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Thursday, 16 Jul 2020

The psychology behind cults

By Private Therapy Clinic

Cults can come in many different forms. Members of a cult may be obsessed by a cult figure, or leader, who they believe speaks unrivalled wisdom and consequently hang on to every word of. Similarly, members of a cult may be fascinated by achieving an outcome or goal espoused in a text and, after becoming so transfixed by what they believe, blindly follow the teachings or orders of the text so they can better themselves or reap the supposed rewards. Read on for an in-depth look at the psychology behind cults and the reasons that people join them.

Societal problems

Some people join cults simply because they offer answers to problems or questions that simply aren’t being provided. The German people joined the Nazi party en masse before the Second World War broke out because they offered an absolute answer to all of Germany’s problems. The same technique can be found today in radical extremist groups which recruit members who are fed up of the way society is being run, and offer a solution to everything they dislike about society if people join the group.


Many join cults simply out of a desire to be a part of something. Cult members often prey on people with few friends or family of their own and offer them the chance to become part of a group that will grant them all the friendship they could ever need. Cults may even offer a commune or place to stay for its members, which can be an extremely attractive proposition for someone with few other people in their lives.

Low self-esteem

Another group of people that cults seek to take advantage of are those suffering from a lack of self-confidence. Cult members will go to no end to compliment and be friendly to you, and if you’re someone who isn’t used to such attention you’re not going to want it to stop. Some people will actually knowingly join cults simply due its members making them feel good, showing just how illogical the brain can be when the right tools are employed.


If you’re struggling to find purpose in your life then a cult will go out of its way to offer you the meaning you’re craving. People who’ve haven’t achieved their life goals or are looking for an explanation for their failures latch onto the teachings of a cult because it gives them a new purpose in life, even if it’s often a false one.

How can I talk to someone about the psychology behind cults?

If you want to talk about being in a cult or about someone you know who is in a cult, speak to one of our therapists here at the Private Therapy Clinic for a free chat.

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