Relationship to the Surrounding World
A Holic member radically isolates himself from the surrounding world. Relationships to relatives who don’t live in the cult or who don’t want to live according to its teachings are drastically restricted or broken off. This can lead to marriages being broken, if the spouse doesn’t want to join the group. According to reports from former members, a mother in Prague was even pressured to leave her young children in order to live entirely in the group. Members encounter former friends and relatives very coldly and dismissively, which is presented as “moving” the others “to conversion.” Internally, however, such behavior occasionally hurts the Holic members. But they are directed not to show this externally: “You may never show your feelings to others” (a quote from Gottfried P.). Previous normal and typical physical contact, like hugging or embracing, is also rejected. In this way, they build walls around themselves, which are a type of self-protection, in order to avoid being made unstable again through the feelings which would arise (as mentioned elsewhere). They seek comfort in the promise: “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — along with persecutions — and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29f). By experiencing community in the group, they feel that they’ve found the fulfillment of this promise.
This habit of distancing themselves from the sinful world apparently finds its limit from time to time when it comes to questions of money. Members who otherwise reject any close contact with parents occasionally don’t shy away from demanding relatively large amounts of money (sometimes pressured to do so by the “older siblings”). Even if a group member, e.g., avoids attending a funeral of a relative (who, after all, did not decide in favor of the “truth” despite missionary presentations), the member may nonetheless ask whether he’s inherited something from that relative. Likewise, relatives have experienced a member seeking contact with them only when he wants money or other material things.
Previous activities, like, e.g., regularly playing a musical instrument in a group, or volunteering to disabled people, are suddenly ended. This is justified as turning away from the sinful world, because one no longer “gets along spiritually” with other people. External contacts are primarily directed toward missionary work and the recruitment of new members. Mental health professionals who work with cults and belief systems say that “external contacts are controlled by the collective ego.”
Previous personal relationships are negated. A Holic member has no greater responsibility for his own relatives than for anyone else, and therefore may not show them preferential treatment.
For Holic members, the world surrounding them becomes increasingly uninteresting (friends describe it as “mental absence”), and the member’s thought and speech revolve increasingly around faith or the Bible, which is read continuously. A conversation outside of this narrow range of topics occurs only with difficulty. When discussing religious questions, Holic members are conspicuous by means of their fanaticism and intolerance. All other previous life goals or individual activities pale in comparison to the group’s demands. Because the surrounding world begins to turn away from the cult member’s arrogant behavior – precisely because of this arrogant behavior – the member is all the more strongly fixated on the group.