10 cult classics: Books on charismatic leaders to nourish your squint-eyed cynicism

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Though most of us feel certain we could never be duped into joining a cult, it’s critical to consider the benefit of hindsight before passing judgement on those who do.

Again and again, history has shown us that indoctrination into high-control groups does not happen overnight, but rather as a gradual erosion of self. This insidious process—we’ve come to call it “brainwashing”—is often years in the making, though specifics and overall validity of the concept remain topics of substantial debate.

Given the public’s intrigue regarding cults, it’s no surprise that a deluge of documentaries devoted to every fringe sect imaginable have made it to the streaming sites. Running the gamut from shameful cash grabs to thought-provoking masterpieces, cult docs provide viewers with a rare inside look at once-private hells. In that tradition, this fall a pair of docuseries—Desperately Seeking Soulmate (Amazon) and Escaping Twin Flames (Netflix)—have taken aim at a cult known as the Twin Flames Universe.

Run by a pair of exceedingly uncharismatic charlatans named Jeff and Shaleia, these series collectively reveal how TCU’s leaders managed to convince their followers to stalk love interests, forsake family members, and ultimately, even to transition genders in pursuit of their so-called “Harmonious Twin Flame Union.” That most of this coercion happened remotely, over Zoom sessions, makes the whole thing even more ominous.

Another newcomer to the sect doc arena is Love Has Won (Max), which charts the borderline-unfathomable story of Amy Carlson (aka Mother God), who died in 2021 at the age of 45 after drinking what can only be described as absurd amounts of colloidal silver.

Content retrieved from: https://48hills.org/2023/11/10-cult-classics-books-on-charismatic-leaders-to-nourish-your-squint-eyed-cynicism/.

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