Misconceptions About Cults: The Weight of Social Control

todayMarch 17, 2021 834

share close

By Jernice Kelley
Web Content Contributor

Social behavior shapes many of our everyday activities. Communication affects how we think of others and ourselves. Relationships shape our values, morals and persuade us on a fundamental level.

Religion is one of those social aspects that greatly affect how we live. Throughout history, we have experienced several new religious movements that have garnered large communities with social influence. 

A new religious movement (NRM) is a religious, ethical, or spiritual group with practices of relatively modern origins. They are founded by someone who is charismatic and an authoritarian leader. Some of these communities have been deemed as “cults.”

Cults have undeniably been associated with mind control and brainwashing. We also assume that all cults deal with religion, which is not always the case. People join cults for a variety of reasons, including some who are even born into them. 

TED-Ed video on why people join cults.

People do not truly “join” cults. Members of these groups do not know or believe that they are a part of a cult. There are certain levels of social control attributed to this thought process that are used in cults. Cults target people who are vulnerable or feel displaced within their social environment and are seeking out a place to fit in.

Tedx Talks on what cults tell us about ourselves.

Most of us have heard the story of cultist Jim Jones and the massacre that took place at Jonestown, where nearly 1,000 followers took their own lives. Some of us have even heard of Heaven’s Gate, the Branch Davidians or the Children of God.

Each of these cults sought to be the beacon of evangelism for its followers and provide an alternative interpretation of the bible. They essentially promoted the illusion of comfort to manipulate followers.

But what happens to the people who leave a cult?

Cult life can be damaging and leave lasting effects for its members and ex-members. This damage usually manifests itself psychologically and emotionally. Ex-members must not only deal with the trauma of their experiences in the cult, but find ways to rebuild a life without the social connections fostered there.

Jubilee’s video featuring ex-members who discuss their opinions on cult-related topics.

Cult leaders have used manipulative emotional tactics on unassuming individuals to convince them of their ideologies and buy into whatever they are promoting. This type of prolonged mental manipulation can change how a person would interact outside of that type of community.

According to CBS News, President of the International Cultic Studies Association, Steve Eichel, stated that there are nearly 10,000 cults currently operating in the United States, and those are only the cases that we know of. In reality, there are simply too many cults to keep count. 

What cults are and how many there are, who joins them, how they join them and why they can not leave easily is misunderstood by the general public.

Cults are easier to identify when the damage has already been done and the viewer is an outsider with foresight, so it is important to be aware of one’s own vulnerability and of red flags in persuasive tactics, especially in group settings where peer acceptance can cloud one’s judgement.

Eichel also provides tips on how to identify cult groups and how to evade them.

Featured Image retrieved from Canva.

Written by:

Rate it

Previous post

Art cover for album Blood, Piss, Religion, Pain which features an illustration of a surreal-like naked fairy, swan, apple and ladder leading up to a burning candle.


Karaoke: Blood, Piss, Religion, Pain Album Review

By Victor GuevaraMusic Journalist The second full-length album by Karaoke (a fairly new collaborative band based out of Atlanta) is nothing less than hypnotizing. Before even listening to the album, the title alone already sets the tone for the kind of experience you are in for. While the album still shows elements of the band’s dream-pop sound from their debut album How to make you Boil, the new album took […]

todayMarch 16, 2021 59

Similar posts

Club Features

Organization of The Month: Texas State Ice Angels

Sarah Lins Community Outreach Coordinator Here at KTSW, our Community Relations department has chosen Texas State Ice Angels to be this month’s organization of the month! This past week I had the pleasure of getting in contact with the president of Texas State Ice Angels, Jonnalys Soto. During our interview […]

todayNovember 26, 2022 29 1

Post comments (0)

Leave a Reply

top Tracks

Team Members


  • Chart track


    Household Name


  • Chart track


    In The Fade


  • Chart track


    Too Much To Ask


  • Chart track


    P.O.C (Proof Of Concept)


  • Chart track


    Hi-Fidelity [EP]


Full tracklist

%d bloggers like this: