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Excerpt adapted from Lessons in Awareness and reprinted for educational purposes only.
See also: Confronting Thought Reform & Coercive Persuasion
Cults in Our Midst
The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace By Margaret Thaler Singer Publ.: Jossey-Bass; Rev Upd 2nd ed. Year: 2003 ISBN: 0787967416 Review: Though the title may seem sensational, the book is a well-researched, enlightening introduction to a serious subject. Singer is a clinical psychologist and emeritus adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley who has interviewed several thousand former cult members and testified about cults and their "thought reform" tactics; Lalich is a professional writer and former cult member. The strength of Cults in Our Midst is its clear explanation of the nature of cults, how they operate, the threat they pose to individuals, families, and society, and how others can help cult survivors escape and recover. Many types of cultic relationships are considered, from tiny religious or occult groups to the "large group awareness training" programs that have infiltrated workplaces. The book makes key distinctions between New Age ideas and the cults that use these concepts and between types of persuasion, from education to propaganda to cults' manipulative "thought reform." Most Americans, Cults in Our Midst stresses, will be vulnerable to cults at some point in their lives. Includes resource and suggested reading lists. Mary Carroll [From Booklist] See also: Margaret Singer: Cults in Our Midst
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism
A Study of Brainwashing in China By Robert Jay Lifton Publ.: Univ of North Carolina Pr; Reprint ed. Year: 1961 / 1989 ISBN: 0807842532 Synopsis: Informed by Erik Erikson's concept of the formation of ego identity, this book, which first appreared in 1961, is an analysis of the experiences of fifteen Chinese citizens and twenty-five Westerners who underwent
"brainwashing" by the Communist Chinese government. Robert Lifton constructs these case histories through personal interviews and outlines a thematic pattern of death and rebirth, accompanied by feelings of guilt, that characterizes the process of "thought reform." In a new preface, Lifton addresses the implications of his model for the study of American religious cults.
Obedience to Authority:
An Experimental View By Stanley Milgram Publ.: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint ed. Year: 2009 ISBN: 006176521X (Free Online Version) Comments: From Milgram's reply to Baumrind's ethical critique of the obedience experiments (1964): "I started with the belief that every person who came to the laboratory was free to accept or to reject the dictates of authority. This view sustains a conception of human dignity insofar as it sees in each man a capacity for choosing his own behavior. And as it turned out, many subjects did, indeed, choose to reject the experimenter's commands, providing a powerful affirmation of human ideals."
Take Back Your Life:
Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships By Janja Lalich Publ.: Bay Tree Publishing; 2 Rev Exp ed. Year: 2006 ISBN: 0972002154 Reviews: Former members of cults (including those born or raised in such groups) will gain valuable insights on their experiences. -- Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., Executive Director, International Cultic Studies Association Must reading for everyone who wants to understand the appeal of cults. This book's wisdom is vital. -- Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
A Practical Guide By Ian Haworth Publ.: Cult Information Centre (Online Purchase) Year: 2002 ISBN: 1873166842
Synopsis: This British handbook is designed for both prevention and cure. It is aimed at helping a wide range of readers from 14 to 94. The booklet is a concise guide to assist families and friends of cult members. It will also benefit ex-cult members in their recovery. Furthermore, it will be an educational tool for teachers, researchers, personnel managers, counselors and others in the caring professions.
Releasing the Bonds
Empowering People to Think for Themselves By Steven Hassan Publ.: Freedom of Mind Press Year: 2000 ISBN: 0-9670688-0-0 Review: "As a former cult member who walked away from that group some years ago, I've found Steve Hassan to be a great resource to help me through all kinds of emotional struggles, both his online resources and his first book. Now, with the release of 'Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves', Steve provides even more resources not just to aid people affected by cults, but to help people truly empower themselves to think clearly and critically, and help them make the best decisions for their lives." [Reviewer: Nicolas P. DiCiaccio, Massachusetts]
Age of Propaganda
The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion By Anthony Pratkanis Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; illustrated ed. Year: 2001 ISBN-10: 0805074031 Review: Psychologists Pratkanis and Aronson present a thorough overview of how individuals and the mass media manipulate us using devious persuasive techniques. In order to understand how and why we are persuaded, the authors analyze the various tactics people use to get us to comply; point out ways we might deal sensibly and effectively with propaganda; and examine persuasion in a context of argument and debate. The authors' quarrel with persuasive communication today is that, rather than using logical argument, it uses emotional symbols to manipulate us. Advertisers, for example, use short, catchy, visually oriented messages to get us to buy things we might not need. Pratkanis and Aronson skillfully summarize research findings from the field of social psychology to illustrate their points. - Gary D. Barber, SUNY [From Library Journal]
Coercion: Why We Listen to What They Say
By Douglas Rushkoff Publisher: Riverhead Trade Year: October 10, 2000 ISBN-10: 157322829X Review by Sean Scott (friend of) This is the most enjoyable and frightening book I've read about various forms of thought control in everyday life. Rushkoff explores and compares phenomena like cults, MLM schemes like Amway, neuro-linguistic programming, shopping mall design, and used car salesman training which features a script almost identical to the one in a CIA interrogation manual obtained through the freedom of information act. I recommend this book to everyone, as it treats things that we all face, but I think it's an essential read for anyone interested in cults and mind control.
