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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 115037 Find in a Library
Title: Cults and New Religious Movements (From Modern Perspectives in Psychosocial Pathology, P 305-317, 1989, John G Howells, ed.)
Author(s): M Galanter
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Sale Source: Brunner/Mazel, Inc.
Marketing Manager
325 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This psychological perspective on the new religious movements, or cults, of recent years examines a natural history of membership in these movements and provides relevant explanatory perspectives.
Abstract: A cult has been defined as 'a religious movement which makes a fundamental break with the religious traditions of the culture and which is ... composed of individuals who had or seek mystical experiences.' Most reports characterize cult members as coming from middle-class and upper-middle-class social backgrounds. Recruitment typically occurs as potential converts are showered with affection from cult members. Recruits embrace the cult as a welcome relief from lives of loneliness, alienation, low self-esteem, and a sense of meaninglessness. The cult provides a community of affection, direction and absolute interpretations of life's experiences. Persons who leave cults without returning have usually been members for a short time. Those who leave the cult after having been members for a number of years usually return, largely because they have difficulty adjusting to society without group support. Cult members generally state that cult membership has positively affected their psychological state. A study of the psychological impact of membership in the Divine Light Mission and the Unification Church, however, indicates that long-term members scored lower on the General Well-Being Schedule than those of an age-matched and sex-matched sample from the general population. 57 references.
Main Term(s): Cults
Index Term(s): Social psychology
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