Cults represent one aspect of a worldwide epidemic of ideological totalism, or fundamentalism. They tend to be associated with a charismatic leader, thought reform, and exploitation of members. Among the methods of thought reform commonly
used by cults are milieu control, mystical manipulation, the demand for purity, a cult of confession, sacred science, loading the language, doctrine over person, and dispensing of existence. The current historical context of dislocation from organizing symbolic structures, decaying
belief systems concerning religion, authority, marriage, family, and death, and a "protean style" of continuous psychological experimentation with the self is conducive to the growth of cults. The use of coercion, as in certain forms of "deprogramming," to deal with the restrictions of
individual liberty associated with cults is inconsistent with the civil rights tradition. Yet legal intervention may be indicated when specific laws are broken.
Reprint Available CSJ08.01A