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Human Trafficking BITE Model


Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control, or undue influence, refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that affect how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.

As employed by the most destructive cults and pimps, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group or person is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how traffickers or cults suppress individual member's uniqueness and creativity.

The BITE Model was developed by Steven Hassan through adopting Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's eight criteria of Thought Reform (Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism,  Norton, 1961) and Dr. Margaret Singer's six conditions from Cults in our Midst (Jossey-Mass, 2003) to help people identify the specifics of destructive influences. By combining attributes of both concepts, Steven Hassan was able to create a comprehensive reference of the levels of control using Leon Festinger's Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford University Press, 1962, 1957). By expanding on Festinger’s initial triad of behavior, though, and emotion, Steven added the “I” for information to round out all aspects that could cause a person to be controlled.

It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members and trafficking victims can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.


Original BITE Model

Human Trafficking page



Human Trafficking BITE Model


Behavior Control


Information Control


Thought Control



Emotional Control