social psychology

Parental Abduction and Alienation: A Discussion with Psychiatrist Nick Child

2019-06-07T11:14:26-04:00June 6th, 2019|Blog|

A few weeks ago, I spoke to a gathering of a group of parentally alienated mothers and fathers in Waltham, Massachusetts. Parental alienation is a phenomenon where children are turned against one of their parents (either mother or father) by the other parent, usually when there is a divorce, without good reason. In some cases, children are physically and psychologically isolated for years and they are programmed against the non-custodial parent. Of course, negative programming is done all the time in cult groups, when a parent decides they want to exit the cult. What I have learned is that this [...]

Robert Jay Lifton’s Eight Criteria of Thought Reform (Brainwashing, Mind Control)

2019-05-30T12:36:02-04:00May 30th, 2019|Blog|

The following excerpt is used with permission from Robert Jay Lifton's The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age (New York, Basic Books, 1987) is a concise explanation of Lifton's eight criteria for defining mind control. His 1961 book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China was instrumental in my deprogramming form the Moon cult in 1976. I thought it is long overdue for me to have a full exposition of his ideas presented in his "Chapter 22" of this seminal work. In particular, Chinese "re-education" programs are being used on [...]

Keith Raniere and NXIVM on Trial: Mind Control and Manipulation

2019-05-16T13:33:49-04:00May 16th, 2019|Blog|

Image By: Beyond My Ken The trial of NXIVM leader Keith Raniere began May 7th and is currently entering its second week in Brooklyn Federal Court, whose image is above. It is a very high profile case involving charges of sex trafficking, branding, racketeering, and forced labor. It also involves highly successful, educated people, who got ensnared including billionaire Clare Bronfman, actress Allison Mack, filmmaker Mark Vicente, and others. Five people, including Bronfman and Mack, were charged along with Raniere but all pled guilty and are apparently cooperating with authorities. In my opinion, they were probably all deceived [...]

Trump, Cults, and Deprogramming: A Discussion with Forensic Expert Dr. Steve Eichel

2019-05-13T00:16:47-04:00May 9th, 2019|Blog|

This week, I share an interview with my old friend and colleague, Steve Eichel, Ph.D. He is a forensic psychologist, an authority on hypnosis, expert witness, counselor, author, and educator. He specializes in destructive cults, coercive persuasion, brainwashing and deprogramming. In 1989, he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the subject of deprogramming. Dr. Eichel's introduction into the field of cults goes all the way back to 1975. He currently serves as the president of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) which is a cultic studies research and educational nonprofit organization. Dr. Eichel starts the interview by describing his extensive background, [...]

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 [...]

Political Cults, Leadership, Idealism, and Totalism: A Discussion with Dennis Tourish Ph.D.

2019-04-04T13:55:36-04:00April 4th, 2019|Blog|

On January 18, 2019, during the longest government shutdown in history, I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Dennis Tourish. He is a former member of a left-wing political group, having left in the mid-1980s. It was during this period that he found my book Combating Cult Mind Control which was the first time he had "read anything about this phenomenon and it just lifted the lights wonderfully." Dennis is Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies at the University of Sussex in the U.K.. Additionally, he is an author, researcher, academic, and consultant. Professor Tourish has co-written or co-edited eight [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

A Call to Action for All Who Have Suffered from Mind Control!

2018-12-16T20:47:32-04:00November 15th, 2018|Blog|

The Age of Influence I believe that we are no longer living merely in the "Age of Information" but the "Age of Influence." Information has long been collected, legally and illegally about billions of people, building very sophisticated profiles. With such a persona or profile, influence can be very efficiently used to manipulate people's minds and behavior. In the past forty years that I have been studying cult mind control techniques and patterns, in this digital age, I see "influence" developing at a high velocity. For example, the Chinese government, along with every country with a top-down control of [...]

Dr. Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE): A Response to Critics

2019-02-13T12:18:44-04:00July 3rd, 2018|Blog|

Dr. Zimbardo photographed for his Heroic Imagination Project. Credit: Ferne Millen Photography July 2, 2018: At this moment, there appears to be a media attack on the reputation of Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Stanford University and former president of the American Psychological Association. Indeed, there seems to be a broader attack on the field of social psychology and some of its greatest contributors in the past sixty years. We live at a time of unprecedented scientific and technological knowledge and development and, sadly, there are powerful influential forces that seek to persuade the public and deny [...]