From picking a new name to burning her belongings and spying on new members, Dr. Janja Lalich did not foresee how her life would dramatically change as a budding feminist in the 70s. Like many others, the Democratic Workers Party, a cult she joined through a study group, first appealed to her political interests.
Alternative religions and occult groups have been present throughout modern history. While the number of people in cults globally is unknown, experts estimate that there are up to 10,000 cults in the United States. Even though most cults are religious, cult is a term that doesn’t refer to religion at all.
In this episode, we break down what cults are and how prevalent they are in our societies? We’ll look at the dangers of cults and how they swell into large, powerful groups. Without physical restraint of freedom, how do cults trap their members with mental shackles, fear and abuse and more importantly, what are effective ways to help members exit a group and not feel traumatized when they start to live again in the outside world?
Featuring policy and advocacy insights from experts: Dr. Janja Lalich, Professor Emerita of Sociology, California State University Chico and Founder of Cult Research and Information Center, Dr. Steven Hassan, Founding Director of Freedom of Mind Resource Center, and Dr. Suzanne Newcombe, Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the Open University and Honorary Director of Inform, King’s College London.
In conversation with Hazami Barmada, Activist & Founder of the Humanity Lab Foundation.
Originally published at Finding Humanity Podcast.