Saturday , August 17 2019
Home / Entertainment / Listen: What helps people resist the call of a cult?

Listen: What helps people resist the call of a cult?

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (iTunes/Spotify)

Actress Allison Mack, one of the senior members of NXIVM who face jail time for their involvement in the cult.

Actress Allison Mack, one of the senior members of NXIVM who face jail time for their involvement in the cult.Credit:AP

I went to a religious high school where Christian Studies was a compulsory subject. The class was always met with a mix of indolence and cynicism – two qualities to which I am still temperamentally disposed. In one of the more interesting modules, we were taught about cults. We learnt about infamous groups, watching a grainy film reenactment of the Jonestown mass suicide in 1978, where over 900 people died of cyanide poisoning. We were given a primer on identifying the warning signs – the cutting of ties from family and friends, significant financial commitments – which began my fascination with beliefs considered extreme or ridiculous.

How does an enterprising and well-educated person, such as Canadian woman Sarah Edmondson, end up investing 12 years of her life in an organisation like NXIVM (pronounced “nex-ee-um”), whose membership led her to get a symbol branded on her skin? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation podcast Escaping NXIVM details her rise in the ranks and subsequent rift with the group, after which she publicly denounced it in 2017. Its leader, Keith Raniere, was recently found guilty in a New York court of charges including sex trafficking, while senior members, including Smallville actor Allison Mack (pictured), are also facing jail time.

“I’m glad I’m not the kind of person susceptible to self-help gurus,” said the friend who recommended the podcast. The reason for her relief becomes clear. When Edmondson joined NXIVM, she was adrift, a struggling actor. Each step that entrenched her further in the cult was framed as a stride towards achieving her full potential. Sometimes, an abundance of cynicism and a contentment with slovenly imperfection may be more valuable than they’re given credit for.

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

About admin

Check Also

Author Lionel Shriver talks death, money and politics

It was fascinating. It mirrors, in some ways, a change in his father – my …