Book Review: Combating Cult Mind Control
In 1990, Steven Hassan courageously published the book, Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best Selling Guide To Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults. Now, 25 years later, Hassan has published an updated edition. Here is my book review, and brief introduction to Steven Hassan.
Who is Steven Hassan?
For anyone unfamiliar with Hassan or his work, here are some highlights.
Mr. Hassan was deceptively recruited into Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church at the age of 19, while a student at Queens College. He spent the next 27 months recruiting and indoctrinating new members, fundraising, and doing political campaigning. He personally met with Sun Myung Moon on many occasions in leadership sessions. Mr. Hassan ultimately rose to the rank of Assistant Director of the Unification Church at National Headquarters.
He is an accomplished author, counselor and respected expert in the field of undue influence and religious control. Here are his major accomplishments:
- BITE model – determining and identifying cult control
- Strategic Interactive Approach – addressing cult control
- Ending the Game – program for educating sex trafficking victims
- Lectures – given at Harvard University, U.C.L.A., Yale University, Stanford University, John Hopkins University, M.I.T, Hong Kong University, American Psychological Association Convention (2001), American Psychological Association Eastern Regional Convention (2001), The American Counseling Association National Convention, The American Bar Association’s Conference on Tort and Religion
- Media coverage – With almost 40 years of cult awareness activism, Hassan’s insightful perspective and expert commentary have made him the definitive source for hundreds of national and international media outlets including: 60 Minutes, CNN, Fox News, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Newsweek, Night Line, NPR, Oprah Winfrey Show, The O’Reilly Factor, The Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Washington Post.
- Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc. – founded by Hassan, it is a consulting and publishing organization dedicated to helping people to become psychologically empowered, upholding human rights, promoting consumer awareness and exposing abuses of destructive cult groups.
Rooted in the Best
The praise for Hassan’s work is lengthy. Here is what the late Dr. Singer had to say about his book Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best Selling Guide To Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults.
“…A major contribution…For the first time, a skilled and ethical exit counselor has spelled out the details of the complicated yet understandable process of helping free a human being from the bondage of mental manipulation…..Steven Hassan has written a ‘how to do something about it’ book.”
–Margaret Singer, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
Telling his own story
The book begins with a look into Hassan’s life as a college student being recruited into the Moonie organization. For me this was both difficult and fascinating to read. It was as if I was stepping back in time, back to 1987 in my own life and my own recruitment into a different Korean Bible organization. It was uncanny how much of what Hassan told of his own story mirrored my experience.
Affirming the current problem
Hassan does a really good job in this 25th anniversary edition of explaining how and why his work is so much needed. The number of cults in America has not dwindled, but in fact has exploded. The sad aspect, as Hassan recounts it, is that many do not know the Moonies or think they are no longer active. Most of the public does not remember Jonestown. This book was eye-opening.
Telling other’s stories
Hassan moves on to tell a few survivor stories. These also brought back memories for me, but not as much as Hassan’s own story. This is because there are many types of cults, and the Korean Bible groups like the Unification Church and UBF are unique in their undue influence. Hassan places a lot of weight on former member stories, especially those of longtime insiders.
Solutions, help and hope
Hassan spends at least half the book telling about how to find help, how to approach loved ones and giving solutions both practical and spiritual in nature. Hassan himself is Jewish, and regained his faith after leaving the Moon group. This was important to me, as I determined not to lose my Christian faith after leaving UBF.
In short, all UBF people really should read Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best Selling Guide To Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults.
As Hassan suggests, please read his book as if he is talking about a group you know is a cult, like ISIS. Then re-read it a second time, questioning whether you are in a cult or not. This second reading often tells people they are not in a cult.
Other ubfriends articles on Hassan’s work: