January 18, 2020
  • 4:15 pm معايدة صاحب الغبطةيوحنا العاشر بطريرك أنطاكية وسائر المشرقميلاد ٢٠١٩
  • 4:14 pm True Word of Life Church “LIVE” Worship
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Cults: An In Depth Look At The Experience Of Being In Cults And Breaking Free From Them

Welcome to the Massachusetts School of Law
Educational Forum thank you for joining us this program is brought to you by the Massachusetts
School of Law who can forget the horrific news about the Jonestown mass suicide November
18,1978 nine hundred Reverend Jim Jones followers died after drinking cyanide laced punch under
the order of Jim Jones since that time the news is equally alarming April 19, 1993 eighty
one Davidians including eighteen children die in their compound near Waco after a fifty
one day armed standoff March 22, 1997 five members of the Order of Solar Temple die in
a fiery group suicide believing this would transport them to a planet that revolved around
Sirius previously sixteen members of the order had been found dead in the French Alps with
their bodies arranged in a star shape on the floor forty eight members of that temple also
did mass suicide March 26, 1997 mass suicide of thirty nine members of Heaven’s Gate at
cult headquarters near San Diego the topic for todays show cults joining me is Janja
Lalich she has been studying cults since 1986 when she left the cult of which she had been
a member for more than ten years she has written extensively and is the author of highly acclaimed
books and works with individuals who have been involved with a cult and also works with
families who are concerned about someone in a cultic situation we’re delighted you’re
here Janja and Steve Hassan has been involved in educating the public about mind control
and those cults he considers destructive he is the author of a terrific book on the topic
and has appeared on innumerable television and radio shows and is quoted extensively
thanks for joining us Steve the next gentleman you should recognize Lawrence R. Velvel the
Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and frequently the moderator of this program in
his private practice during the nineteen eighties and nineteen nineties Dean Velvel litigated
against a cult welcome Larry thank you and I’m Diane Sullivan a professor at MSL Janja
I wonder if you could tell the audience what your life was like when you were a member
of a cult well uh it was really a mixture of things I was I was in a political cult
for about ten and a half years and uh initially I thought I had really found something I thought
I you know finally had a group of people that would give me a purpose and meaning and it
was just the most wonderful feeling in the world although I was even from the beginning
sort of cautious and skeptical and wondering well really what is this but as time went
on uh the group became more and more restrictive and more and more controlling of my daily
life and I would say when I think about it I mean the thinking back on that group I think
the main thought that comes to mind is anxiety confusion and fear those were the main feelings
that I had during most of those years I for a lot of that time was in leadership positions
and uh had o carry out acts that now I find reprehensible and uh it was a very very stressful
time do you feel comfortable telling us about any of those acts well sure I don’t uh in
fact you know one of the ways I think it’s important for people who leave these groups
is to really look back and evaluate what they did and why they did it and uh how people
got to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do uh our group was very abusive in the sense
of having uh constant uh criticism sessions where we sat in a circle and somebody got
blasted and uh I was one of the most harsh of the enforcers of that regime I also expelled
many people I separated uh couples I convinced people not to have babies I convinced people
not to go home for their parents funerals not to get married to a particular person
uh I stood guard over people who were under house arrest for weeks at a time uh I was
part of a special elite team called the Eagles uh who served as a body guard for the leader
and who we were often sent out to intimidate other groups or former members of our own
group so those were the kinds of things we did which which weren’t very pleasant Steve
were your experiences as a Moonie and I know that was many many years ago at this point
similar uh in many many ways yes uh I was recruited when I was nineteen back in nineteen
seventy four while a college student and I basically within a few weeks after going to
a three day intensive indoctrination work shop came to believe that Moon was the messiah
and that the world was coming to an end that World War III was going to happen in 1977
and I was quickly promoted to a leadership position where I too separated people uh interfered
with letters and phone calls from families was involved with fraudulent fundraising practices
in the Moonies and doing front group political demonstrations for the Moonies I was involved
for about two and a half years and fortunately I had a near fatal car cradh which lead to
my parents intervening and then I’ve spent the last twenty three years as a mental health
counselor helping other families and people recover from mind control tell us a little
bit about how you did get out of the Moonies what was it like did you undergo psychological
stress when you were contemplating leaving I wasn’t contemplating leaving at all I was
a fanatic and uh you sited Jim Jones you sited David Koresh and and uh Herb Applewhite the
leader of Heaven’s Gate and I can tell you it’s cut from the same mold of this kind of
total dictatorial authoritarian figure and as a member you’re told to emulate that figure
and uh you’re told to suppress you’re own thoughts you’re own feelings you’re evil so
members are taught mind control techniques phobias are implanted in members minds to
give them irrational fears that if anything if they ever leave or question the group terrible
things will happen to them and so for me u I was in a near fatal car crash I three days
up no sleep at all uh so I almost died I was in the hospital needed an operation my family
found out surreptitiously where I was and that lead to a five day intensive intervention
so they sent somebody in with former members well I was lured home to my sister the only
person in my family who was not critical of my involvement and they took my crutches away
I had had a broken leg in a cast up to here and they said Steve we want you to talk to
these former members and of course I said Satan get away from me and so initially it
was involuntary but uh within a day I basically uh saw how much my family was concerned about
