All posts tagged: manipulation

The Traumatizing Narcissist’s Relational System with Daniel Shaw, LCSW

Narcissism is a word often overused to describe people who are selfish or generally uncaring of others. In the clinical sense, it has a set of criteria one must meet for diagnosis, and quite often, cult leaders meet these criteria. Daniel Shaw, LCSW and cult survivor, talks with us about his experiences within a cult, exiting the group, and his work on traumatic narcissism.  Shaw is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City and in Nyack, New York. Originally trained as an actor at Northwestern University and with the renowned teacher Uta Hagen in New York City, Shaw later worked as a missionary for an Indian guru. His eventual recognition of the cultic aspects of this organization led him to become an outspoken activist in support of individuals and families traumatically abused in cults. 

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.

A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology with Mike Rinder

I was excited when I learned that Mike Rinder wrote a new book, A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology. The book’s title was an ode to his billion-year commitment when he joined the Sea Organization (Sea Org) shortly after graduating high school in 1973. Rinder rose to become the top leader in the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), where, among other duties, he oversaw the “fair game” harassment of all perceived enemies, including the non-profit Cult Awareness Network. When he left Scientology in 2007, he decided to expose the criminal behavior of Scientology. I was very interested in asking him specific questions about his knowledge of Scientology.  

Jeffrey Augustine, dedicated to exposing cult propagandists

Exposing Cult Propagandists with ex-Scientologist Jeffrey Augustine 

The Cult of Cult Apologists is the name of a new blog based on months of research by Augustine, a journalist, and former Scientologist. Scientology is one of the most well-known destructive cults of our time. Well-funded and organized, they have a long history of pain and suffering, lies, and criminal activity. Jeffrey Augustine dedicates his

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. 

Alzheimer’s, Dementia and on being wise consumers: A conversation with Germaine Odenheimer, M.D.

Dr. Germaine Odenheimer is a geriatric neurologist and professor emeritus at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. The College of Medicine recruited her to help develop a geriatric curriculum for medical students; she spent her entire clinical career recognizing and caring for people with cognitive impairments. I had the good fortune to be at the Program in Psychiatry and the Law meeting last September when Dr. Odenheimer talked about her fight against fraud and deception by people claiming to have a cure for Alzheimer’s.  

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. 

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.

How Colonizers Use Mind Control: A Conversation with Cindy Blackstock

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.

Opening Our Minds: Avoiding Abusive Relationships and Authoritarian Groups

Opening Our Minds: avoiding abusive relationships and authoritarian groups by Jon Atack is available in paperback, Audible and Kindle on Amazon. I am delighted to help bring attention to a new book which I think is a valuable contribution to our field. Disclosure: Jon is a good friend of mine, for decades, and is the leading