Sunday, September 20, 2015

Will US Recognize a new mental disorder: Cult Sales Addiction?

While researching a different topic, I came across this interesting article in Changsa, China, where the local hospital had to treat at least two cases of a mental disorder that was previously unrecognized: addiction to cult sales.

The story can be read here in Chinese, but I'll give you the gist of it:

Hunan Province 2nd People's Hospital Addiction Treatment Center back in December 2014 had to treat a patient who was apparently brainwashed by a cult sales (pyramid sales / pyramid scheme ) organization. The victim, 27-yr old female, lost her job in October 2014 when her company lost the product distributorship, and was recruited by a friend to go to Nanning where supposedly things are better. About two months later, she called home and want her mom to come along and make lots of money. Her mom went for a visit, and realized victim was in the clutches of a pyramid sales organization and had been brainwashed for two months and is totally under their control, with full personality shift.
(article continues after this break)

The victim was an introvert before and rarely use more than two sentences at once. Now she'll go on and on, even supplemented by hand gestures and pacing. And she kept asking mom for money, more money, more money to invest... Mom had to lie about she had money at home to drag her home. 
Upon reaching home, even intervention by the entire family, plus uncles, aunts, friends, and so on, the victim cannot be persuaded, and kept planning escape, all the while proclaiming "even if you imprison me for years I am still going back to Nanning, and I will take all of you along so we can all get rich!"  Then she went on a hunger strike. Mom and pop tried feeding her, but there was no love there, and she sometimes even verbally and physically abused her parents, which is unheard of in China. 
At their wit's end, mom and pop had no choice but to remand her to addiction treatment center, where the doctors diagnosed her with paranoid disorder. The doctor interviewed her and she's perfectly coherent and cooperative, until anything that had to do with pyramid sales was mentioned. Then her personality shifted, including attempt to recruit the doctor and nurse about following her to make money money money. Furthermore, she can't sleep at night, just tosses and turns in bed. The treatment center managed to sufficiently deprogram her after ten days of intensive treatment, so she can feed herself and no longer hate her parents. 
The resident chief of the treatement center said this was the second case EVER he had treated like this. Earlier in 2014 he had to treat a 20-something male who was also remanded by his family for similar addiction to pyramid cult sales. 
The doctor further analyzed that people who are vulnerable to pyramid sales shows certain personalities traits.  
1) They are more emotionally manipulatable than average,
2) They are irrational optimists, in that they believe they can gain sudden riches, and pyramid sales offer exactly what they crave.
3) pyramid sales have a carefully designed system to emotionally manipulate people. There are various "award ceremonies" and "recognition" when you get your pay check, sales leader, and so on. When one "wins" such, everybody claps. This sort of recognition, even if artificial, is uncommon in society, and that makes it that much more addicting.  
4)  University students don't have the social experience to spot such scams, is optimistic about the future, may even be hungry for "opportunity".

What do you think? Was the doctor right? Should younger people be declared vulnerable population?

Vemma specifically went after high school kids and college kids.

In Israel Tzachi Gozali organized a cult around Herbalife complete with separate compound, uniforms, regimented living, celibacy (unless the girls want to f*** him instead) mandatory weight loss, mandatory 5 shakes a day, only communicate with "elders" (not outside nor each other)... He was eventually suspended by Herbalife.

When will the US recognize the danger of cult sales addiction? This happened many times before in the US. There were several deaths in the 90's and 2000's linked to Amway that I recall.

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