me I still didn’t believe I was under mind control I was convinced I was doing God’s
will but my father started to break down in tears and said Steve what would you di if
it was your son who dropped out of college quit his job donated his bank account and
went off with this controversial group wouldn’t you want to make sure he heard the other side
just talk to them for a few days and if you decide you want to go back I’ll drive you
back but at least I’ll be able to sleep at night as your parent and because I knew he
loved me and I loved hm and I was absolutely convinced I agreed to meet with the ex members
and I was taught what mind control was and came to the realization that in fact I had
been the victim of a very systematic social influence program that systematically stripped
away my ability to think for myself and that in mental health terms created a dissociative
disorder in me it literally split me into a pseudo identity a a cult identity that was
following Moon as my parent as opposed to the real Steve Hassan and it was that new
identity that was prepared to kill on command or or kill myself on command it was that level
of total dedication is it true that some cults will kill their members if they believe they’re
gonna defect well Aum Shinrikyo certainly practiced that that’s the nerve gas cult in
Japan right that uh uh set the nerve gas in the Tokyo subways uh that that’s one of the
most frightening groups I’ve ever worked with and people are familiar uh very little in
the United States about it except in terms of articles saying you know we have to be
careful about germ warfare and we have to be careful of terrorist groups but as I see
it and I think Janja would agree the these terrorist groups are really functioning as
mind control cults they control behavior they control information they control the thoughts
the emotions of their followers and they inculcate this kind of total dependency and total allegiance
in a military like fashion to the leader and so if the leader decides uh everyone has to
be gay then everyone’s gay if the leader decides everyone has to be celibate then everyone’s
celibate if the leader decides everyone has to uh do sarin gas then you have to do sarin
gas which one accounts for it’s very scary the Heaven’s Gate group all the men being
castrated or at least I think most of them well yeah uh in Heaven’s Gate I think only
nine of them were castrated Heaven’s Gate had a rule that you had to be celibate and
uh there was there was an absolute abhorrence of the human body uh they called the human
body their vehicles and uh considered them just instruments for getting through this
awful earthly existence and getting to another plain and there was uh certainly group pressure
then to uh live under these standards of being celibate and uh and yet live in incredibly
confined quarters and so it’s not very easy and of course people have human emotions so
one of the ways that some of the members sought to relieve themselves of the stress of struggling
with normal human emotions was to castrate themselves uh but I wanted to just get back
to your question because I think uh in terms of leave leaving groups uh I actually did
think about leaving my group uh I was a true believer as much as Steve was and yet there
were times especially as the years went on ten years is a long time to work twenty hours
a day seven days a week year after year you’re absolutely exhausted I mean the fatigue is
uh something that really wears you down and and hinders your ability to think but when
I would think about leaving uh because I would look around me and i would think God what
is happening to everybody you know people who were brilliant people doctors lawyers
professors I mean those were the kinds of people who were in my group uh were just becoming
shriveled human beings and I would think some this something isn’t right here I would have
that thought for a fleeting second and then immediately you push th thought back because
what happens in these groups is that over time you lose your complete sense of self
and you adopt what Steve was referring this sort of cult personality but the real person
is still there right so there’s this battle that’s going on right and at times I truly
felt like a schizophrenic I I I felt that while I was in the group and yet because you’re
in the context of the group you’re continually choosing for cult personality because that’s
the environment you’re in so the other person is sort of continually squelched uh so that
you get to the point where the way I describe it now I I wouldn’t have thought about it
at the time but I mean I felt truly psychologically trapped I mean I would see the door and I
would believe that I could not walk out that door I I truly believed if I went out that
door the world would end that you would be shot I don’t know what I thought but the fear
is so enormous and it’s not we weren’t a mystical group we didn’t have a you know a religious
uh world view we had a political world view we certainly had enemies we had fabricated
enemies we believed the FBI was gonna come and torture us you know these were all techniques
used to keep us controlled and fearful and paranoid and and to intensify the us versus
them uh mentality so when I thought about going out the door I in my mind I could only
get as far as the door I I mean you couldn’t even imagine what it would be to like to to
go beyond the door because there was no beyond the door and that’s the intensity which uh
the way I I’m trying to understand it now I think what happens is once you adopt this
world view the cultic world view uh it’s not so much that you lose free will but your choices
are confined and restrained within the context of this new world view that you have adopted
and that world view also becomes institutionalized and reified so that in a sense you’re functioning
on rote just like everyday people everyday people get up go to work they don’t really
think about it well everyday we got up and we did what we did we didn’t really think
about it what you were instructed to do what we were instructed to do and as it gets more
and more reified and solidified you don’t believe you have other choices before we go
further in this discussion I’d like to talk to Larry about what it was like to be in litigation
against a cult for so many years well I I would divide that into two parts Diane I’ll
try to keep both of them relatively brief the first part is the human part uh some cults
have become famous or infamous for taking intimidating actions against lawyers who uh
oppose them and also ultimately for buying lawyers off with huge settlements from which
the lawyers made great sums of money uh I personally never experienced that except on
