Prophetic charisma: the psychology of revolutionary religious personalities

Front Cover
Syracuse University Press, 1997 - Religion - 246 pages
3 Reviews
New religious movements -- or so-called "cults" -- continue to attract and mystify us. While mainstream America views cults as an insidious mix of apocalyptic beliefs, science fiction, and paranoia, with new vehicles such as the World Wide Web, they are becoming even more influential as the millennium approaches.Len Oakes -- a former member of such a movement -- 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.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities

User Review  - Tyler - Goodreads

Len Oakes conducts a very humanistic inquiry into the personality and psychological profile of the charismatic prophet. The book is rigorous and well researched but very engaging and readable. Oakes ... Read full review

Review: Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities

User Review  - Marcus - Goodreads

Wow. I'm going to let this one sit for awhile before giving it a full review, but this was my first book on prophetic leaders as a genre and it was a very, very interesting read. Read full review


Early Narcissism

13 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

Bibliographic information