Keith Henson (below) wants to know about the mental state needed to swallow this. That is a very complex question, Keith, and not easily answered here. In fact, I don't even know if there is an answer to your question.
But I will say that the BEST description of the state of mind that I was in and that I think others were/are in will be found not in a psych book or a book about cults but in George Orwell's stunning novel, "1984."
Several years after I was out of the cult, I began to read, trying to comprehend my experience and out of all the books I consumed, the one that stunned me the most was "1984." Orwell's decription of Party life, his description of the mind-set and the treatment of people and their willingness to believe is a chilling parallel to the life I led. Orwell's description of "double-think" is EXACTLY the mind-set needed to live that life.
I'll try to pull some passages out of it and post to ARS to show what I mean.
Plus there is so much in the book that parallels the Sea Org/Dept 20 life: how there is always a war and the enemies change but no one notices or cares; how the rations are dropped and called a "victory" and the Party memers believe it; how history is rewritten and the Party members don't care; how the "criminals" are made to confess in public; the constant surveillance and how the Party feared intimacy/privacy and demanded to know all; how war was peace, ignorance was knowledge and freedom was slavery; hate week or the 5 minute hates; how people simply disappeared and became "nonpersons"; the paranoia and the distrust in the Party and how everyone learned to say the right things and (through double-think) come to believe them; double-speak; etc. I could go on and on. When I read it, I found myself underlining most of the book. I kept finding myself saying, omigawd, that was me! That was my life.
I don't know how well one can extrapolate from it back to what it was/is like there but until there is a better version, "1984" will give you a damned good feeling.
Robert Vaughn Young