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What is a Cult?
"A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community."
What Are Some Characteristics of a Cult?
- Authoritarian in their power structure
- Totalitarian in their control of the behavior of their members
- Pyramidal structure
- Uses thought reform techniques
- Isolation of members (physical and/or psychological isolation) from society
- Uses deception in recruiting and/or fund raising
- Promotes dependence of the members on the group
- Totalitarian in their world view
- Uses mind altering techniques (chanting, meditation, hypnosis and various forms of repetitive actions) to stop normal critical thinking
- Appear exclusive and innovative
- Charismatic or messianic leader who is self-appointed and has a special mission in life
- Controls the flow of information
- Instills a fear of leaving the group.
- . (West & Langone, 1986)
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