ODAAT overtaking 5 year plans in Texas:

Saturday, September 16, 2006

On this day in:
1875 J. C. Penney, American business leader, was born. d. 2/12/1971
1893 Settlers took part in a land run in Oklahoma's ''Cherokee Strip.''
1940 President Roosevelt set up the first peacetime military draft in U.S. history
1972 ''The Bob Newhart Show'' premiered on CBS.

One small fragment of the Pope’s comments on the role of religion in the world today has been taken out of context and sensationalized. It is important to read the whole talk, or at least these concluding thoughts that underscore the main point of his University lecture, that all great religions share a common orientation, that they all recognize “there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy”:

In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology.

Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought: to philosophy and theology.
For philosophy and, albeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding.

Here I am reminded of something Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates says: “It would be easily understandable if someone became so annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life he despised and mocked all talk about being - but in this way he would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a great loss”.

The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is the program with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time.

http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=46474

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OP-ED COLUMNIST
New York Times
Capitalism With a Heart
By JOHN TIERNEY

Compassionate conservatism has been an expensive bust in Washington. But an intriguing alternative is emerging around the country: compassionate capitalism.

Tycoons have traditionally discovered their inner saint only after exorcising the inner capitalist. Carnegie, Ford and Gates made their money and then gave it away. But Google’s young founders are already taking on poverty, disease and global warming, and they’re not just dispensing cash. They’ve set up their philanthropy as a for-profit organization.

To many liberals, this sounds dangerously oxymoronic. How can philanthropy be profitable? A robber baron is supposed to cleanse his hands by donating his lucre to a foundation run by enlightened beings untainted by commerce (except for the dividends going into their trust funds).

This new Google venture also makes conservatives suspicious. It sounds like the “corporate social responsibility” mantra used by executives trying to be hip — and impress young trophy wives’ friends — by financing politically correct boondoggles with shareholders’ money.

But to a new generation of entrepreneurs, there’s no conflict between capitalism and compassion. Google’s philanthropy is the logical extension of a doing-well-by-doing-good strategy followed by companies like Ben and Jerry’s, Starbucks and REI. The movement’s philosopher is John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods.
Mackey is a passionate environmentalist, an advocate of animal rights, a promoter of sustainable development — and a self-proclaimed libertarian. Call him a bleeding-heart libertarian. He wants to spread the free-market gospel, but he sees an obstacle.

“Corporations are lifting billions of people out of poverty,” he says. “Why are they so hated?”

Mackey’s answer is that capitalism has a branding problem: its practitioners are experts at marketing everything except their own system. They justify corporate philanthropy, like donating to the United Way, not because it’s virtuous but because it buys public good will and thus contributes to the company’s bottom line. To hard-core free-marketeers, the corporation’s only mission is to generate profits for shareholders.

To Mackey, that’s too narrow a vision. He thinks that socially conscious companies like Whole Foods have flourished because their founders, employees and customers want a corporation to have grander goals than enriching shareholders. Mackey defines his company’s mission as improving the health and well-being of everyone on the planet. Before taking the company public, he told investors that he was going to devote 5 percent of the profits to philanthropy, so they can’t complain now that he’s robbing them.

Nor can Google’s shareholders, because its founders also warned investors of their philanthropic plans. As Katie Hafner reported in The Times, they’ve given $1 billion in seed money to Google.org, and set up the philanthropy as a for-profit organization so it can work with venture capitalists, start companies and use any profits to finance further endeavors. One of its first projects is developing a car that gets 100 miles per gallon.

It’s smart of Google’s founders to try using capitalist tools to save the planet; the market’s discipline should keep their philanthropy from backing too many lost causes. Still, whatever Google.org accomplishes, I’d bet that it will pale next to the social good accomplished by Google.com.

The company’s founders may not have set out to help humanity with their search engine, but they have enriched countless lives by spreading ideas and connecting people. Maybe they’re also smart enough to come up with a way to save gasoline, but what do they know about cars that Toyota doesn’t?

