What is Cultism? – Everything You Need To Know

In this article, we will examine the question, “what is cultism?” and its brief history, characteristics, types, and risks of cultism. In addition, we’ll look at the various cult types and the motivations behind a membership. This article will also provide you with a thorough introduction to this difficult and frequently misunderstood subject, whether you’re interested in cultism or worried about its impact on your neighborhood.

What is Cultism?

Being a part of a social group that is committed to the worship of a specific person, ideal, or object is referred to as being in a cult. These groups are frequently secret societies. It is a phenomenon with a long history that manifests itself in many ways in various societies and cultural contexts. 

Cultism can include political views, spiritual or religious convictions, or even social subcultures. Cultism has existed for ages and is frequently connected to detrimental ideas like brainwashing and manipulation. But it’s important to remember that not all cults are bad, and some people could find a feeling of belonging and purpose in a cult-like organization.

Brief History of Cultism

Cults developed around a central figure or set of beliefs in early civilizations, which is where the idea of cults first emerged. These groups were frequently stigmatized as abnormal or holding non-mainstream social beliefs.

Religious movements that were regarded as unconventional or outside of mainstream Christianity started to be referred to as “cults” in the 19th century. The advent of new religious movements in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Manson Family and the People’s Temple, raised awareness of the problem of cultism.

The term “cult” was frequently applied to organizations like the Branch Davidians and Aum Shinrikyo in the 1980s and 1990s that employed deceptive methods to manipulate and take advantage of their members.

Characteristics of a Cult

1. Charismatic leadership

Strong personalities and the ability to have a significant impact on their followers are common traits of cult leaders.

2. Isolation 

Cults frequently attempt to cut off their members’ connection to friends and family as well as outside information and viewpoints.


3. Control 

Cults frequently have a strong influence over their members, influencing their actions and thoughts.

4. Brainwashing 

Cults may employ strategies such as sleep deprivation, seclusion, and manipulation to manipulate the thinking and behaviors of their members.

5. Financial exploitation

Cult members are frequently required to donate substantial sums of money to the organization or its leader.

6. Belief in a higher power or a prophecy

Many cults have a belief system that relies on a higher power or prophecy that only the organization or its leader can completely comprehend.

7. Unquestioning commitment

Cult members are expected to give the group or its leader their complete loyalty and to obey their instructions without question.

Types of Cults

1. Cults of religion

These are organizations founded on a particular set of religious principles and practices that are not widely held or regarded as acceptable by society at large. Branch Davidians and the People’s Temple are two examples.

2. Cults of politics

These are organizations that have a particular political ideology or agenda at their core, such as communism or fascism. The Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof Group are two examples.

3. “Therapeutic” or psychological cults

These are organizations that make claims of offering psychological or spiritual treatment or personal growth but frequently employ manipulation or mind-control tactics to maintain control over their members. Examples include Scientology and EST.


4. Occult or new age cults

These are organizations that concentrate on unconventional spiritual disciplines like mysticism, magic, or the occult. The Order of the Silver Star and the Process Church of the Final Judgment are two examples.

5. Survivalist cults or doomsday

These are groups that anticipate a catastrophe or the end of the world and take great precautions to be ready, such as gathering weapons or cutting themselves off from society. The Order of the Solar Temple and the Heaven’s Gate cult are two examples.

6. Crime cults

These are organizations that rationalize and encourage illicit acts including drug trafficking, extortion, and money laundering using cult-like practices and belief systems. The Aryan Brotherhood and MS-13 are two examples.

Risks of Cultism

There are several risks associated with cultism for both individuals and society. These dangers consist of:

1. Bodily harm

By cult leaders or other members, members may be subjected to physical abuse, neglect, or even murder.

2. Psychological harm

Members of cults may experience significant psychological indoctrination and manipulation, which can cause extreme emotional suffering and mental health issues.

3. Social issues

Members of cults may be secluded from their loved ones and pushed to sever ties to the outside world. Long-term social and emotional repercussions may result from this.

4. Financial harm

To give their money and goods to the cult or its leaders, cult members can be pressured or compelled.


5. Legal harm

Criminal charges against cult members and leaders may result from cult actions that break the law.

6. Community harm

Communities may be upended by cult activity, and friction and conflict between cult members and non-members may result.


In conclusion, cultism is an activity in society that involves the creation of organizations or groups that subscribe to a common set of principles and behaviors that are frequently separate from those of the general public. These organizations, which can range from religious cults to secret societies, can have a detrimental effect on people and communities. 

Brainwashing, manipulation, and even violence can result from cult membership. It is crucial that people are aware of the evident signs of cult involvement and that they seek assistance if they suspect that they or a loved one may be suffering from cultism. Furthermore, it is crucial for society as a whole to work toward comprehending and resolving the root causes of cult development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people join cults?

A person may join a cult for a number of reasons, such as seeking a sense of belonging, seeking spiritual fulfillment, or finding the answers to the big issues in life. Some people could also be seduced by a cult leader’s promises or charismatic demeanor.

What are a few signs of a cult?

A rigid hierarchy inside the organization, a lack of openness or secrecy around the group’s activities and beliefs, and a significant push to conform and stay within the group are some indicators of a cult.

Are cults generally harmful?

Although not all cults are harmful, some have a history of using deceptive methods to subdue their followers and foster a culture of fear and submission. Cults have occasionally been connected to wrongdoing or abuse.

How can one leave a cult?

It can be challenging to leave a cult since the group may employ deception and pressure to prevent members from leaving. It is crucial to ask friends and family for assistance and to be conscious of the possibility of emotional and psychological manipulation. It may also be helpful to receive professional support, such as counseling or therapy.




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