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WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors

Cults and Violence

 

Michael Langone, Ph.D. 

 

Although the potential for violence exists in many cultic groups, one should be careful not to overgeneralize from the more extreme examples to all cultic groups.  There is much variation among cultic groups, even among those that may be abusive to their members.

The potential for violence is probably magnified when the following characteristics are present to a high degree in a group:  (1) centralized control by a charismatic leader; (2) an us-them mentality that results from and fortifies the psychological, if not physical, isolation of the group�s members; (3) lack of toleration of dissent; (4) a belief that the group and its leaders are above the laws of the land.  Power corrupts leaders who do not permit dissent.  Isolation fosters the development of paranoid thinking.  Disrespect for the law leads to law breaking.  Isolation, paranoid thinking, and law breaking all contribute to conflict with mainstream society.  Conflict with the outside exacerbates all those characteristics that led to conflict in the first place.  If unchecked by other factors, such conflict may spiral upward until either the boundaries of the group break down and some accommodation with the outside world is made or the group implodes or explodes violently.

It is difficult if not impossible to predict which cultic groups, including many unknown to the public or event to experts, will in the future become violent.  Much research is needed.

Society�s response to violence should be threefold:  (1) help the victims of the current act of violence and their families (including the psychological victims among cult members used as pawns by leaders); (2) redouble efforts to study cultic groups scientifically and to develop information collection and distribution mechanisms that provide useful information without unduly infringing on First-Amendment liberties; (3) teach the public, and especially youth (who are the prime targets of recruiters), about how cultic groups seduce, control, exploit, and abuse members and how their techniques of persuasion and control can be recognized and resisted.

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Our E-Library contains full text articles and other resources related to the information below.  Click here.

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

Please note:

ICSA does NOT maintain a list of "bad" groups or "cults."  We nonjudgmentally list groups on which we have information.

Groups listed, described, or referred to on ICSA's Web sites may be mainstream or nonmainstream, controversial or noncontroversial, religious or nonreligious, cult or not cult, harmful or benign.

We encourage inquirers to consider a variety of opinions, negative and positive, so that inquirers can make independent and informed judgments pertinent to their particular concerns.

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

See:  Definitional Issues Collection; Understanding Groups Collection
 

Views expressed on our Web sites are those of the document's author(s) and are not necessarily shared, endorsed, or recommended by ICSA or any of its directors, staff, or advisors.

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