Not physical violence, you understand, but emotional. I don’t know how these sects form; either around someone who needs obedience and affirmation and attracts those who want to give it in exchange for certainty and simplicity, or around an individual who – for whatever reason finds himself (or more rarely herself) ‘in charge’ and develops a taste for adulation. Or other ways. Around ideologies too, of course, be they Christian/Islamic one, or Marxist or whatever.
But good people get caught up. And because of the hothouse nature of the belief and actions, and because also of natural attrition, (“normal” friends fall away over time – they move, they can’t cope with the monomaniacal nature of the sect member’s conversation) sooner or later the overlap between the person’s social circle and the sect is absolute.. And then there is a Split. Or two or three. And before you know it, good people, with good hearts, are living lonely lives.
I knew a woman once, her name was Nancy, a concert pianist married to a violinist. Somehow she and her husband became involved with a tyrannical Trotskyite group that forbade its members to partake of bourgeois pleasures of any description. Apparently Nancy succumbed to an impulse to by… a dinner set. She was expelled by the group, and her husband divorced here. The last time I saw Nancy, she was driving a bus and had a beaten-down air about her.
Page 99 of Trouble by Kate Jennings (Black Inc, 2010)