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Hartman, J.J. (1986). Psychoanalytic Study of Society. X, 1984: The Cult Phenomenon: Psychoanalytic Perspective. W. W. Meissner. Pp. 91-112.. Psychoanal Q., 55:197-198.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalytic Study of Society. X, 1984: The Cult Phenomenon: Psychoanalytic Perspective. W. W. Meissner. Pp. 91-112.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:197-198

Psychoanalytic Study of Society. X, 1984: The Cult Phenomenon: Psychoanalytic Perspective. W. W. Meissner. Pp. 91-112.

John J. Hartman

Meissner follows Max Weber in distinguishing a church from a sect. He describes the cult phenomenon as the tendency within a religious organization to form factions that are at odds with the established organization. He seeks to demonstrate that such deviant religious groups become repositories for psychopathology. Some of Kohut's ideas about pathological narcissism as well as Meissner's own work on the paranoid process are utilized to show some of the pathological uses of the memberleader relationship in a cult. While many types of historical and modern cults are referred to, the major focus is on the cargo cults of Melanesia and the snake-handling cults of the southern United States, to illustrate the specific narcissistic and paranoid mechanisms involved. Meissner concludes that cult beliefs sustain a sense

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of inner cohesiveness and identity which have become stronger motivating forces for members than only libidinal and narcissistic ones.

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Article Citation

Hartman, J.J. (1986). Psychoanalytic Study of Society. X, 1984. Psychoanal. Q., 55:197-198

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