If you read Adam Smith’s famous passage about the invisible hand causing capitalists to unwittingly serve the public interest, you might conclude that Google’s founders are better off investing their time and money in improving their core business. As Smith wrote, “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.”

But I don’t think Smith would have any problem with Google.org. He also realized that humans are motivated by more than self-interest. He wrote a long book on moral sentiments. If compassionate capitalism is a more appealing brand, if Google and Whole Foods are using philanthropy to strengthen the invisible hand, even Smith would say they’re doing good.

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The true entrepreneur, the grassroots capitalist, hears and then acts. Inspiration is converted into effective action.

Luke 6:46-49

Jesus said to the disciples, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house."

The process of doing just that is what we talk about at the IDEA Cafe Meetup:

I- Inspiration
D- Develop Alternatives (keep listening)
E- Evaluated Alternatives (discernment)
A- Act!

At each IDEA Cafe Meetup we hear successful entrepreneurs share their startup experience, and we do brainstorming. If you are starting a new project, a new business, a new career, or a new campaign, join us! We meet the 4th Friday of each month at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant, in Denver, and we hope to help other meetings get started in other cities. Attendance is limited to the first 12 to RSVP at http://ideacafe.meetup.com, RSVP "no" to our next meeting to get an early invitation to future meetings.

Friday, September 15, 2006

On this day
1254 - Marco Polo, Italian explorer was born(d. 1324)
1949 - The television series The Lone Ranger premieres on the ABC.
1959 - Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.
1982 - The first issue of USA Today is published by Gannett.

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Any time that OPEC got a little too overzealous in pushing up oil prices back in the 1970’s, the legendary Saudi oil minister Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani was fond of telling his colleagues: Remember, the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones.
What he meant was that the Stone Age ended because people invented alternative tools. The oil age is also not going to end because we run out of oil. It will end because the price of oil goes so high that people invent alternatives. Mr. Yamani was warning his colleagues not to get too greedy and stimulate those alternatives.
Too late — oil at $70 a barrel has done just that. One of the most promising of those alternatives is ethanol, an alcohol fuel made from corn, sugar cane or any biomass.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Is this just false hope? Yes according to a chemical engineer who visited our Optimist Club last Wednesday. He says biofuels make sense if they are produced from waste products such as Coors operation here in Denver. But there is a net energy loss when biofuels are produced from corn and other crops, according to him.

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Consider this: The United States economy is far richer and more productive than it was a generation ago. Statistics on economic growth aside, think of all the technological advances that have made workers more productive over the past generation. In 1973, there were no personal computers, let alone the Internet. Even fax machines were rare, expensive items, and there were no bar-code scanners at checkout counters. Freight containerization was still uncommon. The list goes on and on.

Yet in spite of all this technological progress, which has allowed the average American worker to produce much more, we’re not sure whether there was any rise in the typical worker’s pay. Only those at the upper end of the income distribution saw clear gains — gains that were enormous for the lucky few at the very top.
That’s why the debate over whether the middle class is a bit better off or a bit worse off now than a generation ago misses the point. What we should be debating is why technological and economic progress has done so little for most Americans, and what changes in government policies would spread the benefits of progress more widely.

Paul Krugman, New York Times

I heard Kenneth Boulding say, “The problem is the economists pie chart. There is no pie, just a bunch of damned little tarts.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_E._Boulding

The more the government tries to divide the pie evenly, the more problems that are created for the average person. Government at all levels has done a record amount of pie-slicing since 1973. The Great Society is killing the average person. Paul Krugman doesn’t understand this, so he and others keep suggesting more government programs that just dig the hole deeper.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On this day:
1886 The typewriter ribbon was patented.
1948 Groundbreaking for the United Nations Headquarters in NYC.
1965 Opening of the final sessions of Vatican II.
Born:
1940 Larry Brown, basketball coach. Denver Nuggets ’75-79, now New York Knicks.

