Saturday, January 26, 2008

Characteristics of a Spiritual Con Artist

Continuing on with the Con Artist theme, here are some additional thoughts on the cult leader as con artist. This paragraph from Captive Hearts, Captive Minds: Freedom from Cults and Abusive Relationships echos the information that Whitlock presents, describing how no one really recognizes a good confidence trickster and never acknowledges the fact that they have been misused at all. The willing participant cooperates with the process, interpreting any ill consequences as a result of their own behavior, never attributing any fault to the con artist.

In cults and abusive relationships, those in a subordinate position usually come to accept the abuse as their fault, believing that they deserve the foul treatment or that it is for their own good.
They sometimes persist in believing that they are bad rather than considering that the person upon whom they are so dependent is cruel, untrustworthy, and unreliable. It is simply too frightening for them to do that: it threatens the balance of power and means risking total rejection, loss, and perhaps even death of self or loved ones. This explains why an abused cult follower may become disenchanted with the relationship or the group yet continue to believe in the teachings, goodness and power of the leader.
Even after leaving the group or relationship, many former devotees carry a burden of guilt and shame while they continue to regard their former leader as paternal, all-good, and godlike... The same phenomenon is found in battered women and in children who are abused by their parents or older adults they admire.