I chose option 3, the article from Cult Recovery 101, “What is a cult?” by Langone, M.D. Here is the summary and what I have learned.
A cult is a group or movement with specific traits:
- Intense Devotion: Members show extreme dedication to a person, idea, or thing.
- Mind Control:The group uses programs to control how members think, behave, and believe. They want everyone to adopt the group’s unique ways.
- Psychological Dependency: Cults make members emotionally reliant on them, sometimes in harmful ways.
- Exploitation: The leadership takes advantage of members to achieve its own goals.
- Psychological Harm: Cults often harm members, their families, and the community psychologically.
Importantly, it’s not about the beliefs the group holds; it’s how they manipulate and harm people that defines them as a cult.These cultic groups usually clash with society. To deal with this conflict, they often isolate themselves, both mentally and sometimes physically. They have hidden motives and strictly control how members should think and act.Cults are different from other new movements because they use unethical methods to manipulate people. While some groups might not meet all these criteria at first, they can become more cult-like over time.They are also distinct from authoritarian groups like boot camps because authoritarian groups are upfront about their goals, have clear rules, and are answerable to authorities outside the group. Understanding these characteristics helps us recognize and avoid involvement in cults.