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Captive Hearts, Captive Minds : Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Other Abusive Relationships Paperback – April, 1994

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Paperback, April, 1994
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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

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.
Bill Piekarski, Southwestern Coll. Lib., Chula Vista, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Former members of cults (including those born or raised in such groups) will gain valuable insights on their experiences. -- Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., Executive Director, International Cultic Studies Association

I wish every cult member, and every family of a cult member could read Take Back Your Life. -- Eugene H. Methvin, Senior Editor, Reader's Digest

Must reading for everyone who wants to understand the appeal of cults. This book's wisdom is vital. -- Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Stanford University --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hunter House (CA); First edition (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897931440
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897931441
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,073,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is a must read for anyone recovering for leaving a cult, or an abusive relationship.
I'm not too certain how I would have been able to begin taking back my life without having purchased and read Take Back Your Life.
Free to Live
This book will explain what happened to you, how to cope, and give you clear steps and guidance towards healing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For me, the special usefulness of this book came in the form of material directed at children who grew up in a cult, who have no other frame of reference to go back to.

The information I gleaned here gave me that frame of reference, and helped me to "detox" from the environment which was so seductively calling me back. It explains and makes sense of some very bewildering and deceptive manipulation techniques. And it has helped my therapy by outlining the kinds of issues that children coming out of cults usually face.

This book has a universal appeal for all cult escapees because it focuses not on beliefs or practices, but rather on manipulations and psychological pressures which are commonly brought to bear in cults. I found it easy to identify experientally with the material, without being challenged and put off by attacks on my strange beleif system which I was still disengaging from.

It's been a big part of my recovery. My thanks to the authors!

UPDATE January, 2012

Have loaned out and recommended the original 'Captive Hearts' many times over the last decade and a half, and was disheartened to find that it went out of print. Recently I've been excited to discover that the same material, vastly updated, is now available from the same authors under the title, 'Take Back Your Life.'

I still refer to this book periodically. It is a primary source for understanding the cult phenomenon, even those tendencies increasingly found in the modern corporate culture. We ALL are hard wired to respond to authoritarian influences in the same way, and this material acts as a healthy immunizer.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Troy Waller ( on October 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
I wish I had found this book immediately after leaving the cult I was involved in.
This book offers invaluable assitance to those who have been involved with a destructive cult, whether it be relgious, political or psycho-theraputic. The text gives former members indications of what to expect in recovery as well as practical assitance to cope with their recovery.
The text also gives a breakdown of how and why cults operate as they do; how and why people get recruitted into cults; and how and why people leave cults.
This book is truly a gift from the authors' heart, experiences and study. Thanks to them.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By D. L. Barnett on August 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
We don't hear much these days about the Branch Davidians, Heaven's Gate or even Jim Jones. It's tempting to think that the cult movement has faded and that the world's attention is on more pressing matters -- like suicide bombers. But they are all of a piece, according to Chico State University Associate Professor of Sociology Janja Lalich.

In "Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships" ($19.50 in paperback from Bay Tree Publishing), Lalich and co-author Madeleine Tobias, a Vermont psychotherapist, make clear that modern day cults have not disappeared. "If there is less street recruiting today, it is because many cults now use professional associations, campus organizations, self-help seminars, and the Internet as recruitment tools" to entice the unwary.

Who gets sucked into a cult? "Although the public tends to think, wrongly, that only those who are stupid, weird, crazy and aimless get involved in cults, this is simply untrue. ... We know that many cult members went to the best schools in the country, have advanced academic or professional degrees and had successful careers and lives prior to their involvement in a cult or cultic abusive relationship. But at a vulnerable moment, and we all have plenty of those in our lives (a lost love, a lost job, rejection, a death in the family and so on), a person can fall under the influence of someone who appears to offer answers or a sense of direction."

For the authors, "a group or relationship earns the label 'cult' on the basis of its methods and behaviors -- not on the basis of its beliefs. Often those of us who criticize cults are accused of wanting to deny people their freedoms, religious or otherwise.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Take Back Your Life: Recovering From Cults and Abusive Relationships by co-authors Janja Lalich (Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Chico) & Madeleine Tobias (The Clinical Coordinator and a psycho therapist at the Vet Center in White River Junction) is a self-help resource for survivors of harmful relationships, whether with an individual or a group, and their loved ones. Chapters explain in plain terms the siren call abusive relationships have some people, and the confusion, low self-esteem, and post-traumatic stress experienced by the victim, along with suggestions for picking up the pieces of one's life and embracing the healing process. Of special note are the chapters addressing problems with family members and children in cults, and therapeutic concerns. Take Back Your Life is written primarily for lay readers however, and is a very sober, serious, and practical guide.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sharon on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since leaving the cult Eckankar in 1998, and spending a lot of time on the internet trying to help others wake up, get out, and recover, I've read a lot of books on the subject of cults. "Take Back Your Life" is one of the best!! An invaluable resource for both recovering cultists and people involved in abusive relationships, and concerned friends and family members.
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