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If you’re reading Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults for the first time, please know that you’ve found a safe, respectful, compassionate place. This book can help you protect—or regain—your sanity, freedom, and health.

It can also help you protect others from the use of mind-control techniques. If someone you care about is already in the grip of such control, this book will help you support their efforts to make their way out.

If you’ve read an earlier version of Combating Cult Mind Control, welcome back! In this 25th anniversary volume you’ll find much that’s new and important, including:

      • New stories of people who fell under the sway of cults and other forms of undue influence, but who were able to
        break free and find renewed hope, happiness, and sanity
      • New information on the many sophisticated ways social media are now used for mind control—and how to spot
        and resist them
      • Updates on the many types of organizations that often use mind control
      • Information on the neuroscience behind mind control—and how to use that information to protect yourself and others
      • A look at what legislators, courts, mental health professionals, and ordinary citizens can do to resist mind control
        and make our world a safer place!

The techniques of undue influence have evolved dramatically, and continue to do so. Today, a vast array of methods exist to deceive, manipulate, and indoctrinate people into closed systems of obedience and dependency.

Sadly, the essential information in this book is still not widely known or understood. People around the world remain largely unprepared for the new realities of mind control.

But you are far from helpless. There is a great deal you can do to stay safe, sane, and whole—and to help the people you care about to do the same. And if someone you love is already part of a mind-control group, there is much you can do to help them break free and rebuild their life. This book will give you the tools you need.

As you read this book, you’ll learn to develop, use, and trust your critical thinking skills; your intuition; your bodily and emotional awareness; your ability to ask the right questions; and your skill at doing quick, useful research. You’ll also learn to create a healthy balance of openness and skepticism. As you will see, the entire process begins and ends with discernment.

Combating Cult Mind Control will be available in paperback and all major ebook formats.It is Available on Amazon as well as other major online booksellers.

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Facebook: Steven Hassan






Steven Hassan has been on the front lines of the mind control and destructive cult issue since 1976. He is a licensed Mental Health Counselor and holds a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College. He also is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). In 1988, he authored the first edition of Combating Cult Mind Control, which was favorably reviewed in The Lancet and The American Journal of Psychiatry, and has been reprinted in many different languages around the world.

            Mr. Hassan pioneered a new approach to helping victims of mind control called the Strategic Interactive Approach (SIA). Unlike the stressful and media-sensationalized approach known as deprogramming, this non-coercive approach is an effective and legal alternative to help cult members. It teaches family and friends how to strategically influence the individual involved in the group.

In addition to the Strategic Interactive approach, Hassan developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member's uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult's control of an individual's Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions. In addition to the original BITE model, there is now a Trafficking BITE Model as well as a Terrorism BITE model.

            Over the past four decades, Mr. Hassan he has helped thousands of people who were victimized by cult-related mind control. He has led many workshops and seminars for mental health professionals, educators, and law enforcement officers, as well as for families of cult members.

            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.

            Following a serious automobile accident, several former Moonies, at his parents’ request, deprogrammed him. Once he realized the insidious nature of the organization, he authorized police officials to take possession of his personal belongings, which included a massive set of private speeches documenting Moon’s secret plan to take over the world.

            In 1979, following the Jonestown tragedy, Mr. Hassan founded Ex-Moon Inc., a non-profit educational organization composed of over 400 former members of the Moon group. Although now defunct, it was one of the first and largest ex-member organizations in the world.

            In 1999, Mr. Hassan founded the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc. (, a consulting, counseling, and publishing organization dedicated to upholding human rights, promoting consumer awareness, and exposing abuses of undue influence, mind control, and destructive cults as well as human trafficking cartels, terrorist organizations and unethical businesses around the globe.

In 2014, Hassan, along with Rachel Thomas, M. Ed, Carissa Phelps JD/MBA, and D’Lita Miller, Co-Developed Ending the Game, a non-coercive curriculum designed to educate and empower commercial sex trafficking victims. Ending The Game© is a1st-of-its-kind“coercion resiliency” curriculum that reduces feelings of attachment to traffickers and/or a lifestyle characterized by commercial sexual exploitation, thereby reducing the rate of recidivism among sex trafficking survivors.

            Mr. Hassan has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including CNN, Nightline, 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, Today Show, CBS This Morning, and Larry King Live. He is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and is often quoted in newspaper and magazine articles. He has addressed hundreds of religious, professional, and educational groups throughout the world.

            In his commitment to fight against destructive cults, Mr. Hassan devotes a major portion of his time and energy to actively consulting with individuals and organizations. His other books include Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (2000) and Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs (Second Edition, 2013)





What The Experts are Saying:

Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults.

