Steven Hassan, PhD (pronounced /hɑːsɪn/), is an expert on Undue Influence, brainwashing and unethical hypnosis and author of the best-selling book, Combating Cult Mind Control.
He is a licensed mental health professional, cult expert and undue influence expert with professional experience in the United States and abroad including consulting, coaching speaking, media appearances, activism, writing, researching, teaching, intervention and recovery services, and expert consulting and witness work to assist individuals and families with problems related to undue influence.
His expertise includes undue influence in cases of destructive one-on-one relationships, families, parental alienation, mini-cults, religious cults, therapy and self-improvement groups, professional abuse, institutional abuse, corporations, multi-level marketing, political groups, human trafficking, hate and violent extremism, and other situations. He writes and speaks out about the importance of viewing terrorist groups as destructive cults.
He has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence. With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence by controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member who was deprogrammed in 1976 and as a clinical professional who has devoted his life to helping others.
Steven Hassan is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives. Steven pioneered the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal intervention alternative for families to help cult members. The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult. He is also the creator of the BITE and Influence Continuum models for the assessment of controlling individuals and groups.
He is the author of several books, book chapters, a peer-reviewed journal article, other articles and blogs. His books are Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (1988, 1990, 2015, 2018), Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (2000) and Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults & Beliefs (2012, 2013). The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control (2019) is his new book with Simon and Schuster. Steven is a translated author with published books available in 9 languages.
He is also the co-developer of Ending the Game, a non-coercive curriculum designed to educate and empower sex trafficking victims to leave pimps and traffickers.
Steven Hassan earned his doctorate at Fielding University doing quantitative research on the factors of control that characterize undue influence. He published his first peer-reviewed journal article in Ethics, Medicine and Public Health (2019) 8,97-107 in Elsevier Masson France and available at sciencedirect.com. His faculty supervisor was Dr. Judy Stevens-Long. Steven Hassan is an active member of The Program in Psychiatry and the Law (PIPATL), a think tank at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Michael Commons, research director for PIPATL invited Steven Hassan to create a DARE division, Freedom from Undue Influence, in order to help facilitate this research.
Steven Hassan’s work has received praise from academic luminaries such as Robert Jay Lifton, Philip Zimbardo, Robert Cialdini, Anthony Pratkanis as well as clinical experts such as Daniel Brown, Judith Herman, Mary McCarthy and others.
For decades he has shared his knowledge with Boston area graduate school students. Since 2018, he has been a teacher of an elective course for 4th year psychiatry students at the Harvard Longwood Residency Training Program. In 2017, he was the presenter of a Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Undue Influence: An Introduction to Destructive Cults, Mind Control, Brainwashing and Deprogramming. His first Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Grand Rounds presentation was in 2003. In 2016, he was the presenter of a Psychiatry Grand Rounds at Boston University School of Medicine. Since 2016, he has been an instructor for the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop. Since 1999, he has been an invited presenter in the course Spirituality, Religion and Psychiatry in the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program.
Steven travels the United States and abroad to present plenary talks, training workshops and seminars for mental health professionals, educators, state and federal programs, and law enforcement officers, as well as for families of cult members. He has also presented two TEDxBeaconStreet talks.
He is frequently interviewed and cited in popular and academic media. Instructors have used his work as part of their course materials. He has appeared on innumerable television, radio, documentary, and podcast shows. Newspapers, magazines and other media all over the world have sought his expertise.
Steven is an active advocate for updates to the legal system’s understanding and assessment of coercive control and undue influence.