• Nicole Sherwin

The Psychology Of Cult Indoctrination

Why people surrender their identities and children and are willing to die for exploitative sociopaths and paedophiles, aka their leaders.

WHY? Source: Esquire

This segment is from the podcast episode, 'Cults. Listen below where you get your pods:

Why the fuck would you join a cult?’ ‘Why didn’t you just say no?’ 'Why didn’t you just leave?'


Detective Nicole Olivia Benson has investigated and I’m here to tell you why the fuck people join cults, why the surrender their identities, why they’re willing to hand over their children to be molested and why they’re willing to die for the leaders of their groups.


The answer to why people join cults is actually really simple. No psychology degree required. According to Tom Bisset of the Baltimore Sun, it’s because "They’re looking for love and acceptance and because they want answers to the personal problems in their lives.” In the Netflix documentary Explained, they also suggest that there are several steps of indoctrination to a cult and that you’re most vulnerable when you’re going through a transition or a crossroads. Cults really play by a get 'em when they’re down mentality, because like the rest of their operation, it’s super ethical. Bisset also says that, “Unlike most people who find socially acceptable solutions to their problems, these emotionally scarred individuals are willing to go beyond the bounds of normalcy in order to meet their deeply felt needs.”

Okay, but surely when the cult tells you they’re going to physically brand you and asks for you to sign over your first born child to the 80 year old cult leader with eleven wives you’d start to think there’s something fishy going on?

"Ok, I'm in." Source: GiPHY


Firstly, cult leaders themselves and charismatic AF. They’re the Jehovah Witness door salesmen who would 100% get themselves into your house and convert you. Even if you think you’ve got a solid bullshit detector, they can still get you, with mind control. Which apparently is not someone controlling you with their mind, which very much confused me, but it’s more psychological coercion. The cult leaders basically break down the person you think you are and then rebuild you in alignment with their doctrine. It’s brainwashing, it's psychological coercion, and I bet you’re feeling smug, thinking you still wouldn’t fall for it.


I definitely was a non-believer, but in Explained, it is suggested that if you’re good at mind control, you can break even the most intelligent people if given the opportunity. Additionally, in the documentary Seduced: Inside the NXVIUM Cult, they also suggest that cults don't prey on the stupid, they prey on the most intelligent, socially connected people. Nobody is safe.