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 The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman

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Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 69
Location : New York, NY

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PostSubject: The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman   The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman EmptyThu Dec 22, 2011 1:55 pm

The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society by Arthur J. Deikman, M.D.

This was written in 1990. Long out of print, but you can pick up inexpensive used copies on amazon.com. Many former members of cultic organizations have found this book helpful over the years.

Here is how the book is described:

From Publishers Weekly

Members of political or spiritual cults exhibit conformity, a yen for dependence and susceptibility to authoritarian leaders. The same behavior, Deikman argues, can be observed in ordinary people--in relationships, the workplace and family life. For example, in the "corporate culture," this California psychiatrist has found threats of censure and expulsion, and an inhibition of active strategies and dissent--all favorite cult tactics. Other examples of cultish shenanigans cited include politicians' cultivation of a benign, powerful parent persona; military leaders who "imagine enemies where there are none"; the complicity of a subservient news media in supporting the status quo; and the humble compliance to God's will urged by religions. Although Deikman sometimes stretches the analogy of cult behavior too far, his provocative book uncovers a psychopathology of everyday life in a discerning analysis.

From Library Journal

The author, a psychiatrist, argues that cult behavior is not limited to members of religious groups but is based on childhood desires for meaning and dependency that we all share. He describes normal society as "an association of informal cults to which everyone belongs," including our educational, business, and other cultural structures. Although we live in a democracy, cult behavior manifests itself in our unwillingness to question the judgment of our leaders, our tendency to devalue outsiders and to avoid dissent. We can overcome cult behavior, he says, by recognizing that we have dependency needs that are inappropriate for mature people, by increasing anti-authoritarian education, and by encouraging personal autonomy and the free exchange of ideas. This is a provocative book that should have appeal for a wide variety of readers. Recommended for most libraries.

- Lucy Patrick, Florida State Univ. Lib., Tallahassee
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PostSubject: Re: The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman   The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman EmptyThu Dec 22, 2011 3:50 pm

Ken Wilber, a writer in the field of transpersonal psychology, has studied and written extensively on stages of spiritual consciousness. The tendencies described here correspond according to him to the developmental stage that occurs in most humans between the age of seven into adolescence, the stage of mythic membership, that is, an exclusive identification with one's group and ethnos. In healthy development this stage is transcended when the rational-egoic stage occurs, when a person begins to individuate and has the capacity to critique one's own socialization/acculturation process and to make rationally based choices based on new learning and experience. (A stage which many of us go through when at college age we learn to reason and think for ourselves, scrutinize the religion and values of our upbringing and began to conceive of an adult life that is of our own creation, and our own responsibility.) I believe that Wilber would say that these cult authoritarian tendencies are widespread because a large part of the population gets stuck there and doesn't grow into adult consciousness, hence the tendencies for identification with fundamentalist or cult religion, or other group manifestations of mythic membership, religious, political, or otherwise. I recall reading Erik Fromm's book, Flight from Freedom, written in the 60s, which addressed authoritarian mass movements and the social-psychological roots of their creation, cult behavior on a mass level. Certainly engagement of rational individual decision making and autonomy are antidotes to such phenomena, but by no means the end of the process of growth according to Wilber or other similar writers, like Kohlberg.
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Posts : 1617
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PostSubject: Re: The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman   The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman EmptyThu Dec 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Another book along the same lines as the one above. I highly recommend this book - many good points are covered here. Have had this book in my library for many years.

THE GURU PAPERS: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diane Alstad

The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social, and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very morality people try to live by. The book unmasks authoritarianism in such areas as relationships, cults, 12-step groups, religion, and contemporary morality. Chapters on addiction and love show the insidious nature of authoritarian values and ideologies in the most intimate corners of life, offering new frameworks for understanding why people get addicted and why intimacy is laden with conflict. By exposing the inner authoritarian that people use to control themselves and others, the authors show why people give up their power, and how others get and maintain it.

From a review on Amazon.com:

God. The God of Science, The God of Papal Infallibility, The God of National Security, The God of Family Values, The God of Buddhist
Selflessness, The God of Unconditional Love. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.

The Guru Papers elegantly identifies the masks that power uses to hide its abuse of others. Authoritarianism is the exercise of authority
which, presuming an unquestioning obedience, can tolerate neither question nor challenge, meeting either with disregard or punishment.
Assiduously distinguishing the everyday exercise of authority - living life and making choices amongst the propositions it presents - from the
bullying domination intrinsic to the type of power unwilling to recognize an equal, the authors carefully dissect the threads which,
woven together, comprise the cloth of abuse. Whence abusiveness flows, certain features are invariably present.

