The title of the new Steve Hassan book is " Freedom of Mind - Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs " . Very good information even in the 1st chapter called " Cult Common Denominators " . Just wanted to share some high points my wife and I gleaned from it !
Right away Steve Hassan mentions the tactics that such cults as Marshall Applewhites Heaven's Gate cult used to control and indoctrinate it's members . See if these similarities ring true regarding the WT society and Jehovah's Witnesses. Hassan states on pg. 2 , " Applewhite claimed to allow free choice, but each member was controlled by an EXTENSIVE LIST of rules : " Major offenses and lesser offenses , " included " having likes or dislikes, " " breaking any instruction or procedure knowingly , " and " trusting my own judgment or using my own mind ". Sound familiar ?
Were these Heaven's Gate members weak or had a noticeable defeciency that lured them into the cult ? Hassan mentions, " Many Heaven's Gate members held steady jobs before deciding to follow Applewhite. Among the 39 dead ( who committed suicide influenced by Applewhite ) were a bus driver, computer trainer, environmentalist, car salesman, nurse, paralegal, medical assistant, homemaker, and local TV personality. This diversity shows that situational and psychological variables may make a person more vulnerable , but that ANYONE who is UNAWARE of the tactics of extreme influence may be recruited. "
Hassan mentions that the " diversity of cult beliefs and practices can make it hard for family members and friends to decide whether their loved one is in trouble. " Then he mentions an identifying factor, " Destructive cults are distinguished by their use of deception and extreme influence. " He adds, " a destructive cult is an authoritarian group headed by a person or group of people with near-complete control. Charismatic cult leaders often claim divine or otherworldly powers . "
The use of destructive mind control is mentioned, he states, " Cult influence is designed to disrupt a person's authentic identity and replace it with a new identity. By immersing people in a tightly controlled, high-pressure social environment, destructive cults gain control of members' behavior, thoughts, and emotions. They limit their access to outside information. They literally TAKE CONTROL of their minds. "
Hassan states there are 4 types of cults : 1. Religious or Spiritual 2. Political Groups 3. Therapy / Large Group Awareness Training ( LGAT ) 4. Commercial Groups . Hassan proceeds to give 10 personal examples of people he has assisted in these various types of cults and their experiences they went through while inside these cults of various kinds.
Hassan ends the chapter with what he calls " common characteristics " of cults. These include : 1. " Exclusivity / Isolation - of which manipulation and deception is used . All other churches are dead and unspiritual. recruit turns his back on all his friends, spending more time with the guru/group. Meetings are secret. Cult members move into the groups headquarters. The cult member refuses to respond to letters and phone calls. The family doesn't know where their loved one is. 2. Abuse of Power - Psychological blackmail. Threatening Prophecies. Cult leader or leadership asks for money and property . Guru demands to have sex wwith a member. 3. Creation of the Pseudo ( cult ) Personality - I don't recognize my own bright, warm , loving son. Guru tries to control member's behavior, thoughts and emotions. Cult member is like an actor who comes to believethe ' role ' is reality. " Hassan continues and states, " If some of these characteristics sound familiar , there is a good chance that the group in question is a destructive cult. The following chapters will give you specific criteria for evaluating the destructive potential of a group. "
Hassan states his " Strategic Interactive Approach to assisting friends or loved ones to exit cults " .
1. Real Love is Stronger than conditional love : The fact that you are willing to help and are seeking professional advice means there is reason to hope. The member will realize that YOUR love is unconditional , while the cult's 'love ' depends on their meeting expectations and goals.
2. Preparatory Work : Learning to Think and Act Strategically : The sooner you learn about destructive influence, cults, goal oriented communication and how to interact effectively, the faster you will be able to make a positive difference in your loved one's life. Learn about cults and influence and seek appropriate counseling.
3. Goal-Oriented Communication : Build a greater rapport and trust step by step - that's the Strategic Interactive Approach.
4. Resourcefulness : Flexibility and teamwork. Get the member's family involved. Learn how many ways there are to reconnect seemingly lost relationships . Each case is unique and requires a customized strategy. "
So at the end of the chapter Hassan reiterates 3 things that identify cults as potentially dangerous : 1. Authoritarian leadership 2. Deceptive practices 3. Tightly controlled emotional and intellectual environment .
I wholeheartedly recommend everyone that can to read this book. It's been 12 years since Steve Hassan's last book and this new one is chalk full of great ideas and new , improved techniques to assist our family members exit cults and abusive relationships . I'll post some more threads in the future on upcoming chapters in this book. Any and all comments welcome regarding how this information will help or if you have any insight yourself on Hassans methods. Take care, Peace out, Mr. Flipper