A cult can be defined as a group in which coercive persuasion and psychological abuse techniques are used to capture and keep its followers in order to dominate them and achieve their submission to the group. These abusive practices usually reduce the personal autonomy of the members of the group and harm their psychological and psychosocial health, producing negative consequences that can last for years after leaving the group. This entry defines and explains cults, differentiate the two main perspectives for their study, analyzes their atypical dynamics, and identifies some of the followers’ characteristics and risks.

The phenomenon of cults has been analyzed using two different approaches: (a) one with a more sociocultural orientation that emphasizes innovative, unorthodox, or alternative aspects of the ideology and lifestyle ...

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