What’s the difference between a Mind Controlling Cult and a Sociopath?

I vote for “NONE“!

Have you ever been screwed over by a bullying cult or a manipulative person?

Being inspired by a comment from my friend Dragos where he dropped THE question most people don’t dare to ask. I have included both the question and my answer as this topic deserved a post of its own. I have added some more on cult recovery to my answer below.

PS. About Scientology, Anette, there is something I don’t understand: what exactly made you to attend them. What could be so mesmerizing to catch a person so rational as you?

My answer:
WOW, Dragos. Cool you got the balls to ask. I have been asking myself THAT EXACT question every day since a few years now. What the fuck happened? How could I be so stupid? Why didn’t I just leave rather than have my life destroyed? Of course I sensed something was wrong early. But what made me justify it turning the blind eye?


There are as many questions as there are answers.

And the answers vary from person to person.


The cult is getting YOU, gradually.

To sum it up: It’s easy to get in, and it’s hard to get out.
The same goes for a relationship with a sociopath. I have been in both so I know what I am talking about. The Stockholm SyndromeBattered Person Syndrome is in full play.

And there is this phenomenon of being pot committed. If you know poker you know what I mean.

I have written over 750 notes in my diary so far. I will share many of them here to shed some light on the different stages a person goes through when encountering a cult or a sociopath. There are so many traits in common between those two it’s fascinating to say the least.

I will also share what I have been going through during my own recovery process both before and after leaving a cult and an abusive relationship. Many suffer from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) after such long periods of mental and spiritual distress. If you find yourself in shock, grief or numbness you are not alone. It has been a long dark journey getting my life back together.

What to do?

I recommend you get all the information you can get on those topics. Start googling Psychopath, Narcissist, Cult, Mind Control etc., read books, educate yourself, participate in forums or self-help-groups. It will make you stronger. I will give you some book reviews here of recommended books that have helped me. I suggest you start reading the wiki entries I’ve linked to in this post, that might inspire you to move and improve.


I’m not at my peak yet but I’m heading there. Stay strong.
Not all wounds are visible. I feel lucky to be alive. Not all were that fortunate.

Recommended articles:
Checklist for creating a cult
4 Signs you have joined the wrong group


“Nobody sets out to join a cult. No one knowingly wants to give up their life, their needs, their goals. They come to believe they’re improving themselves and improving the world and it is then they are led into a psychological trap. It could happen to anybody.” ~ Steve Hassan, Leading American Exit-Counselor


Thank you for reading this post. I would love to hear what you think. You are welcome to ask me any question. Feel free to use the comment form below. Have a nice cult-free day.


20 thoughts on “What’s the difference between a Mind Controlling Cult and a Sociopath?

  1. Don’t worry, you’ll be fine :) And you have Geir with you, it’s extremely important! And Anette…don’t blame yourself. It’s true, nobody obligate you to join them, but you’ve learned the lesson and never ever would do such a mistake again.
    PS. Don’t forget to write a post with pets. I have Alma (small caniche), she’s 7 y.o and I love her sooooooo much :)

    • There will be lots of pet stories. I’ve got so much comfort from my beloved dogs and cats in these difficult times. Unconditional love that is.

  2. Hi Anette,
    Congratulations on your blog, your freedom, your courage, your relationship with Geir – well, just congrats for being YOU.

    We don’t know each other personally, but I knew Geir many years ago at the cult and find both your views refreshingly honest and astute. So I’d be honoured if you’d let me post a comment to your blog now and then when the subject matter intrigues me. Today’s subject certainly does!

    I’ve been studying a psychopath close-up for years now – assisting his daughter to manage him (not always possible). There are a few things I’d like to share:

    1) Psychopaths do not empathise with people or other living things, so they fake human emotions by displaying false “shell” personalities with automatic responses. This is done knowingly, using different personas toward different people, depending on which is most effective. These personas provide a weird mental buffer from lie detectors.

    It is possible to get the truth from a psychopath when they are bombarded with evidence and they momentarily rip the façade aside, but it’s not worth the time or trouble.

