Charismatic Cult Leaders And The Common Traits That Make Their Personality Type So Dangerous
Personality is a dangerous thing, and the ability to influence people can be used for ill just as easily as it's used for good. We naturally find ourselves attracted to magnetic people, allowing their charisma to blind ourselves to their intentions and ideas.
Criminology and psychology researcher Joe Navarro has dedicated his life to understanding the twisted charisma of cults and cult leaders. Here, we've outlined his list of 50 traits common to cult leaders that help them dominate the lives of others.
He has a grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
Demands blind, unquestioned obedience.
Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude.
Has a sense of entitlement - expecting to be treated special at all times.
Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives putting others at financial risk.
Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
Takes sexual advantage of members of his sect or cult.
Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite.
Is hypersensitive to how he is seen or perceived by others.
Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
Makes members confess their sins or faults publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
Doesn't seem to listen well to needs of others, communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates.
Needs to be the centre of attention and does things to distract others to insure that he or she is being noticed by arriving late, using exotic clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
Has insisted in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his personality.
Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
When criticized he tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an enemy.
Refers to non-members or non-believers in him as the enemy.
Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
Believes himself to be omnipotent.
Has magical or unconventional answers or solutions to problems.
Is superficially charming.
Habitually puts down others as inferior and only he is superior.
Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him.
Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere him.
The word I dominates his conversations. He is oblivious to how often he references himself.
Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly - when he does he acts out with rage.
Doesn't seem to feel guilty for any wrongdoing nor does he apologize for his actions.
Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
Rigid, unbending, or insensitive describes how this person thinks.
Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or outside world.
Monitors and or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
Works the least but demands the most.
Has stated that he is destined for greatness or that he will be martyred.
Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from members or believers.
Seems to be highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
Sees self as unstoppable perhaps has even said so.
Conceals background or family which would disclose how plain or ordinary he is.
Doesn't see anything wrong with himself; in fact, sees himself as perfect or blessed
Has taken away the freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life, and liberty of followers.
Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed.
Reddit user Ohyo_Ohyo_Ohyo_Ohyo asked: 'What is the worst health advice you've been given?'
Whenever we feel like something isn't right about our bodies or we're suffering from some kind of medical issues, we want them taken care of straight away.
The problem with that is, that depending on whom we're getting information from, we tend to believe in the initial diagnosis or remedy because we trust the professional sources and we want quick solutions.
But do doctors and health specialists always know what they're talking about?
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Strangers online shared their medical horror stories when Redditor Ohyo_Ohyo_Ohyo_Ohyo asked:
"What is the worst health advice you've been given?"
Not doing further research into something that raises eyebrows can be a fatal mistake.
Turns Out It Was Brain Cancer
"i went cross eyed and my primary said 'could be a sinus thing, get some mucinex.'”
"turns out it was glioblastoma."
"Wow, that's an absurdly sh**ty doctor. The same thing happened to my mother and it was quickly determined that it was stage 4 lung cancer. She made it about 3 months after that. She was 48 and I was 18 so the idea that any doctor would ignore that is infuriating to me."
Second Opinion Saves Lives
"My primary doctor kept telling me that nothing was wrong with my thyroid, and I was a hypochondriac."
"I had been told at 12 years old that I had thyroid issues and she told me that doctor was wrong. I had to see a whole other doctor to get a referral to the endocrinologist because she literally refused to refer me to one."
"The endocrinologist said, I had scarring all over my thyroid, I had Hashimoto’s, and my levels were horrible, and she didn’t know what the doctor was talking about. She said she was glad I advocated for myself."
"I was not the recipient of this 'advice' but I had a coworker proudly say how small her new grandchild was when they were born and that her daughter smoked her whole pregnancy to try and have a smaller baby. This was in like 2010, not the 1960s for reference."
"ETA: smoked cigarettes. clarified since that can mean more than one thing."
"Was sick for a year in my late teens. Saw multiple specialists to find the cause. Experimented with diet. Saw a naturopath that did some ‘electric pulse test’ thing that apparently gave indicators of organ health. After a few visits, and months of eating the weirdest sh*t, the test said things were improving (including my gallbladder). Months went on but I was still quite sick. I eventually ended up in hospital and one of my specialists decided to take my appendix out on a whim to see if it might help. Turns out I had something called a ‘grumbling appendix’ and it completely fixed me. Funny thing is, while they were in there, they discovered I was born without a gallbladder."
These are not appropriate remedies.
That's Not How That Works
"When I had an urinary tract infection someone told me to wash my vagina with vinegar..."
