Here are a few books on Cult Mind Control recommended by other critics and cult victims. I can only recommend (*) the ones I have personally read and found useful, but I’m sure they all are good. On the other hand, you may find as I did that there is more than enough information about this subject on the net, and you may not need many books. I recommend the Rick Ross site for more information. Below the cult book list you will find other highly recommended books.
Battle for the Mind *
A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing
By William Sargant
Publ.: Malor Books
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.
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds *
Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships
By Madeleine Landau Tobias
Publ.: Hunter House
“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. Recommended for public and religious libraries.” [Library Journal]
The Guru Papers * Excellent
Masks of Authoritarian Power
By Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
Publ.: Frog Ltd
“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 Cronicla Book Review]
Recovery from Cults *
Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse
By Michael D. Langone (Editor)
Publ.: W.W. Norton & Company
“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]
Releasing the Bonds *
Empowering People to Think for Themselves
By Steven Hassan
Publ.: Freedom of Mind Press
“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. Steve is a great resource, someone we need in the face of all sorts of false gurus, get-rich-quick multilevel marketing schemes, etc. His writing is crisp and easy to understand, and really creates a bond with the reader. I highly recommend reading ‘Releasing the Bonds’; it’s a great book to help you discover how to empower yourself.” [Reviewer: Nicolas P. DiCiaccio, Massachusetts]
Coercion: Why We Listen to What They Say
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Year: October 10, 2000
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.
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
“…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]
What Are They? Do They Work?
By Margaret Thaler Singer, Janja Lalich
“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]
Cults in Our Midst
The Hidden Menace in our Everyday Lives
By Margaret Thaler Singer
“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.”
A Practical Guide
By Ian Haworth
Publ.: Cult Information Centre
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.
Faith, Healing, and Coercion
By Marc Galanter
Publ.: Oxford University Press
“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. For this revised and newly-illustrated second edition, Galanter has added three new chapters on cult development in the 1990s, spiritual recovery movements, and alternative medicine.”
Fads and Fallacies
In The Name of Science
By Martin Gardner
Publ.: Dover Pubns
The curious theories of modern pseudo-scientists and the strange, amusing and alarming cults that surround them. A study in human gullibility. With one chapter on L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics.
The Psychology of Persuasion
By Robert B. Cialdini
“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]
Larson’s New Book of Cults
By Bob Larson
Publ.: Tyndale House Publishers
Obedience to Authority
By Stanley Milgram
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.”
Recovery from Abusive Groups
By Wendy Ford, Wendy Wolfberg
Publ.: Amer Family Foundation
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 and William Goldberg, MSW, ACSW
A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple
By Deborah Layton
Publ.: Anchor Books
“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]
America’s Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change
By Flo Conway
Publ.: Stillpoint Pr Inc
“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]
The Demon-Haunted World
Science as a Candle in the Dark
By Carl Sagan
Publ.: Ballantine Books
“Carl Sagan muses on the current state of scientific thought, which offers him marvelous opportunities to entertain us with his own childhood experiences, the newspaper morgues, UFO stories, and the assorted flotsam and jetsam of pseudoscience. Along the way he debunks alien abduction, faith-healing, and channeling; refutes the arguments that science destroys spirituality, and provides a “baloney detection kit” for thinking through political, social, religious, and other issues.” [Amazon.com]
The Manipulated Mind
Brainwashing, Conditioning and Indoctrination
By Denise Winn
“Ever since American prisoners of war in Korea suddenly switched sides to the Communist cause, the concept of brainwashing has continued to fascinate and confuse. Is it really possible to force any thinking person to act in a way completely alien to his character? What makes so-called brainwashing so different from the equally insidious effects of indoctrination and conditioning or even advertising and education?
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.”
The True Believer
Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
By Eric Hoffer
Publ.: Harperperennial Library
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.
That Hoffer went on to become something of an apologist for reactionary government response to many of the protest movements during the sixties – including the civil rights movement which he characterized as a ‘racket’ – should not blind anyone to the value of his first book. Its insights are still fresh and its wisdom is timeless. He, alas, didn’t always take his own lessons to heart. [Doug Vaughn, Washington DC]
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism
A Study of Brainwashing in China
By Robert Jay Lifton
Publ.: Univ of North Carolina Pr
Why People Believe Weird Things
Pseudoscience, superstition, and other confusions of our time
By Michael Shermer
Publ.: Owl Books
“Few can talk with more personal authority about the range of human beliefs than Michael Shermer. At various times in the past, Shermer has believed in fundamentalist Christianity, alien abductions, Ayn Rand, megavitamin therapy, and deep-tissue massage. Now he believes in skepticism, and his motto is “Cognite tute–think for yourself.” This updated edition of Why People Believe Weird Things covers Holocaust denial and creationism in considerable detail, and has chapters on abductions, Satanism, Afrocentrism, near-death experiences, Randian positivism, and psychics. Shermer has five basic answers to the implied question in his title: for consolation, for immediate gratification, for simplicity, for moral meaning, and because hope springs eternal. He shows the kinds of errors in thinking that lead people to believe weird (that is, unsubstantiated) things, especially the built-in human need to see patterns, even where there is no pattern to be seen. Throughout, Shermer emphasizes that skepticism (in his sense) does not need to be cynicism: “Rationality tied to moral decency is the most powerful joint instrument for good that our planet has ever known.” –Mary Ellen Curtin”
Highly recommended for healing trauma of any kind:
Waking the Tiger – Waking the Tiger normalizes the symptoms of trauma and the steps needed to heal them
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
Author: Eckhart Tolle
To make the journey into the Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and its false created self, the ego, behind. From the very first page of this extraordinary book, we move rapidly into a significantly higher altitude where we breathe a lighter air. We become connected to the indestructible essence of our Being, “The eternal, ever present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death.” Although the journey is challenging, Eckhart Tolle uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide us.
A word of mouth phenomenon since its first publication, The Power of Now is one of those rare books with the power to create an experience in readers, one that can radically change their lives for the better.
“As long as you are completely trapped in your form identity, there can be no love. Your task is not to search for love but to find a portal through which love can enter.”
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book
Author: Don Miguel Ruiz
Paperback: 138 pages
In this powerful book that has remained on The New York Times Bestseller List for over five years, don Miguel reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles. The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.
The Four Agreements TM
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
Author: Eckhart Tolle
Paperback: 315 pages
From the jacket:
In A New Earth, Tolle expands on Power of Now to show how transcending our ego–based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence.
On a February08 show, Oprah Winfrey plugged this book, saying it is time for ‘awakening’.