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Be Ye Almost Like Me

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Be Ye Almost Like Me:

Manipulation in a cult serves one single purpose: to adjust personalities towards the central figure's ideologies while controlling the outcome. Narcissistic tendencies of the central figure become more evident as members are pressed to conform while being prevented from reaching the leader's level of power. As members are convinced that their behavior has placed them upon a "higher plane", they are continually reminded that the leader is one or more "planes" higher. While cult members adjust their behavior to achieve the leader's idea of perfection, new rules and beliefs are introduced. New doctrines focus on the cult leader's "supernatural" abilities and experiences. These new rules create additional burden for cult members as thoughts of the supernatural distract them from noticing. The cult leader's mythology increases as effort required also increases; the "highest plane" remains just out of reach.

This does not prevent cult members from believing they can achieve some of the same "supernatural" power, however. Not recognizing the added weight to their burden, they begin attempting to convince themselves that the central figure's idea of "perfection" will make the laws of nature bend to their will. Many attempt to mimic the cult leader's claims, only to find themselves unable. Feeling insufficient, they adjust their behavior even more, starting a vicious cycle of adjustment and defeat. Some, through coincidence or misinterpreted outcomes, convince themselves that they have performed a minor supernatural feat, but never to the same level as the cult leader's claims.

When cult members escape, they often find themselves insecure or afraid of failure. Having invested so much physical and mental energy into reaching a moving level of perfection and then failing, many have low self-esteem. After experiencing some successes, however, they reach a plane higher than the cult had to offer. Escape itself was the higher plane.