one occasion although my colleagues have and one of them experienced it as recently as
a few months ago he is still litigating against this particular group on behalf of a particular
client uh and uh one of the members of this group uh was uh a few months ago was staring
in the window of his house at his wife which is you know very unsettling to a woman with
a couple of children there and so on and so forth uh unreal one might say uh so this group
apparently is still continuing on doing some of the things that it has done the only thing
they ever did with regard to me was uh we had a court of appeal federal court of appeals
hearing once uh and those hearings are normally attended by as many as two or three people
you know the audience is usually sparse as a would be uh uh way to put it and uh this
group uh loaded the court room with people and uh they were maybe it’s not a nice thing
to say but it was like the great unwashed staring at you in many cases obviously they
were and afterward and afterwards as people walked out hordes of these people scores hundreds
of them including ones who couldn’t fit in the court room would just stare at you you
know and it was very unsettling to my wife having been on unconventional most of my life
this stuff rolls off of my back like a duck uh water off a ducks back but this was very
unsettling to my wife so and from the human standpoint not too much of a problem uh from
the professional standpoint uh it was an absolute stone wall they were employing some of the
uh nations major it’s a small firm but they are among the nations major civil rights lawyers
uh they have I’ll put it bluntly sold out for hundreds of thousands of dollars they
would produce nothing uh the cult members uh have some of them were lawyers and they’d
sit in uh they would uh give you no books no none of the things that a lawyer is supposed
to do in discovery would they give you they’d always argue their religion and not uh not
susceptible therefore to anything that’s going on in court uh they would not it was almost
impossible to it was impossible to depose witnesses and they were prepared because they’re
very wealthy they were prepared to and did spend any sum of money necessary uh to uh
out last out fight out do out stubborn out obstinate uh the opponent uh what was right
or wrong had absolutely nothing to do with it uh and I must say that to a rather considerable
extent the courts and you know you’re well aware that the misdeeds of the Federal courts
are one of my uh I shouldn’t say favorite topics they are a topic on which I am almost
obsessed one might say uh not you Larry not me no I wouldn’t be obsessed about anything
if I were I’d be a cult member right I’ve got my own cult uh the Federal courts let
them get away with this uh to an extent that never should have occurred because the Federal
courts are very very leery of uh treading on what is at least alleged to be religion
to a point where they will not even or they are loathe even to take action against actions
that are anti social actions uh as opposed to beliefs which uh which are protected by
the religion clauses well let’s stop for just a moment that was longer than I wanted it
to be I’m sorry that’s okay let’s stop for just a moment though and consider the argument
that that all religions start out as a cult don’t they so we we have to be careful to
protect religions is is that a fair statement well I I think it’s important that we protect
the freedom of religion I’m the first person who is for freedom of religion uh although
first of all I don’t know that it’s true that all cults all cults all religions start out
as cults I mean if you look at the religious definition or the sociological definition
of the word cult in religious history it really mean a group that’s kind of an off shoot of
another group that’s acting in a strange and bizarre way compared to what the groups standards
are uh but the reality is that many of these groups that we call cults first of all are
not necessarily religious and uh some of them become religions uh in order to hide behind
this first amendment issue uh and it’s quite easy to become a religion in this country
uh although so that I think it’s important we are able to defend freedom of religion
and yet not shy away from criticizing behaviors and actions of groups whether they’re religious
or not I believe they should be held accountable to ethical moral human and legal standards
that every other group is held accountable to right and I would I would suggest that
we consider the United Nations universal declaration of human rights and use that as the basis
for analyzing uh uh destructive practices and my definition I think Janja and I would
agree and possibly the Dean as well that it is a destructive cult is practicing fraud
and deception and specifically mind control to undermine free will except so it’s not
the issue of beliefs it’s the issue of inculcating beliefs into someone involuntarily without
their permission through use of hypnosis through use of behavior modification techniques and
other social influence techniques and to for me therefore the law has still not gotten
up to speed to recognize the state of the art of the technology of social influence
and it presumes a certain rational conscious volition that uh social psychology experiments
have demonstrated humans are not always operating that rationally in fact most advertisers are
taking advantage of many of the features of human nature so would it be accurate to say
that your positions would be the government should not be so concerned about investigating
a cult under the context of religious freedom and and they really should hold cults to much
more ethical behavior well I think all organizations need to be held to the same standard whether
they’re political or whether they’re religious I think just because they say they are a religion
doesn’t give them permission to violate the law or to trample on peoples rights I guess
I mean where I would be uncomfortable is thinking about a lot of government investigations I
I I’m not someone who would advocate much more government intervention in our lives
uh although I believe that uh I agree with Steve in the sense that we need to be clearer
about when the line is crossed when the line of undue influence which I believe is what
is used in the courts and other cases say elder abuse and other situations where people
are defrauded there is such a concept legally of undue influence and whether we can extend
that to this situation and by what criteria and I think that unfortunately because of
harassment of lawyers and because of other lawyers perhaps selling out we don’t have