"And maybe add some diced onions and tomatoes to make a refreshing Mediterranean salad."
"Just push through whenever you're sick. If you can get to a doctor's office for a doctor's certificate you can get to school/college/work."
"My childhood pediatrician told my parents that 'A sick child never smiles.'”
"I tend to laugh/smile when I’m nervous or uncomfortable to self regulate."
"A doctor once told my parents that a child who isn’t crying can’t really be hurt. Because of that, it took me days to convince my parents to take me to the doctor after I fell on my arm because I wasn’t crying. It turns out it was broken."
"Ignoring" The Problem Isn't A Solution
"A friend of mine was in horrible pain, and was repeatedly told (by multiple doctors) that she should stop complaining and just get used to it because periods are painful and that’s the way it is."
"After being blown off for years, she finally got a doctor to take her pain seriously- and it turned out she had severe endometriosis. The surgeon said it was the worst case he had ever seen in his career, and was horrified that it had gotten so advanced with no one listening to her."
Choking On Blood
"The school nurse telling me to tilt my head back for a bloody nose. That was an awful experience."
"I do like doing this because when I cough up the blood I can pretend I’m in a period drama and I have tuberculosis."
These Redditors discovered that all pain is not necessarily "normal."
"Doctor said certain pain is normal as you get older. Turns out it was cancer."
"That's a fibrous strip of breast tissue, you're too young to have breast cancer."
"Delayed diagnosis by 6 months. I was 31."
Thinking Twice About Back Pain
"I got from a doctor, 'everyone has back pain. There’s nothing wrong with you, just use a heating pad.' It was kidney stones."
"Yikes, I am so sorry."
"I had a kinda similar experience. I went to the doctor for a morning appointment to get some persistent, worsening back pain checked out. Doc asked me where my back pain was, looked me in the eyes and told me I was fine and must have just slept wrong. He shut me down when I tried to advocate for myself."
"That night, I was admitted to the ER due to the crippling pain I was in. Turns out I had a serious kidney infection that was turning septic."
"One of the ER staff who helped me told me if I had waited another 24 hours, my kidneys would have shut down and I very likely would have died from organ failure?!"
"I’ve been dismissed by doctors over and over again in my personal health journey, and it is so frustrating and scary, as they’ve dismissed me for 'being dramatic' when there’s actually something very serious going on with my body."
Vitamin D Overdose
"If you have pale skin, get just a little sunburnt every day so that your skin will 'learn' to get a tan. That’s how everyone else does it."
"My Solar Keratosis skin cancers would beg to disagree."
As much as we want to believe our doctors when they give us a health assessment and assure us we're "fine," you should never ignore your inner voice telling you that something is not right.
Your conscience is there for a reason.
Even if a doctor tells you it's okay to ignore the problem, you should think twice about ignoring your gut feelings.
When giving a speech and making an argument, the most effective way to reach other people or get your point across is to speak with conviction.
However, speaking with conviction doesn't always mean people are speaking the truth... or even coherently.
Redditor MonkeyGentleman420 was curious to hear more stories of ludicrous things people said with unwavering conviction, leading them to ask:
"What is the stupidest thing someone has told you with complete conviction?"
We Know How Often Birds Check Clocks...
'That we set the clocks forwards and backwards so the birds don’t get confused with their migration patterns."- alliecita410
Speaking From Experience?
"'Two people can breathe underwater forever if they have a hose'."
"The first person breathes in while the second breathes out, then the first person breathes out and the second person breathes in etc'."- PahoojyMan
"'If you are dream about falling and you hit the ground in your sleep you'll actually die'."
"'It's been proven'."
"I said 'If you die in your sleep, how can anyone know what you were dreaming?'"
"Ruined a favorite story of hers."
"Sorry."- FrankieMintfalling GIFGiphy
Because ALL Cops Ask For Your SSN Before Cuffing You...
"From a coworker: 'If you don't have a social security number then the government can't do anything to you'."
"I asked if that meant, if I didn't have an SSN then I could just go kill someone on the street and the government couldn't arrest me."
"'Yep', he said, 'if you don't have an SSN then they can't enforce any laws on you'."- AllAboutThePotatoes
Keep Them Away From Needles...
"A former coworker insisted that the body believes the ears are injuries, and we are all constantly trying to heal our own ears closed."
"The only thing keeping them open, you ask?"
"We worked in healthcare."- Reflection_Secure
Credit To the Visual Effects Designer
"A girl I worked with was convinced that every single mythological creature was real."