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Labor-starved Wyoming, with its energy boom in coal, oil and natural gas, is vigorously courting workers. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/13/us/13rust.html?ex=1158379200&en=c9a97374c845f630&ei=5087%0A

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David Brooks in his NYT column today says:
I interview politicians for a living, and every time I brush against Bush I’m reminded that this guy is different. There’s none of that hunger for approval that is common to the breed. This is the most inner-directed man on the globe.
The other striking feature of (Bush) is that he possesses an unusual perception of time. Washington, and modern life in general, encourages people to think in the short term. But Bush, who stands aloof, thinks in long durations.
http://select.nytimes.com/2006/09/14/opinion/14brooks.html?th&emc=th

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Why now? Just when rumor has it that blogs are replacing books, the New York Times Best Sellers List has now created a new category for best-selling political books. Here is the most recent with a link at the bottom, I had a hard time finding it in the online edition of the paper:

September 7, 2006
THE LIST
Hardcover Political Best Sellers
1 STATE OF EMERGENCY, by Patrick J. Buchanan. (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $24.95). The conservative commentator argues that unchecked immigration means that the American Southwest is being reconquered by Mexico, and offers a border-security plan.
2 FIASCO, by Thomas E. Ricks. (The Penguin Press, $27.95.) How the Bush administration's and the military's failure to understand the developing Iraqi insurgency contributed to its further growth.
3 THE WORLD IS FLAT, by Thomas L. Friedman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30.) A columnist for The Times analyzes 21st-century economics and foreign policy.
4 THE LOOMING TOWER, by Lawrence Wright. (Knopf, $27.95.) The road to 9/11 as seen through the lives of terrorist planners and the F.B.I. counter-terrorism chief.
5 DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE, by Anderson Cooper. (HarperCollins, $24.95.) The CNN correspondent describes covering the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.
6 GODLESS, by Ann Coulter. (Crown Forum, $27.95.) The columnist argues that liberalism is a religion with sacraments, a creation myth and a clergy.
7 A HECKUVA JOB, by Calvin Trillin. (Random House, $12.95.) The humorist, essayist and novelist takes on the Bush administration in verse.
8 THE ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE, by Ron Suskind. (Simon & Schuster, $27.) The role of ideology and personality in the Bush administration's decision to go to war.
9. CONSERVATIVES WITHOUT CONSCIENCE, by John W. Dean. (Viking, $25.95.) The authoritarian character of contemporary conservative beliefs and attitudes.
10 THE SHIA REVIVAL, by Vali Nasr. (Norton, $25.95.) American foreign policy and conflicts in the middle east.
11* WITHOUT PRECEDENT: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE 9/11 COMMISSION, by Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton. The co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission tell the inside story.
12* TAKE THIS JOB AND SHIP IT, by Byron L Dorgan. (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $24.95.) The Democratic senator from South Dakota contends that what's good for corporations is not good for the U.S. economy. (dagger)

Rankings reflect aggregated sales for the two weeks ended August 26 and September 3 at almost 4,000 bookstores plus wholesalers serving 50,000 other retailers, statistically weighted to represent all such outlets nationwide. An asterisk (*) indicates that a book's sales are barely distinguishable from those of the book above. A dagger () indicates that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/07/books/bestseller/06blog-bestseller.html?_r=1&oref=login&pagewanted=print

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On this date is 1788, the Constitutional Convention set the date for our first national election and named New York City as our temporary National Capitol.

The best business calendar in Denver is now in the Denver Post:
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4307957

The Post’s business calendar now lists the Denver IDEA CafĂ©, so RSVP now if you want one of the 12 seats for next week’s startup workshop.
http:// ideacafe.meetup.com/1/events/5097107 .

