Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities
Len Oakes explores the phenomenon of cult leaders. He examines the psychology of charisma and proposes his own theory of the five-stage life cycle of the two types of prophets: the messianic and charismatic.
Often characterized by isolation, autonomy, grandiosity, and manipulativeness, Oakes maintains that the cult leader has a narcissistic personality. This individual possesses a heightened empathy, confidence, and memory, as well as autonomy and detachment - while appearing disquietingly normal most of the time.
The author has interviewed several leaders whom, he feels, exemplify the charismatic personality. He also provides insight into the behavior and personality of many well-known cult leaders such as Jim Jones, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, L. Ron Hubbard, Werner Erhard, Kathryn Kuhlman, and J. H. Noyes.
For eleven years, Oakes was a member of a charismatic communal group, during which time he simultaneously undertook his research into the psychology of charisma. His results - informed by both insider and academic viewpoints - contradicts many current accepted beliefs about cult leaders and their followers.
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