Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cult members and the superiority syndrome

Yet another warning to people who are involved with cult members:

- They consider themselves to be superior to anyone who is not part of their organisation.

It is standard practice for members of various groups to be told that they are superior to outsiders. This helps to enforce solidarity and institute an 'us and them' mentality.

This is something that acquaintances, friends and family of members of cults and cult-like organisations often have to deal with. All they can usually do is try to understand why the members believe it: trying to discuss the superiority syndrome or telling them a few home truths is useless if not counter-productive.

The Superiority Syndrome
Sometimes cult members are told that they are superior 'just because'; sometimes the stated reason is that they are part of an elite group of people who have left the mass of humanity behind and devoted their lives to a cause.

They are special because they have access to secret knowledge, knowledge that the herd would never be able to deserve, understand or make use of.

Sometimes members are told that they are superior because of their godliness and righteousness, which makes them the only people who will be saved from Hell. Everyone else is a lost soul.

Perhaps they think that they are superior because of what they sacrifice and what they endure.

It may also be that they are told that outsiders are inferior, tainted and unenlightened; outsiders live in the outer darkness while members reside in the inner light. The members have gone where the under-privileged outsiders are unable, unwilling and unworthy to follow.

Cult members may pity non-members for what they are missing or feel contempt because they are not up to their standards and haven’t made the grade. Outsiders may be seen as ignorant, as not being politically minded, spiritual, or dedicated enough to qualify for selection. In other cases, when they do not respond to attempts to recruit them, they might be considered stupid, selfish, misguided and cowardly.

I read in some novel about a Catholic priest who told his flock, mostly married people with children, that they were living on the crumbs and crusts of life and only he had the real thing. What an insult. And how wrong he was. He may have had more theological knowledge than his congregation and been more focussed and dedicated, but he was probably below them in many other areas. People such as this need to believe that they have the better part.

Some members will conceal their feelings of superiority when in the company of outsiders, while others will make them very clear. My own experience is of people who hid their feelings for many years, then revealed them when I asked awkward questions and said things that were against their ideology.

What is behind the feeling of superiority?
Possibly the most important point here is that feeling superior may help to quell subconscious doubts that what they are being told is true and what they are doing is ethical and worthwhile. They need to see themselves as deeply superior to outsiders because they might be unable to function or carry on if they didn’t. Their inner world, which is based on fantasy and dissociation, might collapse like a house of cards.

Feeling superior to outsiders may also be compensation for being constantly criticised and made to feel inferior by higher-ranking members or the cult leader.

People who assume an air of superiority when with non members may also do it as a way of demanding attention, recognition and appreciation for such things as the sacrifices they are making, the work they are doing or their esoteric knowledge.

Non-members and the superiority syndrome
When outsiders realize that they are considered inferior, some may buy it and feel humbled, unworthy and unenlightened while others may be confused, irritated, offended, angered or even amused.

I used to be annoyed when patronised as it is not easy to take, but I now feel sorry for people who are so out of touch with reality.

We should feel pity for the members because their feeling of superiority is often a delusion, an irrational conviction that may be compensation for dimly sensed feelings of inferiority. After all, they do often behave in ways that decent human beings would not, and their personalities may be undeveloped or warped.

It is worth bearing in mind that some people protest too much, and that saying something is true or believing it to be true does not make it true. See this article

People who really are superior do not use manipulation - intimidation, trickery, lying and other techniques - to get others to do what they want or as a way of avoiding a proper discussion.

Perhaps I really am inferior!
It was a poster on the old Conservative Conspiracy Forum who got me thinking about cults again after a gap of many years.

‘Glad’ was worried about a friend of hers who was a long-term member of a religious cult. We were able to provide much independent confirmation for each other: our experiences were similar in many ways. She said this:

”... and yes I did wonder for years if she was justified in her feelings of superiority.“

My reply:

“… you are not alone. Many people have felt exactly the same. Being considered inferior, being treated as crazy, stupid, a criminal and a traitor, can get the recipients wondering whether there might be something in it.

I could say a lot on this subject, but perhaps it is best to just remind ourselves that some assertions are a dead giveaway.

Remember Emerson’s wise words:

“The louder he spoke of his honour the faster we counted our spoons.”

People whose feelings of superiority are based on faith, conviction and indoctrination alone are delusional.

However, they may be convincing just because they are convinced. 

We need to examine and challenge their beliefs and premises. As it is impossible to have a proper discussion with them, we have to debate with ourselves.

I found that after going through all the accusations point by point and playing my own devil’s advocate, I came out feeling much better and with a much stronger case for support. And they can sense this; they know that their attacks and manipulative tricks just won’t work anymore so they stop doing it.

So, you are inferior because you don’t want to join and hand over your earnings to an organisation that sends huge amounts of money overseas to be spent on who knows what and orders you not to associate with non-members?

The members are the inferior ones.

Summary of the superiority syndrome
Non members should not be fooled by the impression and promotion of superiority: it is all image and a façade. It is often a cover for the exact opposite.

Non members should not try to persuade the members of their error: this might trigger their attack dog or confirm their belief that outsiders just don’t understand.

Non members should not try to defend their views or reasons for not joining as this puts them at a disadvantage. A mixture of bafflement, pity and amusement, perhaps also with a few remarks that slip past the defences, is a better bet.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Cults, occultists and Stella Gibbons: Part I

I have both learned and been reminded of many things since I produced the article about white and black magic in the books of Stella Gibbons.

While re-reading her biography recently, I saw something that prompted me to take another look at her novel The Shadow of a Sorcerer. I noticed a lot more relevant material this time around and made some new connections, so have something to add to what I previously wrote about this book.

