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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

    What Makes A Cult?


    I have what I like to call a healthy obsession over cults. Led to podcasts and case studies, books, webpages. Manson is a safe bet, similar Jones or Heaven’s Gate.


    Those talking about cults talk a lot of the acts they performed and the foundation of groups. They always made it out to be that a cult can only be religious. That there is a sense of a Messiah and a prophet and that it stems from a new interpretation and, most often, a narcissist with acumen for preaching.


    It leads me to ask, what truly makes a cult?


    One’s mind goes to an idea of patriarchy and preaching as the prime mode of cult behavior.


    Doctor Robert J Lifton curated a list of eight criteria that now defines what makes a cult a cult in historical and psychological classification (milieu control, mystical manipulation, demand for purity, confession, sacred science, loading the language, doctrine over person, dispensing of existence).


    Of course many are religiously charged, but there also exists the application that make other organizations in ways cult-like.


    Confession references to completely transparency with the leaders, milieu control are acts of isolation, loading the language references changing the meaning of certain words in means to make it so that outsiders will not understand the members. Such criteria can arguably be applied to things as obscure as gangs. No religious charge yet still one can see these toxic behaviors and control the ensure life-long membership.


    We have a lot sense of red flags for groups of people. We think we know who to stay away from. But vulnerability is a hell of thing, and those who recruit know who to go for.


    No one comes into these cult-like situations knowing what time will lead to. No one goes to AA thinking that the counselor will force them to pray or try to convince them to “change their sexuality.” No one goes into a work thinking they will end up in a front for a gang.


    There is no need to go looking for skeleton in the closet, but there has to be a sense of self-preservation and listening to fight or flight. Basic knowledge and instinct can save an individual.

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