Although cults occasionally make the headlines through tragedy or scandal, the defining features of cults are inherently human and manifest on spectrums of both severity and size. The word cult is derived from culture. While culture refers to the overarching characteristics of a society, cult refers negatively to a marginalized subgroup. Cults tap into universal human feelings and desires, such as the need to belong and resonance to parental influence. Although as adults we are no longer dependent on family and tribe for physical survival, our psychological needs for safety and attachment remain powerful. Deb, Lisa, and Joseph consider today’s polarized political divisions, the power of a rock concert or Fourth of July parade, and other ways in which the tension between the opposites of belonging and individuation manifests.
“I am my current self with my current boyfriend, but I had just got married to a woman. This woman had a very powerful presence and felt radiant. She gave me a beautiful silver ring with a turquoise stone, but it didn’t fit properly so I kept losing it. Each time I found it, she would add to the ring and make it even more beautiful. I told my boyfriend that I married her and that I am very happy. He took it well and asked if we could still talk to each other and see each other every day. I said I didn’t think there was a problem with that.”
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