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Cults in Our Midst: The Hidden Menace in Our Everyday Lives Paperback – 24 Sep 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey Bass; New edition edition (24 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787902667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787902667
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 306,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The definitive A to Z work on cults.... It would have been a tremAndous resource and comfort to me and my family through our ordeals.′′ (Patricia Ryan, daughter of Congressman Leo Ryan, who was assassinated by members of Jim Jones′s Peoples Temple)

"This straightforward overview offers a clear explanation of the nature of cults and the threat they pose to individuals, families, and society. Perhaps the most striking point made here is the contention that most Americans will be vulnerable to cults at some point in their lives."

``Essential reading for all citizens in a free society to learn how even here it is possible to coercively persuade people to give up their freedom and harm themselves and their children in the process.′′ (Edgar H. Schein, author of Coercive Persuasion (1961), and professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management)

``Many Americans feel helpless when manipulative, mind–stealing seducers take our children, our parents, our wealth... Singer explains the process, exposes their methods, and strengthens us all.′′ (Mike Farrell, actor and producer, member of the board of advisors of the Cult Awareness Network)

``Should be read by everyone who wishes to understand the incoherence in the therapeutic movements damaging families and destoying public confidence in mental health professionals. This is a superbly written, carefully detailed, enlightening book.′′ (Paul McHugh, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins Medical School)

``Age, education, sophistication, and wealth are not vaccinations against getting involved in a cult.′′ (Margaret Singer)

From the Inside Flap

Most people believe that cult members are mentally unbalanced or are misfits who live in remote places, like the doomed devotees of Jim Jones and David Koresh. We take comfort in the fact that the influences of cults are far removed from our everyday lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.Over the past two decades, in the United States alone, an estimated twenty million people have joined cults. Today, three to five thousand cults are working to recruit new members. At any point in time, two–and–a–half to three million Americans are active cult members. Often a cult is disguised as a legitimate business or organization: a restaurant, self–help group, psychotherapy clinic, or leadership training program could be a front for a cult. Anyone—no matter what age or income level—could be susceptible to the covert and seductive nature of a cult. People are especially vulnerable to these masterful manipulators during periods of traumatic life changes: a college student away from home for the first time, a grief–stricken widow in need of understanding and support, or a businessperson transferred by his or her employer to a new and unfamiliar community. The country′s leading authority on cults, Margaret Thaler Singer, calls on her nearly fifty years of expertise to write the definitive book on cults. Written with author and former cult member Janja Lalich, Singer′s first book is a shocking exposea that reveals what cults are and how they work. Cults in Our Midst offers vital information on how to help people escape cult entrapments and recover from the experience. This compelling book debunks commonly held myths and answers perplexing questions about cults such as:
  • Why don′t people just leave cults?
  • What characteristics do cults have in common?
  • Why isn′t the U.S. Marines or Alcoholics Anonymous considered a cult?
  • Who are the people most likely to join cults?
  • Where can I go for help if someone I love is living in a cult?
  • What actions can w

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
"Cults in Our Midst" tells in detail how cults recruit members, manipulate current members, and strong-arm those who want to leave into staying. Cult tactics and practices are revealed. A very informative and fascinating study.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 July 1997
Format: Paperback
As someone affected by the cult problem, I can say that Singer's book is accurate and necessary for anyone affected by cults, or who wants to learn to protect themselves from cults.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommend this book to anyone who has been involved with a cult (or new religious movement as they prefer to be known). Singer has interviewed over 3,000 ex-cult members, and has fifty years of research and experience to bring to the subject. This is not a journalistic expose, but rather an analysis of common techniques that cults use, and what the different, and sometimes disparate groups, have in common (e.g. `charismatic' leader with dubious CV, control of sexuality, pressure to spend money on courses, keeping the true aims of group secret, claiming to be 'The Definitive Centre' rather than clearly state the lineage, asking participants to confess (check-in) - I could go on). Oh, and there is also a section on how to get out and recover.

I suppose one of the most important things the book has to tell is that cults don't need to use overt force or intimidation, this is actually not necessary. Normally it is just simple linguistic manipulation and group pressures which keep people in (e.g. becoming a member of a group which seems to support your needs, and which is bigged-up as such constantly). You don't have to be in a cult for 24 hours a day to fall under its control. Cults want your money and your time, some of them want it toots sweet, others are in it for the long haul.

Hypnosis is often used. For example, this could be the banal repetition of words which don't mean anything to anyone, which are labelled as communication exercises. This begins reasonably enough (well, sort of):

"The cow is in the field." "Do birds fly?" "The cow is in the field." "Do birds fly?"

Which quickly degenerates into:
The-cow-is-in-the-field. Do-birds-fly. The-cow-is-in-the-field. Do-birds-fly.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It could happen to any of us! that is what I took away from this book.

I thought of people who get caught up in cults, as being weak minded or at the time somehow desperate and becoming ensnared. However, this book helped me to realise that this thinking is very wrong. Cults and cult leaders are skilful manipulators and any one of us could find ourselves ensnared in a cult or cult like thinking and behaviour.

Very informative, a good read.
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12 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 April 2003
Format: Paperback
At the beginning of the text the writer makes a confession. She has edited out virtually all the references to actual cults or cult leader in order to avoid lawsuits. While I sympathise with her fear, the result is a book without substance - it is a bit like writing a history of WW2 without reference to leaders or countries.
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