by Jon Atack
We Can Help You With That!
Predatory groups use a powerful mixture of social and psychological techniques for recruitment or seduction of their victims.
The Sales Pitch
Recruitment or seduction into toxic groups and relationships begins with contact, whether in person or through advertising.
The recruiter or seducer often offers something – a pamphlet, joss sticks, flowers or cheap jewelry – so that you’ll offer something back, following the principle of reciprocity.
Friendly rapport is established by agreement and flattery. It is wise to be cautious of any stranger who love-bombs you, or agrees enthusiastically with everything you say.
Seducers and recruiters will often touch you physically to establish rapport. Pick-up artists are taught to touch a target’s hair. Even a handshake can cause a more positive response.
Recruiters for a group may test resistance by mentioning the organization’s name, and then dismissing any negative information, often attacking the source of the criticism, rather than answering the criticism itself: “Oh, you can’t believe anything you read in the papers!”
A recruiter or seducer may exploit your distress, by probing to find out what is upsetting you, or what you long for.
Fear of worsening may be played up: “You’ve tried everything but you know it will only get worse.”
Membership of the group or starting a relationship with the seducer is offered as a solution. As part of a typical sales pitch, a cult recruiter will make up a story about someone who solved a similar problem by taking a course or joining the group.
Techniques are used that lead to a sense of awe – a peak experience. This is strengthened to become fervor or infatuation.
While the targeted person is still high from the peak experience, belief is strengthened by statements of appreciation or written testimonials.