Gurus, Cults & Brainwashing – Appealing To Human Needs & Weaknesses

Infamous Cult Leader Charles Manson - Gurus, Cults & Brainwashing – Appealing To Human Needs & Weaknesses

Infamous Cult Leader Charles Manson – Gurus, Cults & Brainwashing – Appealing To Human Needs & Weaknesses

The following is Part one of an expanded transcript of a detailed and in-depth interview Patrick Wanis PhD Human Behavior Expert gave to Michele Morrisette with  about gurus, cults and brainwashing. Patrick Wanis reveals some of the key human emotional needs and how they relate to being brainwashed or led into a cult. You  can listen to the entire interview here.   Also listen to “Beware of gurus” 

Michele Morrisette: Hi. This is Michele Morrisette with  where our quest is to seek and provide the truth. One of our current areas of interest is the new following of Mahendra Trivedi. Trivedi, as some of you may be aware, has been called everything from the next Einstein to the second coming of Christ. Just those badges in particular are enough to catch your interest.

So joining us here today is Human Behavior Expert, PhD, Patrick Wanis who has been talking in the media recently about brainwashing and the dangers of gurus. Patrick, thank you so much for being with us here today.

Patrick Wanis: My pleasure, Michele.

Michele Morrisette: So, maybe one of the ways to start this out, one of the most active media stories has been James Ray. Tell me what’s happening with James Ray.

Patrick Wanis: Well, this is a very powerful story and you’re right, Michele. This is one of the reasons that I’ve been doing the media rounds, as they say, talking about brainwashing and the danger of gurus and using specifically the case of James Arthur Ray.

James Arthur Ray is probably known to most of your audience as a featured teacher in The Secret. James Arthur Ray is a self-help guru. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author. He wrote a book about harmonic wealth and how to create harmonic wealth in all areas of your life. He is in the movie and in the book The Secret. He was featured on Larry King and on Oprah. In one of his retreats known as Spiritual Warrior Retreat, he held a sweat lodge and he led the sweat lodge himself and it resulted in the deaths of three people.

He was then charged criminally and recently was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide which means there’s a good chance he’s going to go to jail [Update: James Arthur Ray was sentenced to 2 years prison on each count but allowed to serve it concurrently, thus serving a total of 2 years prison sentence] but there are many interesting consequences of and questions about the James Ray case.

First: Were these people were brainwashed or not?

How do people get brainwashed?

Two, is James Ray a cult leader or a guru?

Three, what does this mean for the Law of Attraction and for the people, the millions of people around the world, who have read and believe in The Secret and in the Law of Attraction?

Let’s start off first with the key topic and there is a direct connection between the James Ray case and Mahendra Trivedi – particularly when we talk about the power of brainwashing or we talk about how people can easily get led into a group or become part of a cult or simply hand out tens and tens of thousands of dollars in the hope that their life is going to be transformed. By the way, we’re talking about the appeal to a mental transformation, a physical transformation, an emotional transformation, a financial transformation or a spiritual transformation.

So one of the things that I’ve been revealing and identifying throughout the media is the ways people actually get brainwashed; and it can be summed up in one simple sentence, and I know this sounds like an oversimplification, but I will explain it.

Brainwashing occurs when I can say to you and convince you:

“You have a need and I’m the only one that can fill that need.”

If that need is something that’s really emotionally powerful and it becomes a void and it creates a sense of desperation or a crisis, and I can convince you that I’m the only one, I’m your only answer, I’m your only solution, then it’s easy for me to begin to exert control over you.

It is at the point and time of our weakness (crisis, emotional vulnerability, emotional void) that we are susceptible to being brainwashed.

