Blog

Cult Trip: Inside the World of Coercion and Control with Journalist Anke Richter 

Anke Richter co-founded FACT (Fight Against Conspiracy Theories) and is organizing the first cult awareness conference in Australia, DECULT. Anke’s bestseller “Cult Trip: Inside the World of Coercion & control” is about her ten-year investigation into sex cults –from tantra yoga to the Human Potential Movement to fundamentalist Christianity. She is a voice against cults, conspiracies, and undue influence in New Zealand and is working to harness efforts worldwide to fight disinformation and radicalization, especially online. 

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Raised in Scientology, He Became a Military Helicopter Pilot and Rescued His Abused Mother with Mike Brown 

Cults steal many things from their members, including happy childhoods. Our early years should be filled with freedom and fun. However, for children raised in cults, childhood can be filled with hard labor and indoctrination. This was the case for Michael Brown. His parents’ involvement with Scientology marked Mike’s childhood in many negative ways. His parents joined Scientology when Mike was seven, following his father, a former US Marine who was wounded in Vietnam, buying a copy of “Dianetics.” Mike’s dad was searching for ways to heal from PTSD when he joined Scientology. Mike moved to California with his mom after his parents’ divorce, and Mike was made to join the Sea Organization or “Sea Org,” a paramilitary section of Scientology.  

Raised in Scientology, He Became a Military Helicopter Pilot and Rescued His Abused Mother with Mike Brown  Read More

Ex-Communication from Unitarian Universalism: the World’s Most Liberal Religion with Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof 

Rev. Dr. Todd F. Eklof has been the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, WA, since 2011. He’s appreciated for his mind-altering sermons, compassionate soul, and social activism. Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism have traditionally been known as liberal religions, defined by their commitment to individual dignity and freedom of expression. They promote diversity and inclusivity and encourage their members to engage in the “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” However, Todd has had a different experience. He believes the organization has undergone a significant policy change, with the value of autonomy and freedom of expression becoming less critical. As a minister, he was not allowed to discuss his concerns openly and was attacked when he did speak out. As a result, he was “disfellowshipped.” 

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How to Become a World-Class Investigator – Fighting Human Trafficking with Julie Jones 

A former British Police Detective, Undercover Operator, and recognized international expert on human trafficking, Julie Jones is the founder and CEO of Human-I Intelligence Services, an international consultancy specializing in cybercrime investigations and online open-source intelligence (OSINT). She has conducted diagnostic studies in 7 countries to date, analyzing and advising on institutional and judicial capacity to fight human trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, and corruption and providing input on national cybercrime policy related to human trafficking. Julie was recently appointed Senior Police Consultant on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence for the National Police Force in Guyana. 

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The Life of Candace Pert: Dysfunction in Medical Science and Research Communities with Pamela Ryckman  

My guest on this episode of The Influence Continuum was Pamela Ryckman, who wrote the book Candace Pert: Genius, Greed, and Madness in the World of Science. Science and health institutions can mimic cult-like behaviors and dysfunctional systems when the structures within them become overly competitive and focused on limited resources to obtain professional goals. Ideals of collaboration for the good of the public can become crushed under systems of harmful competition and dogmatic attachments to old-fashioned ideas. The life story of Candace Pert, who discovered the opioid receptor, is a clear demonstration of how women and minorities have often been undermined, excluded, or driven out of that system. Virtually unheard of by most, her life work included significant discoveries in mind-body medicine, HIV treatments with Peptide T, and volumes of scientific research and publishing over her time working within the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Mental Health.  

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Unveiling the Shadows: The Role of Psychological Warfare (Psyops) and Military Recruitment 

In an era where information is as potent as any physical weapon, psychological operations (psyops) have become a cornerstone of national defense strategies. The U.S. Army’s approach to recruitment for its psyops division offers a stark illustration of the importance of these tactics. A recruitment video, described as “foreboding” by the Army Times, reveals the strategic depth and the intense nature of psychological warfare, underlining the tagline “Who’s pulling the strings?” This blog explores the implications of such recruitment strategies, the nature of psychological warfare, and the ethical considerations it raises. 

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Supporting Patient Comfort Through Rapid Hypnotic Techniques with Elvira Lang-Anderson, M.D. 

