WHAT A CULT? ….

DESTRUCTIVE TRAITS OF CULT LEADERS

By Joe Navarro M.A.

One of the questions that I am often asked by students of criminology and psychology is how do you know when a cult leader is “evil” or “bad”?

These of course are vague descriptors to some extent but I get the question, “When is a cult leader pathological or, better said, a danger to others?”

This is a valid question in view of the historical record of suffering and hurt caused by various cult leaders around the world.

I am sure others have addressed this issue before and I realize that it comes with its own minefield as many religions started out as cults – I am simply not going to enter that fray. But the question is valid from the point of view that there are people out there who are cult leaders and who do great harm to others emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically, or financially.

From my studies of cults and cult leaders during my time in the FBI, I learned early on that there are some things to look for that, at a minimum, say caution, this individual is dangerous, and in all likelihood will cause harm to others.

Having studied at length the life, teachings, and behaviors of Jim Jones (Jonestown Guyana), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Stewart Traill (The Church of Bible Understanding), Charles Manson, Shoko Asahara (Aum Shinrikyo), Joseph Di Mambro (The Order of the Solar Temple aka Ordre du Temple Solaire), Marshall Heff Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate), Bhagwan Rajneesh (Rajneesh Movement), and Warren Jeffs (polygamist leader), what stands out about these individuals is that they were or are all pathologically narcissistic.

They all have or had an over-abundant belief that they were special, that they and they alone had the answers to problems, and that they had to be revered. They demanded perfect loyalty from followers, they overvalued themselves and devalued those around them, they were intolerant of criticism, and above all they did not like being questioned or challenged. And yet, in spite of these less than charming traits, they had no trouble attracting those who were willing to overlook these features.

These personality traits stand out as the first warning to those who would associate with them, but there are many others. Here is a collection of traits that I have collected over the years about cult leaders that give us hints as to their psychopathology. This list is not all-inclusive nor is it the final word on the subject; it is merely my personal collection based on my studies and interviews that I conducted in my previous career.

If you know of a cult leader who has many of these traits there is a high probability that they are hurting those around them emotionally, psychologically, physically, spiritually, or financially.

And of course this does not take into account the hurt that their loved ones will also experience.

Here are the typical traits of the pathological cult leader (from Dangerous Personalities) you should watch for and which shout caution, get away, run, or avoid if possible:

  • He/she has a grandiose idea of who they are and what they can achieve.
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
  • Demands blind unquestioned obedience from his/her followers.
  • Requires excessive admiration from their followers and outsiders.
  • Has a sense of entitlement – expecting to be treated special at all times.
  • Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of their relatives putting others at financial risk.
  • Is arrogant, smug and haughty in his/her behavior or attitude.
  • Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
  • Takes sexual advantage of members of his/her followers/cult members.
  • Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite. (Is also obsessed with sex and sexual perversions of all description)
  • Is hypersensitive to how he/she is seen or perceived by others.
  • Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
  • Makes followers/members confess their sins or faults publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
  • Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
  • Is frequently boastful of his/her own accomplishments.
  • Always needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to insure that he/she is being noticed by arriving late, wearing flashy clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
  • Has insisted in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when his followers are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
  • Doesn’t appear to listen well to needs of others, communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates.
  • Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his/her personality.
  • Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
  • When criticized or questioned he/she tends to lash out not just with anger but with venomous rage.
  • Anyone who criticizes or questions him/her is instantly deemed an “enemy.”
  • Refers to non-followers or non-believers as “the enemy.”
  • Acts totally imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
  • Believes him/herself to be omnipotent.
  • Claims to have “magical” answers or solutions to problems.
  • Is superficially charming.
  • Habitually puts down others as being inferior and only they are superior.
  • Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him/her that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him.
  • Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored, followers drifting away or of being slighted in some way.
  • Treats others with complete contempt and arrogance.
  • Is constantly watching and asessing those who are a threat or those who revere him.
  • The word “I” dominates his/her conversations/writings. He/she is totally oblivious to how often he references himself.
  • Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly – when he/she does they respond with rage.
  • Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he/she has done wrong nor does he/she ever apologize for their actions.
  • Believes he/she possesses all of the answers and solutions to their own countries or world problems.
  • Believes himself/herself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
  • Rigid, unbending, or insensitive towards how any other person thinks.
  • Tries to control others in everything they do, read, view, or think.
  • Has isolated members of his cult from contact with family, friends or the outside world.
  • Monitors and or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
  • Works the least but always demands the most.
  • Has stated that he/she is “destined for greatness” or that he will be “martyred.”
  • Appears to be deeply dependent on praise and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
  • Uses enforcers or willing sycophants to insure absolute compliance and obedience from followers.
  • Sees him/herself as an “unstoppable force” perhaps has even said so.
  • Conceals their own background or family connections which would disclose how plain or ordinary he/she is.
  • Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself/herself – in fact they see themselves as perfection or “blessed” in some way.
  • Has taken away the freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life, and liberty of followers.
  • Has isolated his/her followers physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed.

