Take our test and see if you can resist the lure of the cult
by Keith Harary, Ph.D.
Most of us consider ourselves savvy enough to resist the draw of dangerous cults. When it comes to influence from the likes of David Koresh of the notorious Branch Davidians and the late Jim Jones of the infamous Peoples Temple — mind control masters whose followers bought into the tragedy of mass suicide — we like to tell ourselves we are immune. In fact, we’re amazed that anyone might fall prey to such anti-heroes — obvious wolves parading as gurus, who clearly exploit the lambs who come their way.
If you consider yourself the kind of person who would never fall victim to such exploitation, the following brief exercise may help you to recognize and nurture the personal qualities behind your independence. By getting in touch with these essential aspects of your own personality, you can better understand what it is that often drives other people into destructive relationships with cult leaders — or manipulative authoritarian figures from just about any walk of life. These unique personal insights, moreover, can help you to guide other, less psychologically independent or savvy souls. In so doing, you may help to strike a blow against insidious influences threatening society at its core.
To experience the full impact of the brief exercise that follows, it is essential that you answer each of the questions you’ll be asked in sequence, without going back once you have made a decision. There will be plenty of time later on, once you have completed the exercise, for you to explore all the other possibilities that would have been open to you if you had provided different answers. Remember, what follows is only an exercise, but it is absolutely imperative that you be completely honest in answering all the questions.
If you have any doubt about your ability to comfortably handle this exploratory journey into your innermost decision-making processes, or have a history of serious psychological problems, we recommend checking with your doctor or therapist before you begin the exercise.
If you dare, begin the exercise below.
Defining Your Personal Priorities
Independent people know what they most want and need out of life, and are not afraid to do whatever it takes to go after it. They don’t let others dictate those priorities to them, but rather are selective in choosing those with whom they associate as they work toward achieving their highest personal goals.
Which of the following best describes your own highest personal priority?
- Focus on developing a secure financial future for yourself and your loved ones, even if it means sacrificing other forms of personal fulfillment in the process.
- Focus on finding personal fulfillment in your life and career, regardless of the financial or social implications of your decision.
- Focus on enjoying life to the fullest extent possible in the here and now, without worrying about making money or finding a sense of personal meaning or purpose.
- Focus on helping humanity to overcome our current problems and achieve a more evolved and positive social future.
- Focus on supporting the global environment, repairing the damage done to the Earth by preceding generations, and assuring a more balanced ecological future for the entire planet.
Please select one of the above.