Cul de sacs have all the characteristics of a cult, as defined by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
1. Group Time
The cult: Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group related activities.
The cul de sac: Neighbors invite you to every insignificant event under the sun. Their son’s Bah mitzvah, their daughter’s Quinceanera, the lunar eclipse. Who gives a shit about lunar eclipses???
2. Exertion of Control
The cult: The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel.
The cul de sac: “Jenny, did you hear Martha is going to paint her house salmon with turquoise trim?! I refuse to look at that everyday…we need to call the homeowner’s association.
The cult: The group is elitist, claiming a special exalted status for itself.
The cul de sac: “Jenny, I LOVE our little neighborhood. Our neighbors are just so sweet. You just don’t find little communities like this anymore. Trust me, there are bad neighborhoods out there.
4. Us vs. Them
The cult: The group has a polarized us-vs-them mentality, which may cause conflict with wider society.
The cul de sac: “Jenny, who is that creepy guy in the truck. I’ve never seen him before.. Crystal! Come to mommy for a minute, sweetheart… No, don’t ask questions, just come to mommy.
The cult: The leader is not accountable to any authorities.
The cul de sac: “Hey John, if that guy speeds down our street again, I’m going to throw out a spike strip. Our kids play in this neighborhood.”