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Violence and New Religious Movements$
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James R. Lewis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199735631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199735631.001.0001

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Reciprocal Totalism

Reciprocal Totalism

The Toxic Interdependence of Anticult and Cult Violence

(p.63) 3 Reciprocal Totalism
Violence and New Religious Movements

Dick Anthony

Thomas Robbins

Steven Barrie-Anthony

Oxford University Press

Religio-ideological totalism entails an absolute division of humanity into dual categories such as saved/damned, human/subhuman, and godly/demonic. Totalistic “cults” are not necessarily violent, but the psychology of totalism features an impulse to validate an absolute worldview by confronting demonized exemplars of evil as contrast symbols. Anticult confrontations of totalistic movements may themselves take a totalistic and hence persecutory form. This chapter discusses research that documents a cycle of increasing totalization of both the group and the countergroup response, which may escalate out of control to the point that it triggers a violent denouement.

Keywords:   psychoanalytic, totalism begets totalism, Singer, Lifton, Erikson, cult and anticult violence, pseudospeciation, projective identification, splitting, deviance amplification

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