When a "leader" sets up an ideological standard of perfection or purity that no human being can attain, and our consequent failure of
such attainment becomes the raison d'etre for a double standard of treatment whereby the leader gives orders and we obey them, we have lost
our freedom, particularly if we believe it is for our own good.

Whenever one pole of a duality is identified as essential to good living and the other pole leads to evil, behind that mask an
authoritarian moralist weaves his tale positing that which he believes is most important, that which he says is God. Gurus and religions,
politicians and governments, educators and schools, parents and families, and lovers and spouses frequently equate evil with selfishness
and goodness with selflessness and sacrifice. They say if I am sufficiently sincere and pure of heart, I will sacrifice what I want for
what they tell me is best. Thus, I will be a better man.

There is little difference between the cult leader who demands allegiance to the unproven presumption of his godliness, and the lover
who, crying "let me be myself," claims his imperfections should be accepted without limit in the name of unconditional love. When a moral
demand for sacrifice is made in the name of something sacred, be it the Immaculate Conception or an Idealized Lover, one best be brave and ask
one's questions. If such courage is met with punishment or disregard, one better run. If one does not, one's conduct will communicate that
there is something wrong, and it's not with the other guy.

The essence of authoritarianism attacks the inner certainty of individuals by claiming that it knows a superior, more moral path. It
not only condemns an individual's assertion of self as selfish and wrong, but also is unwilling to engage in dialogue which does not adopt
an unquestioning regard for that which it deems sacred. If an individual adopts this moral dichotomy, he can only mistrust himself as
inferior. This, Alstad/Kramer say, is the purpose of authoritarian control: to generate internal self-mistrust which makes the individual
available to imposition of control by an external authority.

They correctly expose the deception that such externally imposed control is benevolent. According to Kramer/Alstad, authoritarian
persons are never benevolent because such persons use others for their own selfish purposes while lying about it, saying they are not, if they
are saying anything at all. "Do as I say, not as I do; and if you dare question what I do, you are questioning what all good people know is
beyond reproach. You, too, would have respect if only you were a good person. Since you are not, you must do as I say. It is for your own
good." Such is the circle of authoritarian ideology.

The language of authoritarianism is the language that Orwell named double-speak. There's no Orwellian double-speak in this book, just
hard-hitting practical logic that rips the guts out of sacred cows that have fed too long in pastures provided by a naive and idealistic
population. Such a populace, wanting to be good, denies that someone who directs their focus on great and beautiful-sounding ideals could be
ripping them off, as was one of Hitler's more notable tricks.

Thus, the book shows how both the willingness to psychologically dominate, and to surrender to such, are embedded in one another. The
dominating and the dominated persons both believe in an unattainable and essential purity which requires extreme sacrifices, both in its name,
as well as for its attainment. One person makes the sacrifice, after the other has convinced him he must, erstwhile he would be morally
condemned as selfish and self-centered for having disobeyed the other who claims to know best.

The Guru Papers recognizes that both self-centeredness and selflessness exist - you cannot purge the self of selfishness - and must
work together in oneself in balance. It forcefully argues why intelligent negotiation is life-affirming whereas dumb submission
invites death. It meticulously dissects the myriad protean tricks authoritarianism employs to maneuver its subjects into place and keep
them there. Access to information and accountability for one's conduct are essential for the brave new world that might emerge if the reptant
strain of authoritarianism in humankind does not destroy this world first in the name of knowing better.

The book says listen to yourself and if you are degraded or expelled for asking questions, recognize that the inadequacy lies with
the authoritarian character, not with you. The Guru Papers makes the authoritarian predicates accountable and exposes them when they are not.
It's about time!
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Posts : 1617
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PostSubject: Re: The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman   The Wrong Way Home by Arthur J. Deikman EmptyThu Dec 22, 2011 10:56 pm

So here are some other books / resources that could be helpful for those digesting their experiences inside cultic organizations with authoritarian leaders. These books can provide insights into what happened, how it happened, a kind of mirror. I personally found these books or others like them personally useful at times. Some may argue back and forth whether Shasta / OBC is or was a cult. There is one way to define a "cult" per se. From my experience, Shasta was an extremely authoritarian organization that had a great deal in common with the worst "cults." Call it what you will.

