Members of the general public may not be familiar with the term cultism. Cultism broadly refers to a particular phenomenon where an individual or group of individuals make use of certain psychological dynamics in a particular setting (religious or other) to obtain a required result. This influence process is mostly subtle and through the use of certain techniques a person can be moved to do things (radical at times) that he or she would not do under normal circumstance. You may say but that sounds like manipulation that is all around us. You are right and not all manipulation is bad and can be to the advancement of a person. In this case however the manipulation is used to advance another person’s agenda to the detriment of the unaware victim.
It is important to note that any group, religious or non-religious can be applying techniques in a conducive setting that can have a unhealthy impact on the behavior and actions of people. In cultism the focus is specifically on influence (whether will fully or not) that gain unhealthy control over people resulting in dependance on the group or person.
Cultic tendencies have certain pre-investigative pointers that alert about the possibility of its presence. The most common pointer is when a healthy adult person no longer act on his or her own but is prescribed by someone else in all aspects of life. Especially, if the resulting behavior contradicts logic and displays unnatural and radical actions on the side of the person. Another pointer is the persons’ constant reference to a particular authoritative person that must approve any and all of his or her actions. The aforementioned pointers indicate the presence of possible unhealthy influence and control over such persons. Cultism is further characterised by the presence of an authoritative person(s) or body of persons at the helm with either some “godly sanctioning” or a special ability and a charismatic personality that gains respect and submission of people in some cases to the measure where they will follow the person even if it cost them their life.
If there is an indication of any of these features present in someone you know it will be worth your while to prompt for clarity and obtain assistance.