Book Review - The Wrong Way Home

This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1992, Volume 09, Number 1, page 122. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Book Review - The Wrong Way Home. 

A.J. Deikman. Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1990, 192 pages.

Psychiatrist Arthur Deikman's major premise is that there are cult-like behaviors in everyday life, primarily due to the search for a powerful, protective parent. This "longing" or "yearning exists in the borderlands of consciousness" and is "superimposed on people in real positions of authority, success and power" or on deities. According to Deikman, cult behavior creates "diminished realism," which he contends is more widespread than we think in the workplace, politics, therapy, and religions. We must recognize this "indwelling wish" to "gain freedom from the childhood world of vertical relationships." He cautions that it isn't easy. He presents his theory in the book's seven chapters, using two case studies (Hugh and Clara) and many examples from everyday life.

The book includes an eight-page, two-column index and nine pages of references ranging from Freud, Jung, Rogers, Erikson, Fromm, and Chomsky to Lee Iacocca, Robert McNamara, and Arthur Schlesinger. Although the references are dated (few within five years of the publication date), compared to most current cult literature, the book provides a good sampling of theory, research, and behavioral science.

Deikman omits child ritual abuse and teen and Satanic cults, which in this reviewer's experience involve more aggressive and antisocial motives than a search for a protective parent. It would have helped if the author had made reference to this darker side of cult behavior. Nevertheless, the book provides valuable insights into cult behavior from an experienced mental health professional. It is well-reasoned, easy to read, and priced right at $19.95. Highly recommended!

Frank MacHovec, Ph.D., Director

Center for the Study of the Self

Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1992