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By this time next year, the U.S. economy will face a recession that will drag the Colorado economy down with it in 2008, U.S. Bank regional economist Tucker Hart Adams predicted Tuesday.
http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4327480


I have a friend in corporate sales. Recently I asked him how the economy was affecting his business. His reply: "I refuse to participate in the recession! I've done some of my best work during the worst economic conditions. A poor economy simply gives people a good excuse for failure." He is an example of action, not overthinking. He loves economic slowdowns. "The stock market taking a dive is a good kick in the rear for business. It's a chance to slim down and get rid of the fat that we should have been trimming all along."
http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/stories/2001/08/27/editorial2.html

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving. William Shakespeare

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are. John Wooden

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On this day in 1954 the TV show Lassie aired for the first time.

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Many small-business applications that fly under the radar, widely unknown to larger businesses. Limited budgets and other priorities mean that a large variety of products do not receive enough attention.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/12/business/smallbusiness/12soft.html?adxnnl=1&ref=smallbusiness&adxnnlx=1158066199-zUzNhNHqbt9Ya14KrKMD2A


Small Business Internet Tools:
http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/hotresources.shtml

The problem is knowing which tools to pick. I've put off using Constant Contact for over a year because I'm afraid my emails will get screened out more when I mail to my e-newsletter list.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Closing in on the Future of Higher Education

From Institutional Performance:

Secretary Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education recently released its third-draft report (08/03/2006)...The leading sentence in the current report's third recommendation captures succinctly and perfectly the challenge addressed by institutional performance improvement services and the premise of this blog:

"To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance."

http://institutionalperformance.typepad.com/institutional_performance/2006/08/future_of_highe.html

Here is the exact quote from the report:

3. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, higher education must change from a
system primarily based on reputation to one based on performance. We urge the
creation of a robust culture of accountability and transparency throughout higher
education. Every one of our goals, from improving access and affordability to
enhancing quality and innovation, will be more easily achieved if higher education
embraces and implements serious accountability measures.

http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports/0803-draft.pdf
"The point is not who says the words, but whether they are true or not." Plato

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is an interdisciplinary network of academicians, professionals, former group members, and families who study and educate the public about social-psychological influence and control, authoritarianism, and zealotry in cultic groups, alternative movements, and other environments. Founded in 1979 as AFF (American Family Foundation), ICSA took on its current name in late 2004 to better reflect the organization's focus and increasingly international and scholarly dimensions.

ICSA, the leading professional organization concerned about cultic groups and psychological manipulation, is known for its professionalism and capacity to respond effectively to families, former and current group members, helping professionals, and scholars.

http://www.csj.org/
How to form a cult.

The Harvard Mental Health Letter
Volume 7, Number 8 February 1981,
reprinted in AFF News Vol. 2 No. 5, 1996

Abstract
Cults represent one aspect of a worldwide epidemic of ideological totalism, or fundamentalism. They tend to be associated with a charismatic leader, thought reform, and exploitation of members. Among the methods of thought reform commonly used by cults are milieu control, mystical manipulation, the demand for purity, a cult of confession, sacred science, loading the language, doctrine over person, and dispensing of existence. The current historical context of dislocation from organizing symbolic structures, decaying belief systems concerning religion, authority, marriage, family, and death, and a "protean style" of continuous psychological experimentation with the self is conducive to the growth of cults. The use of coercion, as in certain forms of "deprogramming," to deal with the restrictions of individual liberty associated with cults is inconsistent with the civil rights tradition. Yet legal intervention may be indicated when specific laws are broken.


Two main concerns should inform our moral and psychological perspective on cults: the dangers of ideological totalism, or what I would also call fundamentalism; and the need to protect civil liberties.

There is now a worldwide epidemic of totalism and fundamentalism in forms that are political, religious or both. Fundamentalism is a particular danger in this age of nuclear weapons, because it often includes a theology of Armageddon--a final battle between good and evil. I have studied Chinese thought reform in the 1950s as well as related practices in McCarthyite American politics and in certain training and educational programs. I have also examined these issues in work with Vietnam veterans, who often movingly rejected war related totalism; and more recently in a study of the psychology of Nazi doctors.