"I’ll never forget one of her claims."
“Think about it, every movie you done seen all those creatures and aliens and sh*t, all that’s real."
"Someone has to have actually seen it to come up with that!”
"Apparently there’s no such thing as the human imagination to her."
"So yes, transformers are real, Godzilla is real, Independence Day is real."
"This was a 20-year-old that said all of this."- Dragonborn83196Unicorn GIF by MOODMANGiphy
In Theory... Still Wrong!
"That the speed of light wasn’t like an actual number, it was just a figure of speech."- sunbearimon·
Check The Date...
"Sunburn is not caused by the sun, it is actually caused by sunblock."
"If you don't use sunblock then you will never be burned."
"Sunburn was created by the sun cream industry to sell their products."
"Seems easily testable, why not lie on the beach all day in one position with no sun block and see what happens?"
"Make sure you fall asleep for maximum effect."
"You go bright red and then blister to the point that you get taken to hospital for a combination of sunstroke and the beginning of shock then spend the rest of the holiday indoors face down with regular application of creams and replacement paraffin patches on the burns."
"It puts a bit of a dampener on your 2 week break."
"Sunburn is mentioned in Livy's history of the second Punic war and others over 2000 years ago which is solid proof that the 'Big Sunscreen' claim is ridiculous."
"However it would be hand-waved away by a True Believer of big Sunscreen."- Magnus_40Sonne Sunburn GIF by Mitteldeutscher RundfunkGiphy
Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss...
"A distant relative, recently retired, once told me that he was going to hire a gardener and a housekeeper because 'the government will give you a grant to pay for them now'."
"This was a few minutes after a lengthy rant about how the welfare state should be scrapped because only lazy people lose their jobs and need to claim benefits."
"The same relative, some years ago, also announced with absolute conviction that he was going to hire a neighbor as a cleaner because 'she won't have anything to do now her kids are grown up'."- Plantagenesta
The Price Of Never Looking Up!
"Pineapples aren't real."
"They're entirely manmade and do not exist in nature."- tricksterloki
ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR!!!
"My dad was experiencing end stage renal failure (was on dialysis at the time and has since had a transplant)."
"My best friend's boyfriend at the time looked at me dead in the eye and said he could reverse his condition with a vegan diet and that the only important organ in the body was the skin, so as long as you take good care of your skin, your other organs will function properly."
"Mind you, by the time my dad got on dialysis his kidneys were functioning at 11% and his SKIN WAS JUST FINE."- lyingintheleaves
But What Causes Cavities?
"I'm a dental hygienist."
"We had a patient come in with terrible teeth."
"They thought toothpaste caused cancer."- dilapidatedfungus
"That women don't burp or fart, because only men have (the ability to pass) gas."
"Spoiler alert: he was horrified when I burped in front of him."- sequoia_summers
Guilt Is Easier When You Know It's Coming.
"First girlfriend was religious, and apparently it was okay that we had sex 'as long as she feels bad about it after'."
"Pre-planning regret was her loophole to do what she wanted."- Lone_Buckseason 2 famalam GIF by BBC ThreeGiphy
When people do speak with conviction, more often than not they firmly believed what they say.
So much so, that they have trouble believing the person brave enough to correct them.
In spite of the concrete evidence thrown in front of them...
People accumulate facts throughout life on a wide variety of subjects.
Some are mundane while others are weird, wild or wonderful.
One subject a lot of people focus on is animals. Most people have a favorite animal that fascinates them that they want to know all about.
Reddit user FunChemical3182 asked:
"What is the weirdest animal fact you know?"
"Platypus glow blueish green under ultraviolet light."
"They also don’t have nipples, they just exude milk from glands under the skin and the baby’s lap it up."
"They have electrolocation in their bills that lets them detect their food under water."
"And they lay eggs."
"The more I find out about them the more I understand why people first thought they were fake."
"After seeing all these platypus facts I am convinced these things are aliens that have been abandoned on Earth."
"Mantis Shrimp have 16 different sets of cones. Rods and cones are in your eyes. Cones see color, rods see light and motion."
"Dogs have 2 sets of cones—green and blue. Humans have 3 sets of cones—green, blue and red."
"Mantis Shrimp are seeing colors we can't comprehend and explains why they're very colorful."
"That’s not even the strangest thing about them."
"They can also punch as fast as a .22 bullet which cause a cavitation bubble which boils the water around them at temperatures of several thousand Kelvins."
"Cats have the mental capacity of a 2-year-old which makes a lot of sense."
