“Holy Hell” and the
Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders
How My Years in a Notorious Cult
Parallel Today’s Cultural Mania
Radhia Gleis went on a quest for nirvana and instead found herself entangled in a destructive cult. For those tempted to judge cult followers as weak-minded and gullible, she has a new book that aims to shatter those assumptions.
“I’m neither stupid nor uneducated. So how is it that I could go for so long being manipulated like that? It has a lot to do with what you want and what you’re looking for,” Gleis shared in a recent interview.
A nutritionist, biochemical analyst and educator, Gleis spent 25 years under the influence of the charismatic leader of the Buddha-field cult. How followers can so easily disregard reality and fall for the seduction of narcissistic leaders forms the foundation of her powerful exposé, The Followers: “Holy Hell” and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders: How My Years in a Notorious Cult Parallel Today’s Cultural Mania.
“Narcissists have one goal, and that is to serve themselves and their insatiable appetite for self-aggrandizement, by whatever means possible, with no regard to ethics,” she writes in the book.
In The Followers, she masterfully draws parallels between cult dynamics and the characteristics of current political and cultural leaders; social media; and the press. Gleis says her post-traumatic stress, forever entombed in her psyche, is repeatedly triggered by events surrounding today’s political divide, prompting her to explore her past decisions through a much broader lens that sheds light on the blind spots — and dangers — of groupthink.
The Followers lays the groundwork by skimming Gleis’ upbringing in Hollywood and tracing the steps of her life when, at age 14, she began to crave a deeper sense of spirituality. She spent the next 12 years searching for nirvana, and at age 26, she found what she thought she had been searching for. Gleisdraws strong parallels between her devotion to a cult leader — an authority — whose damaging behavior and influence she willfully ignored, and the followers of other narcissistic authorities.She goes into detail about the characteristics of narcissists and explains the “feedback loop” that sustains the disciple-narcissist dynamic.
Gleis weaves together her personal experiences with reflections on a number of thought-provoking topics, including the search for a higher truth, cults, groupthink and mind control, authoritarian leaders, malignant narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy, the American schism, and how an intelligent, well-educated person may find herself under the control of a narcissistic sociopath.
Author Radhia Gleis won First Place in the Nonfiction – Autobiography genre in this year’s PenCraft Book Awards for The Followers. She has earned a4:4 star rating on Good Reads.com. She was featured in the internationally viewed movie Holy Hell, which was broadcast on CNN and named one of Sundance Film Festival’s and Netflix’s top 10 documentaries. It can now be viewed on Amazon Prime.
Gleis delves deeply into politics, revealing parallels with narcissistic cult leaders and political leaders of today. She courageously calls out names and cites historical records, delving deeply into the background of people who believe what they want to believe regardless of facts. Gleis speaks of the out-of-control internet, social networks, and news media, stating that “platforms (are) popping up everywhere like a cyber cockroach infestation.” The Followers: “Holy Hell” and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders, stands as a definitive narrative of cult existence carefully compiled and sometimes downright horrifying. -Carole W., AuthorsReading.com