Playing God: American Catholic Bishops and the Far Right with Mary Jo McConahay

In my talk at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on the January 6 coup attempt, I stressed that the Capitol attack was not only the result of discord created by Donald Trump; it was also fueled by various authoritarian interests that have been systematically breaking down the separation of Church and State for decades. This alarming insurrection attempt also sparked the concern of seasoned Catholic journalist Mary Jo McConahay, who observed many individuals outside the Capitol wearing crucifixes or depictions of Jesus. The violent insurrection attempt propelled her to delve into the future trajectory of the Catholic Church and write her important book, Playing God: American Catholic Bishops and the Far Right.

The Gaslight Effect: Protecting Yourself from Emotional Abuse with Dr. Robin Stern 

The term ‘gaslight effect’ was introduced by Dr. Robin Stern in her 2007 book to describe the long-term consequences of persistent gaslighting, a subtle and often hidden form of emotional abuse. Gaslighting is a devastating form of undue influence. It occurs when an individual manipulates another person by distorting, twisting, and dismissing their experiences, making them question their memories, perceptions, and reality. Gaslighting can occur in a romantic relationship, among family members, in the workplace, within mind control cults as well as by politicians. As a result of enduring gaslighting, individuals experience constant self-doubt, difficulties making decisions, and feelings of instability. I was eager to learn from Robin about her work in this area, especially regarding what people can do to protect themselves from gaslighting.  

Seventh-day Adventism, Adventist

Concerns with The Seventh Day Adventist Church with Dr. Steve Daily 

The Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) is a widely recognized Christian organization with around 20 million members worldwide. However, many of its beliefs and practices align with my BITE Model of Authoritarian Control, which causes great concern. To gain more insight into this organization, I invited Dr. Steve Daily, a former pastor of the SDA, to share his valuable personal and professional experiences.

Overcoming Sleep Challenges with Dr. Lauren Broch, Psychologist and Sleep Specialist

Sleep deprivation is one of the most common and powerful techniques for weakening psychological defenses. It is one of the most significant policies in the Behavior Control criteria of the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control. Once an individual joins a mind control cult, their sleep patterns often change dramatically. Members are frequently required to work long hours for the group or do endless chanting or hypnotic meditations through the night, drastically limiting their sleep. Cult members must prioritize the leader’s policies and goals over their personhood, leading to inadequate rest, poor nutrition, and minimal downtime. When assisting clients who have recently left a cult, one of my first steps is to help them establish healthier sleep and eating habits, which allows them to recover as they begin to tackle the psychological aspects of healing. 

Former ICOC Leader Michele Roland and Attorney Bobby Samini Discuss their Lawsuits on Behalf of Former Members of this Bible cult

Many cults are the subjects of lawsuits by former members, and the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) are now joining that group as former members seek the justice they deserve. 

Michele Roland is a survivor of the ICOC, having spent 17 years as a leader. She is now an entrepreneur, author, producer, brand developer, and founder of the bWell Network. She is writing a memoir about her indoctrination and trauma recovery experiences, which should be published next year. A streaming scripted series inspired by her experience in the cult is also in the works.

Watchtower Society: Understanding the Jehovah’s Witnesses with Isaac Carmignani 

Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) are well-known for their door-to-door solicitation and distributing literature, such as their Watchtower and AWAKE! magazines. However, most people do not know of the authoritarian BITE Model policies that affect JWs. Consequently, former JW elder Isaac Carmignani, a friend and colleague, shares critically important facts about this religious organization.  

Carmignani was raised a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) and was baptized at age 11. As a child, he experienced severe corporal punishment, a well-known cult practice. From 1995 to 2006, he was an elder in the JW organization; however, in 2007, Carmignani formally disassociated himself. He disagreed with their interpretation of the Bible and the belief that only JWs were good Christians while all other Christians were evil. In fact, a member was not allowed to enter any church other than a Kingdom Hall; the name JWs call their meeting places.

Birth, Parenting, and Empowerment with Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor and New Parent Educator Julie Hartman 

e often focus on the dark side of the influence continuum on the podcast. This time we are discussing preparing how to do ethical parenting with Julie Hartman, a Certified Birth Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and New Parent Educator. She supports families in the perinatal period through support groups and teaching classes on living with a newborn. Most importantly, she is the mom of three adult children and can connect with the people she works with through shared experiences. 

What is Hypnosis? Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)?  Scientology and more!

In the past months, I have been working on two chapters on “The Dark Side of Hypnosis” for a forthcoming International Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis. I asked law professor emeritus Alan Scheflin to work with me as well as Jon Atack. Scheflin focused on one chapter on the U.S. government mind control program MKUltra and George Estabrooks. I focused on authoritarian cult leaders like Ron Hubbard of Scientology infamy and others. For anyone interested in Scientology or the topic of cults, I recommend Atack’s paper Never Believe a Hypnotist. It is of interest that Hubbard used those very words. Hubbard was a hypnotist. 

Freeing People From Indoctrination With Rachel Bernstein, LMFT 

Working with people in cults or who have escaped them requires much empathy, compassion, and knowledge. Rachel Bernstein has all those and more, which she’s used for the last 30 years in her work in cult intervention and re-acclimation.  

Bernstein is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) from Los Angeles, California. She serves on the advisory board of the International Cultic Studies Association and has worked with the Department of Justice, providing support to cult victims who testify against their perpetrators. Bernstein and her father have known and worked together for decades now.

Nazis of Copley Square: The Forgotten History Of The Christian Front With Charles R. Gallagher  

Nazism, anti-semitism, and their anti-communist hateful and fearful rhetoric are aimed to stir true believers against those who oppose them. Rachel Maddow’s podcast, Ultra, is about Nazism in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. She based her podcast on the scholarly work of a Jesuit historian Professor Charles R. Gallagher, and his award-winning book. I was fascinated to learn more and discovered that he teaches at nearby Boston College. So we met for lunch, and he kindly consented to this fascinating interview.

How Online Spaces And Communities Are Indoctrinating Gen Z And Gen A With Chloe Combi 

The digital age has brought about a massive change in the way we think, feel, communicate, and behave. For young people born and raised in a digital world, being online for an average of eleven hours a day affects not only their brain development, such as shortened attention span, ability to concentrate, social skills, and mental well-being. As well as this, young people’s need for connection and belonging is being exploited by unhealthy ‘influencers’ online, who are using the internet to indoctrinate and radicalize them.