MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 20
V E R I C O M M / MindNet "Quid veritas est?"
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Editor: Mike Coyle
Contributing Editors: Walter Bowart
Assistant Editor: Rick Lawler
Research: Darrell Bross
Summary: Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control, Rochester, Vermont, Park Street Press, 1988. Hassan is a former victim of cult mind control. He was rescued and deprogrammed. He is the National Coordinator of FOCUS, a support and information network for victims. He is one of the leading international experts on cult mind control. He pioneered the non-coercive cult exit-counseling method. He is a noted public speaker, seminar leader, exit-counselor, and author.
Hassan details his experience of being victimized for over two years by cult mind control performed by the Moonies. He also describes his later rescue and deprogramming arranged by his parents.
Cults and charismatic leaders are not a new phenomenon. They have existed throughout history. What is new is the recently developed systematic use of psychological techniques to reduce someone's free will and gain control over his feelings, thoughts, and actions: hot seats, controlling behavior, age regression to reduce critical thinking capacity, cult recruiting techniques which exploit human needs, controlling the flow of information, techniques for inducing trance, privacy deprivation, techniques for systematically inducing phobias, controlling feelings, group process methods, reframing, controlling thoughts, group conformity pressures, obedience to authority, behavior modification, etc. Repetition, monotony and rhythm are all used during indoctrination to induce trance states.
A classic example of a double bind used on victims of cults is given. At a cult seminar, a victim is told: "'If you admit there are things in your life that aren't working, then by not taking the seminar, you are giving those things power to control your life.' In other words, just being here proves you are incompetent to judge whether to leave."
It is important to note relative to therapeutic, religious, and spiritual cults that any genuine growth in any of
these areas cannot be founded upon deception and mind control, no matter how ideological or noble the cult's stated goals. Without informed consent, the victim is made to become dependent upon outside authority figures, using mind control to do it. The recent developments learned in psychology as to how
to manipulate the unconscious mind are being misused. "The conscious mind has a narrow range of attention. The unconscious does all the rest, including regulating all body functions....The unconscious mind is the primary manager of
Some groups, like drug rehabilitation and juvenile rehabilitation programs, use many of these same techniques to break a person, then rebuild them in a positive way. Unfortunately, these programs are completely dependent upon the integrity of their leaders. Some have stepped over the line. Cult recruiters are no longer just the weird guy on the street corner selling flowers. Cult recruiters are the business colleague, friend, or peer begging you to attend the latest seminar, lecture, or meeting. Cults are now recruiting using TV ads selling books, the post office to send invitations to a seemingly harmless seminar, and the newspaper to place a want ad. Some victims are recruited when they hire on with a cult-owned business. The cults will put on free lectures, rallies, movies, poetry readings, etc., to entice potential members. Almost anyone can be a victim, except the handicapped: Most cults do not want them because of the necessary expenditures of time, money, and effort to care for them. Children of cult members are also exploited. For example, many of the children who died at Jonestown had been adopted by the cult members and were wards of the state of California. Their presence created a cheap labor force and provided income from the state. In some cults, children are physically abused, sexually abused, isolated from school or community, and forced to depend upon cult indoctrination for their world view. Some children at Jonestown were placed at night into deep, dark pits and told the pits were filled with snakes.
Hassan says since cults faded from media coverage, most people have the erroneous impression that most cults faded away since the 1970s along with its rebellious youth and no longer present a threat. However, the truth is that cults have become even more sophisticated, expanding into areas the public never dreamed possible, using front groups in many arenas, including economic, political, cultural, and religious. And they are not limiting themselves to the idealistic youth anymore either. They are going after many different kinds of people: corporate executives gathered together in hotel ballrooms; housewives attending psych-up rallies for pyramid sales organizations; high school students; business men in three-piece suits; and college students gathered at accredited universities to attend seminars. The vast majority of people victimized by cults are intelligent, stable, well-educated, and from respectable families. Cults do not want to waste their resources on someone who is not put together well: The victim might break down, a loss for cult profit. Cults are big business. Consequently, they watch the bottom line of the cost/benefit ratio when it comes to evaluating a potential new member.
