Cover image for Them and us : cult thinking and the terrorist threat
Them and us : cult thinking and the terrorist threat
Deikman, Arthur.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : Bay Tree Pub., [2003]

Physical Description:
xviii, 206 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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HN28 .D45 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Cult thinking is not something out there-a rare affliction that infects a few people on the margin of society-but a disturbing phenomenon that most of us have experienced in some degree. In Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat, author and psychiatrist Arthur Deikman shows the connection between classic cult manipulation and the milder forms of group pressure that can be found in even the most staid organizations-churches and schools, mainstream political movements and corporate boardrooms. In her foreword, Doris Lessing discusses the the implications and repercussions of cult thinking on contemporary society.

Author Notes

Arthur J. Deikman, M.D. is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this expansion of his 1990 book The Wrong Way Home, UCSF psychiatry professor Deikman persuasively links cult thinking to patterns of behavior and thought found in everyday life-and, with no qualitative differences, to the terrorist groups that threaten that life. He argues that bizarre cults such as those of Jonestown and Waco are not utterly alien, but are extreme forms of behavior and thinking so common that "almost all of us might be seen as members of invisible cults." The core of cult thinking, says Deikman, is the dependency dream, the universal wish to be protected by a strong, wise parent ruling over a close family-epitomized by a Peanuts cartoon as the "wish to ride in the back seat of the car." This fantasy is dangerous because it is unrealistic and entails hostility toward outsiders, characterized as "Them." In a chilling case study of two cult members, Deikman explores four basic cultish behaviors: compliance with the group; dependence on a leader; devaluing the outsider; and avoiding dissent. But he spends more time showing how these behaviors operate in established religion, business, government, media, and other "normal" venues. He makes suggestions for escaping cult thinking (such as fostering dissent) and applies his research to the seeming thinking behind al Qaeda-like movements.. The book has flaws, including weak updating (many references are no fresher than the 1980s) and a set of political touchstones that may alienate some readers. But his central point is well taken: that cult thinking is both pervasive and worth resisting. (Nov. 15) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Deikman (clinical professor of psychiatry, Univ. of San Francisco; The Observing Self) is a distinguished expert in the area of cult psychology. Updated to incorporate discussion of the post-9/11 world, this book assesses the presence and dynamics of cults and cult-think. Drawing on extensive research, Deikman points to the pervasiveness of cult thinking in everyday, seemingly innocuous contexts such as the corporate and media realms. Beginning with a case history that illustrates cultism, Deikman argues that characteristics such as compliance with groups, dependence on leaders, devaluing outsiders and avoiding dissent typify cult members. Ultimately, an individual's desire to be taken care of by a parent figure predisposes him or her to succumb to cult-think. The chapter introducing methods of identifying and dispelling tendencies toward cult-think is most valuable. This work belongs on the shelf near Gustave LeBon's classic The Crowd, along with Margaret Thaler's Singer's Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace and Walter Martin's The Kingdom of the Cults. Highly recommended for most public and all academic libraries.-Lynne Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Doris Lessing
Forewodp. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xvii
Introductionp. 1
1 The Cult Mirrorp. 5
A Common Story
The Dependency Fantasy
2 Hugh and Clara: A Case Historyp. 14
3 Compliance with the Groupp. 54
The Power of Groups
The Threat of Conflicting Loyalties
The Conversion Experience
Oppression by Censure
Degrees of Dependence
Career Realities and Cult Demands
Corporate Culture or Corporate Cult?
Self-Deception and Compliance
4 Dependence on a Leaderp. 74
Making Ourselves Small
The Use and Abuse of Hierarchies
Looking for Leaders
The Fantasy Leader
The Leader's Fantasy
When Facts Don't Count
The Draw of Idealism
Up and Down the Corporate Ladder
Unintended Consequences of Power
Submission and Security
The Rewards of Surrender
The Cult Continuum
Dangers in Psychotherapy
Worrisome Practices in Psychoanalytic Institutes
Blind Followers and Blind Leaders
The Power of a Higher Authority
5 Devaluing the Outsiderp. 107
Devaluation and Projection
The Confidence of the Righteous
The Power of Boundaries
How the Media Portrays "Them"
The Cost of Devaluation
Seeing the Enemy Abroad
6 Avoiding Dissentp. 126
Unspoken Boundaries in the Media
Selective Reporting
Advertising's Covert Indoctrination
Officially Sanctioned Truths
Self-Censorship in the Media
Wanting to Believe Doesn't Make It So
Who Gets to Choose?
Reinforcing Belief
The Power of Secrecy
The Benefits of Being Contradicted
7 Escape from Cult Thinkingp. 150
My Own (and Your) Cult Thinking
Official Self-Deception
Illusory Debates
Fostering Dissent
An Uncomfortable Process
The Eye-Level World
Gandhi's Experiment
Distinguishing the Moral
Going Beyond Dependence
8 The Terrorist Threatp. 170
What "They" Think
What "We" Think
Looking for Causes
Looking for Solutions
Notesp. 187
Indexp. 199