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? As an expert on destructive groups and mind control, I am often asked to give my opinion about specific groups and organizations, including religious ones.
In fact, there is a wide spectrum of healthy and unhealthy influence. Individual experiences vary within the same organization based on how the individual conforms to the norms of the group. I have developed an Influence Continuum which shows the thematic differences between ethical influence and undue influence. My BITE model (Behavior, Information, Thought and Emotion Control) offers a list of variables that can be easily identified and which quickly show if a group or individual is exercising unethical influence.
Destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause; it is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. In fact, there only needs to be a few major behaviors under each of the four components.
(To learn more, download this detailed handout on The BITE Model or read Combating Cult Mind Control which explores cult psychology, curing the mind control virus, how to protect people you care about and strategies for recovery.)
Watch: What is a Cult? Whiteboard Animation Explaining the BITE Model
The following animation describes in great detail how the BITE model can be applied so as to determine if a group or relationship is healthy or destructive.
Group Information Resource Page
Over the years, group information has been submitted about how well group beliefs and practices fit into the BITE Model, what ex-members say about the group, and any information about helpful resources or support groups. We have collected this information into a database and shared it online. Recently, this group information has been published here on the Freedom of Mind website.
The fact that we list a group on our site does not necessarily mean they are a destructive mind control group. They appear because we have received inquiries and have established a file on the group. We also provide links for organizations, even though we don’t necessarily agree with all of their viewpoints or can verify that all of their information is true. We have even included links to sites that we strongly disagree with, but feel that they offer information and another point of view which could prove useful. We invite you to use critical and independent judgment to evaluate each group and resource.
We are always looking for updated verifiable information and if you would like to submit group information, please fill out the form.
The importance of a centralized database of group information is very important. If more people know the signs and dangers of undue influence, they are far less likely to fall victim. By providing more awareness, fewer suffer and former members are uniquely qualified to share how the group for which they were a part, is a dangerous, mind control cult.
The following is a list of some of the religious groups on our Group Resource Information Page. In the upcoming weeks, we will discuss other types of groups including political, self-help, networking (MLM) and others.
This list is not exhaustive and other groups will be added in the future, as well as content will continue to be updated. Most of the information was submitted by former members, academics, experts, and concerned individuals. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Freedom of Mind. We welcome any feedback. Contact Us
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About the Author:
Steven Hassan M.Ed. LMHC, NCC has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence (mind control). With over 40 years of experience, he is sought after as one of the foremost authorities on undue influence and controlling groups and individuals. Steve understands the subject from a unique perspective as both a former cult member and as a clinical professional.
Steven is the Founding Director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to supporting individuals to have the freedom to think clearly and to freely consider how they want to live their lives. Steven pioneered a breakthrough method called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA), an effective and legal alternative for families to help cult members. The SIA teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the cult.
Learn about how the Strategic Interactive Approach can help rescue your friend or loved one out from under predatory influence.
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