The Toxic Interdependence of Anticult and Cult Violence
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.
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