“Steven Hassan is one of our most eloquent defenders of freedom of the mind. For decades he has labored mightily on behalf of the majesty of the human spirit. His good work has brought psychological and spiritual relief to countless victims and families across the globe who have unknowingly stumbled into the clutches of mind control perpetrators. As a spokesperson for the ordinary individual’s right to be the master of his or her own thoughts and choices, Hassan has survived the dangers and threats manufactured by manipulators who have sought to silence his courage. His new book will bring special hope for current victims, but it should be read by anyone who values the privacy and sanctity of his or her own personality.”
Alan W. Scheflin, Professor of Law; Santa Clara University, Coauthor of The Mind Manipulators and Memory, Trauma Treatment, and the Law; Recipient of sixteen awards in the fields of mental health and human rights.
"As a psychiatrist who has for years called on Steve Hassan for his experience with cults and for his help teaching our psychiatry residents about them, I found this latest book as strategic and courageous as its predecessors, but more comprehensive and practical. Its answers to frequently asked questions, case studies, and suggested ways of working through possible scenarios will be especially valuable in giving those affected by controlling groups a realistic reason for hope."
John Peteet, M.D. psychiatrist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston
"Freedom of Mind is the book for educating the public about what makes us vulnerable to social influence and what can be done about that. Easy to digest, practical and based on years of experience, Hassan takes the fear that grips the average person when they hear the word cult and breaks it down into bite sized pieces. Step by step simple explanations about what makes us susceptible to cultish manipulation removes the darkness of ignorance and drains the fear. He shows us how to restore the loving humanness of relationships with hope and helpful advice to teach critical thinking and strengthen one's identity, safeguards against undue and destructive social influences".
November 10, 2012
Julie Linden, Psychologist and President The International Society of Hypnosis(ISH)
"I am a professor who teaches a class on brainwashing and modern techniques of mind control in the History of Science department at Harvard University. My background is as a researcher who has written about the twentieth-century history of experiments in behavioral engineering; while doing research for my Ph.D., I came across historical links between the behaviorist experts I was writing about and the scientific programs assigned to investigate “coercive interrogation” during the Cold War. I grew interested in how “brainwashing” emerged into American public consciousness as a threat during the Korean War (see “The Manchurian Candidate” for a popular depiction), and how cults described in the literature of the 1970s and 80s mimicked some of the mechanisms described as operating in brainwashing during the earlier period. In my class, in addition to learning about forceful indoctrination, we also discuss “soft brainwashing” as employed in advertising, marketing, reality TV, and the Internet. Steve Hassan has visited my class twice as a guest lecturer (this year and in a past year). Each time his lecture was enthusiastically received. The students were most interested to hear about his first-hand experience with cult recruitment; in particular, they had many questions about his experience of being indoctrinated into a belief without his full knowledge or understanding of what had happened. His analysis of the effects of brainwashing methods on the "self" was riveting. Students also were eager to hear about his work counseling people to move away from cults, and his discussion of exit-counseling methods. Overall, I found Hassan’s work and approach to be a uniquely valuable contribution to our understanding of a subject — brainwashing and mind control in the twentieth century — well deserving of intensive study."
Dr. Rebecca Lemov Associate Professor of the History of Science &
Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University
"Steven Hassan is a liberator. He frees peoples minds from the enslavement of cults and he does it with clarity, honesty and deep understanding of the human spirit. Freedom of Mind is a very important book."
Rabbi David Wolpe Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, author of “Why Faith Matters”
“When I was growing up with a guru in the house, I wish I had access to someone like Steve Hassan. He just knows more about this than anyone else. He is wise, compassionate, fair and effective. I loved this new book. Read it and listen to him!”
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Author of When Elephants Weep, Against Therapy and My Father’s Guru
“The essence of Steve Hassan’s work is the liberation of the human potential in all of us. Can anyone of us be really free when others are enslaved? Steve’s emphatic “no” to this agonizing question makes Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs, a vibrant tool for so many of us in the helping professions. As a rabbi and teacher, I am always inspired by Steve Hassan’s integrity and determination. Let it continue for many years.”
Moshe Waldoks, Ph.D. Rabbi, Temple Beth Zion, Brookline, MA and Author of The Big Book of Jewish Humor
“With Freedom of Mind, Steve Hassan has provided a reasoned, principled, and highly readable approach to attacking a serious social problem. We need this book!”
Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. Author of Influence, Founder of Influenceatwork.com
“When Steve Hassan was still a high ranking member in the Unification Church, I participated in an unsuccessful voluntary deprogramming of my daughter, Barbara. For two days the team leader pounded at the cult member and her group. Deliberately, he insulted them using bathroom language on the theory that the cult member would ‘snap.’ We failed. As she returned to her group the cultist remarked, “Where was the love?” If the team leader and the cult member had had the opportunity to read Hassan’s Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs, the results might have been quite different. Hassan has skillfully condensed his more than 36 years of experience in liberating members of destructive groups into a valuable workbook for counselors, cult members and their families, and mental health professionals. His formula, the Strategic Interactive Approach, stresses love, respect, freedom of choice, customized planned action fitted to the individual with the family as key participants, psychotherapy, and applied social psychology.”
Arthur A. Dole, Ph.D, ABPP. Emeritus Professor, Former Member Board of Directors International Cultic Studies Association
When I picked up/ordered Freedom of Mind from Amazon in July (2012), I did so after having met a woman who had been in a cult for years when seeing a book by Steve Hassan in a bookstore window became the catalyst for her exit to a free existence. She spoke highly of Hassan and his other books, and told me he had a new book, Freedom of Mind.
I approached the book as a psychotherapist and as anyone fascinated by mind control, perhaps so frequently discussed in terms of celebrities--more recently related to Scientology in particular.
Two things are special in this highly accessible book, in that they stood out for me.
One is that there is incredible empathy for cult members and their loved ones. Hassan is clear and careful to mention that even members of cults can have authentic parts of their personalities wrapped up in their cult identity--something which makes it a terrible mistake to express only hate or disdain for the cult. An attachment to a cult is deep and needs to be handled collaboratively. As such both the suggestions and the tone in the book can indeed be of incredible help to people trying to help people in a cult or even an addiction to a destructive codependency or religious sect that allows no freedom of thought.
Secondly and surprisingly, I found the book relevant to my own life as a therapist and also as a parent. The book evoked stong recognition of some of the more subtle elements in the parts of separation from our kids that can be tough, especially when we realize how critical some of us can be of our kids' choices--even when we thought it would never happen to "us", Not to be too personal, let me just say I found it helpful in unexpected ways.
So the recommendation would be enthusiastic for anyone interested, either in helping oneself or others escape from dangerous enslavement psychologically and physically, and also for anyone interested in the dynamics of freedom and the lack thereof. At a time of so much information coupled with so much manipulation of us all, Freedom of Mind is more needed than ever.
Carol Smaldino, MSW author of In the Midst of Parenting: A Look at the Real Dramas and Dilemmas (Brooklyn Girl Books, 2000)
“Freedom of Mind is a compassionate and intelligent guide for anyone who has ever been caught up in a cult or cult-like organization. Hassan offers perceptive and non-coercive guidance to family and friends of those whose idealism or vulnerability has led them to become cult members. Further, the book provides valuable insights into the control and manipulation that can occur in abusive personal relationships such as those experienced by battered women. It is a vital tool for professionals and laypersons alike.”
Peter R. Breggin, M.D. Author of Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime
“Three decades ago, Steve was the most significant innovator of exit-counseling. His first book was the best general introduction to the subject, but rather than resting on his laurels, he continued to expand his thinking, to our great benefit. This book represents an even better approach to indoctrination and exploitative persuasion. Steve is one of a handful of true experts on the terrible problems posed by destructive groups. It has been my good fortune to know him these many years and I can attest that his integrity and courage are unswerving, despite the extreme pressures of such work. Anyone who has been involved should put aside the prejudices instilled by their group and read this book. For that matter, as every life is now touched by fanaticism, everyone should read and discuss the compelling ideas that Steve puts forward here.”
Jon Atack, Author A Piece of Blue Sky; Voodoo Child (Slight Return); and Waking Reason (work in progress)
This is the third book that is written by Steven Hassan and I have been fortunate enough to read them all. For almost twenty years I was a member of a destructive cult, without knowing it. Even after leaving that cult, still I didn't know that I was a member of a destructive cult under worst kind of mind manipulation. I have to thank Steven greatly as his first book opened my eyes and showed me the way out of predicament of being a member of a cult and leaving it. His book showed me the way how to deal with `paranoia' and `phobia' that we take with ourselves from the cult. How to face family and friends once more and be able to socialize with people, even strangers as a normal person, trust them and show them usual affections. I am sure Steven has helped many individuals out of the cult and has showed them the way how to deal with problems of after cult, but I feel this book will help many who have a loved one in a cult and are not fortunate enough to know people like Steven and cannot get personal assistance. Using this book they can understand their loved ones, their sufferings, their change of personality and how to face them and how to help them out of the cult, people who are not American or reside in America. Once more I love to thank him very much and applaud him for his tireless effort in helping people out of destructive cults.