The Psychology of Persuasion By Robert B. Cialdini Publ.: Collins; Revised edition Year: 1998 ISBN: 0688128165 Comments: "Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion. Whether you're a mere consumer or someone weaving the web of persuasion to urge others to buy or vote for your product, this is an essential book for understanding the psychological foundations of marketing. Recommended. [Amazon.com]
Battle for the Mind
A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing By William Sargant Publ.: Malor Books Year: 1997 ISBN: 1883536065 Book description: How can an evangelist convert a hardboiled sophisticate? Why does a POW sign a "confession" that he knows is false? How is a criminal
pressured into admitting his guilt? Do the evangelist, the POW's captor, and the policeman use similar methods to gain their ends? These and other compelling questions are discussed in the definitive work by William Sargant, who for many years until his death in 1988 was a leading physician in psychological medicine. Sargant spells out and illustrates the basic techniques used by evangelists, psychiatrists, and brain-washers to disperse the patterns of belief and behavior already established in the minds of their hearers, and to substitute new patterns for them.
The Guru Papers
Masks of Authoritarian Power By Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad Publ.: Frog Ltd Year: 1993 ISBN: 1883319005 Quotes/Excerpts: Freedom of Mind, Ex-Premie, American Budda Comments: "Easily the most comprehensive, erudite, and timely book in print to explore authoritarianism in religion, institutions, power, the family, intimacy and sexual relations, and personal problems such as addiction... Argue[s] persuasively that any system of values that places tradition and the past above the imperative to question the present is destined to become increasingly lethal." [Keith Thompson, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review]
The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities By Len Oakes Publ.: Syracuse University Press Year: 1997 ISBN: 0815603983 Book description: Len Oakes explores the phenomenon of cult leaders. He examines the psychology of charisma and proposes his own theory of the five-stage life cycle of the two types of prophets: the messianic and charismatic. Often characterized by isolation, autonomy, grandiosity, and manipulativeness, Oakes maintains that the cult leader has a narcissistic personality. This individual possesses a heightened empathy, confidence, and memory, as well as autonomy and detachment - while appearing disquietingly normal most of the time. The author has interviewed several leaders whom, he feels, exemplify the charismatic personality. He also provides insight into the behavior and personality of many well-known cult leaders such as Jim Jones, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, L. Ron Hubbard, Werner Erhard, Kathryn Kuhlman, and J. H. Noyes. For eleven years, Oakes was a member of a charismatic communal group, during which time he simultaneously undertook his research into the psychology of charisma. His results - informed by both insider and
academic viewpoints - contradicts many current accepted beliefs about cult leaders and their followers.
Faith, Healing, and Coercion By Marc Galanter Publ.: Oxford University Press; 2 nd ed. Year: 1999 ISBN: 0195123700 Review: "From the mass weddings of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church to the ritual suicides at Heaven's Gate, charismatic cults and their devotees have become facts of American life. Using material gleaned from twenty-five years of direct encounters with cults and their detractors, as well as extensive research, Marc Galanter offers the most extensive psychological analysis of these organizations available. Cults explore not only how members feel and think at all stages of their involvement, but also how larger social and psychological forces reinforce individual commitment within the cults."
The Manipulated Mind
Brainwashing, Conditioning and Indoctrination By Denise Winn Publ.: Malor Books; Reprint ed. Year: 2000 ISBN: 1883536227 Available Online: 1983 Edition on Scribd Editorial Review: "…Research findings from psychology show that brainwashing is not a special subversive technique; it is the clever manipulation of unrealized influences that operate in all our lives. This book, by breaking down so-called brainwashing to its individual elements, shows how social conditioning, need for approval, emotional dependency and much else that we are unaware of, prevent us from being as self-directed as we think; and, conversely, which human traits make us the least susceptible to subtle influence."
