Ten Years After Jonestown, the Battle Intensifies Over the Influence of 'Alternative' Religions - 1988-11-17
Among the techniques are constant repetition of doctrine; application of intense peer pressure; manipulation of diet so that critical faculties are adversely affected; deprivation of sleep; lack of privacy and time for reflection; cutting ties with the recruits' past life; reduction of outside stimulation and influences; skillful use of ritual to heighten mystical experience; and invention of a new vocabulary which narrows the range of experience and constructs a new reality for cult members.
Margaret Singer, a former professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, describes psychological problems that have been attributed to cultic experiences, ranging from the despair that comes from having suddenly abandoned ones previous values, norms and ideals to types of "induced psychopathy." Other psychologists and lay observers list similar mental and emotional problems linked to the indoctrination and rituals of cults.
Sociologist Dick Anthony, author of the book "Spiritual Choices," and former director of the UC Berkeley-affiliated Center for the Study of New Religions, argues the exact opposite position.