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.
Cults are often thought about as organizations with charismatic leaders who pull people in, strip them of all their worldly goods and autonomy, and implement mind control. However, many of these abusive methods can also be associated with domestic abuse, gangs and organized crime, and political extremism. Additionally, they can be seen in relational power abuse dynamics such as employee abuse, abuse by tutors, mentors, and coaches, and misconduct within various professions. Christian Szurko talks with us about these issues and how recognizing the pervasiveness of these methods informed and broadened his approach to abuses of relational power.
Have you heard the term “cult baby?” This refers to someone born or raised in a mind control religious human trafficking cult. Daniella Mestyanek Young is a third-generation survivor of the notorious sex cult Children
If you watched the Netflix series Bad Vegan, you saw a twisted and deliberately confusing version of the story of my guest, Sarma Melngailis. Her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, and her raw vegan brand Lucky Duck captured the hearts of healthy eaters in Manhattan. Her brands and personality were famous among major celebrities to high-profile politicians. In my professional opinion, she fell victim to an artful, designing psychopath who used one-on-one mind control. The situation blew up because of her celebrity and how much money he extracted from her while alienating her from her family.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® – An In-Depth Discussion with Marsha Gilmer-Tullis
Marsha Gilmer-Tullis and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® deal daily with the unthinkable. As the Vice President of the Family Advocacy Division, she uses her more than 40 years of experience in the mental health and child welfare fields to coordinate therapeutic services to the families of missing as well as sexually exploited children, including online enticement and child sexual abuse material survivors. I am honored to have interviewed her as one of my guests for the Influence Continuum podcast.
Human Trafficking – Survivor Voices are Critical: A Conversation with a Survivor, Attorney Carissa Phelps
Human trafficking is a serious crime and abuse of fundamental human rights. According to U.S. Department of State estimates, trafficking of children and adults is a modern-day plague, with at least 25 million victims worldwide at any given time. Carissa Phelps, Esq. my guest on a recent episode of The Influence Continuum, is a survivor of human trafficking. She became a victim of sex trafficking when she was 12 years old, long before the term “human trafficking” was used. Phelps is now an attorney, Runaway Girl, Inc. founder, and a champion in the fight against human trafficking, oppression, and exploitation.
The “merciless Indian savages…” Those words in the United States Declaration of Independence entrenched the way colonial states defined Indigenous peoples as “savage” and their relationship with the “civilized Americans” as represented by federal and state governments. This dehumanizing propaganda was the pen of history, of social norms and laws writing on our societal manuscript about what the United States is and who we are as Americans. It served to normalize and even legitimize the wrongful dispossession of land, resources and even the children from Indigenous peoples.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom and prohibits the government from establishing or favoring any particular religion. But when children experience educational neglect as a result of religious doctrine or practice, effective and appropriate intervention must be taken on their behalf.
Earlier this month, Matthew Remski interviewed me for his podcast “Conspirituality” (my interview starts at the 37-minute mark) where we talk about my newest book, The Cult of Trump, and explore the overlaps between the cults of personality that destroy political, wellness, and spiritual cultures. We discuss changes in cultic technique in the age of lockdown, and how best to maintain contact with a person transformed by manipulation.
I am happy to share a new, free, graphic nonfiction book entitled, “Rama Trauma Trump” written by my friend and former cult member Mark Laxer. It is based upon his earlier book, Take Me for a Ride: Coming of Age in a Destructive Cult which is the true story of Mark, who, at the age of seventeen, longed to see for himself what lies beneath the surface world of reason. Mark’s spiritual path took an unexpected turn when his meditation teacher, Frederick Lenz, learns to use fear, sleep deprivation, and LSD as tools of persuasion. After leaving Lenz’s inner circle, Mark faces headwinds and haunting memories as he bicycles across America. More than a vehicle for exercising and exorcising subtle ghosts of the past, the bike trip serves as the frame through which this combined adventure story, self-help book, and expose is narrated.
Former 3HO Official Pamela Dyson Discusses Yogi Bhajan’s Use of Sex, Money and Power to Deceive and Control
My guest this week is Pamela Saharah Dyson, a former top official of 3HO (known also as Western Sikhs) and once a long term devoted follower of Yogi Bhajan. If you have ever heard of kundalini yoga, or even taken some classes, that was the main bait to recruit people. That and promises of health–even though Bhajan died at 75 from ill-health. Even though she left the cult in the 1980s, she has now published her story in a must-read book: Premka, White Bird in a Golden Cage: My Life with Yogi Bhajan.
Since 1983, April has been designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It “recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and promotes the social and emotional well-being