All posts tagged: healing and recovery

Humiliation, Media Shaming, Trauma as well as work with the FLDS with Dr. Christine Marie 

We can use psychology to understand media shaming and ask the right questions   Media shaming has been around for decades, but the advent of the Internet and 24/7 information cycles have taken it in an entirely new and intense direction. The effects of this on everyday people’s lives are monumental and sometimes deadly.   Dr. Christine

Jon Atack, author of Opening Our Minds

Opening Our Minds – on Predators and Prevention with Jon Atack

Jon Atack’s Opening Our Minds is quite simply the best new book on authoritarian cults. It digs into the reasons why authoritarianism is ruining the world and what we can do about it. Jon and I first met over thirty years ago; I was the “go-to” guy on the Moonies, and Jon was the “go-to” guy on Scientology. However, we found more in common than our expertise on cults – we hit it off immediately and have been fast friends ever since. There is much to admire about Jon: he is an artist, a musician, a writer, a historian and biographer, a scholar-practitioner, and a truly grounded, authentic individual. Despite decades of exploring the worst aspects of human behavior, he is also thoroughly life-affirming and believes that we have the tools to save the future from the human predators who are so intent on wrecking it.

Melissa Jo Peltier, who created a documentary about Trump Voters

The Game Is Up: Disillusioned Trump Voters Tell Their Stories

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. 

The Colonization of Indigenous Peoples and Mind Control

In the past two years, I have been doing intensive research to understand authoritarian mind control as it relates to Indigenous peoples. Profound thanks to Desiree Kane, and especially Dr. Cindy Blackstock, CEO of The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society. I have read books, watched documentaries, and essentially been deprogramming myself from the cultural programming of American society. Colonization has been perpetrated on Indigenous cultures all over the world, essentially by countries wishing to impose Christian ideology and steal the land and resources of native peoples. I had the distinct pleasure of participating in two essential webinars sponsored by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

Kristi Nelson, author of Wake Up Grateful

Wake Up Grateful: the Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted – with Kristi Nelson

Committing to a practice of being grateful may seem like an odd prescription for healing from adverse life experiences. However, for over 46 years, I have worked with clients who have survived cult indoctrination and known many friends who have experienced various types of tragedy in their lives. Because of their experiences, many have become cynical and lost their sense of joy in life. When I came across the work of Kristi Nelson, I knew she had something valuable to contribute. Kristi is Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. So, I invited her to appear on The Influence Continuum to share the healing effect of practicing gratitude with my clients, friends, and the general public.

Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD by Jason Kander 

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. 

Sarma Melngailis, survivor of a one-on-one cultic relationship

One-on-One Cults – How Coercive Control Made Sarma Melngailis the Bad Vegan 

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. 

An Expert on Addiction and Critic of 12-Step Programs: A Conversation with Lance Dodes M.D. 

Drug addiction is a serious individual and public health problem worldwide. In the United States, alcohol is the most widely abused substance. Alcohol addiction harms a person’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. An estimated 20 million Americans have addiction issues (this number does NOT include internet and pornography addiction). In the United States, an estimated 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. The CDC estimated that over 100,000 people died of drug overdoses this past year. Is addiction a disease? Dr. Lance Dodes joined me to discuss what his research and clinical experience have taught him over the decades. 

Robert Jay Lifton

Moving from Victim to Survivor in Precarious Times — A Conversation with Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.

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.  

Marsha Gilmer-Tullis, of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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.

Carissa Phelps, Sex Trafficking survivor and advocate

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.