the people who are equipped to come up with those standards for us working on this issue
it’s not considered an important enough issue or a juicy enough issue or whatever from the
legal I’d say the lobbying against it by the cults on Capital hill is huge so I think government
intervention is not necessarily uh what I would see as a solution I would certainly
vote much more for public education massive public education on in every avenue right
uh although I do think that there is some area where we could create some type of watchdog
agency overlooking IRS non profits status yes that if an organization is claiming non
profit status under religious guidelines and is systematically defrauding the public we
should not be subsidizing them that’s right with our tax dollars and I think if if that
type of government agency could be put into place a lot of abuses of the bigger cults
could be curbed tremendously although I didn’t plan to say this on the air what made me interested
in this topic was Heaven’s Gate I just couldn’t understand and so Larry and I have been involved
in in talking about this show for a very long time and even the intimidation and the subtle
threats that I received trying to put together the show I thought public has no idea what’s
going on that’s right I had no idea and I said I’m not gonna let them win we’re gonna
do this show regardless good for you uh but it but it’s a real concern to me yeah and
uh one that I think needs addressing and and let me just get back to one big point that
taps into it Janja was saying and that is it is known that the CIA has been doing mined
control research since their inception in the fifties and sixties LSD electro shock
hypnosis experimentation this is all documented and then there was Jonestown where a Congressman
was murdered and a Congressional report was producing the brain washing tactics of Reverend
Jim Jones this is a National health issue that needs to be investigated that need to
be reported to the public and still to this point there’s been no government official
that has said yes mind control exists people can be hypnotized people can be indoctrinated
to perform anti social acts and to me that’s the scariest thought of all can I make a point
about that Diane certainly Larry I think it was Janja who said or perhaps David in any
event I’m sure they would agree that we don’t agree on everything that you have to have
some research done on where in terms of mind control techniques as opposed to acts which
currently would be considered bad acts aside from mind control such as uh murder and mayhem
you know uh uh beating up on people keeping uh kidnapping them keeping them prisoner that
this and that in terms of mind control techniques you there has to be some more done I thin
in terms of research to try to establish where the line is drawn and I tell you why I say
this I know this is gonna sound bizarre but I think in twenty or thirty years people won’t
think it’s sos bizarre mind control exists everywhere in every profession and and every
business in our business you will act in the approved way within large law firms and do
the things that they demand that you do or you don’t have a future there and books have
been published now by people who point out just as Janja did in a cult they found themselves
doing things to advance within the legal profession that were sponsored by their law firms that
they look back in horror on what they did the same is true in corporations the same
is true everywhere because in in in quote unquote normal society it’s not called mind
control it’s called getting along to go along uh uh uh going along to get along or doing
the thing uh doing the things that are necessary to advance within the business or profession
and what happens is that you imbibe the values of those who have the power and that’s what
they are talking about and why I think we’re gonna have before before a lot of people are
gonna be willing to tackle the mind control aspect of it we probably need a little better
idea where you draw lines and so forth and its certainly been argued that a lot of the
sales companies use those very same techniques as part of their sales training before we
take a break I want to spend just a moment if we could and talk a little bit about the
leaders of cults do all cults have at their center an all powerful leader and and who
are these people what are they seeking are they seeking money are they seeking wealth
and power well I for me certainly one of the criteria uh is a cult has a charismatic leader
now that leader may be dead uh that doesn’t mean that they’re still not a leader and that
his or her value system is still not in place uh but these people are uh uh charismatic
in the sense that they are able to uh create a relationship with their followers where
their followers believe they are completely dependent on this person and the group formation
can I interrupt for just a moment and ask do the group members think of the leader as
a prophet yes I mean I we thought in my group it was a political group we thought our leader
was it was a woman we thought she was the new Lenin she was our revolutionary hero she
was going to take us into the next level of political enlightenment okay we could have
used the very same language so that people believe that their leader has something special
and that only that person has it and you only get whatever that specialness is by being
around that person right and I’d say now oh I’m sorry I just want to finish and and why
they do it you know I think it’s different with each leader it’s usually a combination
of money sex and power some combination of that not every leader is going to need or
want the same things but depending on the leaders proclivities that’s what the group
is going to end up doing that’s why you can have some groups are celibate some groups
are free sex some groups the leader has ninety nine Rolls Royces and another group the leader
will live in a closet I mean it really depends on what the propensities in that persons mind
but I’d put power at the top of the list okay those other things are sub things because
that’s the one universal that I see and power becomes an addiction and the more power you
have the more power you want and the more you elevate yourself and people project you
are the greatest person it it and that’s where you can predict that destructive cults will
get more destructive over time because it’s a it’s a closed system of yes people going
yes yes and uh the human nature breaks down ultimately because no one’s perfect one last
question before we take our break why do cult leaders at least some cult leaders bring their
members to death is it they’re losing power well I think again there’s not one answer
