These days, fundamentalist cults seem to pop up like a case of pox across the earth. Why do so many fundamentalist cults attract and perpetrate violence? One explanation is that individuals in a post-nuclear world feel increasingly powerless and afraid. Sometimes individuals allay fear by gathering with other fearful people led by those who know how to exploit paranoia. The illusion of safety intact, they begin to plot ways to manifest and maintain their power and these ways are often violent.
Isolation amplifies the tendency toward violence within the community. When the isolation is breached, the violence can be turned on those who broke the insularity of the group.
These characteristics of a fundamentalist cult bear remarkable similarity to those of an abusive family. As with abusers who deal with daily frustrations in the world by kicking the dog or beating the spouse and/or children, the more helpless and ineffective fundamentalists feel, the more abusive they become, whether toward their own or toward outsiders. Seen from this perspective, it seems a good thing (though costly and abusive in itself) that Texas interrupted the pattern of escalating abuse in the isolated FLDS group.