Trump’s Mind Control Madness

Listen to this episode

S1: Slate Plus members, it’s survey time, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate. Slate podcast and Slate. Plus, it’ll only take a few minutes. You can find it at Slate dot com slash survey.

S2: Oh, my God, a false number. That’s what President Trump called the World Health Organization’s latest global death rate of the Corona virus. And I talked about having a hunch about what he thinks is going on instead of the scientific numbers from the World Health Organization.

Advertisement

S3: Vice President Pence flattered the president’s response. And then the president took the microphone and he blamed President Obama for slow progress in throwing the virus testing.

S4: I want to stop Trump. I believe he’s a threat to this country. He can’t be stopped within the Republican Party. Nobody can beat him. It’s Trump’s party, John. It’s not a party. It’s a cult.

S5: Hello and welcome to Trump Cast. I’m Virginia Heffernan. So the race for the Democratic nomination has narrowed to two white men of nearly 80 now. Both of whom were born during Jim Crow use calcified language from the 60s and sometimes the 1920s. And they’ve spent the bulk of their careers among the ruling class in Congress and particularly in the U.S. Senate. I’ve made my preference for the kind one of these two known. The one who can sit with us in our grief and serve as the toast and applesauce as the body politic recovers from the violent food poisoning named Donald Trump. Once we get on our feet, though, we might be ready for a real president. Elizabeth Warren, thank you for your ideas and passion and principle. Elizabeth, you would have been a brilliant American president. For now, though, we can only handle dry toast. Today’s guest is returning favorite Stephen Hassin. He’s an expert on cults and cultism. And in particular, he’s an expert on the cult of Trump, the subject of his recent book, his first appearance on Trump Cast. You’re such a big response from listeners that I wanted to have him back to fill out some of the ideas he touched on in the earlier episode. Welcome to Trump Cast, Stephen. It’s a pleasure, Virginia. Thanks. As you know well, I’ve become even more an admirer of your work since we talked last, and that’s why I want to do. Why did you do this sort of second part episode? As things have evolved in the political sphere on your book, The Cult of Trump, and also again about this model that I find very persuasive. That’s Trump ism has all the hallmarks of a cult. Has your thinking evolved since we talked last, since so many ex Trump ites and observers have referred to Trump ism as a cult?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: So since we’ve talked, since the book has come out. Yes, the meme cult of Trump is everywhere. A lot of people are using it. Of course, once I was on Brian Stelter as RELIABLE SOURCES, then Tucker Carlson did a show goofing on Brian and me and then Rush Limbaugh and Bright Bart and everybody else were like, oh, the Dems are the cult. And Tennessee lawmakers even submitted a bill saying that The Washington Post and CNN should be designated as fake news because they did stories about the Cult of Trump book specifically. So what I want to say categorically is that for me, I think about influence on a continuum from healthy influence and ethical influence to unhealthy influence. And a key notion is, is informed consent and knowing what you’re getting into, knowing what’s expected of you. Freedom to read whatever you want to read and talk to whoever you want to talk to. And freedom to leave without coercion.

Advertisement

S7: So there are many, many organizations that are cults in the sense of like if you’re fanatical scuba diver like myself, I love scuba diving. I feel like close to God when I’m underwater, floating in reefs and I am a Jew and I go, I belong to a temple for 20 years. So the issue isn’t just the word cold. The issue is destructive, authoritarian, cold, which I do think the Trump administration and the groups that are influencing him and are his devoted followers are acting like. And what I’d love as a result of this, this interview is for the conversation to deepen from just name calling over a cult or the Dems or a cult. But to really focus more on authoritarianism with a malignant narcissistic leader who has all of the characteristics of destructive cult leaders that I have in Chapter 2 of the cult of Trump. Yeah. You know, the grandiose, self-centered behavior, the need for praise and admiration, entitlement, lack of empathy. But then the malignant part is the pathological lying, the anti-social behavior, the exploitation, the sadism, the harassment and silencing. So you go down the entire list then. Wow. Jim Jones. Hubbard Moon, the guy who was my former cult leader. Yeah. And Trump and just the direct comparisons are all there in the leadership. And he wants loyalty and obedience above all. And that is the definition of a mind control cult, is you don’t have free well, you don’t have conscience. You have to follow the leader, follow the dogma, follow the. Policies or else. And I have a model that I referred to as the bite model of mind control, which talks about behavior control, information control, thought control and emotional control. And when you’re telling followers anything critical of me or my policies is fake news. That term is what’s called in my business loaded language.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: It’s a term that is a thought terminating cliche that members recite. Which means you’re not allowed to think about any of that stuff, that bad stuff. So in Scientology, they’re code word is and end theta. So when the FBI raided their headquarters and arrested their top leaders and put them in jail. That was all end theta. And members were not told not not to believe the media. They’re evil. They’re out the persecutions.

