Is Cult Mentality like Sz Mentality?

I’d read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer years ago, followed up over time by several of the better books on cult dynamics like Arthur Deikman’s The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society, Mark Galanter’s Cults: Faith, Healing and Coercion, Margaret Singer’s Cults in Our Midst and Kathleen Taylor’s Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control, as well as others by Steve Hassan, Michael Langone, Joel Kramer, Flo Conway and Christian apologists Walter Martin and Stephen Arterburn.

I’d been active in a human potential cult when I was younger, and wanted to know more about how it had affected my thinking. By the time I read most of these books, I was a lot more schooled in human behavior, and I recognized the similarities between the way cult members, paranoid delusionals and certain other psychotic patients think.

All of the books were useful, but none of them explained the psychological makeup of the “belief-needy” as well as Hoffer did way back in 1951. He saw – and described – the disempowerment of the healthy ego, the frustration, the denied sense of (learned) helplessness, the lack of functional identity, and the dire need to be a part of something bigger than one’s broken little self in ways anyone can understand.

The minds of the zealot, the mass murderer, the terrorist, the fascist, and the racial exterminator all came in to very clear focus, as did the mind of the un-medicated paranoid schizophrenic.

I saw myself in its mirror. And I was able to let go of a lot of the thinking that kept me in mental suffering for so many years. I am far from “100% well” now, but I am far from “100% sick,” as well. (And one need not worry that I will be taking any of the vengeful junk I was thinking 15 years ago seriously.)

Is anyone else here a cult escapee?

Woo hoo!

A cult mentality like the sz mentality?!

Do you have any idea how strange this statement really is?

One just might be causing the other!

I ran into some Zendiks when I was in a vulnerable state in my youth. Didn’t go to the Farm but came close. There are some threads about them you may find interesting.
They are currently disbanded I think.

“Stop bitching and start a revolution”

Gotta start somewhere.

Is it a cult of there is no spirituality to it? Or does that just make it a club.

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I can think of a book club or two that seem pretty cultish.

Yes in a way. I read The True Believer and thought the same thing about the stress and strife pf schizophrenia making me belief-needy.

Fortunately being in that position made me into a lifelong seeker rather than a cult member.

Ex-communicated Mormon. It took a gift subscription to Hustler for the Stake President. Had it delivered to his home.



I have been in cultish environments, like fighting and powerlifting.

what my mom and I both did. I was about to join ROTC and if it weren’t for schizophrenia, I would be on my way to being an active killer, but hey, I don’t hold anything against those people, I understand them. I used to see a shrink who used to work in Army intelligence. He read my MMPI-2 results and my file and said the only people he had seen like me were in Rangers and Delta, except they didn’t have schizophrenia. I wanted to have a life in which I didn’t have to worry about anything and just do what I was told or else fail and likely be killed. I wanted to play the game of war. My mother was a nun and wanted to just do what nuns do in order to not have to think for herself or about what to do with her life. She left. I wanted to reject society and kill for a living because I was bitter about life in general, I respected how others were not damaged, but I knew I was and thought of myself as disposable yet potentially extremely useful. Disposable after being used.

At the time I was in unbelievable shape and skilled in hand to hand combat, also an A student at an all-honors international school. I would have had a completely different life. My friends and family remind me that in a way, this life is better because I am wounded and want to heal others wounded like I am…instead of kill people because of reasons which I wouldn’t even need to understand.

Yeah, that was harsh. It’s the truth. I used to behave much like a killer, I was quiet and confident, often around others, however. I remember how I used to eat, I would gather as much food as I could and then not look up until I was finished eating, I also had a laid back and mature manner, these days I am a bit inappropriate and can be arrogant. I had superficial charm and knew how to get along with just about anyone, from the highest class of society to drug dealers. And I did.

I also was incredibly disciplined- at least 15 hours of exercise a week bare minimum, running, lifting, hand to hand training, then studying for 2-3 hours a night. I would wake up early and go to bed late, didnt drink coffee didnt even take aspirin, was straight-edge.

I then got prodromal, did ■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ and everyone noticed.

I went looking for cults after I got diagnosed and my life ■■■■■■ over. I found them. They didn’t like me.

I have volumes to say here but realize this is not the place.

@notmoses I just acquired the ebup of The True Believer.
@pixel Felicitations!

Honest question to @notmoses and @velociraptor.
I know you are both dually diagnosed as myself and subscribe to AA,NA,CODA… I am keeping clean but no matter how many different meetings I go to I still see it as cult like. (my first NA meeting in 92) How do you differentiate?

I had the same problem for a time. I felt like I had to toe the line and recite the babble or be isolated by the 12 Step gurus. Schooling and use of what I was learning to set functional boundaries helped my to see that the authoritarians Hoffer describes will make a 12 Step fellowship into a cult to feed their egos. (You should have seen Gordon’s & Gwen’s “How It Works II” AA meetings up and down the Pacific Coast. Puppet masters and marionettes, though people did stay clean.)

I think Bill Wilson saw it coming in the '40s by holding the mirror to his own face, as well as observing the “spiritual materialism.” Hence the 12&12. The second 12 prevents most 12 Step fellowships from becoming the manipulative, double-binding, dominance-and-submission pyramids that typify the nastier cults.

If I sense that those are predominant in any 12 Step group I walk into, I hang around for a few meetings to look it over, and if it’s Just Too Sick, I vote with my feet.

Lemme know what you think.

Love this. I lived in a town full of Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists for several years. Relentless evangelism 24/7. No JWs at your door with their pamphlets, however.

Interesting. And (for you) fortunate.

Because a number of them (Scientology and one of the big Xtian evangelical cults I can’t recall the name of… oh, yeah, it’s Set Free) actively chum for sz pts, take them into the residential TCs they operate, and make busy-hands-are-happy-hands little robots out of them using exactly the methods Hoffer, Lifton, Singer, Kramer, et al describe.

If you could see what’s going on inside a large, former resort near San Jacinto, CA, you’d probably have a clue as to how you would have wound up. See

By definition a cult takes more than 1 person to function.

Whereas with sz,? …you can enjoy it all by yourself.

I think a sz is vulnerable in that they can not speak up , debate/argue and still remain rational. And this is an absolute necessity in complex group interactions. Eventually it feels people are giving persons dictates. And this is where the cult problem comes in.

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Should have been “Stake President”. I am yet another victim of autocorrect.


My bad, actually. But, uh…, what is a “stake president?”

It’s the level of church admin where you can really annoy people.


Oh, yeah. Makes sense.