In Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves cult counselor Steven Hassan describes his "BITE model" stating that it is not necessary for every item to be present:
- Regulation of individual's physical reality
- "Where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates, what
clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears, what food the person
eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects, how much sleep the person is able to
have, financial dependence, little or no time spent on leisure,
- Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
- Need to ask permission for major decisions
- Need to report thoughts, feelings, and activities to superiors
- Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques -- positive and negative)
- Individualism discouraged; "group think" prevails
- Rigid rules and regulations
- Need for obedience and dependency
- Use of deception
- Deliberately holding back information, distorting information to make it more "acceptable," "outright lying."
- Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
- Media (books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio), critical
information, former members, keep members so busy they don't have time
to think and check things out.
- Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
- "Information is not freely accessible, information varies at
different levels and missions within pyramid, leadership decides who
"needs to know" what and when."
- Spying on other members is encouraged
- "Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control, reporting
deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership, individual
behavior monitored by whole group."
- Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
- "Media (newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes,
etc), misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult
- Unethical use of confession
- "Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries, past
"sins" used to manipulate and control (no forgiveness or absolution)."
- Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
- "Adopting the group's map of reality as "Reality" (Map = Reality), Black and White thinking, Good vs. Evil, Us vs. Them (inside vs. outside)."
- Use of "loaded" language (for example, "thought-terminating
clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special"
words constrict rather than expand understanding, and can even stop
thoughts altogether. They function to reduce complexities of experience
into trite, platitudinous "buzz words."
- Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
- Use of hypnotic techniques to induce altered mental states
- Manipulation of memories and implantation of false memories
- Use of thought-stopping techniques, which shut down "reality
testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good"
- Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive
criticism. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen
- No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
- Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.
- Make the person feel that any problems are always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
- Excessive use of guilt: identity guilt (who you are, not living up
to your potential, your family, your past, your affiliations, your
thoughts, feelings, actions), social guilt, historical guilt.
- Excessive use of fear: fear of thinking independently, fear of the
"outside" world, fear of enemies, fear of losing one's "salvation",
fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group, fear of
- Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
- Ritual and often public confession of "sins".
- Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about ever
leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The
person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future
without being in the group.
Internal Control: Amount of internal political and social power exercised by leader(s) over members; lack of clearly defined organizational rights for members.
External Control: Amount of external political and social influence desired or obtained; emphasis on directing members’ external political and social behavior.
Wisdom/Knowledge Claimed by leader(s); amount of infallibility declared or implied about decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations; number and degree of unverified and/or unverifiable credentials claimed.
Wisdom/Knowledge Credited to leader(s) by members; amount of trust in decisions or doctrinal/scriptural interpretations made by leader(s); amount of hostility by members towards internal or external critics and/or towards verification efforts.
Dogma: Rigidity of reality concepts taught; amount of doctrinal inflexibility or “fundamentalism;” hostility towards relativism and situationalism.
Recruiting: Emphasis put on attracting new members; amount of proselytizing; requirement for all members to bring in new ones.
Front Groups: Number of subsidiary groups using different names from that of main group, especially when connections are hidden.
Wealth: Amount of money and/or property desired or obtained by group; emphasis on members’ donations; economic lifestyle of leader(s) compared to ordinary members.
Sexual Manipulation of members by leader(s) of non-tantric groups; amount of control exercised over sexuality of members in terms of sexual orientation, behavior, and/or choice of partners.
Sexual Favoritism: Advancement or preferential treatment dependent upon sexual activity with the leader(s) of non-tantric groups.
Censorship: Amount of control over members’ access to outside opinions on group, its doctrines or leader(s).
Isolation: Amount of effort to keep members from communicating with non-members, including family, friends and lovers.
Dropout Control: Intensity of efforts directed at preventing or returning dropouts.
Violence: Amount of approval when used by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s).
Paranoia: Amount of fear concerning real or imagined enemies; exaggeration of perceived power of opponents; prevalence of conspiracy theories.
Surrender of Will: Amount of emphasis on members not having to be responsible for personal decisions; degree of individual disempowerment created by the group, its doctrines or its leader(s).
Hypocrisy: amount of approval for actions which the group officially considers immoral or unethical, when done by or for the group, its doctrines or leader(s); willingness to violate the group’s declared principles for political, psychological, social, economic, military, or other gain.
- Source http://www.neopagan.net/ABCDEF.html