One of the reasons the cults are making such headway is because the idea that someone's will can be altered flys in the face of our entire legal and philosophical foundations which deny the possibility that someone's mind can be controlled. Current law simply does not recognize the existence of mind control, unless force or the threat of force has been used. Hassan challenges, "How would you know if you were under mind control?" Without help from another human being, no one has a way to make this determination once under mind control. But as long as our society remains in mass denial about the power of mind control, the body count will continue.
The cults are learning to shield themselves from public
scrutiny by spending vast sums of money on public relations
firms. Some are entering corporate America and sell leadership
training seminars to the executives, while secretly developing
designs to take over the company. They have become adept at
influencing political directions, changing United States foreign
policy by covertly lobbying for foreign powers, developing
economic power through purchasing huge chunks of real estate and
purchasing hundreds of businesses, influencing the judicial
system, lobbying efforts, and electioneering for certain
For example, the Moonies have ties to the Korean Central
Intelligence Agency, while Moon, himself, has ties with the
Japanese organized crime network. They have a definite political
agenda. Moon has founded business ventures which include the
manufacture of M16 rifles, developing think tanks, supporting
extreme right-wing groups, cultural exchange programs, and
purchasing the Washington Times newspaper. Moon believes an
automatic theocracy should rule the world because "a separation
between religion and politics is what Satan likes most." Moon
is staunchly anti-communist, yet runs his religious cults off of
slave labor. He is trying to buy some legitimacy for himself by
spending vast amounts of money on conservative causes. Moon has
already poured more than two hundred million dollars into the
Washington Times, a business which has yet to show a profit.
"However, the newspaper has served its true purpose: enabling
Moon to have access to the power brokers of American politics."
Moon actually said, "When we take power in America, we will have
to amend the Constitution and make it a capital offense for
anyone to have sexual relations with anyone other than the
person assigned to him."
It should be noted that Ronald Reagan said his favorite newspaper is the Washington Times and that he reads it every day. It should also be noted that Moon inexplicably attended Ronald Reagan's inauguration.
Hassan is careful to delineate the difference between a destructive cult and any other group, the difference being that a destructive cult engages in outright deception, systematically lying to its victims. Just because a group is unorthodox or even bizarre does not make it a cult. On new members, the rule of thumb used by most cults is, "Tell him only what he can accept." Hassan says, "If people want to believe that Mr. Moon is the Messiah, that is their right. However -- and this is a crucial point -- people should be protected from processes that make them believe Mr. Moon is the Messiah."
Hassan is also careful to note that there is both good
and bad mind control. Good mind control is exemplified by
someone choosing to use hypnosis to quit smoking. Bad mind
control is when the locus of control is not with the individual,
but is being perpetrated upon them without their choice.
Groups fall on a spectrum, ranging from good to
destructive, as does the use of mind control techniques. A group
can have a single destructive aspect without being a full blown
He describes the experiences of victims from many
different types of cults, involving: Being systematically lied
to; being physically abused; being barraged with flattery or
guilt; being forced to sit in long sessions of indoctrination
where no questions are allowed; never being allowed any free
time to think critically or reflect; being induced to work at
menial labor twelve to twenty hours daily; being systematically
indoctrinated; being deprived of sleep; being forced to ask
permission for everything; being assigned a constant buddy;
discouraging individualism; being publicly humiliated and
criticized; redefining reality; fostering feelings of dependency
and helplessness; forced to participate in public confessions
which are then used as blackmail; disallowing complaints or
negative feelings about the cult, allowing them only about
outsiders; being forced to spy on other members;
compartmentalizing information so that no member gets the bigger
picture; changing a member's name to hasten a new cult identity;
manufacturing spiritual experiences; forcing members to abandon
any unique talents, interests, or hobbies; relocating new
members away from familiar turf; forcing participation in
humiliating fundraising efforts; disorienting new members;
encouraging black and white thinking; preventing members from
hearing or reading any information critical of the cult; being
deprived of healthy nutrition through a low-protein, high-sugar
diet; deliberately using confusion to induce trance; sensory
deprivation; deliberately using double binds; being coaxed to
survive numerous hardships for the sake of spiritual growth;