and I think what’s complex about this whole issue which gets back to what Larry was even
saying is that there’s not one answer to any of these questions uh it’s such a complex
phenomena but I think that in many cases uh I think we’re seeing now a number of groups
that have been around for some time and uh when you ave a group that’s sequestered where
the leader has had this kind of unbridled power and if the leader has any kind of pathology
and any kind of tendency to uh act out in a destructive or self destructive way then
when the conditions are such that he or she gets pushed to a corner or or creates the
corner for him or herself then the suicides can happen now some of those suicides have
also included a lot of murders as in Jonestown many of those people were murdered they didn’t
willingly drink that suicide same with some of the Solar Temple people some of them were
murdered uh Heaven’s Gate you can say yes people all willingly drank that uh potion
on the other hand there was incredible group pressure uh in that closed system right once
they made those videos and said good bye to everybody on TV what were they gonna do stand
up and say guess what gang I don’t wanna do it no honest to good people don’t do that
we need to break here sorry we’ll revisit this issue after the break thanks can you tell which of these children was not
born free can you tell which of these children was not born equal can you tell which of these
children does not deserve to be treated with dignity we can’t either human right number
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Cancer Society we offer hope welcome back to the Massachusetts School of Law Educational
Forum joining me is Janja Lalich Stave Hassan and the Dean of our school Larry Velvel we’re
gonna talk next about who’s most likely to become a cult member Steve uh I’d say the
most vulnerable are people who don’t understand cult tactics the deception the fact that very
intelligent educated uh people who are very sincere uh nobody hangs a sign saying high
I’m a cult recruiter no one ever joins a cult not uh knowingly uh people who are vulnerable
uh death of a loved one illness graduation uh new in town divorce new in town moving
somewhere makes them more susceptible and vulnerable but the overwhelming vulnerability
is just ignorance of a being a good consumer that if someone is inviting you to something
or telling you something you have to ask questions like what is the name of the group does it
have any other names who is the leader what are your beliefs is it controversial by anyone
good suggestion and then do independent research don’t just depend on the cult uh the recruiter
to tell you the dark side of the group and Janja has prepared an excellent graphic uh
that we’re going to show to the audience in just a moment but before we do that I’d like
to ask do you think it’s accurate to say that recruitment tactics are based on deception
rather than straight forward disclosure absolutely right I think in the sense that you don’t
really know what you’re getting into I mean sometimes there will be out and out deception
where it’s a front group and you don’t have a clue what’s really behind it and you eventually
get drawn in and sometimes it’s more subtle in that you know what you’re going to but
you don’t know what the bottom line is gonna be once you sign on as a member so to speak
and and I think just a footnote to what we were talking about uh I think the prevalent
myth still is that’s it’s young people or college age kids who get into cults when in
fact I think that more and more it’s people in their thirties and forties people who have
gotten out of college who are earning good money who are able to contribute to the group
in some way or another and that most of the calls that I get at my office are not about
parents calling about their children so much as a husband or a wife calling about their
spouse a brother calling about his sister sometimes even a kid calling about his mom
or dad now that surprises me that’s important information Janja I wonder if we could go
and take a look at the graphic you prepared for the audience and I wonder if you’d take
a moment and explain to us what are the things we should watch out for sure uh this is a
hand out that I prepare that I send out when people call my office or I give out at talks
but mainly the thing to look out for is somebody giving you the bum’s rush so to speak I mean
it’s when people are pushing you to make a decision too quickly uh to go to something
right away who aren’t giving you time to think through what’s happening who suddenly become
your best friend uh who invite you to something say a weekend retreat but they don’t really
tell you what’s gonna go on when you get there uh they use a lot of guilt uh to get you to
do something or they’ll say to you uh oh come on you know you should come to this look who
else is coming to it you know big football star so and so or you know the head of the
class or the your co worker sitting next to you so it’s those kinds of pressuring tactics
where somebody becomes your best friend right away and I think it’s important to realize
that you know friendship is earned and that kind of intimacy is something that we have
to earn over time and so it’s not that people should become incredibly paranoid and skeptical
but I do think that we are a little naive and that people are not savvy enough uh it’s
what Steve was saying about being aware of what these uh groups are and what’s out there
and that people are really looking to draw you into something and uh these are the most
common ways that they do it thank you Janja Steve I wonder if we could take a look at
the next graphic that I have prepared uh and I’d like to ask you is it accurate to say
that cult methods of indoctrination and control include the following sleep deprivation isolation
public confession hypnosis reward and punishment and a strict control of daily activities would
that summarize most cult methods uh it certainly those are several important things but I wouldn’t
say all mind control groups use all of them uh I certainly would I I talk about behavior
control information control thought control and emotional control uh m and I have a whole
list on my website freedomofmind.com for example of of the specific forms of behavior control
but one of the biggest ones is controlling a persons environment the extent that you
have to live in a central compound there’s more control the extent that you live at home
but just go to the cult center you still could be in a cult but there’s less specific behavior
control but if you have to ask a permission for every major life decision then that’s
the big thing to watch out for uh I want to comment about hypnosis because I’m a mental
