From the mass weddings of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church to the ritual suicides at Heaven's Gate, charismatic cults and their devotees have become facts of American life. Using material gleaned from twenty-five years of direct encounters with cults and their detractors, as well as extensive research, Marc Galanter offers the most extensive psychological analysis of these organizations available. Cults explores not only how members feel and think at all stages of their involvement, but also how larger social and psychological forces reinforce individual commitment within the cults.
For this revised and newly-illustrated second edition, Galanter has added three new chapters on cult development in the 1990s, spiritual recovery movements, and alternative medicine.
This report, the result of ``15 years of studying the psychology of contemporary charismatic groups,'' offers possibilities in the treatment of mental illness and the understanding of group violence. Galanter, professor of psychiatry at New York University, demonstrates that many of the counterculture movements of the '60s, then considered exotic, are now elements of mainstream American life. Taking a scientific stance, he investigates the psychology of various zealous groups, seeking the source of their influence. Galanter's range is wide, including disparaged groups like MOVE and the one led by Jim Jones, as well as healing programs based on the AA model. First-person accounts of conversions and disillusionment, and a detailed look at the apparently successful ``Moonie'' movement, support this objective, comprehensive analysis of cult power.