Cults

Conspiracy Theories, Cults and How to Help Friends and Loved Ones with Debunker Mick West

2020-05-22T10:02:58-04:00May 22nd, 2020|Blog|

Mick West--debunker, skeptic, writer, and podcaster--recently interviewed me for his podcast, "Tales From The Rabbit Hole" where we discussed cults, the intersection between cults and conspiracy theories, and my book: The Cult of Trump. (Listen to Episode 44: Steven Hassan – Cults and Conspiracies.) Tales from the Rabbit Hole is an interview-style podcast focusing on people whose lives have been affected by the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. Guests include both former and current believers in a variety of conspiracy theories, as well as debunkers, skeptics, and the investigators of those theories. There was such an intersection between my work and [...]

Former 3HO Official Pamela Dyson Discusses Yogi Bhajan’s Use of Sex, Money and Power to Deceive and Control

2020-04-18T17:14:24-04:00April 18th, 2020|Blog|

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. If you have ever met or done [...]

Child Protection, Shunning, and Parental Alienation: A Discussion About the Word of Faith Fellowship With Former Member John Huddle

2020-04-10T16:13:13-04:00April 10th, 2020|Blog|

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and, now more than ever, we need to protect children.  Too many are still being hurt: physically, mentally and emotionally, as seen by recent national child abuse statistics. For those raised in cults, they are at a higher risk for physical, medical, sexual, emotional, and psychological harm. I wrote a blog about the work of Marci Hamilton and ChildUSA; it is worth checking out. Sadly, many are being hurt by destructive groups which are proving to be an unsafe, abusive environment for young ones. One such Bible cult is Jane Whaley's Word of Faith [...]

The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Religious Right, and the Threat to Our Government and World Health: A Discussion With Anne Nelson

2020-04-08T14:17:59-04:00April 2nd, 2020|Blog|

As we continue into uncharted times with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must change our focus to how we can combat this virus and support one another during this crisis. This global pandemic affects each and every one of us. Unfortunately, not everyone believes in science and nor is taking it seriously. Too many people are going against the suggestions of medical professionals and scientists, putting all of us at risk. Estimates now are that due to a lack of proper preparation to accept tests offered by WHO, as well as masks, alcohol wipes, and ventilators from suppliers, 100,000 - 240,000 [...]

Watchtower Leadership Uses COVID-19 to Frighten and Recruit, Plus Interview With Former JW Member Cliff Henderson

2020-03-20T14:52:41-04:00March 20th, 2020|Blog|

With the recent pandemic, COVID-19, thousands, if not more, "doomsday" cults are using fear to ramp up their claims that the "end is near" and frighten members to stay in, recruit new and reactivate former members. The Watchtower has been saying Armageddon is imminent for over 100 years and falsely prophesied an actual date 4 times. Children are shown horrifying videos of all "non-believers" being destroyed and believers living forever on planet earth. (Yes, they are actually taught and continue to teach this.) Jehovah's Witness leadership recently released a video about COVID-19 on their website. Governing Body member, (one of [...]

Anti-Semitism and Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Interventions

2020-03-18T12:34:48-04:00March 13th, 2020|Blog|

I am very pleased to share a remarkable new book to help clinicians,–as well as the general public,–to have a deeper understanding of Anti-Semitism. This text by Springer, a leading academic publisher followed the publication of a previous Springer volume, Islamophobia and Psychiatry: Recognition, Prevention, and Treatment. I wrote a previous blog about my chapter for this earlier book with psychiatrist and editor Ahmed Hankir. The description below is for the chapter Anti-Semitism in Cults and Hate Groups that I and Jon Caven-Atack, an Independent Scholar,–and former Scientologist wrote for this book. "For many centuries, Jews have been the focus of [...]

The Definitive Guide to Helping People in the Cult of Trump

2020-02-21T14:14:24-05:00February 21st, 2020|Blog|

Under the right circumstances, even sane, rational, well-adjusted people can be deceived and persuaded to believe the most outrageous ideas and leader. President Trump uses the same deceptive psychological techniques that cult leaders do (cult leader's playbook) that influence his devoted followers' behavior, information, thoughts, and emotions. Some people are also unwilling to entertain the idea that Trump displays the characteristics of a cult leader (malignant narcissism). Very concerning is that some are so fervently devoted, they have cut off relationships with any that do not believe the same way as them, including close friends and even family. Do you [...]

Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Mark O’Donnell on Latest Developments & How to Help and Heal

2020-02-16T13:53:17-05:00February 16th, 2020|Blog|

This month, there have been quite a few developments in the Jehovah's Witness community including a recent documentary, a newspread in People magazine, major legal developments, and more. I invited Mark O'Donnell, former Jehovah's Witness turned writer, researcher, and activist, to discuss these events in detail. (You can read his story here.) Here are some of the high points we discuss, along with additional links for further explanation. People Magazine In the February 2020 issue of People magazine, there was a two-page article that featured former Jehovah's Witnesses as they discussed their alleged abuse within the organization. The article, "Sex [...]

Lev Parnas, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault Newman, George Conway, Anthony Scaramucci, Rick Wilson and Others: Trump is a Cult Leader

2020-01-24T11:05:50-05:00January 23rd, 2020|Blog|

Lev Parnas, during his interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, described himself as waking up from a cult and Donald Trump like a "cult leader." Michael Cohen, Trump's personal attorney for twelve years, expressed similar thoughts and feelings. Omarosa Manigault Newman, in her book Unhinged, described leaving the cult of Trumpworld. George Conway, Republican attorney and advisor to The Lincoln Project, has repeatedly described Trump as a mentally unfit narcissist and said his wife, Kellyanne Conway, was in a cult. Rick Wilson referred to the GOP as having been turned into a cult, lorded over by Trump. [...]

Jim Heller and Steven Hassan Debate “The Cult of Trump”

2019-12-26T15:11:42-05:00December 26th, 2019|Blog|

This week, we have a blog about a civil discussion I had with Jim Heller, a Canadian criminal lawyer and Trump supporter. After the release of my book, The Cult of Trump, Jim wrote me explaining that he was a Trump supporter who found my argument that Trump was a cult leader untenable and insulting. He expressed his interest in challenging my thesis but offered to do so with civility and respect. Moreover, Jim felt that his opinion warranted extra weight given his own experience as a former cult member (a former follower of Guru Maharaji Ji, who now uses [...]