Hiding in Plain Sight: How Cult Leaders Entrap People

The following is a transcript of my documentary on YouTube.

When we hear the word ‘cult,’ we probably think of a group of people who dress the same, live in a remote area, and blindly follow a Jesus-like figure.

However, in the modern world, these malevolent yet very charismatic individuals can isolate and indoctrinate people just as effectively as if they met them face to face.

You start following them because their message resonates with you, and without knowing, you gradually end up in a rabbit hole where you’re losing a lot of money, but what’s worse… you are losing your individuality – You are losing yourself.

And it’s not only the authoritarian leaders and fraudsters you need to be cautious of.

According to Dr. Steven Hassan, a renowned mental health expert, there are also cases where someone dominates another person to such an extreme that they cannot think for themselves, rendering them dependent and obedient. Essentially, they create a micro-cult.

The abuser can be a parent, partner, friend, or boss.

So in this documentary, we will analyze the disturbing personality of cult leaders and how they entrap people.

I believe that by understanding how indoctrination works, you can protect yourself from them.

Are You Really YOU!

It’s 1963 in a southern Albanian city.

Nevruz, a young man, and six close friends plan to escape from the totalitarian regime.

Even though the Albanian border is guarded by trigger-happy, loyal-to-the-party soldiers… for these young men, the possibility of life in a free country is worth the risk.

Unfortunately, they were easily caught.

Now Nevruz is standing in trial and only sees two friends. It seems like the rest were fucking rats.

If their betrayal wasn’t enough, they play a recording of his father saying that he’s not his son anymore and that he should be thrown in prison or even executed.

But it gets worse…

He is sent into the infamous prison of Spac. It was a place where the regime sent political prisoners and tortured them systematically.

It was a living hell.

Once, the prisoners including Nevruz, organize a massive revolt that shakes the regime. But, of course, it was violently crushed by the army.

Now, throughout 20 years in prison, the only person who visited Nevruz was his grandma.

That day she was very excited because the prison warden told her that he could get a reduced sentence.

However, that great news was met with a cold demeanor.

He asked, ‘Do you know what they want from me?

They want me to become a spy for them.’

“Well, in that case,” said Grandma, “if you become a spy, don’t ever step on my door.”

Nevruz assured her that he would rather die in prison than work for the regime.

It was the last time he saw her because after that meeting she got sick and then passed away.

After he was released from prison, he went to his village and sent a little kid to inform his father. But his words were the same as those he had expressed in court.

There are three lessons we can take from this story:

First, never underestimate the brutality of humans.

Second, a cult leader cannot maintain power alone. There are loyal followers close to him who carry out his agenda.

They actively work to recruit new members or punish those who oppose his moronic teachings.

There’s a wise quote by Simone De Beauvoir: “The oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed”

The third lesson is that there are groups of people in any country, who connect their sense of identity with a particular ideology, whether it be political, religious, social, economic; it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that they look at the world as black and white; Us vs Them.

You can notice that when you argue with them… there’s no middle ground.

In other words, they are possessed by the ideology, making their mentality very rigid.

Here’s a scary thing to think about…

Throughout your life, you were a decent person. But something happened that led you to embrace a particular ideology.

Can you trust yourself that you won’t turn into someone who hates other groups or even an entire gender?

Can you trust yourself that you won’t become violent and hurt other people, even those who love you?

The answer is No.

You cannot trust yourself.

Here’s why…

Since your entire sense of being, who you are, and how you see the world is completely dominated by the ideology… Then going against it is like going against yourself.

So you will suppress or rationalize your doubts.

You won’t criticize it, and for sure, you won’t tolerate criticism by other people.

It’s a really bleak reality.

Indoctrinated people abandon critical thinking, and they might even abandon their kid for not being a sheep, as that POS father did.

They don’t look at you as a person but like an object blocking their road.

In some cases, they look at you an enemy of the group who deserves to be punished. And they are willing to act.

These people are transformed into some kind of robots. They’re good enough to carry on their duties, but nothing more.

During the trial, Nevruz heard the voice of a man who was biologically his father, but was it really his father?

