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117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and thorough look at mind-control techniques
First of all, in response to those reviewers who argue that "all religions practice mind control" and "Hassan is against freedom of religion," I would like to point out that Hassan states very plainly that just because a group is not mainstream does not make it a cult. He provides very detailed, specific criteria as to what makes a cult (including...
Published on July 31, 2004 by debeehr

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57 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A interesting (and very biased) book
Hassan's book was my first contact with the literature about "cults". It was an easy and very interesting reading. Everything was so reasonable! I was stunned about the danger of mind control... If it was so easy to "brainwash" people, how would our future be? Fortunately, I have made some research about the theme in the Internet and have found a...
Published on May 13, 2000 by Rodrigo F. Souza


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117 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful and thorough look at mind-control techniques, July 31, 2004
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
First of all, in response to those reviewers who argue that "all religions practice mind control" and "Hassan is against freedom of religion," I would like to point out that Hassan states very plainly that just because a group is not mainstream does not make it a cult. He provides very detailed, specific criteria as to what makes a cult (including deception, attempts to isolate people from their friends and family, refusal to let members leave, and pronounced control of information), and also includes a handy checklist of questions to ask potential cult recruiters, including "Does your group practice deception?" "Is your group considered controversial and if so, why?" and "Tell me three things you don't like about your group and your leader." As Hassan states, legitimate organizations will be honest about their motives, and members of legitimate organizations should be able to discuss their group's failings as well as its strengths. Hassan is not out to demonize religion in general, nor (as he states) are all cults necessarily religious in nature.

Hassan provides an excellent breakdown of the dynamics of cults, beginning with his own experience being recruited by the Moonies. Dissatisfied with his own experience of being "kidnapped" and deprogrammed (though he readily concedes that it was, overall, a beneficial experience), he has developed a less-drastic approach to counseling members out of cults, based around attempts to reactivate the original personality underneath the cult one (his own mention of how the sight of his father's tears provided the first step on his road to leaving the Moonies is touching and convincing). As previously mentioned, he offers warning signs that a group might be cultish, provides detailed, common-sense advice for how to deal with family members who might have been indoctrinated, and offers advice for former cult members who are attempting to readjust to life in normal society.

While Hassan mentions that not all cults are religious in nature, he spends most of his time dealing with religious ones, except for brief mentions of psychotherapeutic cults. I was a little disappointed by this, since I found the notion of non-religious cults fascinating and would have liked to see more of an exploration of the differences, if any, between religious and non-religious cults. This is an area I wish he had explored in more depth. Hassan's discussions of Satanic cults, while brief, also clearly date the book to the late '80s/early '90s, during which the "Satanic Panic" was at its height.

