with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 041: Cults and Social Needs (with Alice Mottola)

May 13, 2021

What is a cult? What do people seem to mean when they use the word "cult"? Do cults always have a charismatic and/or narcissistic leader? Are cults always harmful? Are people ever really "tricked" into being in a cult? What needs are met by cults that aren't met by standard social structures? What sorts of interactions induce intimacy and/or solidarity among people?

Alice Mottola is a perpetual student with experience in writing software, directing plays, conducting social psychology research, and planning unduly elaborate parties. Her passion for creating spaces that facilitate connection is not unrelated to her long-standing interest in groups that are broadly termed "cults." She is currently pursuing a dual Master's in theology and social work at Boston University. You can email her at

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Host / Director
Spencer Greenberg

Josh Castle

Audio Engineer
Ryan Kessler

Uri Bram


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