Please see our new site, www.icsahome.com which has new material and a more helpful structure.

 

NEW! International Cultic Studies Association site has moved - click here

  Conferences | Donate  

 >  
ICSA resources about psychological manipulation, cultic groups, sects, and new religious movements.

 

 
 
 

Article

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

Prevalence


Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Executive Director, International Cultic Studies Association

 

In 1984 the Cult Awareness Network compiled a list of more than 2,000 groups about which they had received inquiries (Hulet, 1984). As of May 24, 2003 ICSA (formerly AFF) had 4426 groups listed in its electronic files, which are populated mainly as a result of inquiries or news reports. I would not hazard an estimate of what percentage of these groups would be at risk of harming members. The quality and quantity of data on individual groups is simply too low to justify generalizations.

Most cultic groups appear to be small, having no more than a few hundred members.  Some, however, have tens of thousands of members and formidable financial power.

Several surveys shed some light on the number of people who may have been involved in what they perceived to be cultic groups.

Zimbardo and Hartley (1985), who surveyed a random sample of 1,000 San Francisco Bay area high school students, found that 3% reported being members of cultic groups and that 54% had had at least one contact with a cult recruiter.

Bloomgarden and Langone (1984) reported that 3% and 1.5% of high school students in two suburbs of Boston said they were cult members.

Sociologists Bird and Reimer (1982), in surveys of the adult populations of San Francisco and Montreal, found that approximately 20% of adults had participated in new religious or para-religious movements (including groups such as Kung Fu), although more than 70% of the involvements were transient. Other data in this study suggest that approximately two to five percent of the subjects had participated in groups that are frequently thought to be cultic.

A weekly omnibus survey conducted by ICR Survey Research Group for ICSA/AFF in 1993 found that about 1% of respondents said that they had been involved in a cult or what others might consider a cult.

Lottick�s (1993) survey of more than 1000 physicians (who are accustomed to making differential diagnoses) found that 2.2% reported that they or a family member had been involved in a cultic group, with "cult� clearly defined as a noxious group. It seems reasonable, therefore, to estimate that at least two million Americans have been involved with cultic groups.

In the research study that led to the development of the Group Psychological Abuse Scale (Chambers, Langone, Dole, & Grice, 1994) subjects' average age of joining was 24.8 and their average time in their groups was 6.70 years (308 subjects from 101 groups; 60% left on their own without outside, formal assistance; 13% had been deprogrammed; 17% exit counseled; 9% ejected by their groups). Assuming a lifetime incidence of 2,500,000 people having belonged to cultic groups, a "lifetime" period of 30 years, and an average length of stay of six years, I roughly estimate that approximately 500,000 people belong to cultic groups at any one time and approximately 85,000 go in and out of cultic groups each year.

However, as West (1990, p. 137) says, "cults are able to operate successfully because at any given time most of their members are either not yet aware that they are being exploited, or cannot express such an awareness because of uncertainty, shame, or fear."  Therefore, in any survey, however random, the actual number of cultists is likely to be much greater than the number of persons who identify themselves as members of cultic groups or even of groups that other people might deem cultic.  Because the group members do not identify themselves as such, they are not likely to be identified as cult-affected by psychotherapists or other helpers unless the helpers inquire into the possibility that there might be a cult involvement.

References 

Bird, F., & Reimer, B. (1982).  Participation rates in new religions and para-religious movements. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 21,1-14.

Bloomgarden, A., & Langone, M. D.  (1984).  Preventive education on cultism for high school students: A comparison of different programs' effects on potential vulnerability to cults.  Cultic Studies Journal, 1, 167-177.

Chambers, W. V., Langone, M. D., Dole, A. A., & Grice, J. W. (1994). The Group Psychological Abuse Scale: A measure of the varieties of cultic abuse. Cultic Studies Journal, 11(1), 88-117.

Hulet, V.  (1984).  Organizations in our Society.  Hutchinson, KS:  Virginia Hulet.

ICR Survey Research Group. (1993, Aug. 4-8). Cult screening test. Media, PA: AUS Consultants.

Lottick, E. (Feb. 1993).   Survey reveals physicians� experiences with cults.  Pennsylvania Medicine, 96, 26-28.

West, L. J. (1990).  Persuasive techniques in contemporary cults:  A public health approach.  Cultic Studies Journal, 7, 126-149.  (Reprinted from, Galanter, M., Ed., Cults and new religious movements.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, pp. 165-192.)

Zimbardo, P. G., & Hartley, C. F.  (1985).  Cults go to high school:  A theoretical and empirical analysis of the initial stage in the recruitment process.  Cultic Studies Journal, 2, 91-148.

_

 

Resources

 

 

 

________________________________________________________ ^ 

 
 
  
  

Related

http://www.culticstudies.org/_dwt_banner/banner_index.htm

_dwt_header_related_links_line03

� Academic Disputes and Dialogue
� children
� clergy
� conversion
� cults101
� Custody/Forensic
� dissociation
� educators
� false memory
� family
� former member
� free info
� intervention
� large group awareness trainings
� legal
� mental health
� press
� pseudoscience
� research
� students
� thought reform
� understanding groups

_________________________________________________________ ^

Help

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.

Help index

WHY WE USE SYMBOLS/ICONS IN OUR LISTS.

ICSA/AFF - about

ICSA - contact

announcement

 article
 article abstract

Ξ book/video review

links
events

groups

? help

* index
news
products

   press

> profiles

resource org

study resources

topic ●▫∞▪Θ

_________________________________________________________ ^

 
About ICSA | Contact US  | Profiles | links

   | webmaster | search

Copyright �1997-2008 ICSA, Inc.