In my search for a good therapist, I found this on a website:
"Cults are close-knit and often secretive organizations that may recruit members through false premises, such as the promise of religious salvation. Although not all cults are religious, most subscribe to a particular belief system unique to their organization and do not permit members to deviate from their strictures. Members who wish to break free of a cult often have difficulty doing so and may experience psychological effects after leaving.
People who join cults often do so from a basic desire to belong to something, to feel protected and secure, and to live a life that has meaning. Cults that are based on tenets of Christianity can fulfill this longing in some people, as the promise of eternal salvation is the primary draw for many adults who join cults.
When recruiting new members, cults often discern a need in a person and promise to satisfy it, whether the need is religious fulfillment, political activism, self-actualization, or simply a sense of belonging. Those who are most likely to be recruited by a cult tend to come from an economically sound background, be educated and idealistic, and exhibit above-average intelligence.
Cults tend to be led by a charismatic and compelling leader who demands loyalty. Because cults require absolute commitment to their leader and discourage questioning of the belief system set forth, often using manipulative, exploitative, or abusive tactics to prevent and punish dissent, they are generally considered to be destructive and controlling by outsiders. In fact, cult members may adhere to the doctrine to the point of cutting off family and friends who are not also part of the cult.
Potential members are usually not aware of the extent of the cult’s beliefs before entering and only realize the totalitarian structure, abuse of members, and other harmful practices after joining. However, by that point, a person may be so committed to the cult’s promises that he or she becomes able to accept beliefs and practices he or she would have rejected before joining the cult, especially upon seeing other members obey without question."