What the cult diagnosis may lack in scholarly rigor, it makes up for in explanatory power. When polled, far too many Republicans come across as having abandoned their commitment to libertarianism, family values or simple logic in favor of Trump worship. They’re lost to paranoia and factually unmoored talking points, just the way Hassan was lost to Sun Myung Moon.

It can be heartbreaking when loved ones succumb to Trumpism. (It’s a double whammy when your grief is dismissed as liberal tears.) A true believer undergoes a “radical personal change,” as Hassan puts it. The person you once knew seems somehow … not there…

To see Trumpism as a cult is not to refuse to engage with its effects, the crimes committed in its name or the way it has awakened and emboldened the cruelest and most destructive beliefs and practices in the American playbook. Instead, the cult framework should relieve the pressure many of us feel to call Trumpites back to themselves, to keep arguing with them. They are stuck in a bad relationship with a controlling figure.