For the record, the fact that I recommend a book does not mean that I agree with everything the author might say. A key aspect of taking back our spiritual adulthood is once again finding our voice that says, "I don't agree" or "That's not my experience." For some leave-takers, these books could be useful, others might find all this way too much information.

PROPHETIC CHARISMA: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Dr. Len Oakes.

One reviewer from Amazon.com summed up the book well:

*(Recovery note: Prophetic Charisma is probably most beneficial for persons in somewhat advanced recovery from cult involvement--who have already reclaimed their boundaries, are appropriately angry at how their trust was violated, and who want to de-mystify the impact of their guru, but without making excuses for him (her).

Persons in very early recovery who might still be tempted to deny the harm they've suffered and who are still tempted to make excuses for an abusive guru while blaming themselves for all that went wrong should wait awhile before reading Prophetic Charisma. Reading matter that is helpful at a later stage of recovery may be less helpful or even hamper early recovery. Your therapist can help you figure out where you're at.)

This book is of the utmost value for anyone who has been affected by a charismatic person, whether in a one-on-one relationship or in a group lead by such a person. Prophetic Charisma is a great resource for any journalist who studies religion or politics. The descriptions of narcissistic personality disorder and the psychology of mystical awakening are extremely valuable and the excellent bibliography goes up to 1996-97.

I had always wondered whether gurus and charismatic leaders all attended the same 'Guru Training School' or some equivalent of Hogwarts Academy, because their personalities and life trajectories seemed remarkably similar. Len Oakes gives a detailed description of the way future leaders self-select and train themselves to function as charismatic leaders and gurus. This information will be especially valuable to journalists and historians.

What I found most valuable in this book is its combination of scholarship, lucidity, and the author's warm humanity. When Dr. Oakes describes charismatic leaders and those who trust in them, he does not stand aside, at a safe distance, but stands with them, and conveys their humanity. Dr. Oakes was once in a community led by a charismatic and knows the price in pain of putting one's heart on the line for a leader. That is probably why so many people were willing to trust him and respond to his questions--leaders and followers alike.

In the chapter entitled 'The Charismatic Moment' one man told Oakes the intimate details of an ecstatic experience triggered by his guru; that experience was as raw and intimate as orgasm and the man was both blissful and utterly terrified.

Len Oakes was a trustworthy confidante for such matters, because he'd once given his heart and soul to a charismatic leader. After leaving the leader's community, Dr Oakes re-assessed his earlier commitment. He became a social science researcher, a clinical psychologist and remained well aware how his former guru had abused money, sex and power.

Yet after becoming a social scientist and psychotherapist, Dr Oakes did not put his earlier experiences behind him, or shame himself for having once trusted a guru. Instead, Oakes has retained a creative, compassionate dual perspective: He allowed himself to remember how he felt when he opened his heart and tenderest hopes to the sunshine of his leader's charisma. Dr Oakes has become psychologically amphibious--he can simultaneously remember how he thrilled to a guru's charisma, yet at the same time remain the alert, critical minded stance of a social science researcher and clinician.

The most remarkable feature of Prophetic Charisma is that Dr. Oakes humanises charismatic leaders without excusing the harm they often do. He demonstrates very convincingly that these are narcissistically flawed, suffering human beings who are unable to experience normal empathy and intimacy. To compensate for these deficits, these sufferers desperately and creatively activated their other talents, strove to master the arts of social finesse and manipulation, and through brilliant, strenuous improvisation, activated personal charisma and created social settings that further enhanced that charisma.

What Oakes found is that none of the 20 charismatic leaders he interviewed were genuinely spiritual themselves, *though they were capable of inspiring spiritual experiences in their followers*.

What Oakes found was that the charismatic leaders were never able to rest in peace or enjoy a single agenda-free moment. Every instant was spent scanning the environment, working the angles, calculating each move on the human chessboard 20 steps ahead. A charismatic leader may seem serene but covertly lives a rat-race existence.

Last but not least, Dr Oakes makes it clear that charisma can be used for pro-social(Winston Churchill​, FDR) as well as anti-social agendas. Charisma has had a great impact on human history; we need to demystify it so we can better understand it.