being kept continually surrounded by already indoctrinated
members; being subjected to medical neglect; being coaxed to
participate in political activism to support issues and
candidates endorsed by the cult; having to fill out papers
describing all that the member is thinking and feeling, which
information is then later used against the member; being coaxed
into using deception in all the cult's affairs, including
recruiting, fundraising, and public relations because the end
justifies the means; being instructed to drop out of school,
quit their jobs, and move into the cult; stimulating competition
between members to maximize profits; receiving verbal abuse one
minute followed by complimentary strokes the next; being
discouraged from forming close bonds with people in the cult;
forming bonds only vertically with those in a supervisory
position to the member; being encouraged to cut off contact with
family and friends; being exploited for economic and political
gain; being sent underground when families attempt a rescue;
being told to lie to the public, saying that the fundraising was
for charity, a Christian youth program, drug rehabilitation, or
to help orphaned children; using doctrines which are impossible
to verify or evaluate; using doctrines which require that the
member distrust himself; encouraging an us-versus-them mentality
by creating pet devils, such as communism, capitalism,
psychiatrists, deprogrammers, satan, UFO creatures, and spirits;
creating a sense of speciality in members by emphasizing the
special mission of the cult; allowing only external referencing;
promoting and demoting members on whim to foster disorientation
and dependency; disorienting time in the member by rewriting
the past, making the present very urgent, and making the future
an apocalyptic scenario; being pressured psychologically to turn
over all possessions and wealth to the cult; being punished for
independent thought, feeling or action; being rewarded for
maintaining total dependence upon the cult for everything, even
simple choices; being told repeatedly that it is better to die
or kill than to leave the cult; being ordered to press
kidnapping charges against parents who attempt a rescue; using
thought-stopping rituals such as chanting or praying to cease
critical thinking skills; violating members' civil rights;
turning people into slaves; lying; stealing; cheating; having
one's children taken away and sent to another location to be
raised; and having one's children violated and harmed for life
while being raised in a cult.
Many of these same tactics are found in the dynamics of a domestic violence situation.
Once indoctrinated, the new member becomes the new recruiter: The victim becomes the victimizer. Through
indoctrination, the victim has literally been given a new
Deprogramming and exit counseling usually involves explaining to the victim how the mind control techniques used on him are similar to those used by the Communist Chinese to brainwash prisoners of war. The dual identities of the victim must be sorted through and worked out, similar to dissociative states having to be healed.
Conservatorship laws used by families to rescue their children from cults were more than likely lobbied out of
existence by cult lawyers.
Congressman Leo J. Ryan had been a member of the House
Subcommittee on International Relations which investigated Korean
CIA activities in the United States, commonly known as
Koreagate. Their report revealed that Moon had "systematically
violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency, and Foreign
agents Registration Act laws, as well as state and local laws
relating to charity fraud." Ryan was gunned down while trying
to investigate another cult, the People's Temple.
Robert Dole's public hearings into cults was a disaster.
All of the former cult victims who had been invited to speak
were taken off the agenda at the last minute.
In a Freedom of Information Act request, Hassan asked why
Moon was allowed to make American M-16 rifles in Korea when only
the South Korean government was allowed to do so. "Was the Moon
organization part of the Korean government? Was the Department
of Defense giving it favored treatment?" Hassan never received
any answers from the United States Government: The answers
remain hidden behind a wall of national security.
The therapy oriented cults are misusing the idea of
enlightenment, exploiting people's desires for growth. By
creating an initial experience of extended consciousness, then
taking credit for it, the cults foster dependency within the
members who think they must return to the cult seminar in order
to have another experience.
It should be noted that cults do not require a live-in
experience for members to be victimized. The est seminars are
given as an example where members are turned into junkies,
returning again and again for yet another seminar. If problems
come up in a cult, they are always blamed on the members, never
on the cult leaders or cult doctrine.
The rise of satanic cults is a concern. Young people are being set up by popular books, films, and music to believe satanic practices will give them power. Slow steps are taken by recruiters, inviting the young person to a party, giving them drugs, and introducing sexual rites of initiation. Only when his trust is complete is the young person introduced to satanic worship.
