Charisma

Charles Lindholm, Author Blackwell Publishers $39.95 (238p) ISBN 978-1-55786-021-7
Suspicious of charisma, Harvard anthropologist Lindholm notes that modern charismatic movements are often entwined with cultish obedience and evil. Hitler, proclaiming himself a living god, swept along his blinded minions trained in dehumanization; the Fuhrer's racist, paranoid vision engulfed an entire nation. On a lesser scale, Charles Manson's murderous ``Family'' and Jim Jones's suicidal Guyana commune embodied the destructive potential of charismatic attraction. As counterweight to these three chilling case studies, a chapter on shamanism shows that the charismatic's ``borderline'' state of fluid identity and self-loss is, in some societies, a pathway to spiritual power or healing. This wide-ranging, provocative survey is anchored in a discussion of charisma as understood by Nietzsche, Freud, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. In closing, Lindholm looks at contemporary substitutes for charismatic involvement--drugs, movie stars, sports heroes, romance, interpersonal attachments--in a culture that increasingly frustrates the desire for self-transcendence. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-55786-453-6
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