Thursday, November 26, 2015

Cults and Maslow

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Imagine yourself feeling isolated, unimportant, and unneeded. Unexpectedly you find yourself surrounded by sincere, happy people who hug you, say they love you, accept you, need your help, and make you feel part of their - rather, part of God's - family. When that happened to me, I was overwhelmed. Surely I had found where I "belonged." 

It's like falling into a well once such a decision is made, as in come the biases, protecting self-image, reinforcing the rightness of that decision. (See Commitment and Consistency)

Love and belonging: done.

Above that come the needs for esteem and purpose. We humans need to feel that we are making a difference - that our work has meaning. How much more valuable is a life of meaning?

In the cult, we were continually reminded in publication after publication that ours was the most important work in the world. Because that was nonsense, this artificial sense of importance was necessarily repeated ad nauseam. (Repetition feeds belief.) We were working directly for God himself - the only work with eternal rewards. We were always kept busy; we were so important, and there was so little time, so much to do, so few "called out ones" to do it, that we needed to "burn the candle at both ends," and "burn out fast and bright for Jesus."

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,"* or so cult members, with their elevated sense of self-importance, blissfully believe.

*Henry V, Shakespeare.

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