It is important to recognize the characteristics of false schools, mind control cults and other forms of sham religion when you encounter them, so that you can protect yourself from their influence and hopefully minimize their influence on others. The presence of several of these characteristics are symptoms of brainwashing and thought control. Susceptibility to such cults is increased by the presence in a person of any of the characteristic errors on the way.
Usually characterized by a leader or teacher who claims divinity, to be the Christ, a prophet, a man number 4 or higher (such as man 7.2 or man 8.3), or to have a special mission or task given or delegated by God or higher forces.
If they expect you to stay for your whole life, or even for more than several years --- don't --- that's a huge red flag, the Perpetual Student error.
The leader or founders (usually still alive), or their minions, demand absolute and unquestioning obedience and are the self-defined sole judges of the members' faith, status, and commitment. Criticism and disagreement are not allowed.
Established members are often guarded, vague, deceptive, or secretive about beliefs, goals, aims, demands, and activities until the recruit, prospective student, or new student is `hooked'.
Often encourages exclusivity and isolation using such excuses or reasons as that all and everything outside the group is totally evil, satanic, or asleep.
Meaningful communication with family and friends outside, or peers within, the group is often discouraged or sharply curtailed and the group becomes the convert's or student's `family'. Usually every attempt is made to blur or eliminate the convert's or student's memories and habits of their former way of life and personal history.
Employ systematic brainwashing (thought reform) techniques designed to effect the destruction of the sense of self and ensure dependence on the cult.
Indoctrinated members put goals and aims of the group ahead of individual concerns, interests, family, education plans, career, health, and well-being.
Members may be maintained in a state of heightened suggestibility through lack of sleep, engineered diet, intense spiritual exercises, physical work, constant indoctrination, controlled group experiences, planned spontaneity, and manipulated encounters which seem to be spiritual.
Members may display symptoms of extreme tension and stress, fear, guilt, lack of humour, and diminished communication skills, critical judgement, judgement and logical skills, and reality testing.
Members are preoccupied with fund-raising to support the group, earning money for `donations' and `special donations', recruiting new members, and group activities.
Some groups exploit the members' finances.
Exploits members through unpaid unemployment and poor working conditions.