Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

About Us

What is your mission?

Please visit our About Us page to learn more about our mission

Who is Dr. Steven Hassan?

Please visit About Steven Hassan, Ph.D. to learn more

Where is your center located?

Freedom of Mind Resource Center can help you if you are a member or former member of a group, or are worried about someone who appears to be unduly influenced by a controlling relationship, group, or belief system, or feel that you need help with recovery from this type of situation. We offer consulting services to help you or your loved one assess, respond to, and recover from the situation. We also offer books, courses, professional training, and information to the media and others interested in undue influence (mind control).

How do you help people?

How do you help people?

Freedom of Mind Resource Center can help you if you are a member or former member of a group, or are worried about someone who appears to be unduly influenced by a controlling relationship, group, or belief system, or feel that you need help with recovery from this type of situation. We offer consulting services to help you or your loved one assess, respond to, and recover from the situation. We also offer books, courses, professional training, and information to the media and others interested in undue influence (mind control).

What do you do to help people recover from a harmful controlling experience in a relationship, group, belief system, or due to technology?

What is your approach to helping people recover?

The Freedom of Mind approach to healing and recovery orients people to “the here and now,” helping people to acquire the skills they can use to overcome their challenges and go on to have a healthy life, decide how they want to live, and how they want to respond appropriately to social influence throughout their lives. Learn more about Dr. Steven Hassan’s recovery consulting services by visiting the Recovery Services web page. 

 

Why do I keep getting involved in harmful situations throughout my life, and how can I stop this from happening again?

People who have left an undue influence situation but have not engaged in an effective and educational recovery process may be vulnerable to experiencing harmful social control throughout their lives and in various types of situations. Learn more about the need for recovery services by visiting the Recovery Services web page.

How can I help a loved one or other person experiencing harmful control?

Is there hope for my loved one?

Yes. Learn about this topic by reading the Errant Beliefs Blog Series.

My loved one is under the control of an individual. Can you help me?

Yes!  We offer consulting services for those concerned about a loved one in a controlling relationship. Abusive individuals use many of the same controlling and manipulative tactics as a cult group.

I need to find out where my loved one is. Can you help me?

Yes! You schedule an appointment with Dr. Hassan to discuss strategies for locating your loved one, referrals to private investigators, and how to prepare to help your loved one so that you can more effectively interact with them once the opportunity becomes available. Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan.

What should I do if I suspect a friend or family member is involved with a destructive cult?

Get help before you do or say anything that might undermine your goals.

Continue to act naturally.  Learn before you act.  Think before you speak.  Adopt a “curious yet concerned” attitude with the person you suspect is in trouble.  Don’t get hysterical in front of the individual.  Don’t attack or confront.  Don’t ask them if they are in a cult or use the word “cult” at all.

Position yourself as a possible “recruit” and try to elicit as much information as possible.  Ask questions in a friendly manner and insist on getting specific answers.  Don’t settle for global generalizations or evasions.  Ask for any literature, but be cautious about attending meetings without being prepared first.  Occasionally, we hear stories of people falling victim when trying to help someone else.

If a group is legitimate, it will stand up to scrutiny.  Members will be forthcoming with verifiable information.  They will not pressure people to make commitments before there is complete disclosure, lie, or use phobias to enslave new members.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan.

How can I prevent undue influence?

How can I prevent my children and other loved ones from getting involved in harmful relationships, groups, and belief systems?

Preventive education is the first step. You can access our extensive educational resources to share with others. Before sharing materials with a minor, please review them to determine if they are appropriate for the individual. You may also schedule an individual, family, or group consultation or Workshop with Dr. Hassan. Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan. Call the office to inquire about a Course Group Sales Discount for groups of 6 or more people or to ask about scheduling a Workshop with Dr. Steven Hassan. 

How can I help my community, organization, or workplace?

How can I help my community, organization, or workplace?
  1. You may call our office or email center@freedomofmind.com to discuss your needs, ask about our current Course Enrollment Group Sales Discounts  (for groups of 6 or more students), and request a Workshop with Dr. Steven Hassan for your group.
  2. For more individualized guidance:

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan.

Do Dr. Hassan or his team members provide consultation appointments, and how much does it cost?

