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Title Heaven's Gate - CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees: Cult of Death about the Heaven's Gate cult

Heaven's Gate - CNN: Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees: Cult of Death about the Heavens Gate cult COOPER: Well, theres really no telling how many cults there are in America today. Theyre different in many ways. But in controlling peoples lives they follow a very similar and tragic pattern. Steven Alan Hassan is a cult counselor and mind control expert. He helps families rescue loved ones trapped in a world they cannot get out of. I spoke to him earlier. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Steve if what makes a cult is the element of mind control, its interesting that this guy DiAngelo 10 years after Heavens Gate, most of the members committed suicide, he still appears to be a true believer. STEVEN ALAN HASSAN, CULT COUNSELOR, MIND CONTROL EXPERT: Yes, Ive experienced in the 30 years that Ive been counseling people involved with destructive cults that the dissociative disorder that is created by mind control can last for decades after. And I just hope that this gentleman gets some counseling. COOPER: What do you think the appeal of Heavens Gate was? HASSAN: I think there was a lot of deep UFO-ology that was appealed to, the people who grew up on Star Trek, for example. My understanding is that Bonnie Nettles and Herff Applewhite were very hypnotic personalities, if you saw the exit video that Applewhite left, he was calling himself Do. He had those very wide saucer eyes and was talking about how the world was going to be destroyed and everyone needed to be evacuated. But Id say my experience is that many intelligent, educated people are recruited into a wide variety of different cults, Heavens Gate was definitely one of the more fringe type appeal groups. COOPER: Yes. Who is sort of the perfect candidate for a cult? HASSAN: Someone who is going through a transitional period in their life, death of a loved one, major illness, divorce, moving away to a new city, state or country. Someone who is off-balance, someone who is ignorant about manipulation and deception and mind control techniques. But also someone who is very smart, very achieving, wanting to make themselves better, or wanting to make the world better, or wanting to develop themselves spiritually, but basically not high on street smarts, Anderson. COOPER: Does it require a charismatic leader? HASSAN: A lot of destructive cults have a charismatic figure at the top, but not all destructive cults have that feature. They may be an ideological cult, for example. But the key point is what I refer to as by control of behavior, control of information, control of thoughts and control of emotions. So if anyone finds themselves involved with a group where theyre being told they shouldnt talk to ex-members or they shouldnt talk to critics or they shouldnt talk to cult experts or theyre being told not to talk to family members and friends who are raising questions or they cant take some time away to have a vacation and reflect on things, it should raise red flags. COOPER: Its interesting, though, because, I mean, you look at a Heavens Gate and you know, these are, you know, I guess, intelligent people. I mean, theyre people who, you know have jobs, have families, have are clearly interested, you know, surf the Web or work as Web designers. Its interesting that they can allow themselves or choose to enter into this kind of thing. HASSAN: Well, I beg to differ on the point about choosing because I believe there needs to be informed consent in order to have a real choice. And I believe that what these groups are doing is a variety of deception, as well as manipulation and influence processes. COOPER: Its a fascinating subject. Steve, appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much. HASSAN: My pleasure. (END VIDEOTAPE) Full Article