Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Joe Noe

Second Advisor

Dr. Colin Charlton

Third Advisor

Dr. Rob Johnson


Through my analysis of memoirs of former cult members, a pattern of rhetorical coercive techniques grounded in the theories of Kenneth Burke and Chaim Perelman surfaces. Burke’s theory of identification presents an explanation of why group members believe they share the same interests as the group. Perelman’s theory of disassociation explains why the group believes outrageous statements made. Perelman’s theory of presence explains why it is impossible to logically express any concerns within the group. The simultaneous existence of all three theories renders a powerful blow to the human psyche. The identity of the member is so shattered, that they cannot recover. After establishing an archetype, we explore how to undo the damage perpetrated by the cult. Memoir has the potential to play an integral role in the establishment of a new identity that is separate from the cult mindset.


Copyright 2015 Devan Leigh Lemke. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American