Ten Common Cult Traits

Every once in a while, I’ll turn a comment into a post because I feel the story, especially entertaining (see Y2K), or content especially valuable, or both. I was shocked when I started reading academic literature on cults; “school”, also known as The Study”, had every, single cultic hallmark. I thought to myself, “How could I have missed this???”

Unfortunately, we don’t typically get educated on how to spot a con-job. Recently a contributor posted these ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader. It is in the spirit of education/self empowerment that I highlight them. You have all had your own experiences of “school”, i.e. “The Study” and can determine for yourself whether they remind you of a certain “secret esoteric mystery school” or “study”:

1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
9. The group/leader is always right.
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

For more information on identifying cults, visit the Cult Education Institute, Warning Signs page.