A new book explores “cultish” language

“NSLinking “Kool-Aid,” which means undoubtedly sticking to beliefs and systems, is often used jokingly by people who are unaware of its terrible origins in the 20th-century religious community of the People’s Temple. (Guyana’s Jim Jones followers actually committed suicide by putting cyanide in another drink, Flavor Aid.) The cult also had its own internal glossary. The temple samurai celebrated the birthday of a man, Jones himself, on “Father’s Day”. “Churchism” was a Christian term observed by the American middle class. “Revolutionary suicide” was the last action of the group. Another cult, Heaven’s Gate, which ended in a mass suicide in 1997, used a similarly strange jargon.

Amanda Montel’s new book, Cartish, examines the role of language in binding people to organizations of all kinds. Groups can be ordinary workplaces, fan clubs, or circles of friends, but can also include institutions that make it difficult to get out of track and, in the worst case, cause serious harm to members. What organizations have in common is the use of enthusiastic supporters, charismatic leaders, and a unique language that helps connect everyone. The vocabulary of a close organization gives people a strong sense of belonging.

Ms. Montel easily addresses the central question of whether people will be operational after being made to use a particular lexicon. The controversial Sapia Wharf hypothesis in linguistics presupposes a causal relationship between language and thought. In its strongest form, it suggests that ideas without language labels are unthinkable. George Orwell’s “1984” destroys the very concept of “freedom,” but regular use of other labels allows people to recognize their thoughts. pattern.

But like most modern scholars of the hypothesis, Ms. Montel rejects such a notion. Some people gather the idea that they should quit their group or work after years of immersion in the islands of Colognian. The weaker and more plausible form of the idea is that the constant repetition of cult vocabulary simply pushes thoughts in one direction and away from others. This makes it difficult to escape, although it is far from impossible.

Even more interesting is her discussion of “the clichés that end thoughts” in cults and religious groups. These are circular or distracting mantras designed to avoid suspicion. Conspiracy theorists QAnon’s followers have always told suspicious people that President Donald Trump will “trust the plan” to capture the global circle of devilish pedophiles. Shambhala, a controversial Tibetan Buddhist sect, will tell those who are concerned, “Why don’t you sit with it?” Instead of talking about it. “You pulled it in” is Scientology’s reaction to the bad things in someone’s life. Such calamities should not happen to believers, so if misfortune happens, you are doing Scientology wrong.

“Cultish” frowns as it transitions to MLM through a modern belief system (MLM) Organization. Its members are often pressured to hire new employees as well as sell their products.Amway, the largest and most powerful MLM, Once called the member an “independent business owner”. The cliché that ends its own thoughts is “a good system always works”. As Ms. Montel says, modern cosmetology plans often target young women using “commoditized third-wave feminist false spiritual terminology.” These “Boss Baby” are motivated by independently related rhetoric.

Ms. Montel is also scrutinizing fitness trends such as CrossFit, a type of high-intensity training where the gym is the “box” and the trainer is the “coach.” “Uncle Rhabdo” is a nickname for rhabdomyolysis, which can be life-threatening as a result of excessive exercise and has an acronym for almost everything else.She explores online wellness gurus that spit out pseudoscientific terms such as “quantum transformation” and “your upgrade.” DNA“. Most of these services are harmless, but some of them suggest harmful treatments.

After all, Montel’s net is so wide that many readers may wonder if the group they belong to is somehow manipulating them. It may not be a cult (though if so it would certainly deny that it is a cult). However, recognizing how language is used to reroute or shut down thoughts within an organization is a powerful tool in its own right. Joining a team and willing to adopt the term is not a bad thing, as long as you are free to choose.

This article was published in the Printed Books and Arts section under the heading “Binding Terminology”.

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