News and Updates

The Heaven’s Gate Tragedy–The 20th Anniversary of an American Doomsday Cult Disaster

2018-12-16T20:52:57-04:00March 23rd, 2017|Blog, Current Events, Media Reviews, News and Updates|

On March 26, 1997, the bodies of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were discovered by police. Poisoned, and with plastic bags over their heads, these victims of cult mind control were forever lost to their friends and families. This story, which gained worldwide attention, illustrates just how dangerous undue influence can be and I used them as an example in my books. I was on NBC's Today Show and Dateline that week, and a slew of other media as the world wanted to understand about doomsday cults. It was during that week of media frenzy that I watched [...]

Asperger’s/ Autism Spectrum Disorder and Undue Influence

2019-02-13T13:26:27-04:00March 7th, 2017|Blog, News and Updates, Resources and Support|

Artwork (used with permission) by Benyamin Wurmfeld, a member of the AANE Artists Collaborative Over two decades ago, a family asked me for help with a young woman who was being recruited into Kip McKean's shepherding/discipleship group called the Boston Church of Christ*. This case was particularly interesting because the young woman I was told had Asperger's Syndrome (currently subsumed under Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the DSM V). She had not been through the "counting the costs" indoctrination at that time. She hadn't been baptized yet and was open to meeting with me and learning about cult mind [...]

My Appearance on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, and Other Updates

2018-12-16T21:11:33-04:00January 20th, 2017|Blog, News and Updates|

2017 is off to an exciting start! This Tuesday, January 17th, A&E’s Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath aired a special Reddit AMA show that I taped the week before along with Mike Rinder, Lawrence Wright (who wrote the book Going Clear that became an HBO documentary) and attorney Ray Jeffrey. Ray successfully represented former top FLAG executive Debbie Cook and her husband in a lawsuit brought by Scientology. After Ray put Debbie Cook on the stand in open court and she started recounting the horrific abuse, Scientology wisely dropped the suit and settled for an undisclosed amount of [...]

Robert Jay Lifton MD: An Interview with a Genius

2018-12-16T20:12:24-04:00October 7th, 2016|Blog, News and Updates|

As this year marks the 40th anniversary of the day I left the Moonies, I want to take some time to acknowledge an individual who played an important role in my personal and professional development. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the famous psychiatrist and my mentor, Robert Jay Lifton. I was first introduced to Lifton’s 1961 book on brainwashing, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, during my deprogramming in May of 1976. It helped me understand that the tactics used by the Moonies to indoctrinate me were the same used by Communist China and other cults [...]

Introducing the Open Minds Foundation

2018-12-16T00:12:10-04:00August 5th, 2016|Blog, News and Updates|

I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new non-profit organization, the Open Minds Foundation (OMF). It is based both in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and will be focused on the issue of Undue Influence. Why is there a need for a new organization, one might ask? Well, the concept, which evolved over the past two years, is that there is a huge need for a trustworthy foundation, composed of former members, professionals, and activists. People recovering from cult indoctrination, domestic violence survivors and even those who escape from trafficking situations all have one [...]

An Introduction to Steve Guziec

2018-12-16T20:42:20-04:00July 8th, 2016|Blog, Guest Blogs, News and Updates|

Guest Blog by Steve Guziec Update: As of January 2018, Steve Guziec is no longer working with Freedom of Mind Resource Center. He wished to take his life in a new direction and we wish him the very best in his academic and life pursuits. I'm so excited to be working with Steven Hassan and the Freedom of Mind team. It's a wonderful cause and a truly worthwhile line of work. As someone who understands just what it's like to be involved in a cult, I am often asked to share my story. So, here it is. I was [...]

My Waking Up Day- 40 Years Later- I am Filled with Gratitude!

2018-12-16T21:01:22-04:00May 11th, 2016|Blog, News and Updates|

A recent photo of Gladys Gonzalez, myself, and Nestor Garcia M.D. May 11th 1976 was the day. After five days of deprogramming, I “woke up” and emerged from being a “model Moonie” and leader to a very upset, confused, angry, ashamed self. A team of four people hired by my parents: Nestor Garcia, Michael Strom, Gladys Gonzalez, and Gary Rosenberg* worked together until I “snapped” from my fanatical involvement in the Moon cult and allowed a doubt to surface. The rest is history. Nestor, Michael, and Gladys were all former Moonies themselves. Gary was not but played [...]

An Invitation from Jon Atack to a Course and Conference on Scientology in Toronto!

2018-12-16T21:11:57-04:00April 29th, 2015|Blog, Guest Blogs, News and Updates|

From June 22 through 26th Tyndale University College and Seminary, in Toronto, will host a course and conference on Scientology, planned and directed by Professor James Beverley and me. Jim and I have been friends for four years and have worked toward this event for some time. Our course and conference promises to be the most in-depth and wide-ranging course or conference ever held on Scientology. I intend to withdraw from Scientology related work after this event. We will cover all aspects of the cult with the help of some of the leading experts – former members, academics and [...]

HBO Going Clear Press Release

2018-12-16T21:12:18-04:00March 18th, 2015|Blog, News and Updates|

Press Release Boston, March 18, 2015 The HBO movie “Going Clear” has ruffled Scientology’s feathers while also whetting people’s appetite for answers to significant questions–not least–why people get involved and indoctrinated into destructive cults? Cult expert Steve Hassan says, “Alex Gibney’s sobering movie has likely opened the floodgates to a public examination of destructive cults.” Former scientologist “Spanky” Taylor, who is featured in the documentary, states, “Although it took years for me to seek out professional help in recovering from my cult experience, I was grateful for the works of Robert Lifton, Margaret Singer, and particularly Steven Hassan in [...]

Child-Friendly Faith Project Conference November 8, 2013

2018-12-16T19:41:24-04:00September 9th, 2013|Blog, News and Updates|

When Janet approached me with her book, Breaking Their Will, and the Child-Friendly Faith Project http://childfriendlyfaith.org/, she asked me to join the Board of Advisors which I happily agreed to do. The Child-Friendly Faith Project (CFFP) http://childfriendlyfaith.org/ is a non-profit organization focused on ending child abuse and neglect within religion affiliated groups by educating the public on the impact that these religious, cultural, and spiritual beliefs have on children. CFFP is holding a conference November 8th in Austin, TX to help educate the public on child maltreatment within religious organizations. There will be a variety of experts in attendance [...]