Modern cults and zealous self-help movements exercise an intense group
influence and can have a major impact on their members' psychiatric status.
On the basis of research findings, the author describes the charismatic
group, a generic model for such cohesive, intensely ideological movements.
He examines the psychological forces they tap and the way they can both
relieve and exacerbate psychopathology. The model is then used to explain
the operation of zealous self-help programs that address psychiatric
syndromes; these are directed at problems of the medically ill, substance
abusers, and relatives of psychiatric patients.