April 27th, 2005

Training in Power, it's not your fault!

Mind and Emotions; Don't Blame Yourself

Excerpts from http://hometown.aol.com/shawdan/essay.htm

Cult experts estimate that there are several thousand cultic groups in the United States today and that at least four million people have at some point in recent years been in one or more of such groups (Langone, 1993, p. 29). The former Cult Awareness Network, before being taken over by the Church of Scientology in the late ‘90s, reported that it received about 18,000 inquiries a year (Tobias & Lalich, 1994). Those of us interested in the phenomenon of cults have attempted to define our terms in various ways (see, e.g., Langone, 1993, p. 5). In this paper, I am defining a cult largely on the basis of the personality of its leader. In my definition, a cult is a group that is led by a person who claims, explicitly or implicitly, to have reached human perfection; or, in the case of a religious cult, who claims unity with the divine; and therefore claims to be exempt from social or moral limitations or restrictions. In the language of psychoanalytic diagnostics, such people would be called pathological narcissists, with paranoid and megalomaniacal tendencies. Without the cult leader, there is no cult, and from my perspective, in order to understand cult followers, we must simultaneously seek to understand cult leaders. I will attempt to describe the interplay of psychological dynamics between leader and follower that can enable cult leaders to dominate and control followers and enable cult followers to be seduced and manipulated into submission.

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