The making of a cult leader, common characteristics?
Posted by: Scottperry ()
Date: September 09, 2005 09:46AM

I have been thinking about this for awhile, and it occurs to me that there must be some kind of a psychological formula that most typically creates the mind of a cult leader. Here are some hypothesis along these lines:

1. Probably raised by an authoritarian parent or guardian (often the father).
2. Often the child of a religious leader or preacher.
3. Probably had another parent or guardian who doted particularly on him or her.
4. Often an only child.
5. Probably of above average intelligence.
6. Prior to founding cult, probably employed in a profession that required persuasion such as sales or more conventional preaching.
7. Childhood usually marked by instability, crises, or other types of excessive stress.
8. Usually claim to have had at least one supernatural-contact experience.
9. Usually underwent at least one experience of profound social rejection in life.
10. Usually born into middle income, or low income families.

Note: These criteria are designed primarily to apply to cults that are not of Indian origin. In India, where cultic religious systems appear to be more normalized as a part of the culture, cult leader characteristics would seem to be less markedly different from those of more ordinary people. Perhaps this historic ‘normalization’ of cult practices in Indian society could be the explanation as to why Indian gurus are not known to have ever led any mass suicides, while numerous Western ones have been known for this.

After founding a cult, I think most of us here probably know of the many negative behavior patterns that cult leaders frequently engage in, but here I'm interested instead in what factors might have caused them to consider becoming such leaders in the first place.

I'd be interested to know if anyone might know of any studies that might have been done in this area (psychological and childhood factors that contribute to the making of a cult leader). Also I'd be interested to know if anyone else might have any other characteristics they might want to add to this list.


Scott P.

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The making of a cult leader, common characteristics?
Date: September 13, 2005 06:11AM

Scott Perry:

I agree that kids should be raised independent of mind, even from parental influence, which were my childhood experiences.

My advice to those whom appreciate and seek it is to be very careful about who you add to your life. The wrong person will influence you badly, and the right one will motivate you. Look for someone as dynamic and totally unique as you are within that persons own right.

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The making of a cult leader, common characteristics?
Posted by: yoursister ()
Date: October 14, 2005 09:07AM

Interesting ideas. Since a friend recently had a very negative experience with a group discussed under Cults, Sects, etc. involving control issues and coercion of a minor child, I have been thinking myself about what pathology causes someone to need and control this case including whom young girls will marry and who to vote for. What causes a human being to need to function in this way and cause suffering to others in the exercising of their own sickness?
See "The Guru Papers" by Joel Kramer, parts of which may be accessed online. (go google)

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