Why people get indoctrinated?

People are more vulnerable to manipulation when they face health or economic problems or go through major transition phases in their lives.

For example, they might be far away from home, have become new parents, lost a loved one, have gone through a breakup, lost their job, or are simply feeling depressed.

Imagine being in that psychological state… where you are not only physically exhausted, but it seems like your soul is also exhausted.

Suddenly, a stranger initiates a conversation and invites you to a meeting.

It can be a gathering about anything… to discuss religion, a free seminar, a conference, to practice yoga. You know, different cults have different ways to lure people in. So you don’t know that you are dealing with a cult.

At the meeting, you experience ‘love bombing.’ Everyone is behaving nicely, and it seems a positive community of like-minded people. The leader speaks what you have in mind, and there’s a special connection with him.

Don’t you feel connected to someone, even a stranger, who seems to think just like you or, what’s more powerful, speaks what you’re too scared to speak?

Now you will listen to a lot of speeches or interviews from this person because he’s very charismatic. What he says sounds profound, and you think, ‘My God, he’s so wise.’

However, if you pay close attention to all of his speeches, despite covering various subjects, there’s an overall theme.

The world sucks; it has never been so bad and is full of people who don’t know how to fix it. But you are lucky because you are a part of an enlightened group.

Together, we will fight evil and save the country, the religion, masculinity, femininity, bring the world peace… whatever your deepest fantasies are.

A conversation with the followers of sun myung moon

I remember a few years ago I had a quick conversation with the followers of Sun Moon, and I think you might find it helpful to better understand the mentality of people trapped in a cult.

So here I am, going for a walk, and I see these large posters in the city square and some young people promoting a book. I get curious, and since I don’t have anything better to do, I ask a girl about the book. She tells me it’s a biography of a great man named Sun Moon.

His name sounded familiar, but I didn’t initially make the connection.

After a while, an older guy approaches (for the sake of simplicity let’s call him Joe) and tells me they meet regularly to discuss his philosophy and also travel around the country to spread the word of Sun Moon.

That’s when it clicked in my mind, and I ask him, ‘Are you aware that you are in a cult and your leader is a horrible person?’

‘No, no, no, we are not a cult; we are a family.’

[Very poor choice of words]

I insisted that I read in an article that he was addicted to cocaine and beat his pregnant wife.

Joe responds, ‘Yeah, I have read those. They are just lies because they want to shut him off.’

‘Why would they want to shut him off? Is he that important?’ I ask.

‘Yes. He’s a threat because he is trying to unite the religions together. He’s bringing world peace.’ Joe points to the flyer. ‘Look at these pictures. These are religious figures hanging out with him.’

Then I say to him, ‘First of all, anyone can get a picture with anybody. It doesn’t prove anything. And it’s impossible to unite all people together, especially those of different religions who have always been hostile towards each other. You know, the history of religion is written in blood.

So he is selling a fantasy. Don’t you see that?’

Joe responds, ‘How do you know this is impossible? Who told you that?’

‘Freud.’

He explained that human beings are driven by irrational forces. We are basically animals who constantly fight for power and resources. So we can’t live all together under one roof, so to speak.

It’s a beautiful dream. But not possible.

Then Joe changes the conversation and says, ‘Look, we are all about living in a traditional family. And there are people who want to ruin it…’

And I say, ‘Sure, it’s a good thing to have a family, but earlier you were describing a utopia.’

He cuts me off and asks a point-blank question: ‘Are you pro of gay people living together because that’s what’s happening?’

I have to admit that it took me by surprise, and I say: ‘I honestly couldn’t care less about with whom people are sleeping because it doesn’t affect my life whatsoever.’

Then he says, ‘Look, I have to talk to other people as well. But why don’t you come to our meetings, and we will talk more about it?’

I didn’t go to those meetings, and I did well because who knows, I might have ended up in a cult.

How to overcome adversity

I have to admit that when I had that conversation, I was at a low point in my life. Probably the lowest. And I knew that a time of crisis is always a huge opportunity for cults, authoritarian leaders, and scammers to exploit people.