Masoud Banisadr, ex-member of MeK and author of Masoud
“At the time I left the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses in New York, after having worked for $14 a month for 6 years, I was able through much inner soul-searching to extricate myself on my own. Had I possessed the information in Freedom of Mind more than likely it would have greatly shortened the amount of time spent still searching for answers. When you are the one being manipulated by controlling leadership, you are least likely to understand the motives behind that leadership, as it is carefully cloaked behind doctrine, fear and guilt. Steve’s SIA approach can give loved ones guidance on how to communicate effectively to people in cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The book may also be so helpful to those in destructive groups who are starting to question. No one can shortcut the process significantly and recover without fear of returning to the group, or of being caught up in another high-control group.”
Randall Watters, Author of “Thus Saith Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Owner of freeminds.org
“Congratulations, Steve! You have a unique guidebook here that should help free many people from the bondage of mind control. It will give hope and motivation to their many relatives and friends who feel helpless and hopeless and are desperate to discover some means of reaching their loved one. I remember the dark depressive cloud of despair that settled on me when I first heard of my son Peter’s involvement in Scientology. What a tremendous relief it was when his wife Mary Jo reassured us that he had responded positively to your counseling and had re-entered the real world.
It is good that you affirm consistently the importance of an individual’s faith — you make it clear that no Christian should fear that your methods or techniques would impact the cult member’s religious faith negatively. You are unselfishly sharing what you know with others, and encouraging them to try it. The Moonies would have undoubtedly left you alone, had they any idea what your indoctrination would eventually lead to! God works in mysterious ways.”
Joyce Farrell, Mother of ex-Scientologist
“We've known Steve Hassan personally, and his work, for over 25 years. Many times we have talked and shared information about particular gurus and cults as we are aligned in believing that healthy spirituality requires personal integrity and social responsibility. In 1989 we asked for his feedback on our booklet on gurus. He was so impressed that he said we should expand it into a book. The resulting book, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power (1993), has become a classic in helping free people from authoritarian teachers and groups. Steve Hassan has been at the forefront of investigating cults, cult behavior, and successfully deprogramming many of those ensnared. He has shown the very real dangers that cults bring to individuals and society. His dedication to freeing people from insidious mind control has been his focus for 36 years. So we are pleased to support him and his new book Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs.”
Joel Kramer & Diana Alstad, co-authors of The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power
“Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs is an important contribution to understanding the insidious threat of undue social influence and destructive cult indoctrination. It is a manual of how to ethically help people who are deeply involved to engage in a process of reality-testing and making their own independent decisions. It is highly recommended to anyone who supports freedom and celebrates creative intelligence.”
Stephen Lankton, LCSW, DAHB Author of Tools of Intention, The Answer Within, Editor-in-Chief American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis
“Steven Hassan has called upon his thirty-six years of expertise in the cult field to write this excellent, highly readable and extremely practical manual. Reading this book and implementing Hassan’s advice will help everyone affected by a mind control situation to understand and reevaluate an unhealthy involvement.”
Marcia R. Rudin, Founding Director, International Cult Education Program of the American Family Foundation, writer
“Steve Hassan was directly responsible for my exiting the Church of Scientology. I was completely inculcated and an enthusiastic adherent of the cult. I had signed away our savings, maxed out our credit cards, the down payment on our house and my kids’ college fund so that I could go ‘clear.’ I was destined to destroy my life and that of my family (two kids with twins on the way), my business, and my friends. Scientology is a particularly difficult cult. As a matter of fact, it should be called ‘The Diffi-cult.’ They do not relinquish ‘pre-clears,’ which is what I was, easily, nor do they take kindly to people who know what their actual beliefs are. Steve knew that he would have to have assistance from former Scientologists to help break through to me. He picked the best people, and he orchestrated the intervention. I knew 30 minutes into the meeting with him and the former Scientologists that I was out of the cult, but then took 4 days of counseling to understand what had happened to me and why. It is incredibly humbling and creates a new heart within you to go through that experience. Realizing that I was lied to and manipulated made it a little easier to accept what I had done. Even more, becoming educated about mind control and hypnotic events used in the ‘auditor’ sessions helped me to understand my terrible choices and responses. Whether you have a loved one who is in a cult currently, or you were in a cult and didn’t get proper assistance to understand what happened to you, Steve’s personal counseling, as well as reading his book will make all the difference in your life and your own self-image. Please do not hesitate to call on Steve if you have questions that need answers, or know people that need help.”
From the bottom of my heart,
Peter W. Farrell, DVM