There are questions to ask to protect yourself from mind controlling cults:
1. "How long have you (the recruiter) been involved? Are you trying to recruit me into any type of organization?"
2. "Can you tell me the names of all other organizations that are affiliated with this group?"
3. "Who is the top leader? What are his background and qualifications? Does he have any criminal record?"
4. "What does your group believe? Does it believe that the ends justify the means? Is deception allowed in certain circumstances?"
5. "What are members expected to do once they join? Do I have to quit school or work, donate my money and property, or cut myself off from family members and friends who might oppose my membership?"
6. "Is your group considered to be controversial by anyone? If people are critical of your group, what are their main objections?"
7. "How do you feel about former members of your group? Have you ever sat down to speak with a former member to find out why he left the group? If not, why not? Does your group impose restrictions on communicating with former members?"
8. "What are the three things you like the least about the group and the leader?"
Hassan gives some extremely helpful guidelines to families worried about a loved one caught in a mind control cult. He outlines specifically what to do and what not to do.
He also describes his techniques for exit-counseling, giving strategies for recovery for those who have been victims. He warns of the typical problems which will come up in the long term recovery of a victim.
In particular, he notes that victims have been harassed by other cult members, particularly if the victim goes public to prevent further victims. Former members have had break-ins and have been threatened, sued, blackmailed, and murdered. The Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard's group, has filed hundreds of harassment suits designed merely to hassle and financially drain former members, those who help former members, and critics. Hassan has personally seen how the fear of cults within the media has influenced what is reported. Hassan sees that the unethical use of mind control has become a major social problem worldwide. Mind controlled business executives placed in key positions in major corporations, political influence peddling, and the high degree of social acceptance by prominent professionals make cults a large problem. Cults have sponsored conferences for lawyers, clergy, scientists, politicians, and academics.
Ties are explored between cults and the United States Government. After Jonestown and the murder of a congressman, the public became very concerned. But due to the intervention of cult influence and money and lobbying, efforts to investigate, to reform, to educate the public, to get media coverage have by and large failed. A few examples are given. After the report was issued from the Koreagate investigation, no action was taken on the recommendations made in the report. After the congressional report was issued from the People's Temple investigation, no action was taken on that either. After all former members were forbidden to speak at the Bob Dole hearings, one Moonie representative was allowed to give a statement. In a major TV special, two top Central Intelligence Agency psychologists made inexplicable statements, one saying that hypnosis was of no operational use, the other saying mind control research had been abandoned in 1963. Hassan says,
I knew that no self-respecting psychologist would deny that there was anything "useful" in mind control research. The statements of Gittinger and Gottlieb forced me to confront a number of questions that needed answers. Why wasn't our federal government informing the American people about the dangers of mind control? Why was the issue continually shuffled into a discussion of religious liberty and the First Amendment?....However, if the government has indeed been conducting research into mind control, then it has a responsibility to inform the American public that mind control exists....In the absence of recognition by the government that mind control exists and that unethical mind control is wrong, then the government's silence indirectly condones the practice of unethical mind control in the rest of society. In a practical sense, one only need look around to see the effects of government silence and inaction: mind control groups are proliferating at an unprecedented pace.
The principles of freedom and democracy in our country demand that the reality of mind control be exposed to full public scrutiny.
There are even some so called researchers who seem to have big funding behind them, doing everything within their power to dispel the public's concern about mind control or cults. Other legitimate researchers are uncovering that victims, regardless of what cult they are from, are all developing the
same type of personality profile.
Hassan also warns of the effects of cults within our shaky economy. As the economy worsens, employees will be expected to attend all company-sponsored seminars in an attempt to make them more productive. Executives at major corporations are "flocking to programs that can teach them how to better
influence and control people. In some cases, cults have actually taken over the running of a company in this way." Of course with free labor, cult-owned businesses can undercut their competition. Further, taxes don't have to be paid by the cult because it never looks like they make a profit: Wages are paid to the members, but the members donate their wages right back to the cult again.
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