Guest View: Why I Fell for a Cult; ‘How did I not see through this stuff? Right?’

By C

I understand that it is easy to shit on those of us who have been cult members. Do you really want to know why a person could fall for this stuff?

I would like to offer a few personal contributing factors:

No maternal bond. My parents were kept extremely busy by the organization that I was born into. They were made to believe that nothing was ever good enough, there was always more to do. I could expound on this aspect for hours but essentially it contributed to my feeling like I don’t belong. I didn’t have a safe space at home. But it was all justified by the sense of urgency.

“Jesus is coming! Any moment now! Gotta save souls! Gotta do more!”

I was schooled by this religion, so I was kept away from the general public, as well as taught that the rest of the world was evil. I was not allowed to read things such as Greek Myths or Fairy Tales or comics.

Of course I was not allowed to read the newspaper or watch TV. Movies were forbidden. Seriously. My guardian angel would wait outside the movie theater, so that if I died (and of course I was told that movie theater deaths were very common) I would not go to Heaven.

Holy Fuck! I KNOW! How did I not see through this stuff? Right?

No critical thinking skills were taught. I was encouraged to go to the faith’s expensive college, which did not teach science or philosophy. Daily classes about the faith were mandatory, from kindergarten on. Can you say, “Indoctrination”?

I was encouraged to work for this organization, which justifies lower wages to employees due to the group’s “Mission.” In other words, employees are missionaries and have to accept lower wages.

As I stated, I did not feel like I fit in. I was always seeking. I felt as though somewhere “out there” an answer might exist, something to make me feel whole.

Ha! I almost was a Scientologist! I have Rodney King to thank for that! My first day of class was to be April 29, 1992, but once I heard of the riots, I was too chicken to drive the 74 miles INTO the chaos. When the group charged me anyway, and berated me for my cowardice, I thought, “no way.”

Then I fell for the love bombing of the Mormons. Another cult entirely, in my opinion. But I do know that my particular personality (which I see as open and seeking, yet broken, somehow) is exactly what recruiters of any high demand group are looking for. And not just that, my particular flaws make me see to attract the most culty parts of any group. Ha!

As I am typing this I received a friendshipping text from my Ministering Sister, or whatever they call Visit Teachers now. Luckily I am out now.

Anyway, these are just a tiny smattering of contributing factors. Gaps in education compared to the general public, fear of anyone different that me, culturally, things of that nature helped keep me stuck. I am still combating these tendencies, and it makes me susceptible to anyone who acts as though they “have the answers.”

And yet it is easy for me to crap on the gullible, too. Someone I know lost money to Eric Pearl and Teal Swan. My sister went to a Ramtha retreat, and my reaction was both shock at her stupidity and envy somehow, even though her experience was miserable.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • C,

    Thank you for sharing and being so candid.

    To C’s critics:

    I want to remind C’s critics that all of us have character faults. None of us are made perfect.

    I have many character faults or flaws, fortunately being drawn to cults is not one of my own personality flaws.

    We all have our crosses to bear.

    I am glad C shared his experiences because it helps me better understand my fellow human being.

    Thank you again, C, much appreciated!

  • If C was in the J-dubbs I don’t blame him for being reluctant. I myself believe they are among the hardcore when it comes to messing with people.

    • Yup. Sigh. Sometimes, however, one or another of the constant variables is missing or deliberately disguised. And when you’re being gaslit from many differentials who all have different agendas, serve two masters…especially when J is not acting in his own interests but in the interests of his master or ruler = AAA 🤑, he gets an “F” on his papers.

      Now, I’m “getting” — meaning I “get it” neon spectrum colors over the Disney logo on the Disney Channel. 🌈 I’m not sure if it’s as customized as my wi-fi or “devises” or Dylan’s Van consul often appears to be and IS but if you dare inquire you’re likely to be labeled “insane” — as Emiliano Salinas purportedly texted Alex Betancourt in response to the poor girl who reported the traffickers — “she’s a crazy lady, “YOU CAN SAY” to that effect. Meaning, I suppose, his intent was to gag the victims or cover-up the crimes with cray-cray.

      Y did Brittany SHAVE HER HEAD in public? (But not her puss?) Was she grooming for a role as a Buddhist Nun? Or being inducted into the Mickey Mouse Club? Or Star Fucked?

      Or joining the “whatever happened to Baby Jane” club?

      Today, among my street theatre variables — and there were many — were a few more indiscreet Directional “suggestions.”

      So whomever orchestrated this performance knows all the variables. IDK who to thank. But it ain’t over ‘til the fat ladies sing.

