Criminal cult is widespread topic nowadays and many people became its victims in different ways. We need discuss this topic in more details and understand the nature of destructive criminal cults, because it is a part of our life today and we should be attentive to negative factors of our life. However, we should mention that cult crime and ritual abuse are frequent topics in mass media; we can meet them in various TV talk shows or to read about them in press. In addition, ritual abuse and criminal actions destroy our society. This paper describes different aspects of cult involvement and also shows cult’s main characteristics. Criminal cults had a long history of their existence because the religious ground has been the scene of shifts and changes ever since humans have appeared on the earth. New religions appeared and they brought with them different cults. Cult phenomenon is an interesting topic for discussion and we will research it in this paper.
First of all it is necessary to define the notion of cult that will help us to understand their meaning through our research and make conclusions about cult’s activity on their base. Sometimes people call cults all new religions and it is not right position because “cults”ť have their own characteristics and their criminal activity is not always used in new religions. It is impossible to suggest that religions have some characteristics of cults, but not all of them and in such a way not every religion we can consider a cult. For example, Barker (1983) defines cults in the next way: “Cults are groups that often exploit members psychologically and/or financially, typically by making members comply with leadership’s demands through certain types of psychological manipulation, popularly called mind control, and through the inculcation of deep-seated anxious dependency on the group and its leaders”ť. Also it is necessary to pay attention on another definition that also describes “cults”ť nature and Aronoff & Malinosky (2000) describe them as “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 . . . designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.”ť Coming from these variation of main term of our research definition it is understandable that every cult has negative influence on the person’s life and sometimes cult’s leaders (it will be better to say almost in all situations, cult’s leaders use their manipulative techniques in criminal direction and they make people obedient puppets in their hands.
Let’s discuss this question from another side and look deep inside this problem. It is well-known phrase that the most unapproachable fortresses are heads of the people. Unfortunately, today’s reality and practice compel to acknowledge that exactly a head of a man is the most vulnerable part, and number of manipulators by consciousness, people who are interested to profit on this weakness, grows in unbelievable progression. These manipulative techniques and different methods of consciousness influence often describe different detective stories and popular programs. We even can take for example many popular films where all actions are go round chopping off the heads – unique mean to deprive immortal immortality. It is simultaneous confession of importance of head for life, and pointing on its insidious weakness. All became from feet to the head – the Achilles heel became a head and grew into the tasty purpose of thousands of sly Pareses, throwing the arrows in it. Leaving irony (which, however, is one of the strongest facilities of defense of the head, i.e. sensible consciousness) aside, we are forced to talk about very dramatic, quite often tragic and even – in extreme the displays – killing phenomenon. American society in a few last years ran into a problem, showing up more than 20-25 years ago: intensive and mass mastering by asocial personalities of such niche for criminal activity, as a psyche and soul of man.
According to West & Langone (1985) we see that “Cults came in an abundance after World War II. The middle class population became more mobile, moving wherever opportunity called. As a result to this new mobility people possessed, there was a greater need for people to feel accepted and belonging to substitute for the close, small town felling of childhood. This is where the idea of cults originated. They make an individual feel accepted by the group and also important within the cult. The leaders of the cults are strong minded individuals. Cult leaders are skilled at seeming to fill an empty core of other directed people. Doing so is more emotional than cognitive. More into feelings than into thoughts. One could say that these leaders are mood leaders, in the position of an actor, looking for responses from the audience. The leaders are also extremely charismatic. They manipulate people into believing the ideologies of the cult are better than the rest of society. The leaders also work on the weak minded people to get them to join cults.”ť Such criminal activity is reveals itself in form organization of different sort of groups, promising the adherents the most desirable and valuable for them blessings – spiritual, social, material, – in an exchange on a complete submission and worship a leader, ideology and discipline of such group. Most substantial part of this activity consists in facts that the condition of this exchange is not only in any way produced to the recruited person, but vice versa, carefully hides from observing. Actually, these recruited situations have a character of criminal actions when all actions are carried out by nothing and by nobody, when it is not controlled actions which include false publicity enticement, shamelessly using the most meaningful and engrained values as baits for engaging people in the process of further purposeful treatment of consciousness.
Getting in the trap of similar group of people person exposed to such influence for a short time and this influence in many cases converts him into the weak-willed instrument of satisfaction of paranoid-maniac ambitions of the leader and his nearest Â«courtÂ» surrounding. A former personality and identity is fully repressed, all former social connections collapse, negative attitude is suggested the adherent of group toward all other people. In various foreign sources, foremost in American sources, this phenomenon is designated in literature as concept Â«destructive cultsÂ» and process of imposing of cult personality’s structure ”“ is called concept Â«Control of consciousnessÂ» or Â«reformation of thoughtÂ». In Russia, for example, while a term is more frequent used Â«totalitarian sectsÂ», as religious varieties of such groups come into a notice of the public.
Nowadays we can find a lot of information about cults and in addition to this information it is possible to quote scientist who pay attention on cults and its members. For example, Galanter (1983) said that “The stigma surrounding the classification of a group as a cult stems from the effect the group’s influence has on its members.
The threat presented by a cult to its members (whether real or perceived) ranges from risks to the physical safety of its members, to their mental and spiritual growth. Much of the actions taken against cults and alleged cults have been in reaction to members of the organization experiencing harm due to their affiliation with the groups in question. However, not all cults are equally dangerous (as members of alleged cult groups have taken pains to emphasize). Over a period of time, some minority religious organizations considered cults have been accepted by mainstream society, such as Mormonism, Christian Science in the USA, and the Amish. On the other hand, certain fringe groups have demonstrated by their actions that they do pose a threat to the well-being of both their own members and to society in general; these organizations are often referred to as destructive cults.”ť
Term “destructive cults”ť seems to us preferable, because allows to consider more wide circle inwardly the homogeneous phenomena at more exact reflection of their essence. In this term is defined not organization of vital functions of these groups, but main result of their practice, is destruction of personality is selected. A concept Â«cultÂ» underlines in this case, that uncritical worship and idea, is a leader or some hard form of practice the most substantial condition of manipulation and spiritually-psychological violence.
Control of consciousness (or Â«illegal influenceÂ») is manipulation with the use of violent appeal in a faith (introductions of persuasion) or techniques of modification of behavior without the informed (realized) consent of that man which this technique is applied to.
Destructive cults are such groups and organizations, which use the extreme and unethical techniques of manipulation for recruiting and withholding of the members, have a tendency or straight carry out total control of ideas, senses and conduct of the adherents with the purpose of satisfaction of interests of leaders and self-sufficient group. Majority from them is used religious protection, but there are political, commercial, pseudotherapeutic, east meditation and even group on delivering from an alcohol and drugs in which one form of dependence is simply replaced other. Destructive cults use the psychological and spiritual (and to every other: medical, commercial, political et cetera) lack of information and inexperience of many people, purposefully (aspiring to the illegal enriching and illegal power) they are cheated and attach to itself, in every way causing, saving and strengthening the states of information deficit and forming the unnatural, illegal states of dependence for the adherents. It is necessary to underline that psychological illiteracy is exploited in any destructive cult.