health professional who’s studied hypnosis and hypnotherapy and whenever you’re closing
your eyes and you’re visualizing you are going into an altered state of consciousness and
that is not a bad thing in and of itself but when you’re going into an altered state or
you’re doing a guided visualization or eyes closed uh exercise you are going into a state
of mind where you are less analytical less critical more suggestible so that if you’re
in a context of we’re just doing yoga ok close your eyes feel the waves in the ocean going
over your body you are more vulnerable to than the person making the suggestion of and
there’s something very important is going to be happening in your life soon or you’re
on a spiritual journey or we knew each other in a past life and that way ideas can start
getting seeded in someones mind that can be part of this overall uh strategic recruitment
and indoctrination uh you’ve justified my refusal to do yoga Steve well I but the thing
is is that I do self hypnosis I practice hypnotherapy in an ethical context I’m not advocating that
these techniques are bad I’m just saying exactly beware it can be done ethically and give you
lots of tools to enhance and improve your life or it can be used with someone with an
ulterior motive to enslave you or take your money at the very least thanks Steve Larry
I prepared another graphic on what I think are cult practices that have been established
through research and legislative hearing I’d like to ask you if you feel that they are
they they are accurate based on your experiences do cults typically engage in things like beating
and kidnapping and imprisoning sexual exploitation of women and children uh extortion of money
attempted or maybe sometimes even actual murder the unauthorized practice of medicine or the
refusal to provide medical care the failure to educate children other criminal acts blackmail
false smear campaigns which you’ve talked about earlier harassment the misuse of the
legal system uh destruction or insisting on u people really severing their relationship
with their families and dangerous unsanitary and unlawful living and working conditions
do you think that would be a somewhat accurate list well within my own limited experience
uh each of those things was said to have been done by the particular group that I was litigating
against and uh each of those things were testified to in various legislative hearings uh or uh
had been found by people uh governmental agencies here and abroad often more abroad than here
because uh people abroad are not necessarily as uh concerned about treading on rights as
uh we are here uh they had been found by governmental agencies here and abroad who had written reports
on these things since I personally was never member of a cult and you know never ob was
never in the cults uh physical premises uh I personally never as lawyers would say you
know I don’t have first hand observation I have hearsay uh knowledge but uh from everything
I read and heard every single one of those things uh was the particular group by that
I was litigating against was accused of every single one of those things and uh I think
it had risen to the level where it was pretty well accepted by independent minds that these
things had occurred there had indeed been criminal prosecutions uh with regard to some
of them and there had been convictions with regard to some of them and there had been
civil law cases in which some of them had been found by judges uh in the United States
thank you Larry Janja is sexual exploitation of women prevalent in cults yes it is I mean
actually sexual exploitation of men and women is prevalent and uh I recently did a special
issue of a journal called uh women under the influence and it was a study of women in cultic
groups and for a piece that I wrote for that I did just a quick survey of the last fort
four women who had come to see me at my office who were former members of a variety of groups
and to a one every single one of them had either personally experience some kind of
sexual abuse or sexual exploitation or had been witness to it uh for other others in
their group uh so that was a one hundred percent rate uh now I’m not you know that’s obviously
not a scientific study I’m not saying that’s the uh the rate but uh it is very prominent
because leaders learn that to control someone’s sexuality right is one of the deepest most
intimate and ultimate ways that you can control someone yeah it’s such an intimate part of
ourselves so whether they’r orchestrating who you’re going to marry who you’re going
to be with whether the leader him or herself is actually coming on to you it’s a range
of exploitation but in almost every group there is some facet of that and that could
be sexual exploitation of children yes which is Steve really what I want to talk about
next what first off I think one aspect of cult life that is often ignored is what it’s
like for children the children that are born in cults or the children that are converted
along with with their family so I wonder if you might tell us a little bit about either
your research or your first hand knowledge of what it’s like for children to live in
a cult well uh I’ve I’ve been counseling people for years now and and uh the the people who
are most devastated are the people who are either born into cults or brought in by their
parents who get recruited into a cult when the kids are very young and then they come
out uh whether they’re kicked out or whether they have a nervous breakdown or they have
a overwhelming health problem and the cult doesn’t want to pat for their treatment they
come out to an alien world it’s it’s not unlike someone who’s in a prison or in a POW camp
and is brought out to society and has to be taught everything everything education has
to be brought to the doctor maybe they’ve never seen a doctor and had a full physical
uh is it likely they’ve been educated while they were in the cult usually they do their
own education which is basically indoctrination and uh uh there’s one cult that I’m working
with that’s prevalent in the northeast that consider it a sin for children to have imagination
so if the children are playing with dolls they are beaten with a balloon stick a wooden
stick so that they shouldn’t have these fantasies and imagination and in talking with child
psychologists when I tell them this they gasp and say I can imagine no worse form of abuse
but then when I go on and discuss children who are systematically sexually uh molested
sometimes in certain cults by their own parents at the instruction of the cult leader then
we see incredible levels of damage and helping people to come out is a monumental task and
