Explain how the cult leader and his followers developed a version of that social ideal or dream.

Choose one of the above cult leaders or another of your choice – such as David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Ron L. Hubbard (Church of Scientology), Michel (Buddha Field), Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh (The Rajneeshies). Show how these leaders and their followers represent some aspect of the zeitgeist of their era.

Begin by explaining what you see as the zeitgeist of the period in which the cult leader rose to prominence.

Explain how the cult leader and his followers developed a version of that social ideal or dream.

Then explain how that positive dream went wrong and why.

Conclude by showing that cults are not the stereotype of a wild eyed guru and brainwashed followers. Cults always offer a new and positive way of life in the beginning. If they didn’t, no-one would join them! Cult leaders are often brilliant and even visionary leaders whose ideal world is undermined and destroyed by their own dark side — their narcissism, Machiavellianism and sociopathy.

People who join cults are NOT gullible fools. They are often very intelligent, highly idealistic people who see no place to flourish in the models and institutions that their society offers.

Lastly – every cult member looks back on their early experiences of cult life as the “best days” of their life. Even the members of the People’s Temple who lost family members in Guyana, have positive memories of the early days of the Temple.

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