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Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults by Janja A. Lalich

By Janja A. Lalich

Heaven's Gate, a secretive crew of celibate "monks" looking forward to pickup through a flying saucers, captured severe public recognition in 1997 while its contributors dedicated collective suicide. As a manner of realizing such confusing occasions, many have obvious those that sign up for cults as needy, misplaced souls, not able to imagine for themselves. This booklet, a compelling examine the cult phenomenon written for a large viewers, dispels such easy formulations by way of explaining how basic, clever humans can provide up years in their lives—and occasionally their very lives—to teams and ideology that seem strange and irrational. taking a look heavily at Heaven's Gate and on the Democratic employees celebration, a thorough political crew of the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, Janja Lalich supplies us a unprecedented insider's examine those cults and advances a brand new theoretical framework that might reshape our figuring out of these who sign up for such groups.

Lalich's interesting dialogue contains her in-depth interviews with cult devotees in addition to reflections won from her personal event as a high-ranking member of the Democratic employees celebration. Incorporating classical sociological suggestions comparable to "charisma" and "commitment" with newer paintings at the social psychology of effect and regulate, she develops a brand new strategy for figuring out how charismatic cult leaders may be able to dominate their devotees. She exhibits how participants are led right into a country of "bounded choice," during which they make likely irrational judgements inside a context that makes ideal feel to them and is, in reality, in step with their optimum aspirations.

In addition to illuminating the cult phenomenon within the usa and world wide, this significant booklet additionally addresses our urgent want to know extra concerning the mentality of these actual believers who take severe or violent measures within the identify of a cause.

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Extra info for Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults

Sample text

Yet Ti and Do themselves would have shuddered at the thought of being identiWed with it—or with anything remotely “human,” such as organized religion. Nevertheless, the seeds of their belief system can be found in both. Formative Principles To understand the impact of the New Age movement on the founding and ideological development of Heaven’s Gate, we need to explore the sociohistorical, cultural, and intellectual trends that gave rise to a certain worldview that was characteristic of the movement.

These individuals were believed to have orchestrated the tragedy. They either escaped at the last minute and Xed the county or died with their followers in the Wnal church Wre. 30 Another prominent group that caught the public eye is the Hare Krishna movement, or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), as it is oYcially called. For decades, saVron-robed, shaven-headed devotees could be found on street corners chanting “Hare Krishna” and banging on drums or in the halls of airports around the world fund-raising and proselytizing.

At least six SLA members died in police shoot-outs in 1974; others were captured, tried, and served sentences; but still others Xed underground. In 1999 the FBI located a former SLA member, Kathleen Soliah, living an upper-middle-class life in Minneapolis as Sara Jane Olson. She is serving a fourteen-year sentence for a 1975 attempt to blow up two Los Angeles police cars, plus six years for a 1975 bank robbery attempt that resulted in the murder of a woman who was a customer in the bank at the time.

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