Message Cult Mind Control - Somewhere In Time:
Immediately after leaving the "Message," the mind control cult following of William Branham, one does not fully grasp the extent of differences between the lives they live and "normal" life. Many leave the cult thinking that they alone were "normal" while all others who remain in the cult are highly abnormal. But this truly is not the case; a greatly changed individual simply decided to leave a large number of other greatly changed individuals. It takes a great deal of time and effort for ex-cult members to find "normal."
I quote the word "normal," because this word has different meaning to different people. Culture plays a large part in what is the "norm," and that culture is not limited to race or nationality. Cultural norms can sometimes differ from state to state or even city to city. To an ex-cult member, finding "normal" means finding ones self in their particular environment.
One of the most obvious differences between cult life and "normal" life is that of their former orientation to time. Many who leave the "Message" cult experience this after having deprogrammed for several months, even years. "It's like we were all stuck in the 1940's and 1950's," you might hear from an ex-"Message" cult member. This is a common feeling among many ex-cult members, even those who were not in William Branham's following.
An interesting dynamic of cults is that they tend to change people's relationship to their past, present and future. Cult members tend to look back at their previous life with a distorted memory that colors everything dark. Even the most positive memories are skewed toward the bad. The cult member's sense of the present is manipulated, too. They feel a great sense of urgency about the tasks at hand. I remember well the constant feeling that a time bomb was ticking beneath my feet, and that the world might become a heaven or a hell, depending on how well I performed in my current project. Many groups teach that the apocalypse is just around the comer. Some say they are preventing the apocalypse; others merely believe that they will survive it. When you are kept extremely busy on critical projects all the time— for days, weeks or months— everything becomes blurred. To a cult member, the future is a time when they will be rewarded, once the great change has finally come. Or else it will be the time when they will be punished. In most groups, the leader claims to control— or at least have unique knowledge of— the future. He knows how to paint visions of future heaven and hell that will move members in the direction he desires. If a group has a timetable for the apocalypse, it will likely be two to five years away— far enough not to be discredited any time soon, but near enough to carry emotional punch. 93 In many cults, these predictions have a way of fading into the background as the big date approaches.
- Steven Hassan. Combating Cult Mind Control
When people contact us for advice on finding "normal," they generally ask specific questions. "Can we do this?" Can we do that?" Do other people do the same?" It is a mistake to engage in this type of conversation, and answering these questions directly should be avoided. As mind-control-cult escapees, these people have been trained to look to another person to answer all of life's questions. When one begins to answer these questions, one quickly finds themselves creating another miniature following.
Instead, these questions should be answered with more powerful questions. The ex-cult member must be empowered to think for themselves. Like adolescent children learning the difference between what is acceptable and what is not, they must experience success and failure. These types of questions should be answered in a way that leads them to those experiences. "What does the Bible say about doing this? What do YOU think about doing that? Would other Christians do that? If so, why?"
Ex-cult members are afraid of failure, far more afraid than "normal" people. They need to experience both success and failure in their decisions, but they must have support. When they fail, they must have a hand to pick them back up again. They must be reminded of how "normal" people form their balance. Just like a child learning to walk, they make mistakes. And just because they fell we cannot assume they will never walk again.
Stay tuned for more!
Combating Cult Mind Control (Second Edition): http://amzn.to/1NCnN45
Profile of "The Message" on Freedom Of Mind Resource Center: https://freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=883&title=The_Message