Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Combatting Cult Mind Control” as Want to Read:
Combatting Cult Mind Control
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Combatting Cult Mind Control

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  511 ratings  ·  76 reviews
America's leading exit counselor and defector from a controversial cult exposes the startling facts about destructive cults, their use of psychological manipulation to gain money and power, and their influence on government, the legal system and society.
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published November 1st 1988 by Park Street Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  511 ratings  ·  76 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Combatting Cult Mind Control
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and thought provoking book on cults. Most of the focus was on religious cults but the author covered political cults, educational cults, and commercial cults as well. Topics of mind control, behavior modification, the influence of conformity, phobia indoctrination and obedience to authority are addressed in this thoughtful, well-written book.

Favorite quotes from the book: "I told him that any group that told its members not to think, but rather to obey their leaders blindly, was
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book on how cult indoctrination works and details the common yet effective methods they use: "deceptive recruiting", "love-bombing", "loaded language" - "isolation" - "dogmatism", etc. For those that think, it can't happen to me, Hassan points out the Unification Church preferred to target "capable people", i.e. smart, energetic, idealistic... and they often succeeded.

Although not mentioned except in the expanded bibliography of the later edition, the methods used eerily
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I was introduced to a group by a friend years back and was an active member, even though a lot of it creeped me out. I decided to leave on my own, but by using this book, I was able to discover that the group I belonged to was actually a cult. It wasn't as horrendous as many cults but it had all the warning signs, including the use of mind control techniques. This book is a great read for anyone. It helps you to realize that most cults use deception to get you to join. They ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Undue influence is real

This book was really eye opening. I was raised Jehovah's Witness and this book has helped me to see that I was raised in a cult and how they influenced me. Steven Hassan is a great teacher and the book was an easy and uplifting read. I encourage "everyone" to read this book. This book gives perspective to cults which is something no one is talking about. This book has vital information that anyone can benefit from.
May 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It it very easy to trust the words of a self-proclaimed "cult-expert" and immediately fall into the trap of assuming that everything he writes is factual.

Looking a little deeper into the Author's past, certain troubling issues arise - the aAuthor's lack of any real psychiatric qualification, for one. His past as a Deprogrammer (kidnapping people from group he arbitrarily calls cults) is another. The fact that he performed these deprogramming as a referral kickback service for The Cult Awareness
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book helped change my perspective and learn my way out of my upbringing.
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: This review was originally posted on the website Ex-JW Sisters

As I mentioned to the Editor of this blog, as a book reviewer I would love to contribute some articles about books written by or for Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are a number of books available, I hope to help give a quick general overview of these books so that you can decide which you’d like to read.

I chose this book as the first to review because it marked the beginning of my journey out of “the truth”. As such, it is a
Madeleine Rose
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Did an extended project qualification on cult mind control, this book was my bible! Cult life as a reality in 80s/90s America is an interesting topic that is worth your time to read about.
Alex Kenjeev
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are all vulnerable to indoctrination, either directly or indirectly. Directly: almost anyone can be indoctrinated under the right circumstances, even if most of us are lucky enough to only face such circumstances rarely, if at all.

Indirectly: the threat posed to civilization by destructive mind control is much broader, and can be properly called existential. Consider the middle-class professional who suddenly becomes "radicalized", a once mild-mannered neighbor is now a thug, ready at any
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book for awhile and just finished it. With thousands of cults in America, this is a great resource. The only thing lacking in this book, is that Hassen does not address SGA (Second generation Adult) members of cults, but he corrects that in his later books and there are other good books now on that as well. I think many people do not realize the need to study and be aware of mind control but understanding its mechanisms and how humans can become slaves to an ideology and ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The TomKat divorce, scientology and recent experiences prompted me to read this. Informative and Very interesting (and scary) to think how many people are manipulated into joining these groups.
I wish more families/friends had the perseverance, strength and knowledge needed to rescue someone from these groups so that these cults would eventually die out.
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had actually hesitated in reading this book based on the title. My thinking was that I'm not in a cult and at very low risk of being recruited into one, so I don't need this book. Not only was I wrong, but more than anything, this book is about recognizing and protecting yourself from manipulative tactics.

Here are some of my corrected misconceptions of what cults are and aren't:

- Strange doctrine doesn't make you a cult. First off, "strange" is relative. Virgin birth may sound strange to
Phil Calderone
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: learning
Combating Cult Mind Control
2016 Edition

It was harder than anticipated to find a book on cults and cult recovery. The information is largely scattered in biographic anecdotal books, there being a dearth of information from the professional psychology community. This is one of the points Steve Hassan makes, thus he became one of the foremost experts on cult influence and escaping entrapment.

A little background. Well documented research on mind control goes back to Nazi Germany and particularly Mao
James K.
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Steven Hassan's excellent and insightful review of his experience with a destructive cult; and the mind control techniques such cults use to recruit, retain and fleece members; should be required reading in high school. Most of us think we would never fall for a ridiculous story like Sun Myung Moon being the new Messiah or L. Ron Hubbard having discovered we are spirit beings robbed of our power to control Matter, Energy. Space and Time even better than a Jedi Master by the evil overlord Xenu of ...more
Sara Lou
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've purchased this book as a 'self help' in recognising how mind control has been used emotionally, mentally and spiritually in my life. Although a lot of the 'examples' are given from the authors experience with 'The Moonies' this isn't a book merely for those who have been in such recognisable and extreme 'cult' movements.

What I have found, especially in the sections explaining mind control and the manipulative ways it is harnessed, is that I've been able to recognise and identify ways I have
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Mach-won by:
This is an amazing bookfor those who which to help fight the predatory destructive cults by attacking the heart and their wallets.

