If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it's probably......

by LDH 22 Replies latest jw friends

  • Honesty
    It is obvious that they do not want lots of people coming to their meetings all at once. Drew Sagan

    I never thought of the implications of your statement until now, Drew.

    No wonder they don't have a marquee out front advertising the topic of Sunday's Public Talk or WT Study.

    No mention in big letters of meeting times, either.

    I can just imagine 200 born agains showing up for a Public Talk and WT Study. Hmmmm....

  • Spectre

    I have no problem any more telling people that I was raised in a mind controlling cult. I am less embarassed about telling them that than when I was in and telling people that I was a JW.

  • Funchback

    I tell anyone who will listen that it is a cult. Why? Because it's a "duck"!

  • Sentient

    I believe that the Witnesses cause serious, real, quantifiable, scientifically and experientially verifiable psychological harm via their process of coercive persuasion and progressive thought reform. In plain english: the hardcore Witness is gradually "brainwashed" without physical force. Some people are more vulnerable to it than others. I believe the best way to help the hardcore members is to understand them and share the right information with them at the right time. I know this because after being a true believer and leaving, I experienced just about every single symptom on this list formulated by the now-deceased formost expert on high-control groups in the world Dr. Margaret Singer. I never spoke to this woman yet she described my mental experience to the minutest detail of accuracy.


    It's not so much the specific doctrines as it is the techniques used to persuade, isolate and control the individual without them even being aware of what is happening to them. These same techinques have been used by other groups time and again, and they are what separate the high-control groups from the less controlling religions or institutions. They are degrees, it is not black and white. But the Witnesses are very near the far end of the spectrum.

    Without hesitation I can say that all of the items in the following article clearly apply to the Witnesses:


    I believe any open-minded mental health professional or other person who interviews enough current and former Witnesses will come to the same conclusion. As a result of the intense indoctrination I received since infancy, I have had to deal with a condition known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...it is known to sometimes be the result of involvement in high-control religous "cults". It is truly like surviving a war and the symptoms can be at least as extreme. Countless other hardcore Witnesses who have left experience the same thing to a greater or lesser degree, but often do not understand what is happening to them. Scroll down to #10 in the following article.


    Please share the information in these links in a calm and considerate manner with anyone you may know who is victim of a high-control group like the Witnesses. Help get the word out to mental health professionals, sociologists, the media and the public. As awareness grows change will happen.

  • alias

    ...It definitely has its own CULTure...


    Living Colour 'cult of personality' class

  • dedpoet

    Yeah, it's a cult alright. Independent thinking frowned on, unquestioning obedience required, members expected to limit association with non - members of their own family, all hallmarks of a cult (or a duck lol)

  • Wasanelder Once
    Wasanelder Once

    Actually its not a cult, but it just might be a duck.


  • Virgogirl

    The lines can really blur between a fringe religion like the Witlesses, and a cult. I'm torn. But when I tell people I was raised a Witnoid, they give me a sympathetic look, as if knowing how hard it must've been being a child in that strange group.

  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate
    I like this description;
    What is a Cult?

    A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community. (West & Langone, 1986)

    Characteristics of a Destructive Cult

    1. Authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top
    2. Charismatic or messianic leader(s) (Messianic meaning they either say they are God OR that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended.....the leaders are self-appointed.
    3. Deception in recruitment and/or fund raising
    4. Isolation from society -- not necessarily physical isolation like on some compound in Waco , but this can be psychological isolation -- the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) -- the only valid source of feedback and information is the group
    5. Use of mind control techniques (we use Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's criteria from chapter 22 of his book Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism to compare whether the eight psychological and social methods he lists are present in the group at question)
    • Mileu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment
    • Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative the "principles" (God-centered or otherwise) can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment)
    • Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group) one must continually change or conform to the group "norm"; tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group's controlling and manipulative influences
    • Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one's sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward personal change
    • Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited a reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychology
    • Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings -- the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way -- it becomes a "group" word or phrase
    • Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intense
    • Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist; impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence by joining the group; fear manipulation -- if one leaves this group, one leaves God or loses their salvation/transformation, or something bad will happen to them; the group is the "elite", outsiders are "of the world", "evil", "unenlightened", etc.

    ^ reFocus: "Characteristics of a Destructive Cult"

  • Apostate Kate
    Apostate Kate

    The same site has a checklist;

    Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

    Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

    Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

    ? The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

    ? Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

    ? Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

    ? The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

    ? The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

    ? The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

    ? The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

    ? The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

    ? The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

    ? Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

    ? The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

    ? The group is preoccupied with making money.

    ? Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

    ? Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

    ? The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

    This checklist will be published in the new book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree Publishing, 2006). It was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.

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