Four interlocking dimensions make up the framework of a cult’s social system and dynamics. You can use this framework to examine your own cult experience.
Is there a certain type of person who is more likely to join a cult? No. Individual vulnerability factors matter much more than personality type when it comes to joining or staying in a cult or abusive relationship.
The late Robert Vaughn Young walked away from the Scientology -- only to be talked into returning. When he later left the cult for good, he rejected theories about 'brainwashing' and 'mind control,' but eventually found parallels between victims of domestic violence and those who leave other abusive situations.
The term 'cult' is used so often, it would seem that everyone knows what a cult is. Yet classifying a group as a cult is not as simple as it sounds. This article -- a chapter from the 1994 book "Prophets of the Apocalypse: David Koresh and Other American Messiahs" -- takes a look at the history and usage of the term.
Cults come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Not every person’s experience will fit neatly into these following categories, but this list should provide some idea of the range of cults and their reach into every walk of life.
Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may be manipulated, exploited, or even abused. This list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may help you assess a particular group or relationship.
The dark and dangerous world of cults has long been a source of both fascination and fear. What attracts followers to cults and, more importantly, what makes them stay? Watch the documentary, Cults: Dangerous Devotion.
Psychiatrist and author Dr. Robert J. Lifton -- know for, among other things, his theory on brainwashing -- addresses doomsday cults such as Aum Shinrikyo.
The term ‘cult’ has a precise definition — or rather, several precise definitions. Which definition is the right one largely depends on the context in which the term ‘cult’ is applied.
In the medical profession, ethical contracts ensure that patients have given “fully informed consent.” That is, if a doctor fails to inform a patient about the risks, side effects, and options for treatment, the uninformed patient is entitled to sue. Below is a mock contract for cult membership. Ask yourself if you gave informed consent at the time of your recruitment, or if you would have joined had you known your participation would involve the following conditions.
Cult victims and those who have suffered abusive relationships often suffer from fear, confusion, low-self esteem, and post-traumatic stress. Take Back Your Life explains the seductive draw that leads people into such situations, provides guidelines for assessing what happened, and hands-on tools for getting back on track.
Read excerpts from the book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from cults and abusive relationships
Nobody joins a cult. You join a self-help group, a religious movement, a political organization. They change so gradually, by the time you realize you’re entrapped – and almost everybody does – you can’t figure a safe way back out. – Deborah Layton, survivor of Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple cult Deborah Layton joined the Peoples Temple in Northern California when she was 18 years old, and eventually became a trusted aid to Jim Jones, the group’s charismatic leader. In her …