Creativity and Cults from Sociological and Communication Perspectives: The Processes Involved in the Birth of a Secret Creative Self


Sociology and Criminal Justice

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We employ three interrelated concepts drawn from sociology and communication theories to explore the processes involved in the birth of a secret creative self: a symbolic interactionist understanding of self, a cultural-studies understanding of power relations, and a sociological understanding of cults as total institutions. We start with the assumption that all individuals develop a creative self that expresses itself in varying degrees, dependent on different social environments. We posit that individual creativity is suppressed in cult environments, and that power dynamics that result in extreme suppression can also stimulate individuals to birth a secret creative self. As case studies supporting our hypotheses, we used our own experiences as members of two different cults: the Children of God and the Church of Scientology. We suggest that after one leaves a cult, a secret creative self (sCS) may develop into a strong creative self (SCS) that is more resistant to power dynamics outside the cult. Our findings suggest that the birth (and life) of a secret creative self in a suppressive environment such as a cult may result in a strong creative self when the individual is free of the suppression.

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Cultic Studies Review

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