Cover image for Soul snatchers : the mechanics of cults
Soul snatchers : the mechanics of cults
Abgrall, Jean-Marie.
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Uniform Title:
Mécanique des sectes. English
Publication Information:
New York : Algora Pub., [2000]

Physical Description:
296 pages ; 23 cm
Cults and mental manipulation -- Cults-past and present -- The guru -- How cults are organized -- Recruitment -- Coercive persuasion -- Conditioning -- Psychic conditioning -- Physical conditioning -- Proven methods: Scientology -- Mental pathologies pre-dating the cult -- Pathologies induced by cult manipulation -- Treating the pathologies.
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BP603 .A3613 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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An indispensable book for understanding cults and for helping those who are caught in their snares.--Argus.

Author Notes

Author Jean-Marie Abgrall is Europe's foremost expert on cults, a practicing psychiatrist and a professional criminologist.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

From the Tokyo subway bombing and the siege at Waco to the mass suicide of Jim Jones's followers in Guyana, evidence of cult activity has surged in recent decades. Abgrall, a practicing psychiatrist and professional criminologist, has spent 15 years researching cult phenomena and presents here a thorough analysis of their psychodynamics and the mysteries that surround cult life. He delves into recruitment, physical and psychic conditioning methods, the mental predisposition of gurus and followers, and the treatment of former cult members. Well organized and readable, his work complements James R. Lewis's Cults in America: A Reference Handbook (LJ 2/1/99) and David V. Barrett's Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions: A World Survey and Sourcebook (Sterling, 1996). Useful for high school students doing research and for adults interested in mysticism and sects, this book is recommended for public and academic libraries. Passionate Journeys is more specific in nature. Goldman (sociology, Univ. of Oregon; Gold Diggers and Silver Miners) studied the female boomers who left their families, careers, and identities to join the Rajneeshpuram spiritual community in Oregon in the 1970s and 1980s. Goldman conducted extensive interviews with former sannyasins and presents here composite pictures detailing the psychological make-up, hopes, and beliefs of women who joined the community. Her thesis is that, though extreme, the cult members' experiences illuminate the struggles of women in general; their joining was an attempt to balance love, work, and spirituality. A compilation of case studies, this book was written for the college-educated reader; recommended for academic libraries serving feminist or religious studies programs.--Deborah Bigelow, Leonia P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 7
1. Cults and Mental Manipulationp. 13
"He Who has Attained the Goal,"p. 13
Sects, Cults and Religionsp. 16
Initiatory Secret Societiesp. 17
Persuasion and Marketingp. 17
Addiction and Dependencep. 17
Medical and Legal Aspectsp. 19
Brainwashingp. 19
2. Cults -- Past and Presentp. 21
From Antiquity to the 20th Centuryp. 21
The 20th Centuryp. 27
New Sectsp. 27
The New Agep. 30
Fairytales for Adultsp. 31
An Aberrant Ecological Visionp. 31
Catastrophism and Millenarianismp. 32
Back to Naturep. 34
Bucolic Ecologyp. 35
Health Hazardsp. 36
Strange Medicinep. 39
Extraterrestrialsp. 43
Lost Civilizationsp. 44
Past Lives and Angelsp. 46
Witchcraft and Devil Worshipp. 47
Political Schemesp. 49
Money-Making Schemesp. 53
3. The Gurup. 53
Truth and Liesp. 63
Biography of a Gurup. 64
From Eccentricity to Strategyp. 65
Childhood and Adolescencep. 66
The Passage to Adulthoodp. 66
Religious Trainingp. 67
Cultural and Educational Levelp. 79
Medical Historyp. 72
Twisting the Truthp. 72
Guru-Speakp. 74
Paralogical Reasoningp. 76
Paraphrenic Elementsp. 78
4. How Cults are Organizedp. 75
The Pyramidp. 84
The Networkp. 86
The Starp. 86
The Spherep. 87
Group Dynamicsp. 87
Comparing Beliefsp. 89
Cult-Speakp. 91
