A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control by Steven Hassan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book will be available October 15, 2019
One of America’s leading experts in cults and mind-control provides an eye-opening analysis of Trump and the indoctrination tactics he uses to build a fanatical devotion in his supporters.
Over the past two years, Trump’s behavior has become both more disturbing and yet increasingly familiar. He relies on phrases like, “fake news,” “build the wall,” and continues to spread the divisive mentality of us-vs.-them. He lies constantly, has no conscience, never admits when he is wrong, and projects all of his shortcomings on to others. He has become more authoritarian, more outrageous, and yet many of his followers remain blindly devoted. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and a major Trump supporter, calls him one of the most persuasive people living. His need to squash alternate information and his insistence of constant ego stroking are all characteristics of other famous leaders—cult leaders.
In The Cult of Trump, mind-control and licensed mental health expert Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult. He specifically details the ways in which people are influenced through an array of social psychology methods and how they become fiercely loyal and obedient. Hassan was a former “Moonie” himself, and he draws on his forty years of personal and professional experience studying hypnosis and destructive cults, working as a deprogrammer, and a strategic communications interventionist. He emphasizes why it’s crucial that we recognize ways to identify and protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The Cult of Trump is an accessible and in-depth analysis of the president, showing that under the right circumstances, even sane, rational, well-adjusted people can be persuaded to believe the most outrageous ideas. Hassan’s book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the Trump phenomenon and looking for a way forward.
A psychological portrait of the sitting president, whom the author considers a master of mind control.
Having been a longtime member of Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church and now an apostate, Hassan (Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs, 2012, etc.), the director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, is an authority on breaking away from cults. That there is a “cult of Trump” is something he takes as given; were there not, evangelical Christians would not be allying with a man twice divorced and, by his own admission, many times adulterous, among other sins of the flesh and spirit. “Trump’s over 500 rallies are far more choreographed and stage-managed than Moon’s assemblies ever were,” writes the author, going on to examine the techniques of gaslighting and outright lying that Trump has employed from the very beginning, “influence techniques with a need for attention and control over others.” Even if one does not accept that Trump is a cult leader as such—all politicians, after all, have their core of true believers—Hassan makes it clear that he is a master of certain rhetorical devices that do not require much intelligence but speak to much practice: the repetition of words and phrases (e.g., “I’m a very stable genius, very smart”) that, through “a primarily unconscious and memory-based process,” lead the listener to think that they must be coming from more than one source and are therefore true, “crowding out analytical thinking and causing the mind to retreat into a kind of trance.” Hassan also counsels that challenging a cult member about the veracity of his or her object of veneration is bound to produce only a defensive reaction; in its place, he offers a diet that includes a good dose of healthy skepticism about what we read and hear. The author’s dark likening of Trump’s followers to those who drank poison at Jonestown is, let us hope, hyperbolic.
An argument that, though seemingly from the fringe, bears consideration as the next election cycle heats up.
Judith Stevens-Long, Ph.D.
Professor, human development
School of Human and Organizational Development
Fielding Graduate University
“This book is a fascinating tour through the ways people are recruited and retained by cults, the characteristics of cult leadership and the dimensions of undue influence. Point by point, Hassan shows how Trump and his followers meet each of the criteria that define a cult and how Trump’s childhood and rise to the presidency shaped his imperious, narcissistic style and why his followers, both in the voting public and the congress, cannot make a rational evaluation of his words and actions. This book is a must for anyone who wants to understand the current political climate.”