by Jon Atack
Destructive cult groups use practiced techniques of seduction to recruit new members. Most aim at attracting young adults, so many university campuses have banned them, but recruiters can still join clubs where they can employ their often sophisticated methods.
We are most vulnerable when our routines change: a new town, a new college or job, or after an upset or the break-up of a relationship. We are more open to new ideas at such times.
Most cult members are well-meaning people, who genuinely believe in the virtues of their group. Unfortunately, destructive leaders teach their manipulations to their followers, who come to think that it is alright to bend the truth for the good of the cause. They become agents of the predator who runs the group, despite their best intentions.
Recruiters first of all want to attract attention. This is the lure aspect of seduction. They usually present a cheerful appearance and have a friendly approach.
A recruiter wants to develop rapport as quickly as possible, so will often begin with a compliment about your appearance or your opinions.
A recruiter will seek out ideas to agree with. This might be as simple as asking what the potential recruit likes to do, or what they believe in, and agreeing vigorously. It could be a movie, a track or a holiday destination, but agreement is the foundation from which an approach will be made.
The recruiter wants to know about doubt and dissatisfaction, so that a solution – their belief system – can be offered. What is spoiling your life? What are your deepest fears?
You will be offered a remedy – from finding a date to getting rich quick; from distress at social inequality to overcoming the fear of death.
The recruiter – or seducer – will offer an end to loneliness, through membership of a joyful, purposeful community. But the joyful community will often turn into virtual slavery.
It is always best to find private time to think about any offer of relationship, whether with a charismatic individual or a group. Talk to friends, check the Internet, and don’t sign on the dotted line until you’ve had time to think it through.