When the question is asked, “When do we know when a cult leader is bad, or evil, or toxic?”

The above list is what I use to survey the cult leader for dangerous traits.

Of course the only way to know anything for sure is to observe and validate, but these characteristics can go a long way to help with that.

And as I have said, there are other things to look for and there may be other lists, but this is the one that I found most useful from studying these groups and talking to former members of cults.

When a cult or organizational leader has a preponderance of these traits then we can anticipate that at some point those who associate with him will likely suffer physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially.

If these traits sound familiar to leaders, groups, sects, or organizations known to you then expect those who associate with them to live in despair and to suffer even if they don’t know it.

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

Article first published August 25th 2012

Joe Navarro, M.A. is a 25 year veteran of the FBI and is the author of ‘What Every Body is Saying’, as well as ‘Dangerous Personalities’.

40 Comments

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  1. Most Popes, and world religious leaders then

    1. Amongst others David.

  2. Those traits sound very familiar. I cant quite put my finger on who it sounds like though. It’ll come back to me I’m sure 😉

    1. Er…the cult of the “Illustrated man” near Sarfend?.

      1. One of a number of online cults that have been noticed apparently

        1. Some seem very fond of chess 😀

          1. And playing games in general

  3. Half of world’s Muslims are inbred due to generations of incest:-

    FELLOWSHIPOFTHEMIND

    &

    FELLOWSHIPOFTHEMIND/2

    The Conflict Within The Deep State Just Broke Into Open Warfare:-

    ZEROHEDGE

    Vanity: That Night 4chan ‘Hacked John Podesta(JUICY):-

    FREEREPUBLIC

    Brutal Martial law Would Follow the Deposing of Trump by the Deep State:-

    THECOMMONSENSESHOW

  4. The Toxic Terrapin

    Some good news for you all.

    France is in deep shit and Marine Le Pen is heading towards the Presidency.

    REACTION LIFE

    1. And the complete collapse of the European Union will follow

      1. I wouldn’t be too sure of that… via JimStone…

        Was the Dutch election rigged?

        The Dutch people have been swinging hard conservative for some time now, as backlash against foreign invasion and destruction of their way of life.

        Surprisingly, the conservative candidate lost, while turnouts hit record highs, and in some cases, 100%. Folks, 100 percent turnout is statistically impossible.

        In zones that hit 100 percent it means no one was sick, no one was on vacation, no one decided to stay home – and as would be expected in such a case, the conservatives lost.

        YOU BET.

  5. very fond of chess? am i missing something?

    1. I don’t know, are you? Just meaning that chess seems to be a common theme with some.

      1. Strategically placing vital pieces in optimum positions before revealing to the opponent what your ultimate endgame will be.

        That’s chess innit?

        1. I believe so, but no w some people play using people instead of chess pieces.

  6. Off-topic but worrying.

    Jeff Bezos (Mr Amazon) has bowed to requests from Robert Rozett of Yad Vashem, the ‘Holocaust Memorial’ shrine in Israel, to remove revisionist books on the ‘holocaust’ (amongst others) from Amazon.

    One of the first to go was the excellent “Breaking The Spell” by Nick Kollerstrom. Questioning historical events is, apparently, anti-semetic.

    It seems that the MSM are keeping quiet about it as there’s very little info so far.

    TERRONTHETUBE

    THEJC.COM

  • Thanks, for posting this, I witness these traits a lot! Amongst those exploiting the concern about child sexual abuse, generated by courageous people.

    So many work in tandem to overwhelm/misteer on SM.