      • Hi Heidi, I wanted interest in this thread to wane a bit before responding.

        I want to preface this by asserting that you are not dealing with a skeptic here.

        I see four types of outcomes which result from this depraved behavior.

        1. Suicides
        2. Permanently institutionalized, either by way of mentally breaking, or by doing something about it impetuously
        3. Freely discussing and often perceived as “cra cra” as you say
        4. Quiet, observant, and waiting

        The first two are ideal outcomes. The third is manageable. The fourth is something to be truly feared. Regardless of how unfuckwithable a person turns out to be, you by your actions have unlocked a pathology in that person — towards YOU.

        I have two points of advice:

        Grab any hard evidence you can. It is easier said than done and comes in tiny amounts. But it is what convinced me. I mean hard, solid, and tactile, nothing to even necessarily fit a narrative. Just solid undeniably weird stuff. Also it helps in privately developing and maintaining that fourth type.

        My second piece of advice is to outright ignore anyone who can be lineated to you. Anything having to do with them is useless and pointless.

        I’m sorry it happened/is happening to you.

  • It would be good to keep in mind that you have/had a vulnerability to unusually charismatic figures who seem to have all the answers you are seeking. The truth is that nobody has all the answers. You have some. I have some. Everybody has some, but nobody has all of them. Anybody who claims to have all the answers, is either a fraud or a lunatic.

  • “How do they fall for this?” It seems to be the main question in the comments section of various newspapers. I don’t think that people understand that this indoctrination happens over a long period of time. I was recently thinking about cult leaders who claimed to be able to control the weather and was reminded of this case in London.

  • Thank you for addressing the conflicts laced into being forced as a kid to encounter the rules, the required behavior & beliefs and the invasive thought control of a parent’s religious concepts. You have all of these natural questions about the strangeness of the rules and maybe there is no one left to ask. I knew that I could never be persuaded by any Catholic dogma when I was three years old. It was too miserable and so were most of the grownups who represented what “faith” was imagined to be. Some really mean creeps. Stuffy and smelly. Where is life? Nobody wants to be happy? “It’s not a good idea to wanna be happy.” Buncha killjoys.

    My current next door neighbors belong to a Latino fundamentalist Christian church. After awhile one notices things about the next-door neighbors. They have a family of at least four living in their garage. The garage door is never opened. This is Florida where the heat and humidity lasts a long time.

    The 2 oldest boys who live in the main part of the house play with the kids at our house. They’re wonderful to know. Three or four days each week are church days for the whole batch, but it’s so much more than that, in essence. The religion seems to be eating them alive.

    Sometimes we learn details about the media censorship these boys have to manage as part of their daily lives vs. their radically all-encompassing religion. Small example – one is not allowed to sing the theme song from an older sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That took us by surprise. I’ve told my grandsons not to debate about it with our neighbor boys. Let them have a place to relax and enjoy themselves without tension. We do talk about it later.

    • Interesting thing about indoctrination. Why is it that some people are able to see through the nonsense in childhood? In your case (three!) it was particularly young. I saw through Catholicism at about the same age I stopped believing in ghosts, monsters, and the Easter Bunny. Couldn’t understand how adults actually believed these fairy tales of Christianity.

      “He who can make you believe in absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Believing this stuff is harmful. At best it rots your brain, at worst it leads to Nxivm. Scratch that, at worst it leads to releasing sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, the shootout in Waco, TX and flying jetliners into the Twin Towers. So, yeah, it’s “easy to shit on cult members”, moreover it’s sometimes necessary to do so, because they’re not just victims. They’re the muscle behind the cult leader. Without them, without the gullible followers, he’s just some lonely loser with a tenuous grasp on reality. Rainiere is nothing by himself. Zero.

      So I puzzle over why people join cults. I’ve read the opinions of some of the experts (most of whom seem self-appointed) and I’ve read some tales told by ex-members. The psychological theorizing seems to lack any real academic rigor, it’s really just supposition. Or tautology. Unhappy childhoods are a dime a dozen, and growing up in a cult doesn’t explain why the cult member doesn’t leave when he reaches the age of reason. Kids hit a certain age and they rebel. And nobody lives in isolation, not in this day and age. Parents have limited ability to mold their kids, and always have. We’re not the products of our upbringing; if we were, nothing would ever change. Think about it. We don’t listen to our parent’s music, we don’t dress like them. We grow up and become our own persons.

