The following post gives a stark, graphic picture of what a real cult is - and the concluding paragraph is one of the best summary definitions I've ever read. It's worth reading, particularly as we hear so many people throwing around the word "cult" to mean nothing more than "those who believe differently than I do".
Drinking the Kool-Aid: A Survivor Remembers - Jennie Rothenberg Gritz (the Atlantic)
Questing Lights: Chapter 6
3 hours ago