playing the fairy godmother game again

A recent minor incident in my life has provided some material for a small addition to a previous article.

Someone I did some work for many years ago got in touch out of the blue because he had a database-related assignment and wanted me for the job. I told him that although I no longer do that sort of work, I would mention the assignment to a colleague with the relevant background and experience.

This colleague had left his job a while back to set up a very different kind of business of his own, but he told me that if some suitable short-term freelance work came along he might be interested. He said that he wanted to keep his hand in and stay in touch with the sector, and the money would be useful too.

I put them in touch with each other, and they have come to an arrangement. They get on very well too. My friend has had some bad experiences with incompetent and unpleasant management in the past, which is why he left to work for himself. He is very happy with the people he will be working for, and says that it was obviously my recommendation that got him the work.

So I gave both sides something that they had been wishing for. They got it on a plate.

This is no big deal; finding suitable people and work via informal networks happens all the time. There are a few features that make it worth mentioning on here though. 

Some of the people in my family poisoned everything they touched. They brought misfortunes and bad luck to many of the people around them too. It is still a great relief when something happens to show that I have not only broken the evil spell but reversed it and am in general an influence for good.

After visiting the office, my colleague told me that even if he was not offered the work, he would still have met new people in the sector and had interview practice. He would be happy to just have that. This is another example of someone who attracted more by expressing gratitude and appreciation for what he already had. Not only that, but I like to feel that I am moving in what I see as the right circles, with positive people.

The other point of interest is that I had been wishing and wishing that I could find a suitable project for someone else. He has been having a bad time, and a good assignment would solve many problems. So maybe the good wishes went slightly astray and affected a different person.  In the past, I have only ever seen this happen with what might be called cursing or ill-wishing.

So my first big wish for 2018 is that something good will come along for this other man.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Benjamin Disraeli, John Tenniel and Lewis Carroll

Several aspects of Benjamin Disraeli and his life have been described in previous articles.  This one will cover some of the artworks and fictional characters he inspired in two other eminent Victorians.

Disraeli was god’s gift to cartoonists. The famous illustrator John Tenniel depicted him many times in the satirical magazine Punch. I like this one of him dressed as an angel for a fancy dress ball:

Disraeli was also the inspiration for some of Tenniel’s illustrations that Lewis Carroll commissioned for the Alice books.

The Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland resembles Tenniel’s caricatures of Disraeli:

Tenniel also put Disraeli into one of his illustrations for Alice Through the Looking Glass; the man in the white paper suit in the railway carriage is Dizzy:

Lewis Carroll himself made a reference to Disraeli - and his Reform Bill - with his character Bill the Lizard, whose name is a play on Disraeli’s name:

Carroll also based his Lion and Unicorn characters on Disraeli and his rival and enemy William Gladstone, the other man in the cartoon above. They fight each other for the crown, just as Gladstone and Disraeli fought for power in Parliament. Gladstone was seen as the Lion and Disraeli as the Unicorn.

Here they are in one of Tenniel’s original illustrations:

The Bill and the White Paper were just political in-jokes, but the pyramid, the lizard, the goat and the beetle sitting next to the goat in the railway carriage make me think of Egypt and David Icke’s references to lizard people.

Then there is the Lion and the Unicorn connection. Lions and unicorns are associated with Leo and Aquarius.

I wonder if Lewis Carroll and John Tenniel were giving us some messages, consciously or unconsciously.

Tenniel’s depiction of Disraeli as the Sphinx:

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A few words from Rudyard Kipling on his birthday

Words are one of the greatest of the unseen influences that affect our lives.

In February 1923, Rudyard Kipling gave a speech at the Annual Dinner of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. This well-known quotation comes from his address:

 “I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind…”

He is right. Words are a supremely powerful force that can affect people very strongly. Words help people to escape into another world.

While ‘tool’ would perhaps be a better word than ‘drug’, I remember reading that Dennis Wheatley got large numbers of letters from people in hospital who said that his books helped them to forget their pain.

Some of Kipling’s words are not so much a drug as a tonic and an inspiration:

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”

This quote has been attributed to Nietzsche, but Rudyard Kipling said it at an interview in 1935.

He was right about the price for being an individual too.

The potion of poetry
In Stalky & Co., Kipling says that a book of poetry borrowed from the Headmaster’s library makes McTurk completely drunk for three days. Beetle, who is Kipling himself, reads avidly whenever he gets the chance. He disappears for days into another world while reading a book that a master threw at him; it takes some hammering on his head with a spoon and a threat to drop a pilchard down his neck to make him stop reading and bring him back down to earth!

Some people don’t use or need alcohol or other stimulants; words and the images they evoke can inflame their imaginations, induce trances and intoxicate them. Rudyard Kipling was both a recipient of and a contributor to this phenomenon.

The weaving of words
I would call Kipling a weaver of words; some of his poetry is like a spell of enchantment.

Puck's Song from Puck of Pook's Hill, which demonstrates Kipling’s love of England and English history, is a very good example of his power to create magical pictures in people’s minds.  It mentions Gramarye, which has associations with magic and occult learning.  Isle of Gramarye has been used as an alternative name for Britain.

The entire poem can be read here here. These are the final two stanzas:

Trackway and Camp and City lost,
     Salt Marsh where now is corn;
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
     And so was England born!

She is not any common Earth,
     Water or wood or air,
But Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye,
     Where you and I will fare.