~ Alive_Ad823Cats Dragging GIFGiphy
"When a female sloth wants a mate she'll hang onto a tree branch and just scream."
Good Thing They're So Small
"Dragonflies are the most successful predators on Earth."
"When lions choose prey they have like a 10% chance of catching it."
"African painted dogs—who hunt in packs—have the highest kill rate of any mammal, successfully catching 51% of their prey."
"When a dragonfly locks onto a target, it has a 99.9% success rate!"
On A Swivel
"Owls have really long necks, but it's hard to notice that because their feathers are so fluffy."
What About Cousin It?
"Sea otters are the most densely furred animal with 600,000 to 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch."
"Dogs have about 15,000 per square inch, humans on average are between 800 to 1,290 hairs per square inch."
Or Two Sets Of Twins
"Armadillos always have offspring as quadruplets."
"Octopus punch other fish for no reason—so, for fun."
"There's a direct correlation between species' intelligence and dickish behavior."
Looks Are Deceiving
"Polar bear fur isn't white—it's translucent (for most frequencies of light). And they have black skin underneath."
"So polar bear fur lets all the light through to their black skin to warm them—except for a few visible frequencies to keep them camouflaged as white."
Who's Going To Attack One‽‽
"Honey badgers can turn their a**holes inside out and use the smell to deter attackers."
"Not sure what exactly has the guts to attack a honey badger, but if they have the courage to do so, the badger sure as hell isn’t gonna make it easy."
"The Blanket Octopus exhibits the highest degree of sexual dimorphism known."
"Females: About 6 feet across."
"Males: About one inch."
"Dolphins will intentionally use puffer fish to get high."
"They upset blowfish so they inflate, and therefore emit poison. It gets the dolphins high. Then they pass it around, literally."
"Not just the dolphins. I recently saw a video about 10 animals that like to get high. Very interesting."
"Lemurs do that with giant centipedes/millipedes too."
Fabrizio Frigeni on Unsplash
Better Than Bike Helmets
"Woodpeckers' tongues wrap around their brains to cushion them from the vibrations of slamming their face into trees all day."
"Their tongues also have barbs to grab bugs out of the holes."
"Their brains have additional cushioning because, you know, they spend their days smashing their face as hard as possible into trees."
"Argonauts [paper nautili] are small octopuses that are too lazy to have intercourse."
"They detach their penises and toss them into the open sea to mate with female argonauts."
"The detachable 'd*ck' is a tiny tentacle, complete with suckers and sperm, that develops in a cavity under the eye of a male argonaut [paper nautilus]."
"When it's time to mate, the tentacle explodes out of the cavity, instantly killing the male argonaut. The tentacle then swims towards a female argonaut to insert itself."
What's your favorite weird animal fact?
Content Warning: Mental Health, Suicide, Domestic Violence
We all know that we technically can't make anyone else do anything, and we certainly can't "fix" other people. Other people will only change or do something if they choose to; the only person we can really control is ourselves.
But some people really love to try, often to hilarious and terrible results.
Already cringing, Redditor Dapper_Algae6280 asked:
"People who entered a relationship thinking 'I can fix them,' how did that go?"
Time for an Upgrade
"There is a weird thing that happens when you 'fix' someone. They tend to think if you liked them broken, then they deserve better than you now that they are better than they were."
"As horrible as it sounds, to have a happy, emotionally healthy relationship you need two happy, emotionally healthy people. If you want to be in that sort of relationship, you need to fix yourself first."
"This right here. After three sh*tty relationships in a row, I realized this is a me problem. I took a few years off from dating to reflect and really learn to see red flags and understand myself so I wouldn't make that mistake again."
No More Spark
"My now ex had PTSD, depression, and a variety of other issues she claimed. After two and a half years of dating (being my first and only relationship), she became more social, less suicidal, and overall happier as a person."
"She decided to cheat on me with someone else due to 'lack of communication' and us 'no longer having a spark". The irony."
"For context, we were 17 at the time, in high school, and I worked full-time hours with initiatives to hang out, which were refused. Red flags everywhere."
"Your situation is eerily similar to mine, what the f**k?"
"I met a girl with mental and emotional issues and decided to fix them through a healthy relationship. She recovered and found someone else because 'the spark was gone.'"
Misery Loves Company
"Now we are both broken."
"The same thing happened to my sister-in-law. She married a very negative and miserable guy while saying 'he will get better' or 'we’re working on it,' and now she’s a very negative and miserable person."
Getting to Watch a Partner Grow
"At first we were only f**king. I don't know if I ever thought I could fix her, but I did fall in love with this beautiful lady with severe anxiety, depression, and trust issues after being in a domestically violent relationship."