The goal in this book is my using a non-coercive method of interventions and help the cult member think and grow and breaking the spell of mind control.

What I found particularly great about this book was the methods of "mini-interventions." Ways to help cult members help themselves you may come across in your day-to-day life. Speaking to them and getting them to
Dave Burns
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book seems important to me, though it is a bit outdated and the author may be a bit biased. He tells how the Moonies recruited him using deception, isolation, sleep deprivation and other techniques to manipulate him. Then he tells how he escaped their influence and began working to help others escape from similar organizations.
Chapter six should be taught at every school. It includes some good questions to get answers to before allowing yourself to go to some vague 'free seminar' that will
Keith Akers
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an old book (published 1988) but I found it to be very informative and helpful on the subject of cults -- "cults," that is, in the pejorative sense of the term. It's a great introduction to how people are induced to join a cult, and counseled out of cults which they've been in. There are a lot of stories in the book, which make it an interesting as well as an informative read. Cults tend to resemble each other in several important ways.

He gives a really great description of the
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JW, Moonies, TM, Mormonism, Hare Krishna, Scientology, Lyndon Larouche, and MLM... all examples of destructive cults..., along with human trafficking and pimping.

This is a revealing book by a former Moonie, turned therapist, who is one of the driving forces in recognizing the dangers of destructive cults.

Reading it was a revelation to me, even if I was in many respects more aware than many people. The inclusion of MLM is interesting, a glaring oversight is the omission of urban gangs, and
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important books I've ever read and I've read plenty. It's not just cults that practice mind control. Schools, businesses and other kinds of organizations can engage in group think. If you don't fit in you can be scapegoated. David Maybury once famously wrote—It takes two to tango and three to gang up. This books raises the question "how do we know that what we think is authentic?" Steve believe that no matter how deeply programmed a person appears to be, that other, genuine ...more
David Winkler
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In his book, Steven Hassan, has done a wonderful job using his experience to help others. He elaborates upon the four main types of cults, the different recruitment approaches used to indoctrinate people, and how to develop exit-strategies to help others when they've fallen victim to a brainwashing cult. I found myself relating to the author, and one thing that I found interesting was that he mentioned his religious belief, and the fact that exit counselors were rumored to make attempts at ...more
Joe Yang
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
An insightful look at how undue influence works. Highly recommend for anyone who's been in a high control group (a cult), or know someone who has.

Since no one willingly joins a cult, this book is especially helpful in helping us spot the subtle, sneaky, and insidious methods that unethical religious, political, or social organizations use to suck us in.

No matter how dumb or smart we think we are, Steve Hassan's book outlines ways in which we are all vulnerable to cult influence. It's an
Janet Lynch
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cults
I bought this book used, and I noticed my copy had been discarded by the Santa Ana Public Library. I wonder it that was because the library thought it was too old: pub. date 1988. Regardless, the information is current and this book is an absolutely essential guide for anyone who is trying to get a family member or friend out of a cult. It certainly gave me many ideas to include in my YA novel work-in-progress about cults.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How would you know if you're in a cult?
(answer: Unless you actually know what one is, and how it behaves, you wouldn't!)
People assume that only stupid people get sucked into a cult. It's a complete misconception. The best cult members are highly intelligent people.

The four components of mind control:

-control of behavior
-control of thoughts
-control of emotions
-control of information

Jim Picariello
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book back in the 90's when I was recovering from my experience trapped in a cult for a year. I've reread this updated version, and I am glad it is available again for those trying to rescue loved ones, healing from the trauma of mind-control, or for just learning about this fascinating topic. Kudos to Steven Hassan for keeping this important work going.
Expose Austin Texas Duty To Care For Others
Describes the secretive but harmful manipulation techniques that cults utilize to modify behavior and to control ideology and lifestyle. One of their techniques is to use guilt and fear. Another one is to use group pressure to cause others to conform.
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you even have an inkling that you might be involved in a cult-like group, you must read this book. I wish I had come across it years ago. It's the first book I've read on the subject of mind control and I plan to read more, but it seems pretty comprehensive. A fascinating read.
Lori Jensen
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was the most eye opening book that I have ever read.
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: who want to realize if they are part of a cult or not
A book I would like my son read when he is 16/18 years old. Impressive and honest.
Sarah Firth
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important reading for anyone in a spiritual group or religion.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Reluctant Apostate
  • Crisis of Conscience
  • Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life
  • How to Escape From Jehovah's Witnesses
  • Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of 'brainwashing' in China
  • EXiting the JW Cult: A Healing Handbook: For Current & Former Jehovah's Witnesses
  • No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith
  • Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus
  • Right Wing Women
  • The Female Brain
  • How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide
  • Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
  • The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity
  • Cults Inside Out: How People Get In and Can Get Out
  • Barbara Anderson Uncensored: Eyewitness To Deceit
  • Mad Dogs and Thunderbolts: The Colourful and Captivating Histories of Australia’s Other Bushrangers
  • Total Propaganda: Basic Marxist Brainwashing for the Angry and the Young
  • Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
See similar books…
Licensed mental health counselor and an exit counselor. Hassan was an early advocate of exit counseling, and is the author of two books on the subject of "cults", and what he describes as their use of mind control, thought reform, and the psychology of influence in order to recruit and retain members.

Himself a former member of the Unification Church, after spending one year assisting with
“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.” 8 likes
“Psychotherapy/educational cults, which have enjoyed great popularity, purport to give the participant “insight” and “enlightenment.” Commercial cults play on people’s desires to make money. They typically promise riches but actually enslave people, and compel them to turn money over to the group. None of these destructive cults deliver what they promise and glittering dreams eventually turn out to be paths to psychological enslavement.” 4 likes
More quotes…