    2) Psychopaths operate entirely on their personal desires and define right and wrong according to these desires (not societies). This is their concept of “good”.

    3) They enjoy creating chaos and destruction when their whims suit them. These are called “mistakes” for which they blame others or try to elicit your sympathy.

    4) I disagree with the majority that they are evil, even though they often plan and carry out destructive actions and are pathological liars and manipulators. It is not a sickness, but in my opinion, it is some sort of brain/spirit malfunction that science isn’t even close to nailing down.

    5) They avoid truth, they avoid reality and they avoid counselling unless the counsellor can be manipulated to sympathy. Psychopaths enjoy getting emotional responses from others (sympathy, anger, but also emotions that would energize them) and do not respond with genuine emotions, so they can be emotionally exhausting.

    Psychopaths are afraid of counselling because they believe once their shell personalities are penetrated and exposed, they will disappear altogether.

    Handling a Psychopath
    Psychopaths can actually be managed for short periods of time and their negative effects reduced substantially by blocking them from their various tools and avenues of destruction, once you find what these are.

    They do not respond to cognitive therapy, but respond to one type of behavioural therapy – creating new habits by insistence and monitoring of repeating certain good behaviours until these become automatic.

    If one MUST deal with a psychopath, don’t listen to them (or as little as possible), don’t exhibit emotions, don’t put yourself or your property at risk by trusting them alone with any of it, don’t trust your secrets to them, don’t trust them to complete a task, in fact, don’t trust anything with them. Don’t ever think you can or will help them. You won’t.

    It’s not entirely their fault that they were born or became less human than the rest of us, but no need to sympathize because they don’t feel bad about it, either and sympathy will only drain you. They have no actual capabilities for guilt or regret and certainly don’t see themselves as lacking (but often pretend – playing for sympathies is a favourite act), so don’t waste your emotions or time.

    It’s also important not to waste a minute trying to figure out psychopaths or thinking of them when you’re not around them because that is also draining. Psychopaths are like a leech on others’ ambitions, emotions, creativity and drives. They can make a person think her abilities and world is small, but their mere presence in your life at any time tells you that this is very much not the case. Psychopaths seek out those with the greatest capabilities and the greatest life force.

    Wishing you happiness and success, now and always,


    • That was profound, Sheila! I can for sure verify all the points you mention.
      Yes, they are dangerous to that degree they can drain the last drop of life force out of you.
      Thank you for sharing those lessons. You’re welcome here anytime.

      • Thank you so much for your warm welcome, Anette! :)

        You’re spot-on. I’ve personally experienced the psychopath drain on me many times, including heightened blood pressure and heart rate in its presence – it creates fear responses. I’ve observed the confusion they cause to others, where one loses personal focus and becomes blind to the psychopath as the source of chaos. Folklore refers to these sorts with many names: succubus, imps, doppelgangers, vampires – to name a few. The artistic renderings of these subhumans amongst us as ravaging psychic beasts reflects well their tricks and effects on us. However, I’ve found one KEY point to retain one’s own composure, dignity and humanity in their midst is to never, ever think of them in terms of evil. You can think of them as destructive, chaotic, lost, damaged, psychotic, manipulative or anything else, but not EVIL. IMHO, that is the absolute that allows the persona to overwhelm the remnants of the person even further and the “hook” that allows us to be drained. We cannot hate them or any other living thing – that is what personally harms us.

        • I recognize the constant adrenaline rush, threats and fears, short of breath, stress. It gets to the point where your body’s is overloaded and close to shutting down. I was twice rushed to the hospital, they feared I was suffering from heart attacks – at my age! Tests were fine. But I was burned out, mentally and spiritually raped. And alone.

          • Dear, Anette,

            It breaks my heart to hear how much you’ve suffered. :(

            Your fear response was a natural instinctual reaction to the intent by the psychopath (through his persona) to kill you. Your fear – and the psychopath’s intent to kill you – was equal in strength to your empathy, your compassion, your heart, your goodness.

