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What is a cult?

The word "cult" is often used in a pejorative way to describe a group with unusual or extreme beliefs. However, there is no single, universally agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a cult.

Some experts define a cult as a group that is led by a charismatic leader who exercises excessive control over its members. The group may have unusual beliefs or practices that are considered deviant or outside the norms of society. Members of a cult may be isolated from the outside world and encouraged to give up their personal relationships and possessions.

Other experts define a cult as a group that uses psychological manipulation to control its members. This may involve exploiting members' vulnerabilities, such as their need for acceptance or their fear of abandonment. Cults may also use mind control techniques, such as sleep deprivation or isolation, to make members more susceptible to their influence.

There are many different types of cults, including religious cults, political cults, and new religious movements. Some of the most well-known cults include the People's Temple, Heaven's Gate, and Aum Shinrikyo.

Cults can be dangerous for their members. They may be subjected to physical, emotional, and financial abuse. They may also be isolated from their families and friends, making it difficult for them to leave the cult.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be involved in a cult, there are resources available to help. You can contact us, the Cult Education Institute or the National Cult Awareness Network for more information.

Here are some of the characteristics of a cult:

  • A charismatic leader who is often seen as infallible.

  • A closed system of beliefs that are not open to questioning.

  • A high degree of control over members' lives, including their finances, relationships, and time.

  • A sense of isolation from the outside world.

  • A demand for unquestioning obedience to the leader.

  • The use of mind control techniques to manipulate members.


If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be involved in a cult, here are some things you can do:

  • Talk to the person about your concerns.

  • Do some research on the cult.

  • Contact a cult intervention specialist.

  • Seek help from a mental health professional.


It is important to remember that cult members are often victims of manipulation and abuse. They may not be able to leave the cult on their own. If you are concerned about someone, please reach out for help.

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