Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion

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9780195066586: Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion

From the mass weddings of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church to the mass suicides at Jonestown, charismatic cults and their devotees have become facts of American life. Once exotic offshoots of the Sixties counterculture exciting suspicion, scorn, terror, and counter-terror, cults have grown so common and entered so many areas of public life that only spectacular disasters like the immolation of the Philadelphia cult MOVE seem to remind us how extraordinary their burgeoning really is.
Based on fifteen years of direct encounters with cults and their detractors, as well as extensive research, Marc Galanter's fascinating study explores not only how cult members feel and think at all stages of their involvement, but also how larger social and psychological forces reinforce individual commitment within the cults.
Galanter presents a wealth of compelling stories, from first-person accounts of conversions and daily life under the rule of charismatic leaders to disillusionments and voluntary and forced departures, as well as intriguing overviews of many of the most influential cults, including the most comprehensive psychological analysis ever published of the evolution of the "Moonies." He also provides a provocative and controversial account of the similarities between cults and "zealous" self-help movements such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Moving beyond the exposés and confessions that have characterized so much of the literature on this subject, Galanter offers the most extensive and accessible psychological analysis of cults available.

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About the Author:


About the Author:
Marc Galanter is Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at the New York University School of Medicine. The author of many books and articles on cults and addiction, he is the editor of the American Psychiatric Association's official report on cults and new religious movements.

Review:

This is a very well written book. It presents a large amount of information in a well integrated way. I strongly recommend to my Psychology of Religion students that they read it. And to whet their appetites I cite a few examples from it in class."--Alida Westman, Phd., Eastern Michigan
University

"Anyone wishing to understand the psychodynamics of [charismatic groups] should pick up Cults....[Galanter] has been a student of cult-like activity for the better part of two decades; this book represents a thoughtful and provocative summation of what he has learned."--Mark Silk, The New York
Times Book Review

"A provocative alternative to the rigid either-or approach to cults and new religious movements....[Galanter] encourages us to think carefully about the extent to which our society can tolerate pluralism, innovation, and 'deviance.'...Galanter's approach gives us an urgently needed framework
that can improve the quality of discussions about cults."--The Christian Century

"Galanter's book shines with brilliance, and he has an admirable ability to transcend his intellectual framework, frequently displaying what can only be called good judgment in evaluating alternative interpretations."--Science

"Provides the reader with a scientific yet thoroughly human view of the genesis, evolution, and demise of individual cultic movements, while clearly delineating the benefits and the dangers they hold forth to their members and to society at large....A balanced and informative treatise on a
controversial modern phenomenon."--John C. Nemiah, M.D., Dartmouth Medical School and Harvard Medical School

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