I was extra careful about whom to trust because you can easily go from a storm to a shit storm. Once you are seduced by their message, you gradually go deeper and deeper into their maze where it’s very difficult to get out.

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So if you are facing a huge problem, try to look at reality as it is, no matter how painful that might be… Believe me that the pain of being wrong is much better than the comfort of wishful thinking.

We tend to resort to wishful thinking because we don’t like to admit that we made foolish decisions.

But it’s important to understand that we ALL make them.

Here’s why…

Our brain has this ability called pattern recognition. It creates patterns out of seemingly unrelated information.

This capability has helped us survive and come up with creative solutions to our problems.

The downside is that we will often form irrational beliefs.

So we’ve all believed things that are not true; we’ve all made foolish decisions that caused us a lot of pain.

It’s how we are.

Now you can fixate on your past, thinking that you were a failure or that other people wronged you. In other words, victimizing yourself. But speaking from personal experience, it will lead you down a path where you’ll make many more terrible decisions and get hurt even more.

Or, you can admit that you did your best with the mindset and tools you had at your disposal and just move the fuck on.

Accept yourself and the situation as it is, without wishing it to be different, with all the advantages and disadvantages, pluses, and minuses.

In other words, play with the cards that you were given.

But if you can’t move on, then you can do what I did: find an experienced psychologist and actually listen to their advice. After all, that’s why you are paying them—to give you a different perspective and show you effective ways to overcome your obstacles.

I’m mentioning this because, in therapy I tried to do things my way.

When the results showed that my way was not working at all, I still insisted on it and wasted a lot of time.

You know, I was denying reality; I was engaging in wishful thinking. I could have saved so much pain and time if I had simply listened to her advice.

This is an example that even when things are going well for you, you can still mess it up. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Now, besides going to therapy, other things that are extremely helpful when you are facing adversity are… being physically active and appreciating, or even creating art.

Going to the gym every day it’s a no-brainer. It will help you develop confidence and discipline while art will encourage you to look at things from a different or broader perspective, which is the opposite of rigid thinking.

Most importantly, a great work of art displays the character and the worldview of the artist, providing a very unique and powerful experience that makes life worth living.

While researching for this video, I read an interesting article where a top cardiologist argued that the job of science is to make people healthy and comfortable, but we fulfill ourselves by enjoying art, literature, and music.

He stated that if Einstein had not written down E=mc^2, another scientist would one day have done so, but no one else could have written Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

So art creates a beautiful, meaningful, and unique experience.

An exercise that can help you in this aspect is thinking about a hobby that used to be a lot of fun, but as you grew up, you were distracted by everyday problems and forgot about it. It might be writing, painting, creating music, fixing things, building – You know, try to find that exciting hobby and do it again.

My point is that when you are going through a rough time, keeping your mind and body active will help you overcome it.

As a result, you are less likely to be manipulated by dangerous individuals.

And this brings us to the next chapter…

The dangerous personality of the cult leader

The leader of a cult or authoritarian regime will make all the important decisions, and the most loyal followers ensure that his decisions are enforced.

Those close to him are truly spineless.

They strive to win his respect and approval but never actually get it.

At most, he will praise them for a job well done, and probably on the same day criticize them harshly over some small mistakes.

Now being an obedient dog has its benefits, right? They make a lot of money and have some power over people.

But since they do all his dirty work, when the law knocks on their door, who’s the first to go to prison?

That’s right. These mfs

And that’s a good scenario for them. Because the leader can easily get paranoid that people below him are conspiring to stab him in the back. So he will get rid of them… He will destroy their career or worse.

Just like his minions and followers, the leader is lost in the mental labyrinth he has built. He’s so lost that, there’s no hope of ever getting out.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised by their ruthlessness and stupidity.

In addition, many cult leaders are diagnosed with malignant narcissism.

It’s a mix of narcissism with antisocial traits like being aggressive, manipulative, and a threat to others.

They are addicted to feeling admired and are willing to do anything to achieve success.

Although they present themselves as highly skilled and confident, in reality, they possess a shallow intellect.

