Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults by Janja A. Lalich

By Janja A. Lalich

Heaven's Gate, a secretive staff of celibate "monks" looking forward to pickup by way of a alien ship, captured excessive public recognition in 1997 while its participants dedicated collective suicide. As a manner of knowing such complicated occasions, many have visible those that subscribe to cults as needy, misplaced souls, not able to imagine for themselves. This booklet, a compelling examine the cult phenomenon written for a large viewers, dispels such uncomplicated formulations via explaining how basic, clever humans may give up years in their lives--and occasionally their very lives--to teams and ideology that seem strange and irrational. taking a look heavily at Heaven's Gate and on the Democratic staff celebration, an intensive political crew of the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, Janja Lalich supplies us an extraordinary insider's examine those cults and advances a brand new theoretical framework that may reshape our figuring out of these who sign up for such teams. Lalich's interesting dialogue comprises her in-depth interviews with cult devotees in addition to reflections won from her personal event as a high-ranking member of the Democratic staff social gathering. Incorporating classical sociological thoughts resembling "charisma" and "commitment" with more moderen paintings at the social psychology of impression and keep an eye on, she develops a brand new method for knowing how charismatic cult leaders may be able to dominate their devotees. She exhibits how contributors are led right into a kingdom of "bounded choice," during which they make likely irrational judgements inside a context that makes ideal experience to them and is, in reality, in keeping with their maximum aspirations. as well as illuminating the cult phenomenon within the usa and all over the world, this crucial booklet additionally addresses our urgent want to know extra concerning the mentality of these precise believers who take severe or violent measures within the identify of a reason.

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Qxd 4/28/2004 28 3:08 PM Page 28 H E AV E N ' S G A T E most of them had been with Ti and Do for more than two decades. Although their eVorts were not without inner struggles and personal turmoil, they had sacriWced for this, the end of their earthly existence and the beginning of eternal life. S. S. history. Midweek, just before Easter Sunday 1997, the police in the exclusive suburban community of Rancho Santa Fe, about thirty miles north of San Diego, received a call alerting them to a tragedy in their midst.

Also, I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater in relation to the concept of brainwashing. As the sociologist Benjamin Zablocki aptly wrote, “Many scholars deny that brainwashing even exists and consider its use as a social science concept to be epistemologically fraudulent. Others make grandiose claims for the brainwashing conjecture, often using it to account for virtually everything about human behavior in high-demand religious organizations. ”6 Over the past several decades, in part because of a Werce culture war among certain academics and critics of cults and in part as fallout from widespread Cold War ideologies and mythologies, brainwashing has come to be regarded as an induced psychological “snapping” that happens in a moment.

In chapter 11, the last chapter of the book, I review the theoretical foundations of the bounded choice theory. I also suggest the theory’s relevance to ongoing research on cults and the true-believer mentality and to other manifestations of single-mindedness in our society, including our present-day concern with terrorism and fanaticism. qxd 4/28/2004 3:08 PM Page 25 chapter 2 Gurus, Seers, and New Agers During spring 1997, across the Northern Hemisphere, people eagerly watched the passage of the Hale-Bopp comet in the night sky.

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