Wayne Petherick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


Cults are a universal phenomenon, with some estimates claiming hundreds of groups in various regions. Definitions of cult vary from those who adhere to religious beliefs other than your own through to groups who use psychological tactics to recruit, indoctrinate, and retain members. The "gold standard" for determining whether a group is a destructive cult was developed by Robert Lifton based on his studies of thought reform in the Third Reich, in Nazi Germany. These include milieu control, mystical manipulation, the demand for purity, confession, sacred science, loading the language, doctrine over person, and dispensing of existence. The more of these characteristics a group possesses, the more destructive they are. Given the often destructive nature of cults, the attraction to them will be discussed at the close of this chapter.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe psychology of criminal and antisocial behavior
Subtitle of host publicationVictim and offender perspectives
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780128095775
ISBN (Print)9780128092873
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2017


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