            Trying to look inside a psychopath triggers the intent to kill by its persona. In Christian terms, the person is possessed, the devil owns him.

            The psychopath’s persona has only two real tools against you – confusing you to believe the persona is a person that can be addressed in any rational or emotional manner (it’s not a person, it’s a program) and tempting you to open your huge heart to hate, distrust and worry and thus distract you from your incredible life potential.

            You tried to look inside the psychopath to help, didn’t you? You tried to confront the psychopath as evil, too, I’ll bet. I’ve done that. Your empathy and heart must be huge for the physical reaction you got. I love you already. :) X X X

            The psychopath program negatively reversed the power of your compassion and intent to help and to see the truth.
            You got too close to the program and your empathy triggered the trap. Your error was confusing the program with a real person. I’ll bet you’re better at recognising these things now than anyone. :)

            No living thing is evil, but sometimes people create things that become evil. Let your heart be whole again, sweet Anette, and let the sun shine all around you forevermore. X X X

    • Hello Sheila, nice to meet you! Unfortunately all you’ve said it’s true. 10 years ago I’ve had to communicate with a person having this suffering (more precisely, schizophrenia) and it was a tough experience They live in their world. Sadly, that person combined pharmaceutical drugs for his disease with alcohol. You can imagine what this means…

      • Hi Dragos! :)
        It’s great to meet you, too.

        What a horrible experience for you. Ugh! The chaos, the destruction, the unreigned terror of a schizophrenic rampantly raging on drugs and alcohol, then flipping back to “normal”. Crikey, you must be tough.

        Cheers to you for all the people you shielded from this person’s chaos and destruction while you tried to reign in the beast!

        Yes, alcohol and drugs tend to lock in the false persona even further. I think schizophrenics a sort of psychopaths in the making. The psychopath I manage was an alcoholic for 30 years. This was one of his habits I was able to break, only to discover that sobriety did not change much of his behaviour. Interesting, ay?

        Alcoholism was just a disguise and excuse.

        Few psychiatrists are willing to diagnose and label psychopaths as such and use more socially acceptable labels instead. They don’t see the individual outside their offices so they miss 9/10ths of the behaviours. Besides this, the adept sociopath lies, manipulates and confuses them with an arm’s length of excuses and reasons for their behaviours.

        Schizophrenics and others with disorders who are sincerely seeking normally respond positively to psychiatric drugs, counselling and other treatments by a conscientious, competent practitioner. Psychopaths don’t. You can’t even get them to take prescribed drugs that might help them become calmer, more social and less destructive.

        • Just want to add – there is some good news:
          This psychopath became severely weakened when denied the ability to cause destruction or feed off others’ emotions. We don’t hate him, you see. ;)

        • I agree that 90% miss out on a psychopath’s behavior. Because they show their true destructive traits behind close doors or in safe surroundings. They are too afraid of being found out in the open. They know what goes for good and bad behavior. They observe others and mimic normal decency. Actually they act manipulative all the time, it’s just that inexperienced people don’t see they’re being duped by them. They deceive their own family, friends, co-workers – everyone. No one is worthy enough to be excluded from their mental games. They even butt-lick their way to success.

        • Hi Sheila,

          thanks for your competent explanations. It was a sad case, a man age 50+, diagnosed with schizophrenia, who felt persecuted, followed by police, having microphones in his room to listen him, who believed his ordinary stuff were stolen, etc. Some periods were calm, after taking his medicines, but I remember there could be 2 or 3 months after that extremely hard for his wife. I didn’t saw him for a while, but right now, after more than 10 years, his wife divorced and his general condition (social, financial, physical) regressed very much. I have 2 questions for you, if you don’t mind:
          1) What exactly is the trigger who detonate this kind of mental bomb? Something in his past, childhood, a nightmare, something who frightened him, what exactly? I’ve met his parents too, nice people and completely normal. Simple, kind and honest people, no abuses, nothing like this.
          2) Can be this disease ereditary? That man has a grown up daughter, perfectly normal, wonderful woman, no sign of any disease. Can she or her eventually born child develop this disease in the future?
          I ask you these things cause that man’s wife and his daughter I still men them often. I will appreciate an answer, Sheila, imagine I will never tell them nothing, I wouldn’t dare. But I like them both, mother and daughter, honestly.