S5: And theta means something like falsehoods or bad energy.

S6: Yeah, exactly. Fake news is what it means for Scientologists. Exactly. And so, you know, one of the main techniques of mind control is information control, which includes deceptive recruitment, but also require includes often spying on each other and and making sure people do not talk to ex members and critics and actually think about the information for themselves. And reality tests that information.

Advertisement

S5: I heard recently it’s a follow up to the podcast about recent podcast about Nexium, which I know you’ve studied. And one of the ex-members describes sitting through a fairly horrific fright test or something like that. She watched a very, very disturbing kind of piece of snuff film because she was being tested for something or other. Anyway, her body and intuition told her that this was wrong, and yet she was taught to treat that signal as fake news.

S6: Yeah, exactly. You do this regulation of your own thoughts, feelings and behaviours in accordance with the external authority, the leader, the doctrine or the cult. And so as a mental health professional, the way it’s labeled in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual is a dissociative disorder. So when I was in the moon cult, there was the real Steve, who was a poet, and then the cult Steve, who will look to moon as my true parent and the greatest man in human history and God’s agent on Earth. And when I was instructed to demonstrate my obedience and faith by taking my original poetry, some 400 pieces and throwing it in the garbage, I complied to demonstrate my faith.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: Okay. That is that’s an extraordinary detail. Maybe for listeners who don’t know your full experience, you can talk about joining the Moonies and feeling tricked and maybe. And I think this seems a bit controversial to sort of reflect on whether you were uniquely vulnerable or if that’s like saying, you know, only certain people get swindled or that it’s like some part of it or assaulted, that really this could happen to anyone. I’m curious about your thoughts about that.

S8: Sure. So I was rescued out of the moon cult after a near-fatal van crashed the sleep exhaustion and a five day deprogramming that I agreed to to prove to my family I wasn’t brainwashed. And I realized about what brainwashing was. By studying Chinese communist brainwashing of the 50s. And this was 1976 when I woke up. So I go back a long ways. So I’ve been become a mental health professional and helping people out of all types of mind control cults. And you mentioned Nexium. So I can’t resist just saying that Nancy Salzman was a trainer in something called Neuro Linguistic Programming or m_l_p_, which was developed based on the work of psychiatrist Milton Erickson, who is a psychiatrist who developed the form of process oriented hypnosis. He founded the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He was consulted by m.K. Ultra researchers of the CIA, I should add, in the 50s. But this knowledge of how to manipulate words and states of being. I added to the Cult of Trump book because in watching and listening to many of the techniques that Trump was using, they come out of this body of knowledge called m_l_p_ and the person who is most well-known.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S5: For promulgating this in socially acceptable situations, as Tony Robbins, by the way, doesn’t call it an LP, an LP is an I’m not I’m not totally familiar with all this language, but I seen an LP be used adjacent to cognitive behavioral therapy.

S8: Mainstream, all absolute. Right. It’s not a bad thing. OK, it depends on your ethics. If you’re an ethical therapist, you always put the client or the patient first. You don’t have dual agendas. So if I’m in a mind control cult and I’m a therapist trying to keep you in the cult using an LP, there’s a blatant disregard of ethics. As a therapy.

Advertisement

S9: So the person I know who uses an LP and this gets to the question of vulnerability went to work in a kind of cognitive way with her allergy. She has like extreme migraines in response to certain scents. And she sort of walked through this, as you would say, sort of reprogramming that I’m open to the scent of lemon or, you know, these are things that I can tolerate here. And it was quite effective for her.

S5: But she went to the doctor saying, this is something that I’m having trouble living with. I identify this as, you know, a problem in my life. Did you feel like when you were recruited into the Moonies that you had some kind of longing or or a difficulty in your life that you willingly submitted to this recruitment process because, you know, you had something that you wanted to fix or treat?

