Yeah, but...gestalt has such a nice ring to it. Yes, I agree that the WTBTS is a self perpetuating control machine that has lost the off switch.
Why didn't you think you were in a cult? Because the cult told you that you weren't. Why didn't you question the cult? Because they already explained to you why they couldn't be questioned. In essence, your mind went in to a cognitive loop with no escape.
Triumphing over this circular reasoning reminds me of the Star Trek episode (35) where Kirk overcomes a super computer, by forcing it in to a contradiction. A cult member will have an epiphany of some sort, maybe from a rude shock or an especially compelling argument. All of a sudden the blinders are removed, the inconsistencies come flooding forth, and he wonders, "How could I have been so stupid?" Don't feel too bad. I'm convinced our minds are built with this fundamental weakness to BELIEVE at all costs. Just like Humans have a poorly designed throat that doubles eating with breathing. Once in a while we choke.
Chappy, I suggest there is nothing wrong with the cult definition, but with all the connotations that go with it. Say "cult" and people think of Jim Jones. Now, the WTBTS may not be as BAD as Jonestown, but hey, there are enough creepy parallels, especially in the way that former members are treated. "Cult" does NOT just mean fringe religion. That's the orthodox view. A better term, the one that Steve Hassan uses, is "High Control Group". It is the degree of control, and the amount of freedom allowed in the group, rather than orthodoxy of views, that sets a "High Control Group" apart from other organizations.