- A destructive cult is the manifestation of a religious idea whose practice restricts human dignity.
- The leaders of these groups are usually charismatic characters who seek out vulnerable victims in order to exploit them.
- Badia, Lolo and Borre share some advice that will free you from the network of a cult.
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Little is known of the cult as José Antonio Badia, Eduardo Espinosa “Lolo” and Mario López Capistran “Bore”. This trio from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, uncovers the paranormal stories and tales of serial killers and cult leaders every week on their successful podcast: mythical legends,
Over the years, he has addressed -using humor and fact check– Cases like NXIVM, Scientology and the Japanese apocalyptic sect Aum Shinrikyo, among others. In all of these, there are patterns that leaders follow in identifying, seducing, and manipulating their victims in order to achieve their goals.
The methods of these men are not only evident in the podcast, which premieres every Wednesday, but also appear in the book mythical legendsPublished by Editorial Planeta.
But first, what is a cult?
A cult is a religion or expression of religious thought. Among them are the so-called “destructive cults”, which psychologists classify as those that restrict human dignity, freedom of action and will of its members.
Deprogrammer Steven Hasson defines destructive cults as “an authoritarian regime in the shape of a pyramid, in which a person or group of people is under dictatorial control,” which can be religious, secular, or commercial in nature. They habitually deceive their members as well as resort to techniques such as behavioral, emotional, mental, and information control, he details in his book “Fighting Cult Mind Control”.
Such groups point to mysteries, miracles, the authority of their leaders, and promises of salvation; In addition, they “provide concrete and quick answers, and promise social, spiritual, and emotional attainments”, according to an article by Amelia Musacchio. Argentine Journal of Neuropsychiatric Clinic,
Musacchio explains that destructive cults gain followers by addressing their anxieties and “personal problems, transitions, loneliness of people facing crises”; They promise transformative healing within the framework of a loving and caring community. and that He will heal the wounds that have been caused by his mistakes, failures, or hatred of others.
However, upon entry victims may face psychological, physical and emotional abuse, which will prevent them from escaping.
How can you spot (and stay away from) a cult?before he fell victim
Seen from the outside, cults promote “ridiculous” ideas, according to José Antonio Badia, host mythical legends, However, for potential victims or followers, inconsistencies between the words and actions of leaders—who often do not follow the prescribed precepts for their followers—or attacks on their dignity are difficult to detect.
For this reason, Badia assures that it is essential to be aware of how these groups function.
“These types of exercises have to be known. They are very easy to recognize and once you recognize them, they become very easy to watch”, he commented in an interview. Business Insider Mexico,
In stories shared weekly, he recounts high-profile cases of cult leaders offering salvation but exploiting people and taking their property or money; Others, that they drag their families with them or that they are forced to do certain things so that their secrets are not revealed. And, in many cases, they operate with impunity until something bad happens.
Badía, Espinosa and López Capistran share some tips for identifying and not falling into a cult’s network.
1. Remember that there is no instant solution
For Espinosa, the most important thing to avoid becoming a victim of a cult is to stop believing that “complex problems have immediate solutions and that you can fix things by giving money to a stranger.”
“Usually they take advantage of people who are in a vulnerable position or who are looking for help in a certain way and offer almost immediate solutions,” he says.
In an interview with He stated that factors motivating victims to join a cult are the desire to join and the need for self-improvement. insider Rachel Bernstein, a therapist who specializes in treating cult survivors. In addition, the moment of recruitment plays a fundamental role.
According to Bernstein, people who have been diagnosed with terminal or chronic illnesses, experienced the recent death of a loved one, or made a major professional mistake are more likely to engage in blame that they perceive as normal. will flatly reject.
2. “Throwing Money at the Gods” Won’t Help You, But a Mental Health Professional Will
Given the fragility of people in painful moments, this is the moment many cult leaders decide to act.
These people are characterized by being highly charismatic and manipulative, especially with those they feel more vulnerable to. Thus, they can add them to their bases and control them with the promise of solving their problems.
For this reason, both Badia and Espinosa caution that if a group offers (non-professional) help in exchange for money, it is best to stay away.
“Paying a therapist, who is a mental health professional and who can help you heal vulnerability, is not the same as paying someone who tells you ‘the first level is free, but then There is a second, third and fourth level. Cost and then you have to bring 10 friends… It’s a pyramid scheme, it’s not help”, comments Espinosa.
“Spiritual help does not come by throwing money at the gods […], We live in a moment in which there are many inner emptinesses, emotionally, spiritually, but none of them are going to be healed by money. They get resolved with introspection, reading, learning”, says Badiya.
3. Listen to your loved ones
for drivers mythical legendsA clear sign that you are entering a destructive cult is that your loved ones do not agree with your new spiritual path. Especially if the group you belong to warned you in advance that you would experience resistance.
“If your family and friends tell you it’s a scam or a pyramid scheme, listen to them. The cult is going to warn you that everyone is going to tell you the same thing. Also know this: If they tell you that Your friends are wrong, then it’s a cult, it’s a ploy and they’re going to try to get money from you,” says Badia.
“Open your eyes, see well because you can drown in these kinds of things; You can get stuck in there very ugly”, agrees Mario López from Capistran.
4. Cut your losses if you are a victim of a cult
If you’ve already discovered that you were a victim of a cult, it’s best to cut ties and accept that you won’t be able to get back all the money you’ve already lost.
“It’s never too late to say ‘now’,” recommends Badia. “A lot happens in this type of cult that people say ‘I’ve already put 20,000 pesos into it, if I leave now I’ll lose it’ and no. If you leave now, you’ll lose 20,000 pesos. Won’t lose pesos. You have to stop and say ‘I screwed it up, they made me a GUY’ and leave.
Who Can You Contact If You or Someone You Love Is a Victim of a Cult?
Currently, neither in Mexico nor in Latin America is there clear legislation to prevent destructive cults, because the victims are adults who made decisions independently. This, in many cases, leaves victims who want to escape vulnerable. Additionally, religious freedom laws in many countries prevent or limit judicial scrutiny.
“You have to have a legal process in place in which the authorities have fangs to be able to punish people who do this,” Badia says.
Also, the host and comedian assures that recognizing people participating in a cult as victims of a leader is essential to changing their perception of the situation.