Advertisement

S10: So my experiences, yes, I had situational vulnerability to things. The universal for everybody is ignorance about cult mind control, tactics and recruitment. And if you think you’re too smart to ever get taken by a person or by a group, that’s your biggest vulnerability. But the situational vulnerability for me was my girlfriend dumped me quite unexpectedly and I was depressed. And the new semester was starting. And three women pretending to be students at Queens College flirted with me and asked to sit at my cafeteria table while I was waiting for my next class and they asked me a billion questions about myself. And I slowly gave them all of the answers so that they would know how to recruit and indoctrinate me. What I didn’t understand is that they were lying to me. They were part of a religious group.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: I had no interest in changing religions or joining a group. I was not a joiner at all, but they were flirting with me. And that was my my vulnerability. I can tell you, having worked in this field, that people who whose parents are divorcing death of a loved one, illness, moving to a new city, state or country, some previous trauma that may have happened in your life that you never shared with anybody and and you share with the controller. Yeah. And in this day and age, because so much of our private information is accessible through the deep web. You know, a recruiter of a cult no longer needs to ask you any direct questions, Virginia. They can find out everything about you from your likes. You know, the whole Cambridge Analytica and scraping. Yeah. All of your likes. Very sophisticated profiles are now developed. Yeah. And this is another piece to answer your initial question of what’s different over the last few months, as I’m just realizing how sophisticated A.I. is getting weekly and the power of of digital media and the power of smart phones to mind control people directly. You don’t need to go to an isolated retreat to be, you know, mind controlled anymore. Yeah. And I’ve worked with people being radicalized online, though, to white supremacy to a number of mind control cults because they don’t understand. This is a systematic, incrementally done program to get you and take you over and then give you a new identity and sense of values and beliefs.

S11: You know, I just may be safe in an effort to sort of keep us hopeful. Want to continue to refer to. I mean, no, that’s not an obligation for you, but for me, I want to. I am hopeful, by the way. I mean, I want you. You do a lovely job about sort of identifying the authentic self, the sort of incorruptible self, the free self, the free part of the mind. The poet in you when you were heartbroken. And sometimes I think of that. In digital times, as the things about you that can not be digitized. So, yes, A.I. knows if I like a certain handbag on Instagram and it knows it may know my bank balance and it may be able to derive that I have this or that particular anxiety, I know when I was getting divorced that I was writing enough to lawyers and friends in email that I started to get.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S12: Are you desperately lonely? Do you need to meet men in Brooklyn? You know, and it felt you know, it felt pale. ISIS recruits, by the way.

S5: Oh, is that right? Or is it so that. Mates. Mates. Okay. Yeah. But so that felt painful at the time. On the other hand, it was so clearly an algorithm that I felt almost a sense of freedom that there was some part of me. Some. What’s that expression like, invincible springtime or something that lay within that could not be read. So the more they sloughed off the things that they could know about me, my consumer habits, the more I thought, well, you know, I’m actually like indomitable inside because look at all the trivia that they can collect about me when you’re 19.

S11: You think you’re the only one who’s had a recent heartbreak or I know I did, and that these are the most powerful, important things about you, that you have certain insecurities and that certain vulnerabilities and like, oh, look at that, you’re 19 and broken up. And the attention of three young women is, you know, feels good to you.

S5: Well, that’s not a particularly look. That’s not your poetry, right? That’s not what’s unique about you. That’s what’s, you know, easily manipulated about you. Right. And you talk a lot about touching that authentic self that it really is saying things they said in Q and on or in Nexium or in the Moonies. But that is still there and untouched and free.

S6: Right. So my window on this phenomenon is forty five years now, including my own experience. And I was as fanatical as anyone I’ve ever met. I was like a chosen by moon to be the model member. I would have died on come in, killed on command. And what did that feel like? How did it feel like? I thought that God had summoned me. We were gonna take over the world and get rid of satanic democracy. Moon talked about infiltrating congressmen and senators offices with members. We talked about amending the Constitution to make it a capital offense for people who violated the rules. So it was a total theocracy model. I should add that Jeffrey Sharlet, the author of The Family and the docu series on Netflix. The Family, yes. Moon was involved with the family. Moon was ushered to meet Nixon right after a national prayer breakfast of the family. And then the Moonies, including yours, truly was ordered to fast for three days for Nixon during the Watergate period. And I hated Nixon before my recruitment into the cult. And my father used to defend Nixon. And I called him from Washington saying, Dad, I’m fasting for Nixon to be president. He said, Steve. You were right. He’s a crook. I said, Dad, you don’t understand. God chose him to be president. He wants him to be president, he said. No, Steve is a crook. Now, I know you’re brainwashed, literally. This was an actual I honestly thought he would approve. And he was like, no, you’ve just confirmed that you are not yourself. You know, we used to argue about Nixon.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S12: I mean, to think on some level there was some kind of power. I mean, I don’t want to union with your father. You were seeking I mean, if I realize I’m still going to this question of vulnerability.

