edited by Michael D. Langone, 410 pp, $37, ISBN 0-393-70164-6, New York, NY, WW Norton, 1993.
The contemporary meanings and usages of "cultism" range widely, depending on the assumptions and stance of the user. For scholars and social scientists of religion, the term is employed dispassionately—to denote what may be either an end point or a path through "secthood" to the status of local or even worldwide "religion." Hence, all of today's great faiths and recognized denominations were once cults and sects; so that, in an important sense, we address one aspect of the complex interface between medicine/psychiatry and religion itself.1-4
"Cultic" phenomena, in the inclusive (religious, political, commercial, and psychotherapeutic) sense in which this volume conceives of them, are therefore nothing new or recent. A constant feature of world history, such activity has tended to wax in eras of cultural transition or dislocation. Despite broad variations among cults and their effects on society and individuals, current public and clinical attitudes toward them are mostly
Wallace ER. Recovery From Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse. JAMA. 1994;272(12):979-980. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520120089039