"Some groups may harm some people sometimes, and some groups may be more likely to harm people than other groups."
- Michael Langone, CSJ, Vol. 18, 2001, p. 1.
The main objective of this book is to present cults not as bizarre or problematic groups, but rather as groups that are present in our daily lives.
In this context, understanding how these groups function and the violence that sometimes erupts in certain groups requires an understanding of how groups function in general. Setting aside the theories on cults and new religious movements, we focussed on group dynamics.
Each of us, at some point in our lives, becomes a member of one or several groups, such as a family, artistic, musical, sport, work or a spiritual group. While current research does not allow us to accurately predict which groups may cause certain members physical or psychological harm or financial loss, existing knowledge does allow us to understand the general functioning of these groups as well as certain potential risk factors.
It is not enough to suspect that a group is problematic or dangerous. It is necessary to provide evidence that a group is involved in unethical behaviour or breaking the law before making any accusations.
Living in a democratic society means ensuring that the rights and freedoms of all of its members are protected. It is, therefore, our duty as citizens of a democratic society to protect individual and group rights. Protecting these rights and freedoms is possible as long as the behaviour of groups and their members respects these principles.
While groups are generally places for personal growth, in some cases the internal functioning of a group can be harmful for certain members. In order to prevent any form of harm, it is crucial to understand how groups function.