S8: So, sure. You know, the thing is about influence is that we’re all influencing each other. Yeah. And we all are not perfect. Unless you’re a cult leader and you say you’re perfect and you never make mistakes. But are there unique angles or vulnerabilities in any human being? Absolutely. Is there anyone who doesn’t want to realize their full potential? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to make the world a better place? Well, if you’re a sociopath or you’re apathetic, you’re not going to be recruited by mind control cults because they won’t want you. They want passionate, intelligent, idealistic people who will work for 21 hours a day on almost no sleep and give over all their money.

S6: So what was my what was my vulnerability? I’d say looking back, having been in therapy and such, I would say one key piece was my father was always, keep your head down. Don’t volunteer who is in the military. Don’t volunteer for anything, Dana. Yes. And he didn’t say, Steve, you’re going to do great things with your life. Like you’re brilliant and you’re going to do amazing things. We I think you should run your own country one day. Steve. Yeah, that’s what the leader that makes my leader in the Moonies one step away from moon was telling me, all right, Stephen, there are ten generations of your ancestors on your mother’s and father’s side stuck in low levels of the spirit world. We have a chance to take over the world and establish the Garden of Eden. And God has chosen you. You know who you have this unique historical role and blah, blah, blah. And and honestly, I was told to model myself after moon to think like him, feel like him, walk like him and talk like him. We refer to this. And in my field as cloning, my my my cult identity was a clone. And the closer I got to moon, the more power hungry and narcissistic I became, because that’s how Moon was me.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S12: You have done such a beautiful job. Anatomies in your own experience in order to in order to help other people. But the ex trumped by its I’ve talked to anyway, are a little bit in a haze about sort of what came over them. I mean we talked about Michael Cohen before, but you know, he said you felt like you were part of something larger than yourself.

S11: You something. Things were exciting. But it’s it’s sort of under determent in his account of it. And Anthony Scarer Muji, the same way, you know, everybody guesses about why Lindsey Graham or Mark Martez or Jim Jordan have fallen. So in line with Trump having seemed to be kind of free men before this, you know, in positions of power.

S5: And I still haven’t heard someone who’s as introspective as you are and also who has enough distance from the cult to be able to explain what happened to them.

S6: So that’s my first book, Combating Cult Mind Control. And then my third book, Freedom of Mind. I go into the details of what I’ve learned from social psychology, what I’ve learned from the studies on brainwashing and human consciousness. And I continue to just, you know, absorb journal articles and whatever comes my way. And what what I want to say to your listeners is that the rational agent model that the legal system is based on of human consciousness is wrong. It’s flat out incorrect model. We have an unconscious that dictates 80 to 90 percent of all of our actions. And we have a very small fraction of our conscious attention where we actually analyze and look at data and such. The Nobel Prize winning author Daniel Kahneman wrote a book called Thinking Fast and Slow. Ologists that demonstrated that scientifically that we have these unconscious heuristics or models, that we’re where we’re operating unconsciously most of the time. And we’re pre-wired for survival purposes to adapt to our environment, adapt to leaders that we think are legitimate in our environment. And most of us will comply and conform to peers or people in our environment, as demonstrated by the Solomon Asch, for example, conformity study or the Milgram Obedience Study that shows that we will follow a well who we think is a legitimate authority figure, even to the point of electrocuting a fellow human being in an hour because you committed to doing this scientific experiment and the guy in the lab coat is ordering you to. But the good news is that knowledge is power. My message is, hey, everybody, learn how the mind works. Learn how social influence works. Understand the difference between ethical and unethical influence. Learn to ask questions. Learn to trust your own inner voice. Surround yourself with trustworthy friends and family to reality tests. Anything that comes your way. Because if it’s legitimate, it will stand up to scrutiny. And if it isn’t, why would you want to invest time, energy and money? So what I say to to so many people who been in, for example, controlling relationships with a man or a woman where they were isolated from their family and friends and abused in many cases or people in multi-level marketing groups or controlling core. Serrations is, hey, we’re living, we’re not. In my opinion, we’re not living a post truth world. We’re living in the world of influence. This is the age of influence. And if people take the time to arming themselves to understand how these manipulations are done and to learn to question and to think scientifically, which is testing, then we’re all going to get through this dark period. But unfortunately, mind control cults, including our intelligence agencies that have done the research on this for decades, have never been honest with the public. Yeah, intelligent, educated people can be mindcontrol to do terrible things and be completely different people unless everybody gets this point. Then we’re really in danger, if not of Trump somebody else, some some pastor who says that he’s getting direct revelations from God and he’s an apostle and demons are going to possess you if you don’t stay under his covering. And these are the last days. And using a lot of fear programming because we have a genetic predisposition to avoid pain and suffering and death. So we our survival mechanism is to be cued to things that are negative to avoid them. So if somebody is going to only use fear and not use intelligence and facts and science, you know, and say reason this out, then we’re gonna be in trouble.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: I want to think about when you say the CIA and I know that you’ve also studied communists, recruitment, brainwashing. I want to think about influence operations as a kind of warfare, because in trying to frame the problem of the Russian attacks on democracy, their efforts to, as they say at Oxford, have humans and influence elections. It’s been an uphill battle to persuade people that disinformation affected them. And also the way the mainstream media metabolised and made a story of disinformation, Hillary’s health, or whether she ought to be locked up for using an insecure server. I mean, it put that in the balance. Those questions, it’s as if, you know, Scientology had pushed into the mainstream that postpartum depression was a fiction or, you know, that the E-meter at was actually a useful tool. And that, you know, I think it’s right. You know, people wrestle with whether to use the word cyber ops or cyber war, but influence operations as one of the one of the first terms that I learned in thinking about the use of social media to just crush us with means.

