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Burdens Lifted

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Burdens Lifted:

Leaders of destructive cults are masters at manipulating emotion. The central figure often uses guilt as a way to target emotion. Speeches are designed to invent new "sins", and convince members that these "sins" are both enticing and evil. Often, the "sins" are primal instincts or natural emotion that cannot be removed, leaving the cult member in a constant state of guilt. Members are asked to believe that inward feelings, such as anger or doubt, are "sinful", and need to be "cleansed". Some groups target basic needs, such as sex, to push members into denial of the flesh. As these feelings and emotions are suppressed, the battlefield is suddenly moved into the mind. Members wrestle with their thoughts and feelings as the cult leader continues to press buttons that he or she created.

This feeling of guilt is amplified by contact with the cult leader or their appointed helpers. When cult members mention their struggles, their personal experiences become subject material for cult speeches. Members giving confessions as pleas for help or forgiveness are used against them, and private consultations turn into public berating.
Over time, this war in the mind takes its toll. Cult members become convinced that their mind is under constant attack, and that the battle itself is "sinful". "Unbelief is sin", or "doubters are not a believers" are common themes among groups using emotional manipulation.

Former members describe the feeling of a burden being lifted when they leave cults using emotional manipulation. The emotional weight impacts every aspect of life. They feel mentally exhausted, and sometimes physically ill as they stabilize. Many were unaware they carried so much weight; their burden was gradually introduced over time. Its removal can be so positive that it is physically noticeable. Their confidence gets a sudden boost when others say, "You look different!" or "You look happy!" They are now in control of their emotions.