Montell doesn’t examine cults through the voyeuristic or sensational lens often generated by The Vow, Wild, Wild Country, and other recent docuseries. Rather than participating in the spectacle from the safe distance of a living room, Cultish is deliberately unsentimental and research based, which allows Montell to humanize those in the clutches of a cult. As she points out in the book, the idea that humans can be literally brainwashed is a myth that overlooks the incredible power of mental and emotional coercion. No one is entirely immune to succumbing to charismatic leadership, though some people are more susceptible due to childhood trauma, economic status, and a host of other factors.