there are literally thousands of cults and millions of people Americans that are impacted
here and most mental health professionals I know Janja would agree with me do not understand
even when someone comes in and says hey I’m having suicidal thoughts most therapists are
not trained to ask questions like well have you ever been involved with a group that’s
controversial that told you you know anything that if you left terrible things were going
to happen to you you should kill yourself and I believe that there are untold numbers
of suicides that are happening directly because of cults because of cult mind control ’cause
someone’s getting out as opposed to uh just they are unhappy with their life but again
the mental health field is blind to this matter much as they were blind to child molestation
issues in before the sixties or seventies when it started coming to the fore Steve you
brought up something interesting that I want to take just a minute and pause and talk about
is it true that children in cults are often exposed to highly abusive behavior uh much
of it sexual an example which was cited in the New York Times which should reflect up
on the screen in just a moment uh children being sexually exploited would you say that
type of abuse is the norm in certain cults I wouldn’t say across the board and I think
it’s difficult when you’re trying to describe a broad phenomenon correct uh because uh credibility
is very important in did you want to say something yeah I think what’s important to you know
to always remember when you’re in one of these groups uh you’re under the control of the
leader or the next level of leadership right so that as a parent because people are probably
wondering well how could parents go along with some of these things as a parent your
loyalty is not to your children it’s to your leader and to the group that loyalty shifts
the minute you adopt that world view as I talked about earlier so that whatever happens
to the children whether you as a parent are doing it or whether you’re observing it or
whether it’s the norm of the group you go along with it maybe with that same conflict
that I felt all those years in my group but you go along with it because that’s the context
you’re in and so you don’t step in and save the child you don’t step in or if you do step
in you’ll get smashed right and and you’re punished you quickly learn that you’re not
supposed to step in so that it there’s a continual again a conflict going on about that because
the loyalties are shifted uh the only loyalty you can have is to the leader again there’s
going to be an array of experiences not every group is going to be directly abusive to the
children but I know that in my group the children were just neglected I mean who had time we
were working twenty hour days who had time for the children they were shunted shuffled
off to school picked up from school thrown into child care right somebody was assigned
to watch them one night a week they had no personal attention they had no personal time
with their parents right is that abuse I don’t know but in the case of the Hare Krishna’s
where the kids are taken away from their parents and they were sent to schools where they were
being homosexually molested systematically year after year after year that’s what the
New York Times story was all about this is horrific this is absolutely horrific and the
leadership of this group have taken little responsibility to oust those leaders who were
doing the systematic perpetration or doing very little if nothing to get therapy to all
the victims and this is terrible Larry your reaction yeah I have one reaction uh again
I hope this doesn’t strike people as too bizarre but in terms of the fact that a parent would
consider his or her primary uh uh allegiance to the leader rather than to the child that’s
the norm forgive me for saying this this is not different from what went on in Nazi Germany
or under Stalin in Russia that’s right you’re absolutely these are totalitarian societies
little mini totalitarian societies and the mind control that Hitler practiced in Germany
was just on a larger scale than the Moonies practice but it’s the same control of behavior
information thoughts and feelings recoding identity can I make uh uh one ask a question
or maybe it’s just a quick comment as as they were talking it occurred to me one could think
of Nazi Germany as one huge cult in fact Robert Jay Lifton who wrote the seminal book on mind
control initially at the behest of military intelligence was his initial research he wrote
a book called thought reform and the psychology of totalism about Chinese Communists thought
reform programs of the forties and fifties of Mao uh went on to write a book called The
Nazi Doctors and talked and applied the same paradigm to the Nazis and in particular focused
on doctors who are by their training taught to save life and yet they were systematically
destroying life you know just going back though in history this summer I happened to uh this
past summer I happened to tour uh a Shaker museum if you will and I can remember going
on a tour into the school room where the children children were taught and I asked questions
back then right away ’cause we think of the Shakers but I said this is a cult this was
a cult at the time uh but were the children free to go and the answer that I received
was they were they could stay or they were free to go and they were pretty much lived
a normal life within the cult that was the response that I had and I wonder in most cults
today are the children free when they’re age eighteen or sixteen to walk out the door well
I think again you know it really is gonna vary it’s gonna vary if the person was raised
in the born into the group raised in the group it’s gonna depend on the degree to which the
group is sequestered you know if you’re living on a compound somewhere and you think that’s
all there is and you think that if you go beyond a ten mile radius uh some evil is going
to befall you and that’s the philosophy that you’ve been ingrained with over the years
turn eighteen or not you’re gonna have to think pretty hard about whether you can make
that move so again it’s gonna depend on what kind of resources or help you may think exist
in that quote outside world if there are grandparents if there are other relatives who’ve been trying
to keep in touch with you or reach you or send you information it it’ll make you a little
braver about taking that step into the outside world right but I also want to add that in
when I was in the Moonies uh people would say are you free to leave and I would say
of course I’m free to leave anytime I want and that’s an important thing to understand
is that you’re taught to say the PR thing but when it comes to having the tools and
