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- Leadership may be one person or a small core of leaders
- Charismatic leadership
- Leadership claims to be divine or appointed by God
- Leadership claims special Knowledge
- Leadership teaches an absolute truth that can only be understood and interpreted by the leader
- Leadership demands unconditional obedience
- Meaningful contact with family and friends outside ceases to exist
- Substitution of the group as the new family and support system.
- Everything outside the community is explained as evil, reinforcing the exclusion of the group
- Lack of sleep and food.
- Nutritionally insufficient food.
- Isolation from the group as a form of punishment or discipline.
- Development of psychological and spiritual dependency on the group.
- Undue influence over thought processes by coercive persuasion of behavior modification techniques without informed consent.
- Constant and intensive indoctrination and exercises.
- Group pressure to conform.
- Using techniques which induce high level of susceptibility.
- Use of fear and guilt to create emotional vulnerability.
- Sensory overload forces acceptance of new doctrine, goals, and definitions to replace old values by expecting newcomers to assimilate masses of information quickly with little opportunity for critical evaluation.
- Approving unethical or illegal behavior while claiming goodness of the group.
- Recruiting and fundraising with hidden objectives.
- Use of leadership or cell groups to attract newcomers under false pretenses.
- Financial exploitation in surrendering money to the group or spending money for special programmes or projects adherents may not agree to.
- Physical exploitation can be in labour intensive projects with little regard to health.
- Physical exploitation can be physical abuse.
- Engaging in inappropriate sexual activities, sexual abuse.