Freedom of Mind

The 2019 International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) Conference in Manchester, England

2019-07-17T06:57:34-04:00July 11th, 2019|Blog|

Last week, I attended the excellent ICSA 2019 Annual International Conference entitled, "Coercive Control and the Psychology of Influence Across Comparative Contexts – Implications for Policy, Practice and the Criminal Justice Process." I presented a 90-minute, well-attended workshop on the “The Influence Continuum and the BITE Model and its use for Determining Undue Influence in Trafficking and Terrorism.” The video is below for all who were unable to attend.  I was encouraged to present at this European conference because, at this time, there seems to be much more openness in Europe to the fact that cult mind control models [...]

The Solipsistic Reality of President Trump: A Discussion with Dr. Robert Jay Lifton

2019-06-27T17:12:23-04:00June 27th, 2019|Blog|

This past February of 2019, I interviewed Dr. Robert Jay Lifton about his thoughts about the current political situation in America. It is always a privilege. I have been fortunate enough to interview him a few times before. (Listed at end). Recently, he gave me permission to republish his Eight Criteria of Thought Reform. In his seminal work, he concisely explains mind control, brainwashing, and thought reform. I also posted a blog about Dr. Paul Martin's expert report on Raniere's NXIVM in which he used Dr. Lifton's criteria. He is a psychiatrist, an author, an expert, and an activist, [...]

NXIVM: Robert Jay Lifton’s Criteria of Thought Reform as Analyzed by Expert Paul Martin, Ph.D.

2019-06-13T12:46:30-04:00June 13th, 2019|Blog|

Dr. Paul R. Martin was a psychologist, expert witness, survivor of a Bible cult called Great Commission International and founder of Wellspring Retreat Center, a place where cult survivors could go for an intensive two-week rehabilitation program. It was located in Ohio and helped hundreds of cult survivors. In 1993, he authored the book Cult Proofing Your Kids. I always admired Paul as a smart, courageous mental health professional who was a pioneer in the difficult work of helpful cult survivors. He deserves to be well-remembered for his great contributions to the field. Dr. Martin was asked to submit [...]

The Anatomy of Undue Influence: Scientific Study and Elsevier Journal Article

2019-07-03T00:12:33-04:00April 25th, 2019|Blog|

This is my first peer-reviewed academic journal article. It's genesis began when I gave a talk entitled, The "anatomy of undue influence used by terrorist cults and traffickers to induce helplessness and trauma, so creating false identities" at the prestigious 2017 Congress of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Prague. I blogged about it here. This July, I will be attending the next Congress in Rome, Italy. I will be presenting a paper on a model on how to do a forensic evaluation for undue influence using Scheflin's Social Influence Model. I intend to write another journal article [...]

Terror, Love & Brainwashing: A Discussion with Alexandra Stein About Extremist Political Cults

2019-02-28T12:54:32-04:00February 28th, 2019|Blog|

This week, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Stein, a cult survivor and renowned expert on cults and totalitarianism. Alexandra Stein, Ph.D. is a writer and educator specializing in the social psychology of ideological extremism and other dangerous social relationships. She is an academic, having taught at the University of Minnesota, Birkbeck, and the University of London, now teaching at the Mary Ward Center. Dr. Stein is a Ph.D. sociologist and expert on social psychology. She teaches as an academic but gives talks, as well as, writes books.  Her memoir Inside Out: A Memoir of Entering and Breaking Out of a Minneapolis [...]

Ending the Game: Explaining Coercion to Help People Heal

2019-02-13T16:31:44-04:00January 3rd, 2019|Blog|

Human Trafficking Human Trafficking is a form of undue influence and a serious global issue affecting an estimated 21 - 27 million worldwide. According to the Defense Department, "Human trafficking is a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. It affects all populations: adults, children, men, women, foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, and all economic classes." Pimps and traffickers control the environment, access to information, relationships – every aspect of a person’s life – using techniques that manipulate how a person thinks, feels and acts. Using [...]

Traumatic Narcissism: From Muktananda and Gurumayi to Donald Trump

2019-05-23T23:22:14-04:00December 27th, 2018|Blog|

Daniel Shaw and Siddha Yoga This week's blog features an interview with a licensed clinical social worker, Daniel Shaw.  Dan is a private practice psychotherapist in New York City and in Rockland County, New York. Dan was deeply involved for many years and even a staff member at Siddha Yoga before he woke up and walked away. As part of his healing journey and restarting his life, he decided to become a mental health professional. Like many former members, he was involved in helping others to wake up and realize that the guru was not enlightened but, in fact, a [...]

Scientology and The BITE Model

2018-12-20T21:18:14-04:00December 20th, 2018|Blog|

BITE Model In June of 2018, I did an interview with psychologist and ex-Mormon John Dehlin for his Mormon Stories podcast. In preparation for the show, John read Combating Cult Mind Control and told me that the book was transformative. Then he did a wonderful analysis of the BITE model of the Mormon Church which we included in a blog. Afterward, we got the idea to do a similar analysis of the BITE model and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Now, it is Scientology's turn. I encourage people to use the BITE model to systematically evaluate the core beliefs and behaviors to [...]

Scripted Violence, Conspiracy Theories and Concerns

2018-12-16T19:01:27-04:00December 6th, 2018|Blog|

It has been several weeks since Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life synagogue in his hateful, rage-filled attack against Jews. This week, I had the opportunity to interview Chip Berlet, an investigative journalist, research analyst and scholar of right-wing movements. I had been wanting to interview him so he could explain the concept of scripted violence. This seems to be exactly what took place with Bowers. He had been influenced to hate and fear Jewish people to the point that he acted out and committed a terrorist act. I also wanted to ask Chip about the Protocols of [...]

What is a Cult? Whiteboard Animation Explaining the BITE Model

2018-12-16T19:12:28-04:00November 22nd, 2018|Blog|

BITE Model Since my deprogramming from the Moon cult in 1976, I have come to learn of countless thousands of groups that I have never heard of before. Are they cults? Do they use mind control? Is it brainwashing? I have also been asked to comment on destructive family systems and controlling relationships. Over the decades of research, my way of systematizing a method to evaluate a weird group with crazy beliefs from a destructive one has come to be grounded in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It seems to me that while there are countries, [...]