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Mental Gymnastics

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Mental Gymnastics:

Charismatic leaders of a cult are masters of speechcraft, and have developed the art of captivating audiences. Many who are enticed by their speeches feel as if the words have life of their own. While they sit and listen, their emotions are raised and lowered as if the leader pulled them to the surface from strings above their heads. Cult leaders have what seems like a god-like ability to control and manipulate, and this ability is often mistaken for "supernatural".

Speeches are structured to have a wide variety of conflicting emotion. In opening statements, cult leaders will often speak at a very personal level. Friendly stories the group can easily relate to places their minds at ease, while examples of their "humility" lowers mental defenses. This is in strong contrast with the latter part of the speech, where the cult leader is often stirring up emotions of anger, fear, or unrest to promote their agenda. Each listener is forced to play tug-of-war between the "humble" speaker and the outspoken, aggressive, boisterous speaker. Unable to reconcile, many cult members refer to their narcissistic leader as "one of the most humble people they have ever met". Outsiders often refer to members as "brainwashed", noticing the opposite of humility in the leader. Though this may be the case, they are actually noticing the effects of emotional manipulation.

Like muscles of the leg and arms, the brain can suffer from overexertion. As the speeches lead cult members through heightened emotional states, mental fatigue wears each listener down until it is difficult to critically think. Members who easily become emotional often fight back tears, while others experience emotions they've not felt in years. During a cult member's escape, the journey out of the cult adds pressure to an already emotionally fatigued mind, making it very difficult to control. After healing, they realize how exhausted the emotionally charged speeches made them feel.