First, what I saw that gave rise to this article:

Stella Gibbons and Aleister Crowley
When I first read Out of the Woodshed by Reggie Oliver, I was mainly interested in the details of Stella Gibbons’s early life. Much of the other information didn’t register, and I overlooked two references to infamous people. This time around, their names jumped out at me. 

One was Adolf Hitler - his connection with Stella Gibbons has been described elsewhere - and the other was the occultist Aleister Crowley.

Her nephew tells us that Stella Gibbons once saw Crowley outside the Café Royal in central London. I don’t know the date, but guess that it was in the 1930s.

Her impression was unfavourable. When her nephew asked hopefully if this was because of Crowley’s air of supernatural malignancy, she said no, what repelled her was that he had the look of a man who was desperately trying to attract attention.

This is spot on. Such people have forfeited their inner sources of sustenance and are often disconnected and empty, so they need to live off others to fill the void. They may be prisoners and hostages too, desperate for someone or something to save them.  

After reading about this encounter, I remembered Esmé Scarron, the evil occultist in The Shadow of a Sorcerer, and wondered whether Stella Gibbons had used Crowley as the inspiration for this character.

The book was published in 1955, so there were many years after the sighting in which she could have talked to people and done some research.

Whatever the source, Esmé Scarron is a person of great interest. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Cult members and the attack-dog syndrome

Here is yet another warning about what can happen when dealing with cult members:

They may automatically attack, with varying levels of viciousness, people who say or do something unacceptable to them, their ideology or their organisation. They may behave like attack dogs, sometimes just growling or snapping at people and sometimes going straight for the jugular.

I have already written about the phenomenon known as the attack-dog syndrome in this article, but want to add something to my original ideas and go into the topic more deeply and in greater detail.

Games, tricks and techniques
When cult members don’t want to talk about something or listen to what people are trying to tell them, they will use one or more of the standard techniques in their repertoire.

It is all automatic, and the goal is to silence people.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Georgette Heyer and Stella Gibbons: some coincidences

For me, Georgette Heyer’s books are, or rather were, pure escape material and comfort reading. I have not read any of them for a very long time as they have lost much of their earlier appeal. I don’t remember seeing anything in any of them that would be relevant to the themes of this blog.

Stella Gibbons’s novels are primarily a source of material for articles about unseen influences: there are references to Stella Gibbons and her books in a few articles on here.

These two novelists have more elements of their lives in common than I would have expected, considering how very different their novels are. I looked at the major similarities and differences in their lives and personalities to see if I could see any patterns and detect any unseen influences at work. Although I found much fascinating and informative material, most of it is not very relevant to this blog. I did find a few interesting coincidences however.

It is customary to leave the best till last, but I want to start with the most bizarre and unexpected material that I found while researching the two authors:

Novels and the Nazis
It is quite a coincidence that the names of both writers were known to the Nazi regime - for very different reasons.

Georgette Heyer had some of her books banned in Nazi Germany, whereas one of Stella Gibbons’s was translated into German and presented to Adolf Hitler!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today is Charlotte Brontë’s birthday

Charlotte Brontë was born in Yorkshire 202 years ago today.

She came into this world on April 21st 1816, in Thornton in Yorkshire.

She appears in many articles on this blog, as both her novels and her life are of great interest and relevance. There were innumerable articles and reviews and some biographies already in existence, but I described some of the unseen influences I detected, producing some original material.

To mark the occasion, here is a quotation from Villette that I particularly like because it mentions London:

"I did well to come," I said ... "I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets; and for ever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?"

She also mentions St. Paul’s Cathedral in a descriptive paragraph that reminds me of the essence of London near the river on a fine spring morning:

Prodigious was the amount of life I lived that morning. Finding myself before St. Paul's, I went in; I mounted to the dome: I saw thence London, with its river, and its bridges, and its churches; I saw antique Westminster, and the green Temple Gardens, with sun upon them, and a glad, blue sky, of early spring above; and between them and it, not too dense, a cloud of haze.

St. Paul’s with Victorian visitors in 1848, a year in which Charlotte and Anne Brontë visited London together:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

April 19th is Primrose Day

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli died on this day in 1881.

For many years his statue in Parliament Square was decorated with primroses on the anniversary, but while the custom may still be partly observed where his tomb at Hughenden is concerned there is nothing to see today in central London.

This is a pity, but these customs do sometimes die a natural death.

This article describes the glory days of Primrose Day and the Primrose League.

Many books by and about this great man are still in print, so he is not completely forgotten yet.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Cults and the sole supplier syndrome

This article contains a few thoughts about a feature of many cults and cult-like organisations, a feature that I think of as the sole supplier syndrome.

Cult members may push the message that they and their organisation are the sole source of something - for example, information, hope for the future, democracy for an oppressed nation or even salvation. You will never get what you want without their help; only they can inform you about and explain something; only they have the answers; they are the elite and nothing and no one else is any good to you.

It is best to beware of anyone who tries to attract your interest and recruit you by playing the sole supplier game. You can expect to hear a lot of this sort of thing:

“We are your only hope.”  “We are the only ones who can tell you what is really going on.” “Without us, the evil regime will never be overthrown.” “When civilisation collapses, you will die unless you join us now and learn survival skills.”

It is important to understand that this is what they all say. It is a case of same game, different players.

If you buy their messages, they may try to get you to support or even commit everything that you have to their cause or movement.

Cults and their representatives want your money; they want to fool, manipulate and intimidate you. If you seem suitable for membership, they will want to draw you in and control you, your life and your thoughts. They will want you to reply on them for everything and depend on them alone.

In order to avoid being taken advantage of, it is essential to research everything and to expose the implied messages, subject them to reality testing and determine what the ulterior motives and hidden agenda are.