The Nature of Cults |
A student asks Nori to elaborate on each point of his outline
May 13, 2002
Topic: A Cult sees itself as the only possessor of truth.
This is one characteristic of a cult. They portray themselves as the only people in possession of the Truth. They claim that if you follow them, you will go to heaven (or whatever their vision of perfection) and that if you leave them or neglect to follow them, the devil will get you for sure (or whatever their vision of evil). This is a form of coercion and this is how they get people to join. This is also how they get members to stay, because the alternative to whatever hell the group involves, is to leave the group and be condemned to hell. Check out my book, A Cult Survivor's Handbook, posted at my web site.*
Topic: Cults are often based upon deceptions and psychological manipulation.
Absolutely. They take whatever scripture they preach and twist it into lies and perversions meant to manipulate innocent followers. They use God (or whatever their concept of the Infinite Intelligence) and use that to scare people. Like, God will be mad if you do this, or don't do that. You can see my specific explanation of how the Hare Krishnas their scriptures to manipulate people. They also use guilt to manipulate people, because they get people to do dishonest things and then play upon that guilt to frighten them.
Topic: Cults will often control eery aspect of its members' lives including cutting off their communication with friends and relatives and making important decisions for them.
This is absolutely right. They want people to dedicate their full time 24/7 and the rest of their lives to the group. The manipulate followers into cutting off friends and family, to the point that everyone from their previous life feels they have "lost" the person as though the person is "dead." The cult leaders make all the important decisions and treat followers like they are robots or dolls. Followers often lose all sense of their previous life and appear dull and lacking affect.
Topic: The members of cults are often totally dependent on the group.
Yes, they are dependent financially, because they often give up their education and career to live with followers of the cult and work full time for the cult. They are dependent emotionally because they must give up old friends and family. They also must give up believing that there is any good in the world, outside of the cult. So therefore, the thought of returning to the "material world" is frightening. Often, cult followers have trouble getting jobs and finding their place on the outside world, so it does make people dependent on the cult.
Topic: Approximately 1,000 cults have existed throughout history around the world.
More than that. They estimate something like 8,000 at the current time. Also, cult-like environments can form in corporations, governments, and even families. It's an all-pervading problem, like a disease that can take hold in any group setting. I would say that if you count all the cult-like situations, there are more like a million. It takes effort to create a healthy environment, if there is negligence, a cult-like situation tends to develop.
Topic: Cults have formed in more than 15 countries around the world.
I would guess that every country in the world has cults. Also, there are some very mainstream cults, like in countries that tolerate terrorist groups. These are essentially cults. Also, look at America, politics have gotten very abusive and cultish. Cult behavior is essentially just the dark, immature side of human nature, and bad group dynamics.
Groups like the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas, Scientology, etc., have centers in practically every country in the world. These groups' tentacles reach out everywhere. Some of them own a lot of international real estate.
Topic: Cult membership can be as minute as less than ten or can grow to tens of thousands of members.
Yes. Actually, even a dysfunctional marriage may function in a very cult-like way. So,I would say that a cult can be as small as two people.
Topic: Approximately 5 to 10 million Americans have been at least minimally involved in cults or cult activity.
It's higher than that if you broaden the definition of a cult, as described above.