CULTS: Faith, Healing and Coercion by Marc Galanter

From the mass weddings of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church to the ritual suicides at Heaven's Gate, charismatic cults and their devotees have become facts of American life. Using material gleaned from twenty-five years of direct encounters with cults and their detractors, as well as extensive research, Marc Galanter offers the most extensive psychological analysis of these organizations available. Cults explores not only how members feel and think at all stages of their involvement, but also how larger social and psychological forces reinforce individual commitment within the cults.For this revised and newly-illustrated second edition, Galanter has added three new chapters on cult development in the 1990s, spiritual recovery movements, and alternative medicine.

An Amazon.com reviewer wrote:

This is a fairly rigorous scientific study of the processes composing cults and charismatic groups. The author provides many examples and case studies, then develops a general theory into a process model. In engineering, we call this a control system. A system has various inputs and outputs and setpoints, or references. The setpoints are the desired results (outputs). Effective systems have a feedback mechanism assuring that the group produces the correct results. This is called monitoring. The leader of the group monitors the thoughts and the actions of the members almost fanatically and foresees contradictory evidence from the outside world and immediately attempts to rationalize it and reinterpret it in the mindset of the group. The group induces extreme stress, then provides relief of that same stress by conformance to the group's doctrines or ideas.

So great can be the stress induced on suspecting people, that sometimes the sanity of the person is threatened. There is a conflict between what the person's needs are and what the group's needs are. The person is expected to meet the needs of the group. The group provides stress relief after the member conforms. Of course, this constant stress inducement and relief is the technique used by the leaders to assure themselves that the people are in line both in mind and in action. Someone who sacrifices so much for the group is more likely to be a true believer. It also gives an idea of those most likely to join such groups: those in the midst of great personal problems and distress; in response to the recruit's current psychological distress where the world seems so messy and hard to understand, the group gives the person a false sense of certainty in their doctrines. Of course, I give here only a rough sketch.

The techniques identified are eye-opening and scary. It appears that not too many people are immune to some sorts of mind coercion. I suppose that knowledge is power and the more one knows about cults and charismatic groups and their repressive psychological terror tactics, the less the subject will be susceptible to recruitment. This study explains who some seemingly rational people can fall for such obviously deviant groups.

Another Amazon.com reviewer noted:

This book is hard to put down--it is thoroughly fascinating. It is also an excellent introduction to the dynamics of social psychology in general. The author uses systems theory as a method for thinking about cults--reflecting, for example, on how feedback, monitoring, and group border control can assist us in thinking about insular religious movements. One interesting aspect of cults that the author discusses, and that I had not ever read elsewhere, is their ability to induce in members the 'Stockholm Effect.' This is a term borrowed from a hostage bank robbery in Stockholm some years back, in which hostages began to identify with the person holding them hostage. The author argues that something like this is going on in charismatic religious movements, where initiates are both threatened with abuse and derive their emotional comfort from the same source. People are made to feel abandoned or [banned term] if they stray from the group's norms, but are given family comfort and safety if they adhere closely to the group's beliefs and goals. Like a roach motel, you check in, but have difficulty checking out. I feel that this book's insights into the social psychology of cults is also valuable in understanding propagandistic movements and charismatic manipulation generally.

BOUNDED CHOICE: True Believers and Charismatic Cults by Janja Lalich

Heaven's Gate, a secretive group of celibate "monks" awaiting pickup by a UFO, captured intense public attention in 1997 when its members committed collective suicide. As a way of understanding such perplexing events, many have seen those who join cults as needy, lost souls, unable to think for themselves. This book, a compelling look at the cult phenomenon written for a wide audience, dispels such simple formulations by explaining how normal, intelligent people can give up years of their lives--and sometimes their very lives--to groups and beliefs that appear bizarre and irrational. Looking closely at Heaven's Gate and at the Democratic Workers Party, a radical political group of the 1970s and 1980s, Janja Lalich gives us a rare insider's look at these two cults and advances a new theoretical framework that will reshape our understanding of those who join such groups.

Lalich's fascinating discussion includes her in-depth interviews with cult devotees as well as reflections gained from her own experience as a high-ranking member of the Democratic Workers Party. Incorporating classical sociological concepts such as "charisma" and "commitment" with more recent work on the social psychology of influence and control, she develops a new approach for understanding how charismatic cult leaders are able to dominate their devotees. She shows how members are led into a state of "bounded choice," in which they make seemingly irrational decisions within a context that makes perfect sense to them and is, in fact, consistent with their highest aspirations.

In addition to illuminating the cult phenomenon in the United States and around the world, this important book also addresses our pressing need to know more about the mentality of those true believers who take extreme or violent measures in the name of a cause.
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