S6: Exactly. No, exactly. So in my book, The Cult of Trump, I talk about fourth generation warfare. Okay. Which is a concept developed in the 80s by William S. Lind’s, an American military strategist who later paired up with Paul Weyrich. Christian right person. And the thing about this particular type of psychological warfare is it’s not aimed to convert you to their way of thinking. It’s to confuse you, just orient you, overwhelm you, de-legitimise leaders, de-legitimise institutions in order to make you so helpless that you’ll accept whatever you’re told. So and what’s tricky and what I write about in my book is that I believe that not only are external governments and not just Russia, I believe Iran probably. And China for sure. Yeah. ISIS for sure are doing fourth generation of war, psychological warfare through the Internet. But there are organizations in the cult of Trump that are doing it on the American public. And so it’s not just external threats, but internal threats. And we we have a real issue to look at in terms of infiltration of government officials, including intelligence departments and military departments of people who have not. They sworn allegiance to the constitution, but they’re really not. They’re double agents and they’re in mind control cults where they think God is telling them what to do and it’s okay to be above the law.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: Now, you’ve unique alias in a pioneering way, had an experience getting people out of cults, deprogramming, as you said. Your parents did for you before it was a profession. They, you know, shook some sense into you or whatever they described it as to themselves in the 70s.

S6: Well, it was created by essentially is a forceful intervention where you kidnapped two people if they were under age is legal. Yeah. When I was first doing deprogramming as some judges were giving ex-party conservatorships to parents to have their adult children for a week. Yeah. To give them other points of view.

S11: And did that seem to help?

S6: Because, yes, it was 80 to 90 percent successful by getting the person away from the continual reinforcement of being in the cult and the cult handsets, which is a critical part. If you want a reality test, you need to be able to to take a time out from the with the input that’s continually reinforcing your cult identity. And then like, remember back to before you ever heard of the group. What what was interesting to you? What did you think your life path was? Yeah. And to literally get access again to your authentic self and then be given tools to understand, hey, here are the eight criteria that Chinese communist brainwashing has been using for decades. And when I was being shown the eight points of Robert J. Clifton’s book thought reform in the psychology of total ism, each one of the criteria fit the Moonies, what we called the family. And then at the end of the eight criteria, I was confused because it was like the Chinese communists are Satan, we’re God, but we’re doing the same brainwashing techniques.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: And you pointed out your countless of a fascist cult, fascist leaning far right wing fascist cult and Koreans were the master race, but that other cults are communist. And these happened to be the two poles where persuasion is easiest. Or are they? You know, as we Yasir’s historically, they seem like a natural fit for totalitarianism. I’m not entirely sure. Why is that? Yeah, maybe you can tell me that.