"We were f**k buddies for about six months and I got a glimpse of her issues but I still went ahead and asked her to be my girlfriend The heart wants what it wants."
"We dated for a year and a half (two years since meeting), and I actually got to see her at her worst a few times, but I was finally able to get her therapy with a great psychiatrist and treatment, this is when I asked her to move in with me. We've been living together for six years."
"Four years ago, she had the worst breakdown I've seen. She went full-on paranoid, wall-scratching nervous, she was even doubting me and my motives to be there. It was a very difficult week, and she left the house and went to her mom's house in the middle of the night."
"Eventually, her therapist was able to get a hold of her and get her back to her senses. Her doctor then suggested that I also should go to a counselor or at the very least we should do couples therapy so we had strong bases for our relationship and we did."
"I now look back and won't change her for anything in the world, she has grown so much, and she glows right now. I now see her smile and it's glorious. She's achieved a great position too and it's amazing just to see how much happier she looks."
Not a Match
"I fixed what I wanted to fix, but that still didn't make us right for each other. In the end, I think she's in a much happier place than she could have been, so I think it was worth the time invested."
"We were wrong for each other, but at least we both came out better positioned to receive the happiness that would come to us later."
In Their Nature
"A couple of months into the relationship, I fixed him."
"After some irritation, he stopped peeing on the carpet. Now, my cat still brings mice, but I guess, that's just his nature."
The Importance of Boundaries
"I don't know if I would say that I 'fixed' her (and I wasn’t trying to), but I definitely taught my last ex the importance of being able to set boundaries and to stop going out of her way to please people who consistently hurt her."
"Eventually this would lead to us breaking up, but I have no regrets. I have issues of my own that were wearing her down and she did what she had to. Same rules apply. We’re both better off because of it."
Happily Ever After
"She fixed herself and I fixed myself with each other's support, and we are living happily ever after, it seems, with ongoing work on ourselves and our relationship."
An Uncommon Ending
"I didn’t fix them. But I tried my hardest to be patient and supportive while they fixed themself. Sometimes I was better at support than other times. Sometimes they were better at fixing than other times."
"It ended up being worth the patience. Things have been great with us for years now. I know this isn’t the normal outcome though, and I feel incredibly lucky."
A Little Help from Our Friends
"Usually I'm the one people try to fix.. I think the repeated attempts definitely helped me. Now my current partner gets to enjoy the previous hard work."
"...I think I just got tired of hurting the people who love me and fixed myself, though."
All Their Idea
"You can't fix anyone. You can only fix yourself, but if you really want to try and fix someone, you have to make it seem like it's their idea."
A Helping Hand
"I don't think you can fix anyone. You can only help them fix themselves, which is very different."
"If someone is actively trying to fix themselves, and you can actually be the person to support them through it, then it can work, but it could also not work."
"I do think there should be a distinction between the two. I mean, trying to fix someone is a bad idea, but if you like someone and are willing to support them in their journey to fix themselves, it's probably not the worst idea in the world."
"It went so well that they managed to cure me of the desire to 'fix' anybody."
"I’ll toss you a life preserver if you’re trying to save yourself. But I’m not jumping in the water with anyone so they can drown me on their way out."
"People who need to hit rock bottom in order to better themselves will use you to soften their landing if you let them."
Best Friends Forever
"It went well but it didn’t work out."
"So we kind of fixed each other we were both at very weird points in our lives and we only dated for about one and a half years. We didn’t need a romantic partner but we did need a friend in each other."
"We’re both in better places now and the best of friends. We both want each other to be part of our lives just not as lovers."
"All and all, I say we got the best outcomes in our lives."
So Worth the Investment
"He was an Uber driver with only a high school diploma."
"I married him anyways and bankrolled his education because he was fun as f**k to be around, was the smartest person I’ve ever met, and loves me like I’m the only woman on Earth."
"Now, he’s a computer engineer and we are landlords together and have bought investment properties. We are very happy together."
"Partners work together to create success. I think selfish people ask, 'what’s in it for me?' Marriage is about selflessness."
"I’m glad I sacrificed for his education. His mind would be wasted otherwise and he’s a genius."
In most of these cases, the situation went poorly after a Redditor tried to change someone, and for good reason. If that person isn't ready or doesn't want to be fixed, it's only going to damage the relationship.
There's also something to be said about unconditional love. If you don't want to date the person exactly as who they are right now, why are you even trying to date them?
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/