3 Examples of  Gurus raping, assaulting or stealing money from innocent victims and followers:

  1. “A man was arrested after he persuaded, sweet-talked and fleeced two women for $130,000, Hallandale Beach police said. According to police, 32-year-old Joe Alvarez claimed he was a spiritual adviser and convinced the victims that they were possessed by evil spirits, their money was evil too, and only he could help them.“
  2. He “used his status as a guru to identify and victimize the most vulnerable women from among his flock, grooming them, breaking down barriers, and ultimately assaulting them when they were at their most physically, emotionally, or financially vulnerable,” according to court papers filed in California against Bikram Choudhury, founder of Bikram Yoga. The lawsuits – which contains allegations of rape, sexual battery, fraud and false imprisonment – are also leveled against 25 unnamed members of Mr Choudhury’s inner circle who allegedly knew of his behaviour “yet did nothing to prevent this from happening”.
    – Excerpt from
    Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury ‘raped students in cult-like training'”
  3. “There is no doubt that I am God”
    – Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Guru of bling and a telepreacher, India who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty of raping two female followers.  Singh is the controversial leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, which claims to have 60 million followers around the world.  “We believe there are at least 48 more victims who were sexually abused [living on the sect’s compound] and who may have been killed or are too scared to come out and testify against Ram Rahim,” lawyer Utsav Singh Bains told AFP. Further, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, with a reported wealth of more than $50 million, also allegedly manipulated around 400 men to get their testicles removed; he told them that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God.

“Guru Singh lived a life of luxury, surrounded by doting followers who attended to his every need. Luxury cars and lavish furniture surrounded him.”

The simple formula for brainwashing and duping people:

  1. Identify (or create) critical need
  2. Convince victim (person in need) that only you can help them

So again, the basic formula is convincing someone that they have a need or appealing to that need during a crises when a person is highly vulnerable and then saying that, “I’m the only one that can help you…I am your only hope.”

Now what could those needs be?

We have a series or basic set of emotional needs. One is Love & Connection – love in many different forms – brotherly love, sisterly love, romantic love. Read more about the four types of love Agape (unconditional love), Storge (parental love & affection), Eros (erotic & romantic love) and Filia (friendship love) in my article, “The challenge of unconditional love”

We also have love in terms of being able to connect with another human being. So when we talk about love and connection, we’re talking about connection to individuals and a wider community. Now this is critical, Michele, because what I’m talking about here is a sense of belonging.

So when you start talking about James Ray, as people are going to these retreats, they have a sense of community, a sense of belonging: ‘I belong to this group.’

The same thing applies to people if they go to a retreat or even a seminar held by Mahendra Trivedi. ‘I have the sense of connection to other people’ and you will often see in the marketing that they will talk about and promote, “Come, be part of like-minded people.”

What does that mean?

It means your connection through a community: a connection to people that are like me. Oh, they’re similar to me. That means I feel better. I feel safe. I feel emotionally secure. I belong to something. They understand me.

So the first human emotional need is Love & Connection.

The second is Security.

Now security comes in many different forms: mental, emotional, physical, financial, spiritual.

So if you don’t have a place to live, you don’t have security. So the first sense of security is the need for survival but also security in terms of a supportive relationship. Do I have someone that I can depend on? Also security in terms of mental and emotional supports, someone to turn to in times when I’m feeling weak or I’m feeling helpless or I have some sense of doubt.

Security can also mean a job and it can mean money. Security can refer to life directions: “Do I know where I’m going with my life?”

So we have love and connection, security; I am giving you a lot of detail but there’s a reason for this. So the people listening to this call, whom may have experienced a similar situation, will ask: “How did that person dupe me? How could I have been so stupid? How did I get brainwashed into this?”

Here is the answer.

Number three key human emotional need is the opposite of Security.

It’s Challenge.

We actually like to be challenged. We like to set a goal and be challenged. Can I make this happen? Can I achieve this? So we also need a challenge.

The next one and this is probably the most important one is Significance.

Also read the article by Patrick Wanis PhD “Getting your six human emotional needs”

 Click here for Part 2 of the expanded transcript of the in-depth interview by Patrick Wanis PhD, Human Behavior Expert about gurus, cults and brainwashing, where he reveals the link between the need for significance & purpose and brainwashing & cults

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