the actual ability and and free will to be able to walk out the door uh that’s a different
matter very on a simple level if someone has a phobia of elevators and and they every time
they think of an elevator their heart starts to race their mouth gets dry and they’d rather
walk thirty flights of stairs than get in an elevator that’s what we’re talking about
in the level when you’re in a mind control cult you can’t imagine being out of the group
and happy and fulfilled you can only generate negative images disastrous images and so you
stay no matter how miserable you are and how torn you are you have no choice did you ever
think about going back going back after you left well my group actually ended uh the way
I got out I was I was trying to figure out how to escape for a number of years and could
never figure out how to do it uh and then what happened was it’s a long story but the
group basically imploded and we expelled our leader and we dissolved the organization it’s
quite a remarkable story I wish more groups did it but anyway uh so there was no group
to go back to uh yet for quite a long time I uh still felt the uh intensity of being
in the group I missed the friendship and the comradeship of my colleagues uh and when I
did when I did something uh you know really brave like speak out or when I wrote my first
article about the group uh which was about five years later I thought they were gonna
come and get me I thought the group was gonna come and get me if there was no more group
that’s how deep these thoughts are yeah and that underscores the fact that just because
you’re physically out of one of these cults whether the group uh implodes or whether you’r
counseled out of the group you need therapy to work out and understand all the methods
that were used on you and to come to terms with the horrendous acts that we both did
as a leader and such and uh both of us have spoken with I counseled a man who was in Heaven’s
Gate for fifteen years walked out in nineteen ninety seven seven years before the mass suicide
but never got counseling and when everyone in the group killed themselves he flipped
out because part of him felt like he missed his chance to ascend to the higher level and
so he was switching back and forth from his cult self to his real self as people were
doing interviews with him and I sat down with him and explained to him what is a cult what
is mind control went through the criteria of behavior control information control thought
control emotional control explained hypnosis to him and he was able to piece together ’cause
one of the big dilemmas when you get out of it is how I’m an intelligent person how could
I have ever believed this nonsense how could I have ever believed that Moon was the Messiah
the greatest man in human history if I could comment again it gets back to the differences
or lack of differences between cults and what are considered normal uh enterprises uh I
think there’s a large question of sense of identity involved here that’s right and we
have found the same thing in American society uh people in large corporations who are downsized
people in major law firms who are no longer part of the law firm you find it everywhere
that uh people cannot envision themselves a outside the particular enterprise or unit
and uh they feel helpless to know what they would do if they went outside uh once they
do get outside it uh you know first they’re thrown for a complete loop because what has
uh been their sense of identity is completely lost and ultimately they look at it and say
if they are lucky this hasn’t happened to some people who were downsized but to others
they look at it ultimately they say my God i would never go back to that kind of thing
right and then people could also argue that Americans are not sleeping enough so there’s
a national sleep deprivation pattern going on but I think there’s a danger to generalize
and just say everything is mind control as if and as opposed to looking at it on a continuum
where there are levels of destructiveness versus levels of positive application and
you know case by case making an analysis right and I think the bottom line is in order to
have free will you need information critical information from both different points of
view and you need the mental faculties to be able to consider that information so when
you’re in a cult that’s telling you don’t have negative thoughts against the leader
or the doctrine and do thought stopping techniques to depress it you can’t consider alternative
sources of information well and I think Larry’s point is it is important in a sense that none
of this even though it’s extreme none of this is really unusual these are normal influence
and persuasion techniques that are taken to an extreme and so that I think people need
to realize that that uh these are everyday things that are going on with everyday people
all around you and it can happen to you it’s not just some weirdos who get into these groups
but that these what these groups prey on are basic human uh tendencies right the methods
are not mystical they really you really can explain them uh uh social psychologist Phillip
Zimbardo of Stanford University teaches a course called the psychology of mind control
in which he reviews the basic literature and has uh uh demonstrated that intelligent people
are more susceptible in many cases to manipulation and abuse you take someone who’s a total apathetic
slug with no education and try to motivate them to save the world it’s a lot harder than
a bright college student who’s idealistic who’s idealistic and wants to make a difference
and has a tremendous amount of energy and idealism one last question because we’re just
about out of time Larry if somebody comes to you and they say a loved one has been taken
into a cult I’ll use that word what advice might you give them I don’t mean to be uh
sarcastic cynical or humorous I’d tell ’em to see somebody like Steve or Janja thank
you and so let us throw the ball now into your court I’d say very quickly don’t overreact
don’t get hysterical don’t say are you in a cult or you’re being brainwashed but take
a curious yet concerned posture you know Larry you seem to be really enthusiastic and different
tell me about it and say you know Larry if this is what you’re involved with is legitimate
it will be there next week or next month let’s take a week off and let’s look around let’s
get on the internet let’s look for other points of view and let’s make a good decision we
gotta close sorry Janja you have to come back and we’ll do part two I want to thank you
both very very much and Larry thanks for joining me and to our viewing audience until next
time be well thanks thanks so much

Otis Rodgers