Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Bounded ChoiceTrue Believers and Charismatic Cults$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Janja Lalich

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231948

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231948.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022



(p.91) CHAPTER 5 Denouement
Bounded Choice

Janja A. Lalich

University of California Press

This chapter highlights an incident that represents a major turning point in the life of the cult group Heaven's Gate. Nettles fell ill sometime in the early 1980s, a fact that was kept from most members, and died in 1985, most likely from liver cancer. After her death the changes did not appear to cause any major concerns within the core group or crises of faith among the general membership. The trauma of Nettles' death altered and threatened the group's existence but ultimately was overcome, as Applewhite proved his ability to assert his charismatic authority and reaffirm the transcendent belief system. The followers continued to remain under his control and influence. Therefore, the self-sealing system was preserved and bounded choice prevailed. Finally, in killing themselves, the group believed that they were making a logical and even ecstatic choice, given the history and context of the group to that point. This bounded choice was dictated by the same four principles seen at each stage of the cult's evolution.

Keywords:   crises of faith, charismatic authority, self-sealing system, bounded choice, evolution

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.