Steven Hassan

Errant Belief #10: “We Have Lost Hope”

2018-12-16T19:33:48-04:00June 21st, 2018|Blog, Resources and Support|

Have a Positive Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Not a Negative One In my opinion, giving up hope is a dysfunctional coping mechanism to deal with the pain. Unfortunately, it suggests incorrectly that there is nothing constructive that can be done. If family members and friends no longer believe that the person will reestablish contact (if they have disconnected) or leave the group, then at least they will no longer be angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed and even depressed. Some people have actually told me that they have grieved their loved one as if he had already died. I say, “If the person [...]

Scientific Research Survey to Understand Influence

2018-12-16T19:36:58-04:00June 7th, 2018|Blog, News and Updates|

6-18-2018 Update **This survey is now closed. We thank everyone that participated. We have received 1028 responses out of which 989 are 100% answered, giving us enough data to analyze. ** Please Take Our Scientific Research Survey to Understand Influence in Order to Transform the Legal System! Click this link: Scientific Research Survey on Understanding Influence A year ago, I announced my new effort to research, publish, educate, and update the legal system in the United States and, hopefully, around the world. The law still operates using a "rational agent" model, saying essentially that once you reach the age [...]

Errant Belief #9: “She’ll Walk out on Her Own When She Is Ready”

2018-12-16T19:34:00-04:00May 31st, 2018|Blog|

Is She Really Free to Leave? This attitude presumes that the cult member has the freedom of mind, finances, and the resources to just "leave." The bars are invisible but very real. In my experience, depending on the length of his involvement, the "exit cost" is usually very high to walk out of a high demand group. The indoctrination of the group's beliefs, along with the habits ingrained into behavior, make it difficult to leave without help. If she did have freedom of mind, I can say from my own experience, she would have left the group long ago. [...]

Errant Belief #7: “He Must Be Weak, Stupid or Looking for Easy Answers or Someone to Tell Him What to Do”

2018-12-16T20:52:12-04:00April 26th, 2018|Blog|

"Don't Blame the Victim" This is a very commonly held, but fallacious generalization about people involved with destructive relationships and cult groups. People often try to find fault with people who experience tragedy by blaming the victim. Laying blame gives people a false sense of control over their own lives by distancing them from the victim. However, the idea that people knowingly join destructive cults is patently wrong. Most people are recruited at a vulnerable moment, without understanding the forces that are brought to bear on them. Sometimes a cult manipulates a recruit’s strength. For example, by playing to [...]

Errant Belief #5: “He Has the Right to Believe What He Wants to Believe”

2018-12-16T19:34:53-04:00March 15th, 2018|Blog, Resources and Support|

The Right to Believe Anything vs. Reality-Testing Freedom to believe is only a real freedom if you also have the freedom not to believe. Having the right to believe something carries with it a presupposition of the right to not believe it, too. When recruiters deceptively ensnare people into a closed belief system, it violates informed consent. If a person wants to believe that David Koresh is the Christ, that is his right. If people want to believe that Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han are the perfect True Parents, they are entitled. However, my religious freedom was [...]

Charles Duhigg’s New York Times Podcast: “Change Agent”

2018-12-16T20:52:18-04:00March 8th, 2018|Blog, Media Reviews|

The "Change Agent" podcast is a five-episode series by The New York Times. It is hosted by Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of "The Power of Habit" and "Smarter Faster Better." It uses real-life problems to try and solve a surprising story. (When we worked on the podcast last year, Duhigg was a senior editor, but since then he is no longer there.) The New York Times describes it "as a new five-part podcast series that turns obstacles into opportunities. Each episode unearths surprising stories from science and business to offer answers to people’s problems. [They] [...]

Errant Belief #4: “He’s an Adult. We Have No Right to Interfere.”

2018-12-15T20:04:50-04:00March 1st, 2018|Blog|

Undue Influence Undermines Autonomy It is completely understandable that people might resist any request to help a person who has been unduly influenced. The person might say, "Why should I? They are an adult. I don't think it is right to interfere with their decision." If the person isn't asking for help, why get involved? Americans generally have great respect for privacy and expect that people are functioning of one's own volition. In fact, the law states that once people reach the age of majority (usually eighteen but in some countries twenty-one), they are responsible for their own [...]

2018: Looking Forward to Helping People to Help Themselves and Others

2018-12-16T20:12:03-04:00January 4th, 2018|Blog, News and Updates, Resources and Support|

Combating Cult Mind Control For over forty years, I have endeavored to help people understand my own cult experience- being recruited into a front group of the Moonies in 1974 while a student at Queens College in New York.  This year, on November 18th, 2018, my book Combating Cult Mind Control will be 30 years old.  That hardback volume was originally published with the British spelling, Combatting, and featured a bald-headed man with a padlock and chain around his bald head.  I fought with my then publisher and told him the cover was a total turn off for all [...]

Recovery from Spiritual Abuse and Healing Oneself to Trust Again

2018-12-13T21:09:21-04:00August 9th, 2017|Blog, News and Updates, Resources and Support|

This past weekend, I attended and spoke at a conference at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. This one-day event was sponsored by MeadowHaven, The Protestant Chaplaincy of the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Dartmouth Bible Church, and International Cultic Studies Association. The title of my talk was "Spiritual Abuse: Strategies to Help Someone to Exit, Heal and Trust Again," which was quite a large topic to cover in forty-five minutes! However, many people have told me that they really got a lot from it. I was invited to speak there by my colleague and friend, Rev. Bob Pardon who along with [...]

The Need to Educate Judges, Attorneys, Citizens, and Governments About Undue Influence

2018-12-16T19:47:23-04:00August 3rd, 2017|Blog, News and Updates|

The knowledge base of the hard sciences including medicine and social psychological research is developing rapidly all over the world. The legal system is constantly being updated to incorporate new information and research. For the law to change, it often is up to diligent attorneys who represent clients who have suffered a harm and expert witnesses who testify honestly within existing areas of known science to the nature of that harm. Precedent setting cases help advance the legal system or in some situations, harm the quest for truth and justice. The time has come for Undue Influence to be [...]