          • Hi Dragos,
            What a terrible situation for mother and daughter! I hope they’ve had counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

            The current view on mental illness is it is 50% genetic and 50% environment. This man has children. All suffer from learning disabilities to different degrees. One child began flipping out and became destructive after the death of a close family member. He never recovered. After his destruction became too severe, he was put on psychiatric drugs. He is not normal, but he lives a happy life with a great deal of independence and is able to care for his personal basic needs.

            Another child began flipping out at her first love loss. For a time, she lost her empathy for others and her behaviours became scarily similar to her father’s. I confronted her. Fortunately, she confided in me at the time. I told her it is a weakness in her genes that she is susceptible to losses, that this is the ONE weakness she must handle with someone else. Does she want to be like her father? I told her to get counselling and help immediately. She did. She is fine now – better than fine! She has more confidence than I’ve ever seen before, more intelligence, and she works hard to be a good person and connects better every day. She’s got a great counsellor, btw.

            I have a friend whose son became destructive after his first emotional loss, he is now diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, but often doesn’t take his meds and flips out, creating chaos everywhere. Also originally diagnosed with learning disabilities. Another friend has a similar story.

            There are pivotal points in “Jim’s” life (not real name) where he became worse after emotional losses.

            There are no experts on psychopaths. Who has ever studied more than one in depth? But from my experience and those of others I know and what I’ve studied, I have a theory.

            As children, there is a brain or gene weakness demonstrating learning disabilities and social difficulties. The child begins to isolate himself. He hides. He develops fake persona to deal with others. (The daughter has also done this, still does it occasionally when she’s nervous, i.e., pretends knowledge she doesn’t have.) The more the persona develop, the more afraid he becomes, the more he hides. Then the first emotional loss, which can trigger schizophrenia. Additional emotional losses seal the person into the final state of sociopath.

            To summarize: my theory is the three – learning disability, schizophrenia and sociopath, are just a progression of one, single illness.

            The trigger is emotional loss, but the development of persona to handle social situations begins in childhood.

            When “Jim” told me of his terror he would disappear if he ever was honest with his psychiatrists and didn’t use his persona to deal with others, it was a diamond of insight. His fear is greater than the destructiveness he sees he creates. Instantly deceiving himself and others that the destructiveness is a mistake, someone else’s fault, etc. eases his fears of letting go of the persona he created so well. He knows they are not him, though. They all know. Multiple Personality Disorder was disproven as a mental illness. It is now called Dissociative Identity Disorder and is still controversial. In my theory, this is the underlying thinking/behaviour of the sociopathic personality.

  3. Happy Birthday, Norway!!!! May God bless the country and it’s people forever! Have a nice 17th of May, Anette! PS. And as I’ve wrote on Geir’s blog…the same…Heia Heia Start! :)

  4. Hi Anette.

    On this post I will suggest the documentary “The Corporation” (2003) because between that and this post there are too many similarities. I mind that the business corporations, like Miscavige RTC, acts the same way in order to survive and to become a dominant social force. I quoted the following:

    “What the study illustrates is that in the its behaviour, this type of “person” typically acts like a dangerously destructive psychopath without conscience. Furthermore, we see the profound threat this psychopath has for our world and our future, but also how the people with courage, intelligence and determination can do to stop it.”

    I guess you may want to link this documentary.

    Peace and Keep up the good work!

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  7. Im confused. You didn’t really seem to answee that question bt Dragos. And you say you will and that you will tell us a lot of thing that didn’t seem to be in this post. Is there another post that tells more? What about your 750 notes? And list of books? Would like to have all these answers. I was in an evangelcla cult in the 70s for 4 yrs but am still affected by it. Thanks!

What do you think?