Overall, however, this is an excellent introduction to the phenomenon of cults and mind control, and I would recommend this to anyone interested in the subject, for whatever reason.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point, May 16, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
Cults don't exist to people in them. A cult is always something you can point a finger at and say, "that is a cult," or, "they are in a cult." A person in a cult never can look at their own situation objectively and see that they themselves are in a cult. This book was very helpful for me in such a way that I could relate very well to a lot of the experiences and tecniques. It convinced me that I had spent all of my life in a cult that did practice mind control, but most importantly it reassured me that my decision to leave was the right choice. It is a book that you can read again and again as you progress through the healing stage after leaving a cult or cult-like organization. Since cult's control what you are allowed to read, this was the first book that I would even look into, since it doesn't mention Jehovah's Witnesses specifically. I started reading it with the attitude that I was finally going to prove to myself and to others that I was not associatied with a cult. Much to my surprize there were many similarities, and that was when I could really open my eyes to the situation that I was involved in. Thank you for writing such an easy to read, informative and specific book on cults and their mind control techniques. The changes in my life are astounding, and the turning point was when I read this book.
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book SAVES LIVES!, October 7, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
For four years I was a member of America's worse, criminal, abusive mind control organization (Scientology). During my fourth year I began to "wake up" from what Steve Hassen calls "the honeymoon phase," and I went seeking information about what had happened to me. I am highly intelligent, so my falling for a criminal cult was mystifying: Hassen's book helped explain what happened to me (and so many others), and was key to my emotional and physical recovery.
PLEASE, if you or a loved one is involved in a mind control culyt, I highly recommend that you read this book. It is now cionsidered a classic, and has undoubtidly helped untold thousands.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Former JW Rates This Book Two Thumbs Up...Way Up!, January 14, 2002
By 
Douglas S. Shields (Chandler, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
There are only a few books that I have ever read that have affected my life in such a tremendously profound way. This was one of them. I was raised in the cult known as Jehovah's Witnesses. For 27 years I was totally controlled and totally miserable and didn't know why. After reading this book all of the pieces fell into place. Forget the reviews you've read by self proclaimed "intellectuals" saying that this material is dated or shallow. This stuff addresses cult mind control at its source. It is entirely accurate in its depiction of modern cults as I can attest from personal experience. The reason that it is so accurate and so useful is that it was written by a man who himself was a member of an intensely mind controlled cult. The real revelation though (excuse the pun all you JW's) is that almost all cults work in a similar fashion. Once that "clicks" and you realize that they are all reading from the same "playbook" then is when you finally come to know the real truth about cults. I had a lot of mind control "loops" rolling through my head (gee when is Armageddon really coming?) (will I be destroyed since I don't knock on doors anymore?) for so many years even after leaving the Witnesses. After reading this book those loops disappeared from my mind never to return. Buy this book and then READ IT...for the rest of your life you will thank yourself for doing it.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life!, July 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
As a former member of Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, I was convinced, even after I left, that there was no such thing as mind control. In fact, I even refused to read any books on the subject, nor would I read any of the first-hand accounts of former members. The reason for this was that I had a deep phobia about the very idea that mind control existed -- which I suppose is in itself a good argument that mind control is real. Finally, six years after I left the Unification Church, I steeled myself to read Steven Hassan's book, expecting to hate it and disagree with every word. To my amazement, Mr. Hassan's arguments won me over completely. I had to concede that his description of mind control had, in fact, happened to me. This revelation ended my six-year-long vacillation during which time I still felt some attachment to my former cult. I now realized what harm had been done to me, and I became very properly angry -- and, finally, I began to read the first-person accounts of other former members. This book set me free to think clearly about my experiences again, and to create the psychic break needed to get on with my life.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entering and Leaving Destructive Cults, July 3, 2003
By 
Richard Ballard "rjballard" (Saint Louis, Missouri USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
Steven Hassan was recruited from college into the Unification Church ('the Moonies'). Mr. Hassan was a Moonie for over two years, during which time he rose from recruit to Unification Church Manhattan NY main lecturer and Unification Church national headquarters assistant director. Then Mr. Hassan's family had him 'forcibly deprogrammed' while he was convalescing from a bad automobile accident. After much emotional resistance Mr. Hassan's Unification Church belief faltered and he regained the rational detachment required to view his experiences objectively. Mr. Hassan grew to despise the abusive mind control techniques he had *experienced and used* as a Unification Church member and leader -- he now describes the Unification Church as a 'destructive cult'. Mr. Hassan returned to college to study psychology, then developed his own 'exit counseling' techniques that rely on discussion rather than anxiety-creating confrontation to break a destructive cult's hold upon its members.
Mr. Hassan's powerfully-written text first describes his experience as a destructive cult's member and leader, then describes his extensive experience as an exit counselor helping members of many destructive cults. Mr. Hassan describes how destructive cults attract, recruit, isolate and control their members, rewarding attitudes and behaviors approved by cult leaders and punishing attitudes and behaviors not approved by cult leaders. Cult members' lives revolve around this programmed reward and punishment, an environment that quickly confuses and forces cult members into obedience.
"Combatting CULT MIND CONTROL" is suitable both for social workers getting their first exposure to destructive cults, and also for concerned family members trying to understand what their loved one is experiencing as a cult member.
Since Mr. Hassan's text was written in 1990 the United States domestic economy and tax revenues have shrunk significantly -- the 'social safety net' has frayed while sexually transmitted diseases have spread. At the same time un(der)employment has broken many lower- and middle-class families' marriages and credit resources. Were Mr. Hassan to revise his text today, I believe he would discuss how cults are exploiting these new classes of homeless and 'near homeless' people.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was in a cult, April 25, 2005
By 
Unregulated Female (Tulsa, OK United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
This book is one of those books that one can read and relate their experiece - whether or not you were in one of the listed cults Hassan describes. How freeing to realize that the same tactics used by those Hassan listed are the same tactics the cults I was involved with used. There is nothing new under the sun, that's for certain.

With tremendous sincerity and helpfulness, Hassan lists out the destructive portions of the cults while at the same time not minimizing those of us who have been in a cult. ANYONE could be recruited or involved. I admire his compassion for all involved as well as a direct no-nonsense approach to those who premediate cult practises to harm and abuse others.

I recommend this book to anyone who is seeking validation regarding the possibility of being in a cult and to those who may work with those coming out of an abusive church/religious experience!
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Informative, Though Somewhat Dated and One-Sided, December 3, 1999
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
As a former member of a large international cult, this was the first book I read on the mind control process, and it was a useful and informative introduction to the methods used to deceive and manipulate honest, intelligent people. I found the accounts of various cult members and ex-members enlightening, educational, and they helped me to affirm that I had made the right choice in leaving the group I had been in for nine years. The only drawbacks I would mention are that Mr. Hassan tends to preach (not overkill, though), and he has his own approach to exit counselling which is discussed and criticized in Michael D. Langone`s "Recovery From Cults", another must-read book for anyone who has left a cult, and especially for those who are in a group and have thoughts of leaving. I recommend Hassan`s book, however I recommend that the reader investigate other sources of information for a more well-rounded approach. Overall, a quick and sometimes funny, sometimes sad read.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reviews that speak, June 19, 2004
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
Isn't it interesting. Reviews of this book either seem to get one star or lots. One might be forgiven for wondering whether the one-stars are in cults...
Personally, I'm just interesting in persuasion (my site is at changeminds.org) and found the book a surprisingly even-handed and mature text. Given that Hassan has been through the mill himself, he might be forgiven for being hateful towards cults. All I saw was compassion to those who have been harmed.
For the cults (strange word, anyway), he does take pains to point out that they are very varied and that many people are not harmed by many groups that could be called cultish in at least some way. The most harm happens, it seems, is when the vulerable meet the Machiavellian.
The book is also very interesting when used in the context of normal society and organizational groups.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Difinitive Book on Tactics Destructive Cults Use, February 18, 2004
This review is from: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults (Paperback)
If you or anyone you know has ever been in a cult or the victom of mind control, then buy this book now. This book not only takes you through the process of recognizing how a destructive cult can influence you without you even knowing it, but it also suggests ways in which you can avoid falling into their traps. It guides you on the type of help a victom needs. This is a serious subject. A friend of mine was the victom of cult mind control and even 10 years later, she was still suffering its effects. This book pointed out the commonalities of victoms who have suffered mind control and allowed her to see that she was not alone. She was finally able to be freed of the mind control's effects.
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