One of the fascinating things about cults in the method by which they turn perfectly functioning social people into members of their institutions.
Imagine that you are a social only person. What you understand about the world are the relations between people and institutions, and your place within that web. People are the sum of the clothes and jobs and cars and utterances that they make. I see socail people as behaviourists who internalize outside structures to fit themselves into them where they would like (if they have any freewill that is). Note that these people do not build a psychological person inside them. What is inside them is merely epiphenomenal -- resultant from the processes they use socially.
Now imagine that you lack a sense of confidence, or of self-worth, or of causal efficacy. etc.
Along comes an institution that allows you to join it. The people higher up in the institution are all very successful looking to you, a person with low self-esteem. They appear well-dressed, well-spoken, and coming into their own in a competitive world. You want to be like htem. That is a social position you would value having.
So far normal. Imagine next though that this institution uses more than the social sturcture and worldly success to make these higher up people look successful. Imagine that it uses psychological tools and tactics on previously social only people to transform them into what seem to be confident people. Remember, they feed on social people with low self-esteem. So the people higher up in the structure started there too. How did they vhange how they look? The institution used psychological tactics, and offered social progress if and when the psychological stuff was absorbed appropriately.
They might offer power speaking classes. They might try to teach you how to dress better, or how to shake hands well.
Essentially they treat a low grade social person as an unformatted -- and undefended -- psychological person, and throw in some social perks like status hierarchies and new cars.
Social people wihtout confidence simply do not know that there is a different way to be a person entirely, the psychological way. And so they are not in any way defended from people or institutions who transmit on this level. Now you have a cult.
Cults can work in the reverse direction, offering fucked-up psychological people some social status. These days though the first type is prominent. Why? These days, children are being raised with a lot of social conscience, and very little self-awareness. Our children today are social people.