I was trying to figure out the specifics of what cult leaders do. But someone already did it:
I guess there is much more to it than I thought! I thought it was simply family structure plus control plus emotional manipulation and removing the confusion of freedom and unanswered questions combined with the promise of personal perfection. But you can also make people subservient by physical activity and a deprivation diet. It is like ordinary social interaction--particularly during adolescence--freakishly amplified. What we won't do to fit into our peer group.
There are still things I wonder about.
(1) There can't be a cult leader manual. Can there? Maybe there is simply a script that some manipulative people intuitively know.
(2) How much is this like other things? It's terrible because I almost want to be in a cult--just for a month or two--to see how it works and what it's like. Oh, and you know that kind of thing would be good for my memoirs.