I came away from this book with a heightened sense of the urgency of the problem of mind-controlling cults, and a heightened admiration for Steven Hassan’s work in understanding them and liberating people from them. It is a clear and valuable work.

Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, A Heart of Wisdom, and many other books


I want to go on record as strongly endorsing Steven Hassan’s approach to understanding the sources of cult power in controlling the minds and behavior of members. His now classic text on cultic mind control, Combating Cult Mind Control, integrates his personal experiences in a cult with his cogent analysis of the underlying dynamic processes, and then adds in to the mix current research and theory.

…Steven Hassan’s approach is one that I value more than that of any other researcher or clinical practitioner…Hassan is a model of clear exposition, his original ideas are brilliantly presented in a captivating style.

Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D.

Former president of the American Psychological Association

Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Stanford University

Author of The Lucifer Effect and Influencing Attitudes and Changing Behavior

President and Founder of the Heroic Imagination Project

Steven Hassan is one of our most eloquent defenders of freedom of the mind. For decades he has labored mightily on behalf of the majesty of the human spirit. His good work has brought psychological and spiritual relief to countless victims and families who have unknowingly stumbled into the clutches of mind control perpetrators. As a spokesperson for the ordinary individual’s right to be the master of his or her own thoughts and choices, Hassan has resisted the dangers and threats manufactured by manipulators who have sought to silence his courage.

Alan W. Scheflin

Professor of Law Emeritus, Santa Clara University

Coauthor of The Mind Manipulators and Memory, Trauma Treatment and the Law

We at My Life My Choice have been grateful for the opportunity to learn from Steven Hassan about mind control and its relevance to the trafficking field. As we learn new techniques to combat the debilitating effects of pimp control, Steven's wisdom as both a cult survivor and an expert in his field are invaluable.

Lisa Goldblatt Grace, LICSW, MPH
Co-Founder and Director, My Life My Choice

As a Baptist pastor for 35 years, I take no pleasure in testifying that religious abuse is one of the most pressing social problems in the world today.True religion always serves to liberate—never to enslave. Steven Hassan's work is instrumental for anyone seeking understanding of religious mind and thought control, and how to free themselves or loved ones from it.He not only brings exhaustive authority, research, and expertise to this critical field, but also compassion, respect, and sensitivity.Every pastor, minister, social worker, therapist, and counselor needs to read his books!

The Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Pastor, Bread Fellowship, Fort Worth

Mind control is alive and well and in many varied forms across America. Steven Hassan understands like no one else the human need to belong, how it is exploited, and how to retrieve those who have fallen prey to the false allure of a perfect parent.

Douglas Rushkoff, Ph.D.

Professor of Media Studies, Queens College

Author of Coercion

Steven Hassan was the first to take on the Moonies, and understands cults better than almost anyone else. Happily, he's still sharing his knowledge, this time with a 25th anniversary updated and revised edition of his classic book, Combating Cult Mind Control. Fascinating and important reading.

Paulette Cooper

Author of Scandal of Scientology

Subject of Tony Ortega’s book,

The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper


In my judgment this is a singularly important and valuable book. I was especially impressed by the author’s candor in addressing his experiences both within the Unification Church and subsequent to his departure from it. Beyond the value of this illuminating personal account of a practitioner of “exit counseling” lies a remarkably useful collection of information about cult-related issues in contemporary American life. I heartily recommend this book to lay readers who for one reason or another wish to become better informed on this topic. It will also be valuable to professionals in health-related fields, clergy, attorneys, and others whose responsibilities bring them into contact with cults, their members, and the families whose lives are affected.

Louis Jolyon West, M.D.

Former chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine

We've known Steven Hassan personally, and his work, for over 25 years. Many times we have talked and shared information about particular gurus and cults as we are aligned in believing that healthy spirituality requires personal integrity and social responsibility. In 1989 we asked for his feedback on our booklet on gurus. He was so impressed that he said we should expand it into a book. The resulting book, The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power (1993) has become a classic in helping free people from authoritarian teachers and groups. Steven Hassan has been at the forefront of investigating cults, cult behavior, and successfully helping many of those ensnared. He has shown the very real dangers that cults bring to individuals and society. His dedication to freeing people from insidious mind control has been his focus since 1976. Since cult dynamics are linked withterrorismandhuman trafficking, the new edition of his landmark book Combating Cult Mind Control is an important contribution to a deeper understanding of these global dangers and creating a better, safer world.

Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad

Authors of The Guru Papers and Passionate Mind Revisited

Steven Hassan has established himself as one of the foremost "how-to" authorities on fighting the effects of destructive mind-control organizations like religious cults. His books and his website have long been a first-line defense in protecting those we love from the destructive temptations of these seductive groups. His advice and encouragement have helped thousands to escape.

Richard Packham, J.D.

Founder and first president of the Exmormon Foundation

This newly revised version of Combating Cult Mind Control is an eye-opening, must read for victims and their families who are or were at one time trapped in a high-control pseudo-religious group or an abusive personal relationship. Steven Hassan skillfully describes the persuasion methods used by cult-like groups to overcome the free will and judgment of people who choose to listen and join. He also makes it easy to understand how and why intelligent people allow themselves to be unduly influenced and willingly sacrifice their best personal interests. In so doing, he makes a very compelling case for all readers about the clear and present danger of undue (unethical) influence in today’s world. In fact, I predict that most people will read this book more than once and share it with friends; the book is that relevant and it is that good.

Richard E. Kelly

Managing Director for Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses

and author of Growing Up in Mama’s Club

Hassan explains in clear and cogent terms how coercive and manipulative leaders/groups create psychological and spiritual hostages out of vulnerable or well-intended human beings—people who are either going through painful life transitions or who are searching for higher truth. Early in my career this book was an invaluable resource to help me understand the nature of this unique type of victimization. Hassan's work inspired me, helping me create more effective pathways for healing for individuals emerging out of criminal and underground cults and trafficking situations….Hassan leads the reader on a journey unveiling the universal emotional and psychological vulnerabilities that leave all of us human beings susceptible to undue influence and group takeovers of our minds, hearts, and spirits. In very accessible and clear language this book offers excellent analysis and guidance, hope for cult survivors and their families, as well as clinicians and clergy who may be part of the individual's healing and integration process.

Harvey Schwartz, Ph.D.

Author of Dialogues With Forgotten Voices and The Alchemy of Wolves and Sheep

Steven Hassan has nearly 40 years of experience and knowledge that will advance our efforts to develop methods for breaking bonds held by human traffickers. Steven is a leader in the field of social psychology and his one-on-one work to replace destructive bonds with healthy long-term relationships has the potential to improve responses to human trafficking rapidly and effectively. Steven's work goes far beyond physical removal of a victim from a perpetrator, empowering survivors to develop healthy memories and experiences in place of harmful and destructive thoughts and behaviors.

Carissa Phelps, J.D., MBA

CEO of Runaway Girl, Inc.

Author of Runaway Girl

Steven Hassan is a compelling spokesman on the topic of cult mind control, which encompasses issues of human identity and our innate psychological vulnerability to dissociate. In addition, he educates and challenges us to think about the groups using mind control techniques in our culture, and how to help those affected reclaim their lives. His commitment to this neglected area of human experience is exemplary. Atmy invitation, Steven has taught psychiatry residents at Brigham and Women's Hospital about these issues for the last 14 years. Knowledge of these issues is crucial for all mental health professionals.

Mary K. McCarthy, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Harvard Medical School

Steven Hassan has successfully combined in one volume his personal story of involvement with a destructive cult, case histories of other cultists, and a sophisticated explanation of mind control from a psychological perspective. He has done a great job of pulling together a wealth of material. I especially liked the use of relevant literature in social psychology and psychiatry. I recommend it to parents, ex-cultists, and mental health specialists.

Arthur A. Dole
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

From abusive pimps in a trafficking setting to enforced radicalization and its concomitant violent extremism—Steven Hassan's work speaks extensively to the methods used to implement autocratic enslavements. He outlines what must be done to treat a survivors' devastating crippling of spirit so often effected through cultic-style thought reform. In my work as a forensic traumatologist, I find his books and trainings to be enormously powerful tools. His work is important in empowering and deepening my effectiveness and that of my colleagues toward promoting change in how these survivors are approached at every level of their treatment by all practitioners and agencies involved. 

Halleh Seddighzadeh, Ph.D.

Forensic Traumatologist

Always informative, often riveting, written by one of the country’s experts on mind control, Combating Cult Mind Control should be required reading for mental health professionals, clergy, and the many unfortunate families who are victimized by this ever-growing, insidious problem. Cult involvement is an often unseen and typically ignored problem worldwide. Pitifully few people realize the depth and breadth of the problem. Hassan is an ethical, informed, and dedicated crusader who has something to say to all of us.

