I watched a fascinating documentary on Channel 4 last night — all about the End of the World Cult.

A good friend of mine on another blog said she found it “depressing, not because of the content, but because someone chose to make this film on the premise that these people are in a cult.”

She asked the question — Is it actually a cult? Then said:
It’s a mentally very damaged person who has a powerful charismatic personality and is very controlling. He has surrounded himself with needy impressionable people, and seduced and tranced his own children into his madness.”

The hypnosis used in these kinds of environments is amazing… I was partly bewitched just watching how all the followers relentlessly followed.

It does beg the interesting question about hypnosis in organisations, groups and family-type set-ups like these. I mean, many hypnosis professionals offer the perspective that no-one can be made to do anything that they don’t want to do… And this kind of documentary gives the impression that these people are following a deeply hypnotic figure who has his hypnotic influence deep-ly embedded in the minds of those that follow…

Maybe the documentary could have been about mental illness, not religion. because many of the younger people in this documentary looked incapable of living a life outside of that environment — the younger members that were mostly raised have now been indoctrinated to the point where years of therapy probably would not make much difference to how they are.

Many of them have been what we consider sexually and emotionally abused, though they do not believe they have. They are stressed and depressed because their leader prophecies about the end of the world, that they are inherently evil and the world around them is not where they should be.

The younger members have had no decent education. I felt sad for the eldest son of the messiah who had to rationalise the spectacle of his father having sex with his wife — more than once — because ‘God told him to’ ! The guy cried in pain when he told the story, yet believed it was right and was told by their messiah to vent their anger at God….

They seemed incapable of looking at any other angle of this — their minds were seemingly rendered incapable of anything other than accepting the word of their leader. Is this hypnosis or simple manipulation or something else?

The vacant depressed youngest son vainly trying to gather an education even though his father has told him the End is Nigh. The world didn’t end when the leader prophecised and goodness knows what the boy is now thinking… He was 15, looked very physically, emotionally and psychologically immature for his age and seemed vacant and lost…

I agree with my friend… I don’t think the word ‘cult’ was right in this instance… It does obscure the real issues.

I want a rant today, because there was some major use of hypnosis, at least in principle — on people willingly being hypnotised, but not knowing that anything else existed… What a paradox.

Anyone else see it?