Combating Cult Mind Control
The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults By Steven Hassan Publ.: Inner Traditions Intl Ltd
Year: 1990 ISBN: 0892813113 Review: "...remarkably useful and important. I heartily recommend this book to anyone affected by the cult experience. Hassan's work will be valuable to health professionals, clergy, attorneys, and all those involved with cults, their members, and the families whose lives they touch." [Louis Jolyon West, M.D., Chairman, Department of Psychiatry UCLA School of Medicine]
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds
Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships By Madeleine L. Tobias, Janja Lalich, Michael Langone Publ.: Hunter House Year: 1994 ISBN: 0897931440 Cultic Studies Journal: Book Review [Vol. 10, No. 3, 1993] Review: "Tobias and Lalich spent a combined total of 24 years in "restrictive groups" (i.e., cults), and both are currently involved in providing post-cult counseling and therapy. Their first collaboration, this book succeeds as an ambitious, comprehensive explanation of the cult experience and works well on several levels. Its stated focal intent is to encourage and assist those former cultists struggling to readjust to the "real world." Powered by the authors' experience, compassion, and intellect, it capably provides such support. In addition, however, Tobias and Lalich's systematic analysis of the shared characteristics of cults and cult leaders, along with extensive first-person accounts by former cultists, will educate those readers with a purely intellectual interest in the allure, power, and structure of cults." [Library Journal] See also: Cultic Studies Journal Book Review by Carol Giambalvo
America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change By Flo Conway Publ.: Stillpoint Pr Inc; 2nd ed. Year: 1995/2005 ISBN: 0964765004 Review: "Explores the way cults and other factors are causing people to give
themselves over to those like David Koresh of Waco infamy, or becoming walking time bombs like Timothy McVeigh, the alleged perpetrator of the Oklahoma bombing...a powerful look at a social phenomenon that is making headlines." [Bookviews]
Recovery from Abusive Groups
By Wendy Ford Wolfberg Publ.: Amer Family Foundation Year: 1993 ISBN: 0931337046 Available Online: FREE ICSA Archives; Woflberg.net From inside flap: "Wendy Ford has written an honest, revealing, highly comprehensive and practical guide for former cultists and their families. Through this sensible, instructive book, a wider circle of people will now have the opportunity to benefit from her wise and practical step-by-step approach. This book is the first of its kind, and it will be difficult to surpass." -Lorna Goldberg, MSW, ACSW & William Goldberg, MSW, ACSW See also: Cult Awareness: What Is A Destructive Group?
Recovery from Cults
Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse By Michael D. Langone (Editor) Publ.: W.W. Norton & Company Year: 1995 ISBN: 0393313212 Review: "This was one of the first books I read after 9 years in a cult, too bad I read it more than a year and a half after I quit (I wish I would’ve found this earlier, right after I left the group I was in). I recommend this to all ex-members of cults, as well as anyone interested in or affected by them; and ESPECIALLY anyone in any group (religious or otherwise) who questions the nature of your group, and has thoughts of leaving. This book is informative, affirmative, and great support for ex-members and their families when you feel like no one else understands what you’ve been through." [Phillip Tomas, Tokyo, Japan] See also: ICSA Product Details and Cultic Studies Journal Book Review by Arthur A. Dole
A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple By Deborah Layton Publ.: Anchor Books; 2nd ed. Year: 1999 ISBN: 0385489846 Comments: "In reading this chilling memoir, some may desire ultimate answers to the most obvious question, namely, why any sane person would join such a group. Layton doesn't cheapen her ordeal, or the lives of those lost, with throwaway analysis. Perhaps the only answer lies in the basic human need for fulfillment, sanctuary, and belonging." [The Boston Globe, Rene Graham] See also: Cultic Studies Journal Book Review by Marcia R. Rudin
The True Believer
Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements By Eric Hoffer Publ.: Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1st ed. reprint Year: 1951 / 2002 ISBN: 0060505915 Comments: This little book is a remarkable achievement. Written by Eric Hoffer who, at the time, was a dock worker with no formal education, it is one of the best treatments of the nature and effects of ideological fanaticism ever produced. The presentation, in short chapters - each demanding to be thought about carefully - is a synthesis of years of careful reading and research on Hoffer's part. It is a book that can be read and reread with each new reading shedding new insight on political and social issues of our time. … [Doug Vaughn, Washington DC] See also: The legacy of Eric Hoffer by Thomas Howell
The Lucifer Effect:
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil By Philip Zimbardo Publ.: Random House Trade Paperbacks Year: 2007 / 2008 ISBN: 0812974441
Reviews: Social psychologist Zimbardo is best known as the father of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which used a simulated prison populated with student volunteers to illustrate the extent to which identity is situated within a social setting; student volunteers randomly chosen to play guards became cruel and authoritarian, while those playing inmates became rebellious and depressed. With this book, Zimbardo couples a thorough narrative of the Stanford Prison Experiment with an analysis of the social dynamics of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, arguing that the "experimental dehumanization" of the former is instructive in understanding the abusive conduct of guards at the latter... [American Library Association Booklist] “This is a book for our times, a multilayered classic. What is truly remarkable is its blending of sensitive personal exploration, brilliant social-psychological analysis, and sustained ethical passion.” — Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors and Superpower Syndrome See also: Philip Zimbardo Explains the Lucifer Effect
What Are They? Do They Work? By Margaret Thaler Singer, Janja Lalich Publ.: Jossey-Bass Year: 1996 ISBN: 0787902780 Comments: "An expos of alternative psychotherapeutic philosophies and practices, revealing the sometimes harmful effects of methods such as past-life therapy, alien-abduction therapy, rebirthing, and skull adjustment. Outlines guidelines for distinguishing legitimate therapeutic approaches from those that are irrational or unethical, and offers advice on avoiding the risks of entanglement." [Book News, Inc., Portland]
Additional Recommended Reading Lists
Related to Abusive Sects, Destructive Groups & Cult Recovery FACTNet.org Recommended Books Rick Ross Institute Book List Steven Alan Hassan's Recommended Reading List Operation Clambake Booklist on Cult Mind Control etc. Church of Scientology Exit Zone Reading Lists
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