Why do stars love such strange groups?
Date: June 22, 2002 10:09PM
Its prospective title will be 'Bounded Choices: The Dilemma of the True Believer', with University of California Press as the publisher. I think this will be based on Lalitch's Ph.D thesis--she recently passed defense and will join the sociology department at Cal State Chico as an assistant professor--you might contact her and see about trying to transfer to Chico to take some classes or seminars with her.
Ph.D theses may often be purchased, but you have to pay for a copy, which can be expensive. You might query Lalitch by e-mail and see if the material she covers will make it worth your while to purchase a copy. I found out about this because there was a San Jose Mercury article on John Walker Lindh, and Lalitch was interviewed. She said that the 'true believer syndrome' is destructive, because it involves a loss of perspective, its a commitment you pursue to the exclusion of all else, you cannot or refuse to see the damage you doing to your health, your reputation, your future prospects, or that you are hurting other people. She said it has less to do with belief system; its a specific mind set--you can develop true believer syndrome in relation to high risk investment (eg marketing cults), a sense of mission on the part of a corporation going down the tubes and screwing its employees (Enron) training for triathlons to the point where your family never sees you and you develop overtraining injuries, and yes, commitment to religions and political ideologies.
A seminary professor of mine studied conversion and said that if you ignore belief system and look at mindset, fanatics are the same, 'Its a case of same hardware, different software', Lew told us.
I never had the experiece of losing a loved one to a cult, the way you have. Good luck. You'll have to find a way to balance love and hunger for justice without falling victim to crusader/true belief mindset. I was involved with a spiritual director who was gifted, actually did a lot of good, but was poorly trained for his job. He was prone to overwork and risk taking most of his life, I think he was narcissistic and chronically depressed and his marriage in the doldrums. Then he became an unexpected celebrity in the local peace movement and the true believer syndrome kicked in and grabbed him. He could rationalize quite persuasively and I and others longed to have a hero in our lives.