This tendency extends to personal relationships; they may seduce someone but cannot form a deep and intimate relationship with them.

And a common trait you can notice is that he doesn’t accept criticism or being questioned… which makes sense you know, if you believe you’re the special one… not this one, he’s actually special in his field.

But if you believe that you’re chosen by a supernatural entity, who are these mere mortals to question your words right?

Here’s the funny thing, according to psychiatrist Otto Kernberg, their grandiose feelings stem from their paranoia.

“The paranoid tendencies in Malignant Narcissism reflect their projection of unresolved hatred onto others whom they persecute. They have a deep sense of mistrust and view others as enemies or idols, either devaluing or idealizing them.

They have disorganized superegos and consequently lack the capacity for remorse, sadness, or self-exploration. They are preoccupied with conspiracy theories. Their pathological grandiosity is a defense against paranoid anxiety.”

In my next video, I’ll dive deeper into why people are indoctrinated or radicalized. And what specific techniques these dangerous individuals use to entrap others.

But right now let’s analyze an interesting phenomenon where a politician has a scarily similar personality and worldview to cult leaders.

And it makes you wonder, are they…

Politicians or Cult Leaders?

Today, some leaders differ a lot from others.

They don’t spark ideas but controversy.

They don’t encourage cooperation but division.

They don’t instill hope in people’s hearts but fear.

During campaigns, they give an exciting show, tapping into people’s emotions and making big promises… And people like them.

However, running a country is an enormous responsibility. Not everyone can lead.

The time for words is over; now you need to deliver.

When you become a prime minister or president, it’s not about you anymore; now you represent an entire nation.

The problem is that some are malignant narcissists; they see themselves as larger than life.

A quick note here: Having a healthy dose of narcissism is good for you. It will help you be more optimistic and resilient.

And for a politician, having narcissistic tendencies is necessary because they are seeking to carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders. So they need to have some belief that they are special and can pull it off.

The problem is that, as we said, malignant narcissists are addicted to being admired; have scary low levels of empathy; and create a highly toxic environment which is a strong deterrent to intelligent people.

All in all, they have a rigid mentality which is detrimental for the country.

And if the country faces a huge crisis, they won’t be able to lead because they lack the necessary psychological preparation to look at things calmly and make smart decisions.

So, they’ll resort to the only thing they know best: spreading fear and propaganda which of course has serious consequences.

You know, it reminds me of a stand-up bit by Dave Chappelle; he has a flying phobia, and when there’s turbulence, he gets scared. But if he looks at the stewardess and she’s calm, then he’s calm. But if she’s anxious, then he will panic.

He draws a parallel to a situation where Donald Trump, lacking the ability to convey confidence, intensified people’s fears.

Because here’s the deal…

When things are not going well, our default reaction is to look up to authority figures. And if they seem confident that we will make it, then we calm down and do the right things to overcome the crisis fast.

But if the leader and the media spread panic, then most of us go into survival mode; we don’t fully use our logical brain and the crisis will last for a long time.

We also need to understand that it’s not simply about incompetence.

Because there are leaders who may not excel at their jobs, yet they listen to experts and willingly step down when the time comes.

The issue with a malignant narcissist leader lies in being out of touch with reality and harboring malicious intentions.

Since he cannot perform at a high level and lead the country… He will use all of his influence to manipulate people, especially his voters, and bring down their level.

He can do it by using the media to divide people and pit them against each other. He will also use his influence to help huge corporations make more money so when the election comes, he will receive massive donations.

With that money, he dominates media coverage; wins the election, and repeats the cycle.

The good news is that authoritarian systems sooner or later collapse.

History has shown that it is unsustainable.

The difference is that in some countries like the US it can happen fast, while in other countries, it can last for a long time.

But they always collapse, and the country will try to move on.

The bad news is that just because the leader is out of the game or even dead, doesn’t mean you can go back to normal, and think that it won’t happen anymore.

Because his ideology lives on. Sure, in a smaller percentage of the population and they’re not as vocal as they used to be. But they are still there.

And when the country faces a crisis, a new dangerous individual will exploit that situation and restart the past.

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