Certain psychological themes which recur in these various historical contexts also arise in the study of cults. Cults can be identified by three characteristics:

a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
a process I call coercive persuasion or thought reform;
economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.
Milieu Control
The first method characteristically used by ideological totalism is milieu control: the control of all communication within a given environment. In such an environment individual autonomy becomes a threat to the group. There is an attempt to manage an individual's inner communication. Milieu control is maintained and expressed by intense group process, continuous psychological pressure, and isolation by geographical distance, unavailability of transportation, or even physical restraint. Often the group creates an increasingly intense sequence of events such as seminars, lectures and encounters which makes leaving extremely difficult, both physically and psychologically. Intense milieu control can contribute to a dramatic change of identity which I call doubling: the formation of a second self which lives side by side with the former one, often for a considerable time. When the milieu control is lifted, elements of the earlier self may be reasserted.

Creating a Pawn
A second characteristic of totalistic environments is mystical manipulation or planned spontaneity. This is a systematic process through which the leadership can create in cult members what I call the psychology of the pawn. The process is managed so that it appears to arise spontaneously; to its objects it rarely feels like manipulation. Religious techniques such as fasting, chanting and limited sleep are used. Manipulation may take on a special intense quality in a cult for which a particular chosen' human being is the only source of salvation. The person of the leader may attract members to the cult, but can also be a source of disillusionment. If members of the Unification Church, for example, come to believe that Sun Myung Moon, its founder, is associated with the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, they may lose their faith. Mystical manipulation may also legitimate deception of outsiders, as in the "heavenly deception" of the Unification Church and analogous practices in other cult environments. Anyone who has not seen the light and therefore lives in the realm of evil can be justifiably deceived for a higher purpose. For instance, collectors of funds may be advised to deny their affiliation with a cult that has a dubious public reputation.

Purity and Confession
Two other features of totalism are a demand for purity and a cult of confession. The demand for purity is a call for radical separation of good and evil within the environment and within oneself. Purification is a continuing process, often institutionalized in the cult of confession, which enforces conformity through guilt and shame evoked by mutual criticism and self-criticism in small groups.

Confessions contain varying mixtures of revelation and concealment. As Albert Camus observed, "Authors of confessions write especially to avoid confession, to tell nothing of what they know." Young cult members confessing the sins of their precultic lives may leave out ideas and feelings that they are not aware of or reluctant to discuss, including a continuing identification with their prior existence. Repetitious confession, especially in required meetings, often expresses an arrogance in the name of humility. As Camus wrote: "I practice the profession of penitence to be able to end up as a judge," and, "The more I accuse myself, the more I have a right to judge you."

Three further aspects of ideological totalism are "sacred science," "loading of the language," and the principle of "doctrine over person." Sacred science is important because a claim of being scientific is often needed to gain plausibility and influence in the modern age. The Unification Church is one example of a contemporary tendency to combine dogmatic religious principles with a claim to special scientific knowledge of human behavior and psychology. The term loading the language' refers to literalism and a tendency to deify words or images. A simplified, cliche-ridden language can exert enormous psychological force reducing every issue in a complicated life to a single set of slogans that are said to embody the truth as a totality. The principle of doctrine over person' is invoked when cult members sense a conflict between what they are experiencing and what dogma says they should experience. The internalized message of the totalistic environment is that one must negate that personal experience on behalf of the truth of the dogma. Contradictions become associated with guilt: doubt indicates one's own deficiency or evil.

