Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Drawing on structured interviews and psychometric tests of eighteen leaders of charismatic groups in New Zealand, and extensive readings of biographies of prophets, psychologist Oakes delineates five life stages and a dozen personality traits of prophets. He also offers a naturalistic explanation of the prophet's charisma. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815627005
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
1 Introduction 1
2 Charisma 25
3 Stage One: Early Narcissism 44
4 Stage Two: Incubation 74
5 Stage Three: Awakening 98
6 Stage Four: Mission 114
7 The Followers and Their Quest 123
8 The Charismatic Moment 144
9 The Soul of the Prophet 165
10 Stage Five: Decline or Fall? 176
11 Conclusions 185
App. A On Theory and Method 199
App. B Leaders and Groups Studied 213
Works Cited 215
Index 235
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