1. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Cults

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Protar, Jan 8, 2012.

    My current WIP involves a sort of evil cult which serves the main villain of the book. It's a fantasy so obviously I can take some liberties but I want it to feel authentic. Obviously I'll being research on wikipedia and such but any personal knowledge of experience would be could. Stuff like recruitment and cult prostitution and all that jazz.
     
  2. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    Well, my personal knowledge only comes from classes I've taken and videos I've had to watch for my psych degree.

    Cult leaders will sometimes research/stalk potential members, looking for ones who are wealthy and/or have submissive personalities. Other times they might have cult members try to recruit people at random in public or by hosting some kind of event.

    People who are easily influenced, don't have great support system of family or friends, are eager to believe things/naive, and are looking to belong somewhere are easiest targets. Many cult leaders require members to give them whatever money they have in exchange for room and board.

    Indoctrination is done through constant contact; new/recruited members are never left alone, not even to go to the bathroom -- a member of the cult is always with them, talking to them, telling them nice things about the cult and its beliefs. They don't want to give people a chance to escape but they also don't want anyone to have a chance to think independently. Their thoughts must be dominated by cult dogma.

    Some cult leaders may convince women that in order to best serve the lord/deity/whatever god's whims or desires are, she must submit herself completely to the leader; he has control of her body, and can use it or have it used in whatever ways will best serve their god, whether this means for his own pleasure or for prostitution so she can contribute money to the cult. Some leaders also convince married couples that their marriage is not valid since it was not acknowledged or sanctified by the cult, and this is why the leader has control of the woman.

    I hope I helped. Feel free to ask if you have any more questions I might be able to help with.
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the big misconceptions about cults is that people automatically think of people in cults as being ignorant sheep who are just following for no good reason, but what you have to remember is that humans are largely social creatures. Most often, recruits to cults are people down on their luck. If you lose a close friend or stop hanging around with a certain group of people? If you lose your job? These are times when cults who are recruiting sound great. Everything they say can be comforting to someone who is in that state of mind. Then when they become a part of that new social group, they're likely to become defensive of it, not for logic but for loyalty.

    Just be wary about cults as they're portrayed in fiction.
     
  4. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Also what is a reasonable size for a cult (preferably erring on the large side.) considering it's had roughly 8-months to gather steam (though with supernatural help.)?
     
  5. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    If the leader is charismatic and can get cult members to recruit, the cult can swell quite fast in eight months. Without supernatural help, whatever that would involve, I guess a charismatic leader can get a cult of 200-500 members easily. The hardcore members would be about 10-20 and pretty fanatical though.
     
  6. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Research Jim Jones, and David Koresh. They are somewhat different from one another, but where one offers violence, the other sexual perversion.
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Thanks I'll be sure to give it a look :)
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    And just remember, don't drink the kool aid!

    Sorry, tired joke. Cults come in all flavours, but most of them have a number of features in common. First they have a charismatic leader, someone who can convince people he's right. There are exceptions and the Westborrough Baptist Church which I would regard as close to a cult, doesn't really have one. The old guy who leads it is about as inspiring as yesterday's soup. But his venom is still fresh.

    Next they all isolate people. It's about power and control. So new members are socially isolated from their families and friends, sometimes physically, sometimes through coercive language - you'll go to hell if you talk to outsiders.

    They mostly have secret knowledge of some sort. This is actually just a means of promoting some within the cult to higher levels, and they do usually have a heirarchy of some sort. Jim Jones had his lieutenants, who not only got extra Jim Jones time, they also carried the guns and made sure there was no straying.

    Naturally they all have a monopoly on their special truth. Everyone else is wrong and will burn in hell or whatever, they, through their leader, know the truth and will be rewarded in heaven etc.

    They don't tolerate dissension well. This can mean everything from stopping people from asking questions, which is often not allowed since it might make the leader look bad, and he is usually divine in some way, to punishing, exiling and / or killing those who disagree with him.

    As well as Wako and Jonestown mentioned above, you can also look up Church Universal and Triumphant, Westboro Baptists, the Branch Davidians, the People's Temple, and Heavens Gate. The last few were exceptionally destructive. CUT and WB haven't engaged in any suicidal events as far as I know.

    Cheers.
     

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