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As time progresses, a cult's altering of perception will result in an altered sense of reality for cult members. When the laws of the universe cannot bend to logically answer the claims of the central figure, their understanding of the universe must be adjusted to reconcile conflict. In religious cults, members begin to view the world through the pages of sacred text, and begin mentally linking the central figure to biblical scenarios. Walking a fine line between praise and blasphemy, cult members compare the cult leader's abilities to the power of god while forbidding themselves to follow their beliefs to conclusion: to support all of the leader's claims, the leader would have to be the deity of their faith system.

To a narcissistic personality, there could be no greater fuel to the fire. Cult leaders thrive in environments of praise and adoration, but in an environment of deification, they are an unstoppable force. Their supernatural claims become more incredible while their hatred of opposition increases exponentially. Levels of control and manipulation rise, and oppression of cult members becomes almost unbearable. Even the altered perception of the universe cannot reconcile all conflicts, and the real world begins to look sinister and forbidding. Members begin to fear leaving the cult.

Soon after escaping, former members of destructive cults struggle with adjusting their sense of reality. As they rethink experiences to replace "supernatural" with logical explanations, they often mistake the adjustment for lack of faith. The altered perception of reality was based upon elements of their belief system, and by eliminating them, it feels as though they are denying fundamental parts of their religion. Some remain in a world of "angels" and "demons" inspiring their every action, living in fear that they can't distinguish between the forces of good and the forces of evil. It takes time to understand their control over their actions.