From AFF Home (http://www.csj.org/)
Are you or a Family Member a Victim?
The following statements, compiled by Dr. Michael Langone, editor
of Cultic Studies Journal, often characterize manipulative groups.
Comparing these statements to the group with which you or a family
member is involved may help you determine if this involvement is
cause for concern. Place a checkmark beside all items that characterize
the group in question. If you check many of these items, and particularly
if you check most of them, you might consider examining the group
Keep in mind that this checklist is meant to stimulate thought,
not "diagnose" groups.
We suggest that you check all characteristics that apply to your
or your loved one's group, then print this browser page for future
reference. You may find that your assessment changes over time,
with further reading and research.
- The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem
to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
- The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
- The group is preoccupied with making money.
- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
- Mind-numbing techniques (such as meditation, chanting, speaking
in tongues, denunciation sessions, debilitating work routines)
are used to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
- The leadership dictates sometimes in great detail how members
should think, act, and feel (for example: members must get permission
from leaders to date, change jobs, get married; leaders may prescribe
what types of clothes to wear, where to live, how to discipline
children, and so forth).
- The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for
itself, its leader(s), and members (for example: the leader is
considered the Messiah or an avatar; the group and/or the leader
has a special mission to save humanity).
- The group has a polarized us- versus-them mentality, which causes
conflict with the wider society.
- The group's leader is not accountable to any authorities (as
are, for example, military commanders and ministers, priests,
monks, and rabbis of mainstream denominations).
- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends
justify means that members would have considered unethical before
joining the group (for example: collecting money for bogus charities).
- The leadership induces guilt feelings in members in order to
- Members' subservience to the group causes them to cut ties with
family and friends, and to give up personal goals and activities
that were of interest before joining the group.
- Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to
- Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize
only with other group members