Reducing Cognitive Dissonancep. 92
Magical Thoughtp. 94
How Cults Growp. 96
Cult Psycho-Dynamicsp. 97
The Guru-Fatherp. 98
The Cult-Motherp. 100
Classifying Cultsp. 96
5. Recruitmentp. 99
Seductionp. 107
Persuasionp. 112
The Persuader's Gamep. 114
Fascinationp. 116
Who Are the Victims?p. 117
The Profile of Likely Recruitsp. 117
Overview of the Victimp. 119
6. Coercive Persuasionp. 113
Strategies of Persuasionp. 123
The Will to Believep. 125
Identification and Imitationp. 126
Self-Persuasion and the Reduction of Dissonancep. 126
Propaganda Toolsp. 127
The Process of Assimilationp. 128
Seductionp. 130
Inveiglementp. 131
Conversionp. 133
Indoctrinationp. 134
Actionp. 134
Coercive Techniques of Persuasionp. 135
The Symbolic Triad of Coercive Persuasionp. 136
7. Conditioningp. 127
From Education to Brainwashingp. 139
Alienationp. 143
Dependence on Authorityp. 144
The Mental Shift: From Being Free to Being Controlledp. 147
Consequences of the Agentic Statep. 149
Maintaining the Agentic Statep. 150
Imitationp. 152
Conformityp. 153
Stages of Conditioningp. 155
Ideology, the Basis of Conditioningp. 155
8. Psychic Conditioningp. 145
Techniques for Conditioning Individualsp. 163
The Dynamic Approach to Conditioningp. 164
Isolation through Aberrationp. 165
"Scotomization,"p. 165
Distorting Words and Languagep. 166
Learning New Wordsp. 167
Affirming Obediencep. 168
Rules of Hygienep. 168
Sexualityp. 170
Deprivation of One's Own Namep. 172
Reprehensible Ritualsp. 173
Emulationp. 176
Imitationp. 176
Identification with the Master and with the Groupp. 177
Analysisp. 177
Hypnosis, Sophrology and Hypnopediap. 178
Effects of Hypnosisp. 185
Guided Fantasy and Mental Imageryp. 188
Transactional Analysisp. 189
The Primal Screamp. 190
Techniques Borrowed from Reverse Psychiatryp. 191
Techniques Borrowed from Behaviorismp. 191
The Electrometerp. 192
The Psycho-Galvanic Reflexp. 193
Biofeedbackp. 194
The Experimental Basis of these Techniques: Behaviorismp. 195
Mantras and Chantsp. 197
Techniques for Group Conditioningp. 200
Ritualsp. 201
Subliminal Perceptionp. 203
9. Psysical Conditioningp. 185
Food Deprivationp. 207
Sleep Deprivationp. 209
Compulsory Laborp. 212
Chemical Usep. 213
Sensory Deprivationp. 214
"Lying,"p. 217
Sound and Musicp. 218
Greetingsp. 220
Deprivation of Personal Clothingp. 221
The Bodyp. 221
Totemsp. 223
10. Proven Methods: Scientologyp. 210
Recruitmentp. 226
Applying Manipulationp. 227
Neo-Languagep. 228
Guiltp. 229
"Scotomization,"p. 230
Auditingp. 231
The Techniquep. 231
Auditing with the Electrometerp. 234
Solo Auditingp. 235
Purification Processesp. 239
The Saunap. 242
Runningp. 243
Vitamin Overdosingp. 244
11. Mental Pathologies Pre-Dating the Cultp. 227
On the Part of the Gurup. 247
Paranoiap. 247
Hypertrophy of the Egop. 248
Warped Judgmentp. 249
Distrustp. 249
Psycho-Rigidityp. 250
Delirious Structuresp. 251
Mystical Experiencesp. 252
Worrisome Strangenessp. 254
Pre-Psychotic Off-Centeringp. 256
Systematic Deliriumsp. 258
Psychopathyp. 234
Perversionsp. 260
On the Part of the Followersp. 263
Scientologyp. 264
Children of Godp. 266
Faith Healing and Prayer Groupsp. 266
The Omega Groupp. 267
Mooniesp. 268
12. Pathologies Induced by Cult Manipulationp. 243
Group Pathologiesp. 269
Group Catharsisp. 269
Collective Hysteriap. 271
Collective Trancesp. 271
Collective Deliriump. 272
Collective Suicidep. 272
Individual Pathologiesp. 274
Depressive Phenomenap. 274
Generalized Anxiety and Atypical Anxiety Disordersp. 274
Neurotic Behaviorp. 277
Psychotic Disordersp. 279
13. Treating the Pathologiesp. 257
Preventionp. 283
Trackingp. 287
"Extracting" from the Cultp. 289
Therapyp. 292
The Emergency and Recovery Phasesp. 292
Treating the State of Depressionp. 293
Treating the Psychotic Statesp. 294
Treating the Neurotic Statesp. 295
Looking Back at the Manipulationp. 296
Getting Informationp. 298
Synthesizing the Informationp. 272
Interpreting the Informationp. 300
Distinguishing the Pathologiesp. 301
Reintegrating Realityp. 302
Regaining Autonomy of Thought and Direct Experience of Emotionsp. 304
Reintegrating the Cult Member into Societyp. 305
Problems the Family Encountersp. 308
Notesp. 311
Summary Bibliographyp. 325