About the Book:
The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.
What makes “cults” so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we’re looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join—and more importantly, stay in—extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell’s argument is that, on some level, it already has . . .
Our culture tends to provide pretty flimsy answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of “brainwashing.” But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear—and are influenced by—every single day.
Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities “cultish,” revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven’s Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of “cultish” everywhere.
“𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙨𝙖𝙮 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙖 𝙘𝙪𝙡𝙩 𝙞𝙨 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙥𝙤𝙧𝙣𝙤𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙥𝙝𝙮. 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙨𝙚𝙚 𝙞𝙩.’ 𝙊𝙧 𝙞𝙛 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙧𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙠𝙚 𝙢𝙚, 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙩 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙞𝙩.”
Cultish is a fascinating nonfiction examination of how cults influence and control their followers with language. It’s very disturbing and completely riveting.
The author discusses many well-known cults such as Jonestown and Synanon and even touches on multilevel marketing schemes and how they can be very “cult-ish”. I personally remember all too well the Holiday Magic scam from many years ago.
I found this book to be a must-read for anyone interested in the ways in which cults can wield such power over their followers. The audiobook was very absorbing. Cult-like language can be wielded in many situations and the psychology of language made an important and timely read. Highly recommend.