I was reading through a book about philosophy and came across an outline of the characteristics of a sect. It's really interesting, so I thought I'd post it here.

Appropriation: Part of the member's life, thinking and actions are determined by the sect's view of life.

Group: The group members exercise mutual control.

Hierarchy: The power is in the hands of leading figures that have the ability to punish.

Charismatic leader: One person has complete power and is viewed as "enlightened" or untouchable.

Separation of the world: The members separate themselves from their family, friends, co-workers, etc.

Chosen: The members may be convinced that they have a special statute. They are under the impression that they have certain information that others don't, or that they can do certain things that others can't.

Reticence: There's no contact with press and critical/alternative information.

Conversion: The members try to convince others of their convictions. People who have a different opinion are not accepted and cast out of the group.

Irrationalism: The members have convictions that are in opposition with generally accepted, scientific facts.


Hmmm I think I've read a discussion of this sort of thing before but I don't remember if it was here...this is what I would think of as a "cult," but it's all still scary stuff, and amazing that ppl really can be brainwashed...


Yes, I've always been very antagonistic to anything that seems like a cult or sect. I did have one or two friends disappear into sects - never to re-emerge.

Interestingly, we're currently working with Travis Jeppeson, a young writer who recently published a novel "Victims" which takes a different view of sects (well, that's rather a sweeping synoposis of the novel but it does have a "what if it works for some people" premis). I must talk to him more about this.


Yes, it describes religious fundamentalisms to a tee.

You might be interested in Karen Armstrong's books, especially "The Battle for God" which describes the rise of religious fundamentalism in Christinatity, Judaism, and Islam as reponses to modernism. I found it very interesting.