S8: So. So the part of the bite model thought control. I haven’t mentioned that in this interview, but it’s very much black and white. All or nothing good versus evil, us versus them. It’s very binary. It’s very reflective, if you know anything about the event with developmental psychology of a very low stage of adult develop. Yes, we are more like a child where everything’s, you know, all or nothing. And part of growing up and being an adult is being able to hold many different viewpoints simultaneously without losing your own core. And what you believe, which is what I think ultimately everyone needs to develop and evolve and grow up in order to help save our planet and to learn how to survive. And I I guess I want to also just emphasize love in my experience is stronger than mine control and is even stronger than fear. And I and I also want to say, in terms of the evolution of deprogramming over the decades, what I’ve learned is that if I can get access to family members and friends of the person who is in the mind control situation and educate them and and coach them on how to have strategic, you know, questioning things and a loving, respectful way. No calling names, no. You know, this really building bridges based on love and respect. That’s the way to help people wake up and get out of mind control cults by essentially teaching them social psychology, teaching them about other cults that they would agree or cults and are bad and all. Trumper think China is a cult and it’s authoritarian total ist regime that wants to take over the world, which they do. So it’s an easy fit to talk about Chinese communist brainwashing and back your way into these these criteria. Yeah. And but it’s a process because you want to get people back in time. When did you first heard of Trump? What was your first impression?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S6: Yeah. You know, did you like him? Did you trust him? Oh, I thought he was a jerk or. Oh, I know. I looked at five minutes of The Apprentice. What did you know? What are you go to egotists. Okay, so tell. Walk me through how you’ve come to be now, where you’re wearing the red hat, going to rallies and saying you want, you know, to get rid of all the libtards and and all the Democrats that they’re. All evil and that all media that’s critical is should be abolished and made it legal.

S11: Yeah, and that story, even in the best believer must be kind of broken and have holes in it. I mean, there’s almost no way to tell a straight story of someone who thought Trump was kind of clownish game show host, too. I now think all the media lies.

S6: Yeah, but the thing is and what I’m trying to convey in all my work. Yes. That people the best way to help a person is to empower them, to help themselves, as opposed to me convincing them or me trying to persuade them that they’re wrong. Yeah. It’s to really connect with them because there are so many contradictions. And the reality is, is who would ever want to be in a relationship of trust with someone who will always lie to them and take advantage of them.

S5: So there’s there’s a Buddhist expression I remember. I hope I’m not getting it wrong. Something like just as the ocean always tastes of salt, the truth always tastes of freedom. And I feel like from scaramouch she from others who’ve left the cult, from David Weisman, who we both know what love has on its side, is that it feels so much better than fear and lies that it tastes of.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S12: You get a sense of a nodding when you when you start to believe, when you eat, not when you necessarily even start to believe the truth, but when your beliefs sink with the world around you, when you’re not like always going uphill and saying, you know, everything in all the media is a lie. You know, the obituary for Mary Tyler Moore must contain a thousands of lies that I mean, that just seems so effortful and that just the relief of thinking. Oh, you know, maybe the world is a little more how it seems.

S11: And maybe I can agree with the people around me in the various social pacts that we make that, you know, my friend too, like some more centrist Democrat than I do, is not diabolical.

S6: Mm hmm. So I was going to just say that as a former member who’s been on the journey and has helped so many thousands of others. Yeah. The relief is not having the internal contradictions and torments because if you you know, a lot of people will be kicked out of a cult if they raise questions or they’ll leave. Yeah, but they’d never really work through how was I programmed where what’s wrong with this belief system or what what’s the facts about the leader and his background? And so for those people, they’re suppressing their cult experience and their cult identity without having really dissolved it and integrated it. And you’re a single person and it’s so great to be a whole person being in your body. Yeah. In the here and now, trusting your gut, trusting you that you have a good, rational ability to analyze things. And so that’s the ultimate, you know, freedom. Like, I know what it’s like to lose my freedom. And it’s so precious to me. And at the point that my agent, Steve Toha, you know, said I really want you to do a book called The Cult of Trump. I was not a political person, but I. Everything that I had seen of Trump and watched him and the techniques he was using when he was debating his GOP rivals. It was like this is a stereotypical, you know, naht malignant narcissist cult figure called the personality cult and his business. But he’s really dangerous. And then over time he’s only demonstrated this more and more has. And my thesis has been validated completely plus. But I do want to say that I worry that if the mainstream media is still not willing to say to the public. Yeah. Mind control exists. People who are intelligent can be deceived and hypnotically program to get a brand near their genitals and believe Keighran area is the world’s smartest person or any number of other example.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: I mean, everyone needs to get that reality that we’re humans and that our minds can be negatively influenced and describing one’s own own experience, at least in my sort of efforts to talk to people about disinformation, just that, you know, I did have I did have a period where I encountered a lot of videos that made anti-Fed look like as bad as Neonazis. And I really began to explore the idea, you know, it was well before Charlottesville, but that there were, quote, very fine people on both sides or something.

