Under the right circumstances, even sane, rational, well-adjusted people can be deceived and persuaded to believe the most outrageous ideas and leader. President Trump uses the same deceptive psychological techniques that cult leaders do (cult leader’s playbook) that influence his devoted followers’ behavior, information, thoughts, and emotions. Some people are also unwilling to entertain the idea that Trump displays the characteristics of a cult leader (malignant narcissism). Very concerning is that some are so fervently devoted, they have cut off relationships with any that do not believe the same way as them, including close friends and even family.
Do you have friends or family members who are believers in the Cult of Trump? If you are concerned about their well-being, stop arguing, calling them names or cutting them off. Respectful, warm, regular communication will be the bridge for them to start thinking rationally. The “bubble” will burst and reality will dawn. (This happened to me when I was a Moonie.)
As a mental health counselor and former cult member with over forty years of experience helping people leave and recover from destructive cults, I have developed some strategic and helpful techniques that I wish to share below. It is essentially the same advice I give to families of people in Scientology, the Moonies, white power groups and other mind-control cults.
The Definitive Guide to Helping People in the Cult of Trump
Things to Do FIRST
- Start with YOU. Do your homework. Be informed and have a plan. Research cults and mind control. Don’t make the mistake of trying to rationally argue. Understand how mind control works and the effective communication strategies that work. Don’t fly blindly. I recommend reading my books in this order: Combating Cult Mind Control, Freedom of Mind, and The Cult of Trump. My web site is filled with useful and important information, including many blogs and interviews. Realize that helping a person will be a process requiring patience, effort, flexibility, and love.
- Build rapport and trust. Rebuild your relationship, if it’s broken. If you were the one to break contact, apologize. Reach out and be warm. Remember the good times. Focus on common values and areas you both enjoy (children, pets, music, dancing, fishing, sports). At first, don’t talk about controversial topics or even Trump. Avoid “hot topics.” Just try to connect with the other person and have positive interactions. Build credibility and SUSTAIN positive interaction. Build a long term relationship based upon respect, compassion, and love.
- Do what you can to REMOVE or minimize media that continually indoctrinates to only one point of view. This is a positive step. You can even agree to make a pact to go on a media fast together. For them, this means NO Fox News and NO talk radio for a set period of time. Don’t make this about “them” or “their problem.” Make this a fun thing to do together as a “break.” Be prepared to honor requests on your end.
Things to Do DURING Your Conversations
- Ask thought-provoking questions while being warm and curious. Be prepared to listen deeply. You will know if you have listened well if you can repeat back to them what they said. Be humble and open to hear what they say.
- Keep conversations positive, productive and civil. Never get angry. Stay resourceful. It is better to end the interaction than to say something counter-productive.
- Adopt a general tone of curiosity and interest in their positions. Pretend you’re an impartial counselor. Really try to GET INSIDE their beliefs.
- Try to connect them with their authentic identity BEFORE these extreme beliefs. Remind them of past experiences together. Talk about the connection you once had and how you miss it.
- Don’t “TELL” them anything. Help them to make discoveries on their OWN.
- Try to get them to look at reality from many different perspectives. This can include many things.
- Teach them about indoctrination and mind control using examples they have NO attachment to (don’t talk about Trump!)
- Use examples of cult leaders with similar qualities to Trump (i.e. insulting the media) and have conversations about it.
- Share feelings and perceptions, not judgments. Use “I feel” statements. Don’t claim to be “right.” Stick to what your perception is when reflecting back to them.
- Get the person to remember what they thought about Donald Trump BEFORE he took over the GOP. Kindly ask if they feel happier NOW or back then.
- Ask a question and then WAIT for them to think and respond. You do not need to FILL silence.
- Caution: an abundance of facts WON’T necessarily help. Do not overwhelm them with information, especially if it attacks the leader or doctrine.
Lastly, I do offer intervention services if you find that you need help. But be patient. This is a journey and will not happen overnight. Do not get discouraged. People do leave, as shown by the following experiences.
Caleb Cain was featured in a New York Times article in June of 2019. He got sucked into an Alt-Right wormhole and had a radical personality shift. He talks about HOW this happened and HOW he got out. (to read the article, go here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/08/technology/youtube-radical.html) (Watch my interview with Caleb on Faraday Speaks.)
How to Talk to a Trump Supporter
Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Trump Supporters
The following infographic gives some of the do’s and don’ts of talking with Trump supporters with the goal of empowering them to think for themselves and do independent research on the subject of cult mind control.
About the Author:
Steven Hassan M.A., 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 Hassan has published 4 books about cults. His first book, which came out in 1988 under the title Combatting Cult Mind Control, was updated and re-released in 2015 as Combating Cult Mind Control. Chapter 2, My life in the Unification Church has been placed for free on this web site. This book is available as an audiobook as well as on kindle.
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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