How to not join a cult

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Anke Richter is the author of Cult Trip: Inside the world of coercion and control and is delivering workshops on how to cult proof yourself.

Most cults don’t look like we expect them to, Richter says – she believes a crypto cult is touring in Aotearoa at present, while she has also heard of a yoga cult, a Buddhist one and a pole-dancing one among others.

“So it’s across the spectrum – any group can turn into something problematic.”

Richter prefers to refer to a cult as a high-demand or a high-control group.

“It’s the controlling of your life… but also controlling the narrative, controlling the information you get.”

It can be more subtle than preventing access to the media, but instead directing people not to trust the media and urging them to follow a particular YouTube channel, for instance. Influence can also extend to controlling what people eat or their sex lives.

“It often starts in very subtle ways and you don’t see it straight away …”

Richter says there is an us versus them mentality pushed within cults with followers encouraged to believe the cult leaders have all the answers and can heal their followers.

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1 comment

  1. iT COULD HAPPEND TO ANYONE. Cults trick and trap people every day through deception and coercive persuasion. Anyone going through a difficult time in life is more vulnerable. But just plain bad luck can put a cult in your life.

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