S6: So, you know, really left wing called right wing Raine’s atheist cults Ray thing is black and white all or nothing good versus evil external.

S11: But I got influenced. But I but I and and even experts on influence operations, you know, in that sphere, including my friend Molly McCue, is very clear that she’s been influenced by Turkish propaganda without knowing it.

S12: I mean, we avidly consume information online and there’s it’s very hard to preserve your freedom when you’re bingeing on Netflix and submitting to suspending disbelief in lots of spheres and taking in information and the ideas. This isn’t something that happens to idiots. This is something that happens to all of us. And I love that you make that point because you know that that’s the love that like this brokenness. That’s like, you know, desire to be on the right side, the desire to be told that you’re this world historical figure who doesn’t want that, you know?

S6: Yeah, exactly. And when and when, you know, Trump supporters and their media machine says, you know, how dare Steve call us a cult? Yeah, I’m speaking as a former cult member. Right, folks? I can relate to where you’re at. Yeah. Hey, everybody. I’m not putting you down any more than I’m putting the fact that I got snared, ran, indoctrinated myself, but that there’s there’s life after group and that it’s another important point I want to make, which is I always tell my family and friends that I’m coaching. You want to create a supportive environment that helps the person exit in a. face-saving manner and so inst., for example, when I got out of the Moonies, the wrong thing to say to me is, Steve, I told you as a frickin call. What? What was wrong with you? How come you didn’t listen? Yeah, yeah. That’s the wrong thing to say to say to Steve when he first got out. Hey, Steve, it’s so great to have you back. I’ve missed you so much. Yeah. You know, we’re all human beings. And I’ve I’ve learned a lot about how cults operate. Men, are they deceptive? Man, he just got to step by step. Isolated. You sleep deprived. You made you fast for seven days over and over again. I get how hypnotic they’re audible prayers were. Yeah, that would help would have helped Steve in his recovery. And really, hypnosis is a powerful thing. It’s not a bad thing at all.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S8: But it unfortunately, the public is exposed to hypnosis almost all the time with stage entertainers versus clinical licensed therapists who are going to just really help you reprogram the negative thoughts with them to access the parts of your psyche that are sabotaging you or whatever. Yeah. When I first became a mental health professional, I was told that personality disorders like narcissistic person was like a life sentence, like you cannot change it. But what we’ve learned is that the brain is amazingly plastic. It can change, it can learn, it can grow their new brain cells.

S6: And there is a hypnosis treatment for narcissism where you’re asking people to go back to key moments in their childhood and re parent themselves in a healthy way. And it works. It takes time and it takes effort. But what I’m trying to convey is don’t have a fatalistic view that just because, you know, your ex-girlfriend or your your mother is a narcissist, that’s hopeless. The change can’t happen because I think people are suffering when they have these kinds of insecure problems. I think Trump is suffering a lot.

S11: Yeah, I do some solace right after he was elected by, you know, the point that many people make that he he virtually or perhaps never laughs virtually never laughs. And that all I could see it was pictures of Hillary with her head thrown back laughing, you know, and and Obama, too. And I just thought there’s a certain physical emotional freedom in just that that, you know, it looks like hell to be Donald Trump himself.

