Steven Hassan isn't always appreciated in the field of exit-counseling from cults. Since his third book came out, Dr. Cathleen Mann wrote a somewhat harsh review of it that I felt necessary to respond to. The article is at:
and repeated at:
My response was:
This sounds more like a personal attack on Steven Hassan than a factual review. Obviously in a field that isn’t even fully recognized by psych experts, one has to formulate and learn on their own. My beliefs and techniques over the last 30 years since leaving the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters, working 6 years for $14 a month in a Brooklyn commune taught me how to use the approach that works the best for me. And it has. A lot depends on a person’s personality of course more than intellectual knowledge… the initial approach is the most critical time in an intervention.
“What authority then, outside of Hassan himself, has officially recognized him as an expert concerning cults? For that matter has an authority officially recognized Hassan as an expert in anything?”
Sounds pretty harsh to me. What kind of authority has recognized Cathleen or Rick Ross as an expert in cults? I don’t think we have arrived at that point yet. Does doing old-style deprogramming in a forceful manner qualify a person? That involves a lot of little and even bigger white lies to pull off. Very questionable ethics. But we have hopefully grown out of that… besides it is usually illegal.
I have worked with Steven on several exit-counselings over the years. I don’t agree with all his ideas, but that is just observations from my own personal experiences. I consider myself better in working with Jehovah’s Witnesses than Steven does. But that is my history and area of expertise. I take a more primal, visceral approach. I don’t generally use his models or “points,” but I have learned a lot working with him. I think his kind-heartedness is his most effective tool, and his openness to his own experiences in the Moon organization.
I agree that Steven could do a better job in analyzing the various techniques of others in the field and mention them, but that is his choice.
There are a few good experts out there (I have retired from that scene… being more of a product of the “former” Cult Awareness Network) but still stay in touch with some of the effective counselors. I have learned from all of them.
May we all work together to realize that human personal interaction is more important than polemics in the end. Kudos to all those who are seeking to educate people about cults… which I believe in the following years, as a few opportunists get more clever in misleading others and the less-educated are willing to follow them (especially in political arenas), that we will see a much greater disparity between the predators and their victims. While religious cults may not rise much in numbers, high-control groups most certainly will, in my opinion.
Free Minds, Inc.
An "expert" to me, being a mere Okie, is who is the most effective in getting a person OUT permanently and after a follow-up of a few years, seeing how the "techniques" have changed their lives, rather than government entities who make decisions like rushing inhto trhe Waco compound and precipitating mass suicide. The average counselor and most certainly the governments do not have degrees in exit-counseling, and often do more harm than good.
All of these polemics bear the mark of personal style issues rather than actual results, but I could be wrong.
I don't accept anyone's advice 100%, and I don't believe in numbered models or techniques. But I am just as effective as others in the end. I have never once seen Steve act arrogant towards others, but that's my limited experience. He is quite honest and open.