There are many different types of destructive cults, and the diversity of cult beliefs and practices sometimes makes it hard for family members and friends to decide whether their loved one is in trouble or not. Although there are still groups whose followers cut their hair short and wear identical clothing, like the member of Heaven’s Gate, this is by no mean the case with most modern-day cults group. Today, for example, many cults require their members to wear business suits so that they blend in with their environment. All cult members may not look alike, but I have found that destructive cults follow specific behavior patterns that set them apart from other groups. By learning to identify the these patterns you will be better qualified to determine if someone you care about is actually involved with a cult. A group should not be considered a “cult” merely because of its unorthodox belief or practices. Instead, destructive cults are distinguished by their use of deception and mind control techniques to determine a person’s free will and make him dependent on the group’s leader. Authoritarian Leadership In essence a destructive cult is an authoritarian group that is headed by a person or group of people that has near-complete control. Charismatic cult leaders often make extreme claims of divine or “otherworldly” power to exercise influence over their members. Many legitimate religions have had powerful figures who have inspired enormous dedication in people. Being a powerful leader is not inherently wrong , though it carries a high potential for abuse. A group becomes destructive when its leader actively uses such power to deceive members and to rob them of their individuality and free will. For example, I was told to surrender my free will (viewed as Satanic) to God’s representative, Moon, and his subleaders. Marshall Applewhite told followers that an alien entity was speaking through him, and used his message to justify his absolute control over their lives. Deception Destructive cults also use deception to recruit new members. When I was first approached by Moonie recruiters, they told me they were part f the “One World Crusade,” which I later learned was one of many front groups for the Unification Church . They claimed to be students who were involved with a small community of young people struggling to overcome cultural barriers. It was not until much later that I found what its members really believed, and what would be expected of me. What makes this all so insidious is that members often speak and act with the greatest sincerity because they have been subjected to the same mind control techniques that they used to recruit others. Destructive Mind Control Finally, destructive cults use mind control techniques to keep members dependent and obedient. You will learn the specific criteria that define mind control in later but, generally, speaking, cult mind control can be understood as a system of influence that is designed to disrupt a person’s authentic identity and replace it with a new identity. By immersing people in a tightly controlled, high pressure social environment, destructive cults gain control of their members’ behavior, thoughts, emotions and access to information. They take over their mind.