Site Map
Some Cult Knowhow
Section › 4   Set    Search  Previous Next


Reservations   Contents    


Handling bosses well may work for some time, but one may end up as one of them. A bad boss may be a lot to swallow.

Now, there are many leader styles. The three most commonly referred to are democratic, authoritarian, and laissez-faire leadership. The leader is usually the most influential person in a group.

SRF maternalism at play

Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) has paternalism roots (maternalism is found too). There is monastic-bureaucratic managing of members. SRF has a long way to go before it fulfils all the possibilities of a paternalistic web, though.


Merriam-Webster says the Latin roots of 'cult' involve "care, adoration, cultivate." A cult is generally understood and detected by:

  • formal religious veneration, worship;
  • a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also its body of adherents;
  • a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also its body of adherents;
  • a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator;
  • (a) great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book), and especially such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad. (b) usually a small group of people marked by such devotion.

The sociologist Thomas Robbins divides cults into:

  1. cults as dangerous, authoritarian groups;
  2. cults as culturally innovative or transcultural groups;
  3. cults as loosely structured protoreligions;
  4. Also, one may distinguish among "audience cults" (members seek to receive information, e.g., through a lecture or tape series) "client cults" (members seek some specific benefit, e.g., psychotherapy, spiritual guidance) and "cult movements" (organisations that demand a high level of commitment from members). It would appear that cult membership increases as church membership decreases. (Robbins 1988)

Sociologists often distinguish "cult" from "church," "sect," and "denomination." Cults are fervent groups. If they become accepted into the mainstream, cults, in the view of Robbins, lose their fervour and become more organised and integrated into the community; they become churches. When people within churches become dissatisfied and break off into fervent splinter groups, the new groups are called sects, but definitions vary.

As sects become more stolid and integrated into the community, they may be termed denominations.

Benjamin Zablocki defines a cult as "an ideological organization held together by charismatic relationships and demanding total commitment." He says cults are at high risk of becoming abusive to members under charismatic leaders by contributing to the leaders becoming corrupted by the power they seek and are allotted. Zablocki refers to testimonies from ex-members and even ex-leaders of cults of alleged brainwashing (WP, "Benjamin Zablocki").

Why should we care? The answer is that the sociological importance of cults extends far beyond their numerical significance. - Benjamin Zablocki (in Zablocki and Robbins 2001, 161)

Cult definitions tend to emphasise elements of authoritarian structure, deception and manipulation. A totalist type of cult can be understood as "a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.). Means are designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders, to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.

The term "cult" really refers to a continuum: there is a large grey area that separates "cult" from "noncult." And one may add qualifiers to the term "cult," such as "destructive." Further, it can be presumed that different people will respond differently to the same group environment, and besides, cults are not all alike. Nor are all cult members affected in the same way, even within the same group. However, some groups harm some members sometimes and some groups may be more likely to harm members than other groups.

It is vital that each cult be evaluated individually with regard to the group environment and the person(s) interacting within and with that environment. At present there are no straightforward scientific "tests" to establish whether or not a group is indeed a "cult." However, there are useful and promising tools for assessing groups, such as ICSA's Group Psychological Abuse Scale, which is based on self-report.

As for groups studied, inquirers need to make informed judgments and decisions based on the group's potentially harmful practices. ICSA says: "These are practices that have been associated with harmful effects in some people. To what, if any extent, are these practices found in the group in question? And how might you or your loved one be affected by these practices?"

It is needed to base an approach on good evidence and careful analyses of structure and behaviour within a specific context. Further, appearances can deceive, especially in cults. Data must be subject to reevaluation, and terms, like "cult", must at least points us in a meaningful direction. It is fit to strive to use it judiciously.

[Section source: Herbert L. Rosedale and Michael D. Langone. On Using the Term "Cult" ICSA. Nd. On-line. [◦Link]

Pompous Leaders May Bring Benefits and Complications

Some sect hallmarks:

  • Strong leader dominance.
  • Bad social network most often.
  • Up to notorious isolation from family and relatives, if it serves pompous, arrogant, cliché-ridden or grave leadership with control and many complications for tender hearts and minds and nerves.

It may be unfit to expect a hard-hearted, bad cult to be honest and unbiased about all their central issues, if getting members to profit from is what really matters and you are a single cog in the machinery. [Pregnant Bossing]

In the articles of incorporation for the SRF church, there is much on getting lands, properties, and give nothing of it to poor lay members who find they have been swindled. But Gine Mollicone-Long teaches:

A millionaire . . . you must embody that energy. Make it a part of you. . . . Then, . . . the Law of Attraction is in full motion and it will only be a matter of time before your physical reality matches your energetic reality [after you have been] maintaining a strong vibrational match to what you want. You would be better to focus your efforts on sustaining the positive energy in order to speed up the process of attraction. (2007:54)

"I hope you dance!" writes Gine Mollicone-Long too. "I hope you dance well!" seems much better, though (2007:xix).


Cult detection, probing cultish dealings, sect basics, sectarians at a glance, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Yogananda, Literature  

Avery, Matt. Be Your Own Boss. London: Hodder Education, 2010.

Carnall, Colin. Managing Change in Organizations. 5th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2007.

Caunt, John. Boost Your Self-Esteem. London: Kogan Page, 2003.

James, Muriel. The OK Boss. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley, 1975.

Jay, Ros. How to Manage Your Boss: Developing the Perfect Working Relationship. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2002.

Leech, Corinne. Managing Time: Learning Made Simple. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007.

Mollicone-Long, Gina. The Secret of Successful Failing: Hidden Inside Every Failure Is Exactly What You Need to Get What You Want. Toronto: Pathfinder Publishing, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ Hardly so.

Mullins, Laurie J. Management and Organisational Behaviour. 9th ed. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2010.

Nelson, Beth, ed. Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses. College Park, MD: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, 2008.

Robbins, T. "Cults, converts, and charisma" (London: Sage, 1988), in Herbert L. Rosedale and Michael D. Langone. On Using the Term "Cult". Internet article. Isca. Nd. On-line. [◦Link]

Zablocki, Benjamin, and Thomas Robbins, eds. 2001. Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ⍽▢⍽ William Sims Bainbridge: "Some contributors use very harsh language in describing writers who disagree with them, each faction accusing the other of selling out and forsaking intellectual integrity for material gain either from the families who turn in desperation to the anti-cult movement for help with lost relatives, or from the cults themselves. . . . [S]everal of the more polite writers refer to their colleagues as scholars rather than scientists, the implication being that they all operate outside any framework of precise measurement and hypothesis testing."

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

Cult detection, probing cultish dealings, sect basics, sectarians at a glance, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Yogananda, To top    Section     Set    Next

Cult detection, probing cultish dealings, sect basics, sectarians at a glance, Self-Realization Fellowship, and Yogananda. User's Guide   ᴥ    Disclaimer 
© 2003–2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]