Stephen R. Lankton, MSW, DAHB, LCSW

Editor: American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis

 Author ofThe Answer Within

…a no-nonsense book which cuts directly to the core issues of destructive mind control. From firsthand experience he describes the power tactics used by cults to produce long-term psychological disorientation in unsuspecting “recruits”….Without question, this book will open your eyes to this serious continuing threat to our individual freedoms.

R. Reid Wilson, Ph.D.
Author ofDon’t Panic: Taking Control of Anxiety Attacks

Combating Cult Mind Control combines superb research with authentic personal experience. The result is a remarkable achievement.

Rabbi A. James Rudin

Former Director, National Interreligious Affairs, The American Jewish Committee

Co-author of Prison or Paradise: The New Religious Cults


Combating Cult Mind Control puts everything into proper perspective. [Hassan] explains the differences between coercion and freedom. He plunges right into the intricacies of mind manipulation to produce a clear understanding of the process and its dangers.

Rev. James J. LeBar

Former Consultant on Cults

 Archdiocese of New York

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

Steven Hassan has demonstrated his openness and ability to bring a broad range of knowledge and scholarship to bear on vexing questions of cult methods and alternatives for intervention. The result is a significant contribution to public understanding of the modern reality of mind control and the widening dimensions of the cult experience.

Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman

Authors of Snapping and Holy Terror

I strongly recommend Combating Cult Mind Control. Cults are a major problem that affects more than a few people....Steven Hassan is a bright and superior person who has authored an important book. Go to a bookstore to buy it....Really try to get it!

Steven Allen

Entertainer, comedian, and songwriter

Creator of the original Tonight Show

 Parent of an ex-cult member

Author of Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults

Combating Cult Mind Control is the best book available on the entire cult scene.... [Hassan's] explanation of mind control makes this frightening and sophisticated topic understandable to lay readers, and his own personal story is gripping.... an indispensable tool for helping to educate young people about cults.  

Marcia R. Rudin

Former Director, International Cult Education Program

I can think of no one more qualified than Steven Hassan for writing a book that explains in understandable and compelling terms what a truly serious and growing threat destructive cults pose for all of us. I only wish my family had known about the problem before it was too late. Steve's book should be required reading for every family in America.

Patricia Ryan


Daughter of Congressman Leo J. Ryan (killed at Jonestown)

In the search for answers to this civilizational plague, Steven has developed a protection for the public. It is immunization through exposure. Mind control is unveiled for what it is, how it works, and the damage it does...Steve's expose is exceptional.         

Dr. Sandy Andron

High School Director for the Central Agency for Jewish Education

CAN/AFF Board of Directors

Leo J. Ryan Award Recipient

"The author probes beyond doctrine to uncover the thought control techniques common to many cults. Without this insight into the mental processes involved, a Christian worker can expend great effort trying to reach trapped individuals with no positive results."

David A. Reed

Christian Research Journal

Ultimately, this book is about empowerment—how individuals and societies can defend themselves against unethical applications of behavioral sciences. The reader is provided with resource lists, usable definitions, and simple communication and investigative strategies for when a loved one falls under cultic influences...

Frederick Clarkson

Senior Fellow, Political Research Associates

The book's practical value is enhanced by the author's extensive experience as a counselor to concerned families following his own involvement in a well-known cult. It is both readable and informed by scholarship.

Ronald M. Enroth, Ph.D.

Author of The Jesus People, Why Cults Succeed Where the Church Fails,

and A Guide to Cults and New Religions

A valuable, well-written book on a topic of genuine importance. Steven Hassan explains precisely how cults operate to control minds and, in the process, he provides sharp insights into how the influence process works in everyday situations as well.

Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

Author of Influence and The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence


It is my hope that Combating Cult Mind Control will reach many readers, including parents of children in cults, ex-members, and the public at large. A result of Hassan's experience and laborious research, this work is a most crucial contribution to the understanding of cults and the prevention of their further destructive influence on our society.

Dr. Phillip Abramowitz

Former Director, Interfaith Coalition of Concern About Cults

Hassan is a master in the difficult task of opening closed minds. Anything he writes is on my booklist concerning destructive religious practices.

Robert Watts Thornburg

Former Dean of Marsh Chapel

Chaplain to Boston University

…the serious clinician will find Hassan's book a challenge to the ignorance and prejudice that tragically surround the cult phenomenon.

Paul Martin, Ph.D.

Founder of Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, a rehabilitation facility for ex-cult members

His book is well worth reading by professionals in mental health, particularly those involved with students, because early recognition and appropriate intervention depend on greater awareness of this menace.

Peter Tyrer, M.D.

Review of Books, The Lancet (British medical journal)