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Eggshells We Walked Upon

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Eggshells We Walked Upon:

Though seemingly harmless, emotional manipulation is a progressive threat. When cult leaders toy with the emotions of their members for long periods of time, members become numb to the effects. To achieve the same results, emotions must become more intense. The stories must be bigger, the pleading stronger, and angry tones against opposition more fierce. Emotional manipulation turns into emotional abuse.

Like all victims of abuse, members of a cult condition themselves to minimize chances of the cult leader acting out physically or vocally. They convince themselves that everything is fine, either by trying to ignore or deny the abuse. By doing so, they make matters worse. Their non-responsive coping mechanism is the very reason the cult leader is becoming more aggressive; response is the objective. This begins a vicious cycle of abuse, one that continues as long as the cult member remains in the cult.

In many cases, the cult leader's narcissistic tendencies lead them to "play the victim". When the leader thinks that he or she is losing control, they appeal to the emotions of the members by claiming to be wrongfully judged, depressed, misunderstood, financially burdened, or the victim of some tragedy. In most people, compassion is one of the strongest human emotions. By manipulating the group into compassion, members are no longer numb to emotional abuse; they are more sensitive.

This results in members of the group "walking on eggshells" around both the leader and each other. They are overly careful not to say anything that might hurt the over-sensitive feelings of others, often apologizing. They evaluate and reevaluate their conversations, worrying about both what they said and what was said to them. When former members reintegrate into society, this becomes a struggle. While their peers seem "thick skinned" and secure, former members feel brittle and inferior. Years of manipulation makes them constantly on edge.