May I schedule an appointment with Dr. Hassan or a Team Member? How much do you charge for a consultation?

Please click here to Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan. After the initial appointment, he may recommend follow-up appointments with himself or another team member. Fees vary depending on the team member and type of service. Initial appointments are with Dr. Steven Hassan. For information about appointment types and fees, visit our scheduling page using this link: Schedule a Consult with Dr. Steven Hassan. We do not accept insurance.

Are Dr. Steven Hassan or other team members available to speak with me?

You may call the office at 617 396 4638 to speak with Dr. Hassan’s assistant, who can help you access information and services. You may email center@freedomofmind.com to request to speak with Dr. Hassan. However, if you seek intervention, recovery, or professional case consultations, please use this link to Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan

 

What can I do while waiting for a consultation?
  1. Read these books written by Dr. Steven Hassan. 
  2. Take the course Understanding Cults: A Foundational Course
  3. Explore freedomofmind.com beginning with the Get Started page. Use the search field to find information about topics you are interested in.
  4. Explore the Freedom of Mind Links.
  5. Contact us to ask how to receive a Group Course Enrollment Discount for groups of 6 or more.
  6. Consider requesting a Workshop with Dr. Hassan for your group.
What happens during an initial 60-minute consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan?

We recommend starting with an initial 60-minute consultation rather than a 30-minute one. Included with an initial 60-minute consultation, you may submit an optional online case evaluation form for Dr. Hassan to review before your appointment. The form must be submitted by 4 pm the business day before your appointment. The office is closed for business on weekends and holidays. During your consultation, we listen closely to your questions and concerns and share our extensive knowledge and experience about what can work in your situation. We will recommend the next steps and plan future options. As your consulting partners, we will work with you to tailor an approach that meets your needs. Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan.

What is mind control, brainwashing, undue influence, or harmful authoritarian control, and can you tell me if a specific relationship, group, or other influence is harmful?

How do I know if a specific individual, group, or belief system is harmful?

Due to time constraints and the large number of requests we receive to evaluate situations, we cannot answer these questions for you via email or phone. However, anyone can assess a relationship, group, or other situation using the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control to identify the control tactics and the Influence Continuum Model to assess where they fall from non-harmful to highly harmful. You can download those models from our website. Want to learn how to use these models? Take a course

 

Do you want to learn more about a specific individual or group? Using the BITE Model and Influence Continuum Model is better to help you determine where they fall from not harmful to very harmful. You can gather information by searching our website and the internet, including forums on places like Facebook and Reddit. We recommend that you help protect yourself online using a pseudonym, an email address without identifying information, and a VPN. Consult with a technology professional for more advice on protecting yourself online. Need more help to answer your question? Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Steven Hassan.

What is “mind control?”

The BITE Model of mind control outlines many vital elements that need to be controlled: Behavior, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions.  If these four components can be controlled, an individual’s identity can be systematically manipulated and changed.  Destructive mind control takes the “locus of control” away from an individual.  The person is systematically deceived about the beliefs and practices of the person (or group) and manipulated throughout the recruitment process, unable to make informed choices and exert independent judgment. The person’s identity is profoundly influenced through social influence techniques, and a “new identity” is programmed to depend on the leader or group ideology. The person can’t think for themselves but believes otherwise. The cult system reinforces an “illusion of control.”

Is all “mind control” bad?

No.  Although we typically use the term to refer to unethical and abusive social influence, many techniques, such as prayer, meditation, singing, chanting, and dancing, can be used ethically to promote positive spiritual and personal growth.  Positive influence keeps the locus of control within the individual, while unethical or undue influence undermines their ability to think and act independently.

For example, prayer can be used ethically, or it can be used destructively as a tool of manipulation and coercion.  Praying with a person aloud and asking “God’s blessing to help direct and guide him” (in an “open-ended” way) is just fine.  Praying with a person and asking God to “keep this person from making the mistake of leaving the group’s workshop and returning to Satan’s world” is unethical.

Meditation techniques can be used to build awareness and self-control, or they can be used as a way of “thought-stopping,” undermining independent thinking and reality-testing. For example, if a person has doubts and questions about a leader’s behavior and meditates to eliminate “negativity,” it might stop them from taking necessary action.

