Cults and New Religious Movements culminates a three-year project by the Committee on Psychiatry and Religion of the American Psychiatric Association. Its editor, Marc Galanter, is a household name to psychiatrists interested in religious, cultic, and secular charismatic healing groups. The contributors are not limited to Committee members, and several are laypersons— psychologists, social scientists, and attorneys. Perspectives, interpretations, and attitudes are diverse. As Galanter (p xiv) says, this allows readers to weigh, sift, and form their own conclusions.
The book treats a number of topics in 16 chapters. The social context is discussed by Galanter ("Cults and New Religious Movements"), E. M. Pattison and R. C. Ness ("New Religious Movements in Historical Perspective"), and H. Work ("Contemporary Youth: Their Psychological Needs and Beliefs"). The impact of membership is covered by S. V. Levine ("Life in the Cults"), D. A. Halperin ("Families of Cult Members: Consultation and Treatment"), and B.