      Very few people join cults. What’s wrong with them? Nothing, really. It’s not some kind of psychological pathology. It’s not upbringing: the Nxivm clowns grew up for the most part in prosperous, non-loony families. So what is it? Seems to me the people who joined Nxivm are weak-willed, gullible, and ambitious. They lack simple common sense. They want someone to tell them how to live their lives– how pathetic is that? They lack what the ancient Romans called Virtue: that combination of wisdom, justice, civic responsibility, integrity, and strength that was the ideal of the Republic, and of this nation’s founding fathers. In place of virtue, Nxivm embodied blind ambition, thoughtless selfishness, childish desire for the quick fix and the easy answer, slavish loyalty to their clownish leader. People who join cults are weak, and lack integrity. They are thoughtless (in both senses of the word).

      Being a decent human being isn’t all that hard. Cult members fail that test. Yes, a lot can be blamed on the leaders. But they wouldn’t be cult leaders without cult members. Without the fools who follow them.

  • My own opinion is that cults are another way of “trying to fill the emptiness from outside,” like drugs, sexual addiction, gambling, and other forms of dependency and co-dependency.

    • Exactly. I think the question “How can they fall for this” isn’t crapping on them. It’s rhetorical. I ask it. I ask out of incredulity and frustration and even empathy.

      I can look at each of these women, even Lauren Salzman and Allison Mack and wonder who they’d have been had they never got involved. Dani of course is just heartbreaking. Reading Cami text about her stolen life, no friends etc.

      Just like drug addiction or other addictions I hope they get counseling to reverse the years of conditioning of NXIVM, their “program” and Keith Raniere. This is something that has to be unlearned. I’ve said before in reading what people that got out write you can still pick up on some of the same but subtle concepts.

      Good luck Dani

  • Being born into it and isolated is very different from people who join later or who are born into a less extreme one which becomes extreme but they can remember the old days when it was more reasonable or the days before they joined.
    At least you got out.

    What I have always tried to do with our children is give them lots of different influences and points of view and they often disagree with me and that’s fine. Not all children are so lucky.

  • There’s a famous quote from famous comedian Groucho Marx that will make anyone cult proof, as long as they remember it and heed its message. It’s been quoted in various forms over the years, but the meaning is basically the same:

    “There’s something wrong with any group that would want me.”

  • It is nice to see you managed to escape the insidious misery poured on you by cults. Bangkookery is displaying an unusual bout of blind hysteria, poor thing. Hopefully one day he or she will strangle him/herself to death. Must be a Trump supporter, this particular specimen! :-))
    Once again, well done for managing to escape their sphere of influence!

    • Thank you!

      Reading about other cults is what made the difference.

      When I was Mormon, I read about Scientology.

      The Frank Report is helping me address the cult I was born into.

  • Just ignore The kookry below. It is mentally challenged, but its sickness amuses Frank Parlato.
    I hope you get free of your demons and accept the hardship of building away from your fixed circumstances. We’re all born into those and have to make our own way. Life isn’t fair in and of itself -its up to you to strive to make it so. All the best.

  • Thanks for sharing the mindset that made you susceptible – it’s hard to erase old set mind patterns that are ingrained. Keep up the good work, and I hope for good things to come your way. And just ignore that Bangkook rabid dog barking. I think he lies in wait hoping to bite someone with his/her words. Just a waste of pixels.

  • You’re right, it is easy for others to crap on you.

    I may as well join in.

    Firstly, the problem isn’t that you were born or indoctrinated into a particular religion. Nobody can fault you for that.

    The problem is that you and your fucken sister kept REPEATEDLY joining cults and FALLING for scam artists, over and over again.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Why the fuck didn’t you LEARN from your bad experiences and STOP joining fucken cults?

    You deserve to be crapped on since you don’t seem to have much common sense.

    You really need help.

    • Again, you are disgusting.
      Instead of being helpful all we get from your foul mouth is this, Bang.
      Frank should never have allowed your post.

      • Frank allows diversity of ideas, even stupid ones. You’ve had some yourself. I think it’s disgusting that you won’t even name the cult you were in. You obviously don’t want to help others, it’s all about you.

        • Talk about shaming…what cult do you run SJ?

          it is obvious to me the cult is JW.

          C- thanks for sharing.

          • I run the cult of common sense, it’s really hard to find new members.By the way, I’m not offering a membership to you, because you already disqualified yourself.

            It could be JW, or it could be another, smaller, lesser known group. That’s the reason I asked the question.

      • Thank you, g.

        It is in part your strength and your posts that encouraged me to write.

        You were my trailblazer and I love you for it!

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083