This week, on my podcast, The Influence Continuum, I spoke with Dr. Bandy X. Lee, the forensic psychiatrist and world-renowned expert on violence, who is the editor of the best-selling book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Years after she and other mental health experts warned that Trump was unfit and a danger to the public, we continue to see vivid proof that the public has suffered because of the censoring of experts! Her recent book is Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul. What was behind the mainstream media silencing of credible experts like Dr. Lee, and myself, and even the most renowned names in mental health? We discuss this and many important topics like the “duty to warn” and the importance of mental health, especially in people who are supposed to be public servants. We discuss the 25th Amendment of the Constitution and how it could be bolstered to prevent anyone so grossly incompetent from coming to the Presidency again. We also discuss the corrupt and authoritarian family court system in the United States, which has contributed to diminishing our collective mental health: the subject of a forthcoming book.
On January 6, 2021, the seat of our federal government and the heart of our American democracy came under siege. Now, two years on, there is the opportunity to examine developments since the attack on the Capital and to look at what can be done about it. I was honored to be invited to speak about this at the New York Society for Ethical Culture this January 2023. The title of my talk was ‘Two Years After the Violent Coup Attempt.’
In my talk, I discussed some of the forces behind the insurrection attempt. Based on typical cult leader behavior, I predicted in 2019 that Trump would never voluntarily cede power and would attempt to create as much chaos and damage as possible. In my book The Cult of Trump, I also warned that his followers would become violent.
Whenever I hear about a tragedy or destructive event, like the Jonestown massacre or the January 6 coup attempt, my first thought is always – I could have done that. When I was in the Moon cult, I would have obeyed any order from Sun Myung Moon, including breaking the law. But, when someone is under mind control, their real self, values, and beliefs are taken over by a new cult identity; they are programmed into a different reality. So, it is crucial to understand how undue influence works and how to protect ourselves and others.
Michael Cohen is a two-time New York Times best-selling author, first with his book Disloyal: A Memoir, and now with his latest book Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the Department of Justice Against His Critics. Cohen is famous for being the former attorney and personal ‘fixer’ for Donald Trump (2006-2018) and has testified for congress as well as New York’s Attorney General’s office and confessed he was in “The Cult of Trump.” I wrote about him in my book, and he is a courageous whistle-blower who, like me, has devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to shedding light on the disgraced and twice impeached former president.
When asked about their idea of a cult, most people will conjure up the image of a group of religious devotees following an alternative doctrine and worshiping an authoritarian leader. Many cults fit into this category, but destructive cults take many forms, and mind control and undue influence are also present in political groups. In …
In my book The Cult of Trump, I present a thesis that Donald Trump was a symptom of decades of right-wing maneuvering to gain power and institute a theocracy by eliminating the separation between Church and State, which the Founders of the Constitution tried to ensure would not happen. White evangelical Christians, among other powerful groups like The Family, Opus Dei, and the New Apostolic Reformation, appear to support this movement and, indeed, are the driving force behind it because they believe Trump is being used to do ‘God’s work.’
Someone very experienced in talking about this issue is Frank Schaeffer. He was born and bred into an evangelical fundamentalist life and went on to play an active role in helping to politicize evangelical leaders. He has now bravely written and spoken about his regret at the part he played in this process and is an active religious reform activist.
In my book, The Cult of Trump, I explored the parallels between Trump and cult leaders, arguing that his presidency was much like a destructive cult. The indoctrination techniques Trump used to build fanatical devotion in his supporters is akin to those of Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard, and Sun Myung Moon. Trump’s lies, lack of conscience, inability to admit when he is wrong, and projecting his shortcomings onto others can be seen in many cult leaders. With his rise to the presidency, he became more authoritarian and though he lost the election in 2020, he continues the lie that it was stolen and his supporters continue to believe him.
If you have read Jason Kander’s book or listened to his self-read audiobook, you know why the title – Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD – is important. Jason sat in President Obama’s office as the president said, “I think you should run for president.” Dropping out of that race in the lead, Jason made what would have been a successful run for mayor of Kansas City. Yet, he eventually recognized his need to get help as a former army captain in the intelligence division for what he describes as a “secret psychological disorder,” PTSD.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a reorganized, large Pentecostal and charismatic movement reframed by the religious right to move into politics. My guests on this episode of the Influence Continuum are warning people about the dangers associated with the rise of the NAR.
Frederick Clarkson has written and worked at the intersection of religion and politics for over four decades. He’s currently a Senior Research analyst at Political Research Associates, a is a social justice research and strategy center in Somerville, Massachusetts. He’s also the author of a very important book that I recommend everyone read called Eternal Hostility – The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, a subject that everyone’s talking about in the media these days.
I’ve been hosting the Influence Continuum podcast for over seven months, and I’ve spoken with guests on topics ranging from election integrity to 4th Generation Warfare and the Christian Right. It is plausible to say that I would not even be investigating any of these topics had I not encountered the work—and later met—the esteemed guest of my first ever podcast episode, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton.
After he lost the 2020 election, Donald Trump spouted lies and claimed that he had won. In an attempt to counter Trump’s lies and promote confidence in the election results, prominent Democrats and election officials said that the 2020 election was the most secure election of all time. However, real vulnerabilities in our election system exist, and Trump’s lies do not justify ignoring legitimate election security concerns.
Attorney Douglas Brooks is a truly remarkable man. Formerly a specialist in franchise law, he now devotes his time to helping people defend themselves against financial depredation of multi-level marketing companies, known as MLMs. From bringing down the “consumer byline” scam run by now-imprisoned NXIVM cult leader Keith Raniere, to appearing in the Herbalife documentary Betting On Zero, to organizing the global conference on multi-level marketing schemes, he is tireless in fighting against an industry dedicated to bamboozling money from ordinary people with promises of exorbitant wealth for little to no work.
On Sunday, January 10, 2021, I was invited to answer questions during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) for the subreddit group QAnonCasualties. This is a link to the entire thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/QAnonCasualties/comments/kukco0/ama_with_steven_hassan_phd/. Below are most of the questions, along with my answers. This blog is longer than usual, but I felt it was important to include …