  • JSOC’s Relationship With The CIA (VERY INTERESTING BACKGROUND TO ONE OF TRUMPS

    PRESENT PROBLEMS):-

    4PLEBS.COM

    &

    VOAT.CO

    & ANOTHER THREAD WITH MORE INFO:-

    VOAT.CO

    1. I SHOULD ADD THAT THIS IS MUCH MORE SERIOUS THAN IT MIGHT SEEM.

      THIS IS ACTUALLY PART OF A U.S. “DEEP STATE” INTERNAL MILITARY versus C.I.A. POWER STRUGGLE, THAT IS NOW COMING TO THE SURFACE, & IT’S OUTCOME COULD HAVE VERY SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES FOR THE U.S. & THE WORLD IN GENERAL.

      TRUST ME ON THIS. I’VE BEEN FOLLOWING THIS KIND OF STUFF FOR YEARS.

      TRUMPS ELECTION WASN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN, SO THE REACTION OF DEEP STATE WAS PANIC.

      THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WILL NOT BE PREDICTABLE.

      THERE IS NO “PREVIOUS” TO GO ON.

  • WELL NOW, LOOK YOU HERE, BOYOS….. ANYONE ELSE SEEN ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?

    TOM JONES CHILD RAPE CASE – URGENT NOTICE, SA NAT PROS AUTH. 7TH MARCH 2017:-

    SPIDERCATWEB

  • In response to Nick Atterleys off topic post……………. I’ve read some very interesting books by Nick Kollerstrom and John Hamer too. Thought provoking stuff definitely!!

    But then the BIG letdown!!……..

    They are both apologists and supporters of the MADMAN SPIVSTER….

    Plenty of pictures of Nick and Kwissy outside court having a love in.

    When the lazy gobshite Spiv can’t be bothered to get out of bed even to spout more crap, John Hamer let’s him print some of his articles to tide him over… Mind you not recently…..

    Hopefully Hamer has wised up.

    Why not respond John and let us know if you’ve wised up!!!?

    It’s a shame but that pair have lost all credibility with me………

    What can I say Jimmy you warned me about Hamer a long time ago…….

    Happy Days to all xxx

    1. I know that a few very credible people have tried to point out to Kollerstrom what he was getting into, and his credibility will suffer as a result – so there is no real excuse now with all the information that has been made available.

      It’s a shame though, as I agree with your points that Dr Kollerstrom, and John Hamer to a degree have published some really thought provoking stuff in the past.

      1. In fairness to Nick Kollerstrom, I think his support of ‘the tattoo’d one’ was more to do with free speech.

        Dr K’s research is solidly evidence-based and fully referenced.

        Given Spivey’s inexorable drift away from his (limited) use of the same, and his further slide into the realms of fantasy, I doubt that the Dr would be so keen to repeat the performance.

        It’s also fair to say that much of what makes an interesing site is the interaction between those commenting, both between each other and between the ‘site’ and those commenting.

        Spiveyland has changed since Kollerstom’s appearance outside the court.

        People that used to open-up interesting topics and/or debate on Spivey’s site have been hounded-off by the coven for not toeing the party line.

        Interaction with the Spiv?

        Thats a no-no, except for being sworn at should you offend the great one by having the temerity to ask a question (having first got past the coven!). Unlike here on both points.

        In short, and assuming that he isn’t another bloody crisis actor, I reckon the good Doc would take a step back next time around.

        And if you haven’t already, read “Breaking The Spell” for the truth behind possibly the biggest cult of all.

        1. “People that used to open-up interesting topics and/or debate on Spivey’s site have been hounded-off by the coven for not toeing the party line. “

          SORRY PHIL, I CAN’T EVER RECALL SUCH A TIME. FROM THE MOMENT I FIRST ALIGHTED UPON SPIVEYLAND IT’S ALWAYS BEEN “AHM FROM SARFEND ‘N AH KNOWS MORE THAN ALL YOUSE “*UNTS PUT TOGEVVER, NO WAT I MEAN!!”.

        2. That’s because the so called moderators all ganged up on people for having an original thought or opinion on something. They have an aversion to strong people, it highlighted their weaknesses. Different aliases were used and if anyone complained they were told they are leaving the comments on as long as they are not personal. They want to remain asleep but pretend to be awake.Dog biscuit wants complete control at everyone else’s expense. Let the narcissists carry on.

