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Evaluating Concerns

If you are concerned about a friend or loved one, here are some of the major warning signs of a potentially destructive situation. Review these points and see if there are a number of troubling changes. Please keep in mind that an individual can exercise undue influence over another person. It doesn’t have to be an organization. Please also realize that “mind controllers” can operate within many different and sometimes overlapping contexts: religious; political; therapy; education; business.

Don’t get hung up with the word “cult”. Focus on the issue of undue influence. Is the person making his or her own choices? Are there “artful and designing” individuals using deception, manipulation, hypnosis or unethical meditation, to indoctrinate and program the person with a new identity, beliefs, values, and behaviors?


Change of prior commitments

1. Education.

“He had one term to complete to get his college diploma and he walked away. We can’t believe it! No amount of rational argument will convince him to finish.”

2. Career / Goals

“She was planning to become a doctor. Now she stands on street corners recruiting new members.”

3. Significant relationships

“They were going to be married and he broke off the engagement.”


1.Surrendering Assets

“She gave all her money to the group and her stereo and her car!”
“He is using his life savings on cult sponsored classes and events.”

2. Dependency Issues

“He has to ask the group for bus fare. He has no money of his own even though he works twenty hours a day.”

Radical Personality Change

1. Physical appearance

Change in clothes, hair, weight, diet
Spaced out expression, glassy stare

2. Personality

Change in speech patterns, facial expressions, or mannerisms
Decreased sense of humor
Secretive, evasive, or defensive behavior
Judgmental attitude towards family members
Fanatical always proselytizing
Change from extrovert to introvert or vice versa
Change from analytical to magical-thinking
Change from lazy to industrious
Change in level of honesty
Lack of interest in former hobbies

3. Personal habits

Change from irresponsible to responsible (and vice versa)
Change from sloppy to clean (and vice versa)
Change from tardy to punctual (and vice versa)

4. Communication style

Difficulty in communication
Use of “buzzwords,” canned speeches, “tape-loops”

5. Relationships

Change in key relationships
Family and friends preached to as though they need to be saved
Pressure for money for personal reasons or group donations
Loss of contact with family and friends (in person, via telephone, mail)
Decreased physical contact fewer or no hugs and kisses
Self imposed isolation
Family events (unattended or unacknowledged births, birthdays, baptisms, Confirmations, Bar/ Bas Mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, illnesses, deaths)
Majority of time spent with new group or organization

6. Philosophy

Change in political beliefs
Change in religious beliefs
Change in current education (changed from full to part time, changed major, dropped out of school)

7. Career

Abruptly ends career
Gives away money
Spends large sums of money
Radical change of goals

8. Medical

Ignores symptoms
Doesn’t go to doctor
Ignores advice of doctors
Goes to free clinics

9. Change in living conditions

Move to new residence (group house, commune)
Move to new location
Move in with “strangers”


1. Is (s)he eating properly?
2. Is (s)he getting enough sleep?
3. Does (s)he have health insurance?
4. Would (s)he receive good medical care if sick or injured?

Empowering People to Think for Themselves!
 By Steven Hassan