There are thousands of different “mind control” techniques which can be used for positive benefit. These techniques include prayer, meditation, chants, singing songs, visualizations, affirmations, positive self-talk, breathing techniques, hypnosis, “speaking in tongues,” ecstatic dancing, and music.

What’s the difference between a destructive cult and a benign cult?

A destructive cult is a pyramid-shaped authoritarian regime with a person or group of people that have dictatorial control.  It uses deception to recruit new members and does not tell them what the group is, what it actually believes, and what will be expected of them if they become members.  It also uses mind control techniques to keep people dependent, obedient, and loyal.  The BITE Model is our way of understanding the phenomenon.  Dr. Robert Jay Lifton has his Eight Criteria for Thought Reform.  Dr. Margaret Singer has her Six Conditions for understanding destructive cults, which typically seek to “clone” recruits in the image of the cult leader rather than respect and encourage their individuality, creativity, and self-will.

Benign cult groups are any group of people who have a set of beliefs and rituals that are non-mainstream.  As long as people can freely choose to join with full disclosure of the group’s doctrine and practices and can choose to disaffiliate without fear or harassment, then it is not a destructive cult.

There are destructive groups that are anti-social.  They teach hate and encourage criminal activity.  A case-by-case evaluation must determine if a group uses elements of the BITE Model to recruit and control people.

For more information, visit our Influence Continuum page.

Am I in a destructive cult?

Being in control of your own mind includes being in touch with your feelings, having the ability to question and think analytically, having the freedom to act independently, and being able to look at issues from multiple perspectives.  Use the BITE Model to evaluate your situation.

If you have been involved with a person or group for a long time, can you have time to take a vacation, visit friends or family, or just be alone?  Are you irrationally afraid to evaluate for yourself any critical information, including speaking with ex-members?  Do you have access to “negative” information?  If you are reading this on our website, you should be able to find out what former members and critics have to say about a specific group.  Then, you can evaluate the information for yourself and make your own independent decisions.

Are all cults equally destructive?

No, there are wide variations among different organizations.  For example, Aum Shinrikyo and ISIS/Daesh have committed horrific acts of violence and terror against the public.  This is extreme when compared with large group “training” programs, which use hypnotic techniques to get you to believe the leader is the “Messiah” and which teaches the membership to recruit all of their families and friends.

Individual experiences also vary within the organization based on how the individual conforms to the group’s norms.  For example, a lesbian teen in a homophobic church will be subject to a different degree of undue influence than a straight man who is married with children in the same church.

Are all destructive cults religious?

No. In addition to religious cults, there are psychotherapy cults, political cults, commercial cults, terrorist organizations, and trafficking rings. There are also personality cults, mainly if one person controls another (or a small group of people, such as in a family).

Some groups combine all or some of these elements, especially when the group is large and has a variety of “fronts” or other entities.

Are terrorist groups destructive cults?

Yes.  It is helpful to think of them as destructive cults (with political and/ or religious orientations) which advocate the use of violence.  Any pyramid-structured authoritarian group that uses deception and mind control to recruit and indoctrinate its followers is a destructive cult.

Members of terrorist organizations are programmed to think in simplistic black-and-white, us-versus-them terms.  They depersonalize and demonize their enemies.

We must understand how cults function to help neutralize this grave threat to the world.

Does mind control occur through gang stocking, remote mental control, or body implants?

We encourage people who feel they are experiencing these issues to consult with their primary care physician and mental health specialists. After your healthcare team has completed their assessments, you can contact us to inquire how we can help. Dr. Hassan does not do testing.

I'd like to interview Dr. Hassan for media, school, dissertation, dissertation committee, research, career development, or other projects.

If you want an interview or quote, please visit our Press Kit and contact us at mediarelations@freedomofmind.com.

I'd like to schedule Dr. Hassan for a speaking engagement, such as a keynote presentation, staff training, or workshop for my organization.

Yes, contact center@freedomofmind.com with SCHEDULE A PRESENTATION in the email subject line.

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?

The educational material on our website, blog, podcast, and YouTube channel is free. These can help, as can reading the books by Steven Hassan.

You can also contact the office with any questions you have.