          1. Justice. Well said. I know the feeling, as I was banned for telling the truth about that disgusting picture that spivey put up (the one where he is in a pink dress with a penis hanging down) I said he should be ashamed of himself, when he has a daughter and grandson living with him who could see it anytime, oh the mod’s didn’t like that at all. That dogman is a law unto himself and acts likes he is a god on there and it’s a pathetic site after all, as not many articles being written now…

  • FUNNY, THE “SPIV” GOES ON ABOUT “PEDOS” BUT NEVER GETS INTO STUFF LIKE THIS…

    Who knows the truth about Britain’s missing care children (FROM A YEAR AGO):-

    THECOLEMANEXPERIENCE

    OR THIS (BUT THEN, HIS COMPUTER SKILLS ARE WELL BELOW AVERAGE):-

    “Before anybody tries to access the Dark Web and research pedophiles you need to read this:”

    5 Things I Learned Infiltrating Deep Web Child Molesters:-

    CRACKED.COM

    1. Just to clarify things, the Outlaw does not endorse ‘THE COLEMAN EXPERIENCE’ in any way.

      It may be the Troofers go-to online bible, but on the whole it’s a complete crock of shit and any published info should always be checked against a more solid source.

      No offence.

      1. This was picked up from a comment on VOAT which is specialising in “Pizzagate”.

        I’m certain that it pre-dates the strange “vanishing” of The coleman experience & it’s replacement months later with a highly suspect substitute.

      2. Hi Jimmy , trust you are well?, i’ve had a break from the internet and boy does it do you good! I agree with you about the coleman site, I wonder, just what has happened to ‘coleman’ these days he hasn’t posted for a while now, maybe gone into hiding? as he posted ‘to near to the edge’ so to speak. Take care………

  • Last post from Coleman ..30 March 2016…….. Anyone know what happened??? .. Basically agree with Jimmy……But he did do some good stuff on the Jill Dando case in my opinion.

  • POSTED FOR JJ. CLICK ON COMMENTS, BEST RATED,& READ ABOUT YOUR “ALIEN BLOOD TYPE”

    DAILY MAIL

  • Some stuff you probably haven’t been following starts to get… interesting…:-

    Judge Nap: Obama ‘Went Outside Chain of Command,’ Used British Spy Agency to Surveil Trump:-

    FREEREPUBLIC

  • ABOUT THOSE NAZIS IN THE ANTARCTIC…

    Reichsdeutsche maps of the cave world:-

    LINK

    The Trump Haters:-

    TRUTHBASEDLOGIC

    ANY IDEA ON WHO MIGHT START TO USE THIS?…(YEAH,I’VE ANSWERED MY OWN QUESTION)…

    This creepy facial recognition app lets users find strangers on Facebook by taking their picture:-

    FREEREPUBLIC

  • POSTED FOR COMMENT 6:-

    FREEREPUBLIC

    The statue of Arminius stands as a reminder of the hubris of empire and the naive faith of all empire builders in ‘universal’ ideals.-

    THEBURNINGPLATFORM/1

    &

    THEBURNINGPLATFORM/2

  • FROM THE DEPT, OF STUFF YOU REALLY CANNOT MAKE UP:-

    FREEREPUBLIC

    ‘Most Dangerous Place in Germany’: Crime in Inner-City Berlin:-

    LEGALINSURRECTION

    Give the falling CIA A PUSH:-

    THESAKER.IS

  • Very long; many links; ties together many apparently different pieces of info into one connected explanation:-

    PEDOGATE: Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened for Deep State and the C.I.A.:-

    STATEOFTHENATION

  • (IT’S THAT “CULTURAL ENRICHMENT” THING, FOLKS – BUT LET’S NOT DEMONISE MOSLEMS,RIGHT?):-

    450 acid attacks against women since 2011 – in London:-

    PAMELA GELLER

    Earth’s lost history of planet-altering eruptions revealed:-

    Geologists unearth signs of major volcanic events stretching back 3 billion years.

    NATURE.COM

    Turkey: How the 3,000-year Greek Presence on the Aegean Shore Came to an End:-

    FREEREPUBLIC

  • Richplanet TV – March 2014 Show – Hidden Welsh Archaeology:-

    YOUTUBE

    Trump is challenging the whole CIA-media nexus:-

    JONRAPPOPORT

    What’s REALLY Happening in Sweden?:-

    YOUTUBE

    The Developers Of Artificial Intelligence Just Issued This URGENT Warning To ALL OF HUMANITY!-

    YOUTUBE

    Is Denmark On The Brink?:-

    ZEROHEDGE

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