Empowering patients or clients to have authority and control over their medical experiences is vital to beneficial therapeutic care. Likewise, well-crafted use of professional communication skills in setting expectations about clinical procedures and outcomes can mean the difference between a traumatic medical visit versus one being remembered with gratitude. Clinical studies show that clinicians trained in hypnotic skills can effectively help patients be more receptive to well-placed suggestions that may help reduce discomfort, eliminate the need for certain medications, lessen the side effects of treatments, and offer moderation over anxiety.  

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Leaving a Martial Arts Cult with Russell Johnson

Russell Johnson is a former member of the Korean martial arts cult Chung Moo Quan. After much negative publicity, its name was changed to Oom Yung Doe. Now a professional security consultant, activist, and podcaster, Russell got involved with the cult as a teen and was involved for eight years. We first met in the early 90s when he contacted me after reading Combating Cult Mind Control. My book helped him understand how he had been manipulated in the cult using primary BITE model tactics. I have been on his podcast, Deceived, about his experience in the Chung Moo Quan cult. He is currently working on the development of a documentary series about the cult.  

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Unveiling Scientology: Insights from Denise Brennan and Dr. Steven Hassan 

In a revealing dialogue, Denise Brennan, a former high-ranking member of Scientology, sheds light on the intricacies and inner workings of the organization alongside cult expert Dr. Steven Hassan. Their conversation delves into the origins, practices, and the controversial leadership under David Miscavige, offering an unprecedented glimpse into the enigmatic world of Scientology. 

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Defining Exit Ramps for Militia Members with Former Propagandist Oath Keeper Jason Van Tatenhove 

“America right now needs some exit ramps,” Jason Van Tatenhove said as we discussed his former role as national media director for the Oath Keepers, a group known for its far-right anti-government militia. While Jason would ultimately decide to leave the group in 2016 due to increasing racism and Holocaust denial within their membership, the Oath Keepers would go on to participate in the United States Capitol January 6th attack, led by followers of Donald Trump. Jason eventually testified before a U.S. House Select Committee about his position in media propaganda for the organization. He described their attempts at paramilitary tactics, plans for insurrection, and his relationship with Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, convicted of seditious conspiracy and evidence tampering.  

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Right-wing Christian Movements Threatening our Democracy with Matthew D. Taylor, PhD 

As a Protestant, Matthew D. Taylor, Ph.D., is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies (ICJS), where he specializes in Muslim-Christian dialogue, Evangelical and Pentecostal movements, religious politics in the U.S., and American Islam. ICJS produced a 30-minute documentary, Spiritual Warriors: Decoding Christian Nationalism at the Capitol Riot, featuring Dr. Taylor. His new forthcoming book, The Violent Take It by Force: The Christian Movement that is Threatening Our Democracy, tracks the role that Christian leaders played, particularly those from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) networks, in instigating Christians to participate in the January 6th Capitol Riot. 

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Clinical Hypnosis and its Benefits for a New Health Care Paradigm with Julie H. Linden, PhD 

The 2024 First Edition of the Routledge International Handbook of Clinical Hypnosis is a compendium of state-of-the-art neuroscience focusing on practice-oriented aspects of clinical hypnosis in healthcare settings. It contains the work of 90 contributors from the global field. Dr. Julie H. Linden, Ph.D., was the lead editor, along with Giuseppe De Benedittis, Laurence I. Sugarman, and Katalin Varga. This is the essential textbook on clinical hypnotherapy, which has experts from many fields. I was fortunate to co-author two chapters of the book concerning the dark side of hypnosis with the late law professor emeritus Alan W. Scheflin, my dear friend, colleague, and mentor.
Julie is the Past President of The International Society of Hypnosis, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and Greater Philadelphia Society of Clinical Hypnosis. She received the Josephine Hilgard Award from the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis twice and was awarded the ISH Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal in 2018. She is a co-author with Laurence Sugarman, MD, of Changing Minds with Clinical Hypnosis: Narratives and Discourse for a New Health Care Paradigm. Julie was an early pioneer of pediatric hypnotic pain management (1975). She has worked with patients in burn units, during medical procedures, in emergency rooms, surgery preparation, chronic illness, and many other circumstances where benefit from clinical hypnotic techniques might be found.

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