Perhaps the most significant characteristic of totalistic movements is what I call "dispensing of existence." Those who have not seen the light and embraced the truth are wedded to evil, tainted, and therefore in some sense, usually metaphorical, lack the right to exist. That is one reason why a cult member threatened with being cast into outer darkness may experience a fear of extinction or collapse. Under particularly malignant conditions, the dispensing of existence is taken literally; in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and elsewhere, people were put to death for alleged doctrinal shortcomings. In the People's Temple mass suicide-murder in Guyana, a cult leader presided over the literal dispensing of existence by means of a suicidal mystique he himself had made a central theme in the group's ideology. The totalistic impulse to draw a sharp line between those who have the right to live and those who do not is especially dangerous in the nuclear age.

Historical Context
Totalism should always be considered within a specific historical context. A significant feature of contemporary life is the historical (or psycho historical) dislocation resulting from a loss of the symbolic structures that organize ritual transitions in the life cycle, and a decay of belief systems concerning religion, authority, marriage, family, and death. One function of cults is to provide a group initiation rite for the transition to early adult life, and the formation of an adult identity outside the family. Cult members have good reasons for seeing attempts by the larger culture to make such provisions as hypocritical or confused.

In providing substitute symbols for young people, cults are both radical and reactionary. They are radical because they suggest rude questions about middle-class family life and American political and religious values in general. They are reactionary because they revive pre-modern structures of authority and sometimes establish fascist patterns of internal organization. Furthermore, in their assault on autonomy and self-definition some cults reject a liberating historical process that has evolved with great struggle and pain in the West since the Renaissance. (Cults must be considered individually in making such judgments. Historical dislocation is one source of what I call the "protean style." This involves a continuous psychological experimentation with the self, a capacity for endorsing contradictory ideas at the same time, and a tendency to change one's ideas, companions and way of life with relative ease. Cults embody a contrary restricted style,' a flight from experimentation and the confusion of a protean world. These contraries are related: groups and individuals can embrace a protean and a restricted style in turn. For instance, the so-called hippie ethos of the 1960s and 1970s has been replaced by the present so-called Yuppie preoccupation with safe jobs and comfortable incomes. For some people, experimentation with a cult is part of the protean search.

The imagery of extinction derived from the con temporary threat of nuclear war influences patterns of totalism and fundamentalism throughout the world. Nuclear war threatens human continuity itself and impairs the symbols of immortality. Cults seize upon this threat to provide immortalizing principles of their own. The cult environment supplies a continuous opportunity for the experience of transcendence -- a mode of symbolic immortality generally suppressed in advanced industrial society.

Role of Psychology
Cults raise serious psychological concerns, and there is a place for psychologists and psychiatrists in understanding and treating cult members. But our powers as mental health professionals are limited, so we should exercise restraint. When helping a young person confused about a cult situation, it is important to maintain a personal therapeutic contract so that one is not working for the cult or for the parents. Totalism begets totalism. What is called deprogramming includes a continuum from intense dialogue on the one hand to physical coercion and kidnapping, with thought-reform-like techniques, on the other. My own position, which I have repeatedly conveyed to parents and others who consult me, is to oppose coercion at either end of the cult process. Cults are primarily a social and cultural rather than a psychiatric or legal problem. But psychological professionals can make important contributions to the public education crucial for dealing with the problem. With greater knowledge about them, people are less susceptible to deception, and for that reason some cults have been finding it more difficult to recruit members.

Yet painful moral dilemmas remain. When laws are violated through fraud or specific harm to recruits, legal intervention is clearly indicated. But what about situations in which behavior is virtually automatized, language reduced to rote and cliche, yet the cult member expresses a certain satisfaction or even happiness? We must continue to seek ways to encourage a social commitment to individual autonomy and avoid coercion and violence.

Robert Jay Lifton, M.D. is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His most recent book, written with Erik Markuson, is The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi Holocaust and Nuclear Threat (New York, Basic Books, 1990) .

This article was originally published in The Harvard Mental Health Letter, Volume 7, Number 8, February 1981 and was reprinted with permission in AFF News, Vol. 2, No. 5, 1996.