Reciprocal Totalism

Dick Anthony, Thomas Robbins and Steven Barrie-Anthony

in Violence and New Religious Movements

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735631
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894512 | DOI:
Reciprocal Totalism

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Religio-ideological totalism entails an absolute division of humanity into dual categories such as saved/damned, human/subhuman, and godly/demonic. Totalistic “cults” are not necessarily violent, but the psychology of totalism features an impulse to validate an absolute worldview by confronting demonized exemplars of evil as contrast symbols. Anticult confrontations of totalistic movements may themselves take a totalistic and hence persecutory form. This chapter discusses research that documents a cycle of increasing totalization of both the group and the countergroup response, which may escalate out of control to the point that it triggers a violent denouement.

Keywords: psychoanalytic; totalism begets totalism; Singer; Lifton; Erikson; cult and anticult violence; pseudospeciation; projective identification; splitting; deviance amplification

Chapter.  14288 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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