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NCJ Number: 149562 Find in a Library
Title: Pathological Religious Cults
Journal: Criminologist  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1994)  Pages:37-45
Author(s): D J Power
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 9
Type: Research (Theoretical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: After identifying the essential characteristics of pathological religious cults, this article examines their formation, the intervention of outside authorities, and the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder that may be experienced by cult members.
Abstract: The formation of pathological religious cults requires charismatic paranoid individuals who have the ability to persuade susceptible people that the cult is the answer to their needs. Those drawn to cults tend to feel useless, bored, insignificant, and confused by the diverse values and options present in a complex society that provides little group support. Once in the cult, members are brainwashed by leaders to meet the leaders' needs. Practices may include sexual promiscuity and polygamy. Paranoid leaders will usually have firearms and defensive plans as part of the cult's life. The article discusses the various methods that law enforcement may use to intervene in illegal cult activities. Using the Koresh cult of the Branch Davidians as a case study, appropriate and inappropriate law enforcement tactics are discussed. The author notes the importance of understanding the mental outlook and psychology of the leader and the hold the leader has on cult members. Posttraumatic stress disorder is often experienced by cult members who experience physical and psychological harm while in the cult. Psychotherapy and group therapy for this disorder are described. A 3-item bibliography
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime prevention measures; Cults; Mentally ill offenders; Post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD); Victim services
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