My Blog

Dr. Alan Scheflin Social Evaluating Influence

Evaluating Undue Influence: Scheflin’s Model as a Framework

As a result of the January 6 attempted insurrection, over 540 suspects have been identified, and at least 440 of them have been formally charged by the Department of Justice. On April 16, 2021, the first guilty plea was entered by Jon Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers militia group. Schaffer, who is 53

Political Extremism and the Republican Party: The New Right

Just two weeks after the January 6 failed insurrection attempt, President Biden delivered his inaugural speech calling for unity and a commitment to restore the soul of America. Biden explicitly stated that we must confront and defeat the rise of “political extremism, white supremacy, [and] domestic terrorism.” The angry response by many supporters of former

Putin, Navalny, Ukraine and Russian Influence: Part Two

This is Part II of my recent conversation with Yuri Shvets and Craig Unger about American Kompromat: How the KGB Cultivated Donald Trump, and Related Tales of Sex, Greed, Power, and Treachery. Part I focused on KGB cultivation of Donald Trump as an asset and Russian influence in the 2016 US election. In our conversation, both Shvets and Unger emphasized that the United States government needs to engage

Craig Unger Yuri Shvets Russian Influence Trump

Russian Influence on Trump and World Politics: American Kompromat

My Interview With Author Craig Unger and Former KGB Agent Yuri Shvets My usual practice is to interview one person at a time and prepare a blog post based on that interview. But the opportunity to have a conversation with two people possessing such a depth of knowledge and personal experience was wonderful! The amount

QAnon Mental Health

Mental Health Diagnoses and QAnon: A Complicated Issue

On March 25, 2021, The Conversation published an article by Dr. Sophia Moskalenko entitled Many QAnon followers report having mental health diagnoses. According to this article, 68% of the QAnon followers arrested because of their involvement in the failed January 6th insurrection reported mental health diagnoses. (According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately

Dr. Barry Roth and Human Trafficking and Torture

Healing From Torture and Human Trafficking

Survivors of authoritarian cults who engage in the difficult work of regaining true sense of self and ability to think freely give inspiration to the professionals who work with them. When a person has been trapped in the most violent expressions of authoritarian control—torture and human trafficking—but still retains their dignity and integrity it is humbling.  My colleague and friend, Dr. Barry Roth, is

The Current Schism in the Catholic Church and How We Might Help

On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden became, after John F. Kennedy Jr., the second Catholic President of the United States of America. During his first days in office, Biden signed many orders designed to undo the damage caused by his predecessor. Biden, the Congress and Senate put in place funding and coordinated scientific leadership to address

Harvard Psychiatry Grand Rounds Steven Hassan

Mental Health Professionals Need to Learn How to Help People in Authoritarian Cults

Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief when Joe Biden became the 46th President on January 20, 2021. QAnon and other true believers were upset that nothing happened to change that on March 4. Over 400 people have been arrested so far and charged for their role in the failed January 6th insurrection attempt. Yet, polls indicate there are tens of millions of Americans who still believe the big lie that the election

Meghan Markle Oprah Suicide Mental Health

Mental Health Issues Including Suicidal Feelings and Authoritarianism

Oprah’s interview with Meghan Markle, watched by tens of millions worldwide, was riveting and upsetting. The topic of racism in the Royal Family (“The Firm”) needs further in-depth discussion. However, in this blog, I want to focus on Meghan’s disclosure that she felt such high levels of stress and isolation that she became suicidal. Meghan

Cancel Culture by Anyone (Left or Right) is Bad

Shunning, ex-communication, and public humiliation have been used for social conformity for most of human history. The modern versions generally fit in the categories of “calling-out” or “canceling.” The first use of these terms is not certain. Still, sometime in the early 2010s, fans of various celebrities and groups began to post on social media identifying imperfections in their idols and “calling them out” on their behaviors. Calling–out posts online increased during 2017 and 2018

The Traumatic Impact of Media Humiliation, Misrepresentation and Victim-Shaming

Public shaming and humiliation have a long history as a tactic of social control and punishment. Acknowledging the trauma of its use is not new. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, wrote in 1787 that shaming “is universally acknowledged to be a worse punishment than death.” The use of stocks and pillories on the village green began to

Psychologist Abuse? Therapist Abuse? Life Coach Abuse?

Steven Hassan and Amy Avalon Therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, life coaches, and spiritual advisors are all expected to address emotional or spiritual well-being and nurture a person’s healing and positive growth. Most of them are committed to doing just that. Unfortunately, some have darker motivations, such as a desire for power, money, or sex. Instead of using their skills to help their clients, they use undue influence to