• Laura McConnell

How do you know if a group is a sect/high control?

I've never come across a sect or high control group which admits to being one. Its just not what they do, you have to work it out for yourself. These groups do exhibit a series of behaviour flags though, which will alert you to that fact.


I often get contacted by people concerned about relatives or friends involved with unusual groups, asking 'is it a cult?'


Here are some tips:

Check out Mormonstories.org for an assessment tool. They are a podcast discussing Mormon and ex Mormon stories. Obviously, Mormans are only one of a wide variety of these groups - the stories may be different to your own/friends/family experiences - however its useful to hear other peoples stories of exit and recovery.


I find the assessment tool useful as it covers a wide array of high control tactics. 29 of the common high control tactics are listed below.

  1. Deception

  2. Love bombing

  3. Purity

  4. Dispensation of existence

  5. Milieu control

  6. Destabilisation of Self

  7. Dependency

  8. Black & White Thinking

  9. Elitism

  10. Us v's Them

  11. Doctrine over Self

  12. Social Pressure

  13. Belief follows Behaviour

  14. Double-Bind

  15. Blame Reversal

  16. Emotion over Intellect

  17. Indirect Directives

  18. Identification and Example

  19. Totalist reframing

  20. Loaded Language

  21. Thought/Cliches

  22. Public Commitments

  23. Time Control

  24. Dissociative States

  25. Euphoria Induction

  26. Induced Phobias

  27. Guilt and Shame

  28. Institutionalized Bigotry

  29. No Honourable way to Exit


The Atlantic has an article - 7 Signs that you're in a Cult - which is a good read.


CultResearch.org has an interesting checklist of common characteristics.


Dr Steve Hassan is a leading American expert in the field - he also has some interesting resources on his website. He has a BITE model of control which outlines some high-control tactics.





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