S6: It’s terrible. I wrote chapter two is about his childhood. He had a father who was telling him and his brother, you are a killer. You are a king. You are a killer. You are over again. Yeah, a cold mother. So he didn’t have secure attachments. Ray sent to military school having Roy Cohn as his mentor, as a substitute father figure. Oh, my goodness. Yes. So being raised in the Norman Vincent Peale Church from Wishful Thinking Youth. Oh, do you think something 100 percent will magically come true? So he was taught thought stopping as a child to not allow negative thoughts and. Right. So he he really has the profile to grow up to become a massive cult leader. And unfortunately, he’s subjecting all of us to his authoritarianism.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: Yeah, OK. So I want to move to as we close, unfortunately. Well, now I feel like we need to do our part at. But to talk about is the delicate subject of the current candidates for the Democratic nomination. And then I just see that saw that Elizabeth Warren, to my disappointment, dropped out. Elizabeth Warren seemed uniquely to ask her supporters, ask Americans to rise to the challenge of understanding, you know, challenging ideas and kind of issuing a clarion call to us to like, you know, stand up on her hind legs and be Americans and commit to this project of a more perfect union. She seemed in some ways like the opposite of a cult leader, a you know, a teacher asking questions. And that’s you know, I thought it was a beautiful candidacy. And I’m sorry to see her go now. Biden and Bernie Sanders, the front runners. I’ll leave aside saying sort of you know, I’ve come to understand Biden as someone who very much sort of intends to suffer with us and that that is sort of a beautiful gesture from him. But and you probably know what I’m teeing up. Lots of people have made the comparison between the populist Trump and the populist Bernie Sanders. And going back to your idea that the fascist cult is matched by a Jim Jones style socialist cult. Do you see anything in the. The so-called Bernie Burrows in there. You know, it’s sort of aggressive policing of who is and isn’t part of them and you know that even Elizabeth Warren is a snake. She’s not far enough.

S6: So. So we do know that Russia has been meddling in cyber wars and helping Trump and also helping Sanders covertly, obviously. So I’m various. I think everyone who’s a Bernie supporter really needs to get that Russia is doing fourth generation warfare and resume full trading and we’ll keep doing it. And so I think everybody needs to understand mind control cults. The thing that worries me the most about, you know, what I’m hearing with the Bernie supporters is the kind of us vs. them thing. And if Bernie’s not the Democratic choice, I’m not going to vote. That sounds like people who are very, you know, in a cult of personality or a cult of ideology and about everything that I’m I’m I’m. My sense of Bernie Sanders when I hear him interviewed over the years is he is an ideologue, but he’s not an egomaniac. He’s not a malignant narcissist who who abuses people in the in the Trump like way and such. The bottom line is there are people who will come to any group environment and bring kind of an authoritarian or if they were in a cult themselves and never got counseling, they might project that onto the Bernie their their allegiance and such. But I really want to give hope to everybody and say that I feel like all of the the agendas of not being controlled by the super wealthy and having this economic disparity in wages and and undermining the NRA is power and global climate change. All these things that Bernie and his supporters are pushing is, I think, pushing the country in the right direction. Yeah. In terms of how to recover, get Trump out of office, but then how to recover a sense of real connection as a community, we’re all Americans. And to undo a lot of the racist programming that I’m hearing over and over again, it’s going to take a very it can be done. And I believe I know I have a lot of ideas for how to do it strategically undoing each of these subcultures that are in the cult amounts. Yeah. But but the big picture is, as I said before, ad nauseum, is that educating everybody we’re human beings. Our minds can be influenced unconsciously without our even being aware of it and that there are good mental hygiene techniques like being aware if you’re in an overload condition where you’ve been binge watching, you know, YouTubes to stop. Yeah, take a time out. Let your brain rest. Yeah. About what you’re watching. Keep your finger on the pause button if you’re starting to space out. Listen, I get asked to evaluate cults that I’ve never heard of all the time and I have my finger on the pause button when I’m listening to a cult leader do a lecture because I know my states and I know when I’m no longer attentive, you know, and being being above it and going I’m analyzing this versus oh, that makes sense or wow, there’s a truism there. And by the way, every mind control call has truisms. It’s not all lies. There’s a lot of. Yes, real kernels of reality in there. And that’s part of the recovery process is taking the good stuff and, you know, abandoning the stuff that’s poisonous and not rubber banding in to another.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S11: It got, you know, into another kind of calcified set of thoughts that are meant to redeem the person you once were. Now that, you know, you were once a fascist and now you’re, you know, stockpiling guns for the far left. Right. That does seem like a kind of temptation.

S6: Yeah. And I can also say when I first got out of the Moonies, when I started thinking and the thing that made me start thinking was realizing Moon was a liar. And if he was a liar, I couldn’t trust him. Once I had that in my conscious, critical thought process, I started remembering a thousand examples of things that would have normally made me run away from the cult.

S9: What was just what was just one of them that maybe what might? US and we’ll go out on that just because it’s a way for listeners to kind of consult their own, you know what, maybe their own gateway. My friend Karen Schwartz says. First, we normalized the hair when it comes to Trump. Just a simple thing that this kind of garish. The first thing you notice about Trump is, you know, his odd artificial hairstyle. But once you sort of say, well, that’s kind of normal, that’s what like there are old men who have beautiful flowing blonde locks that are, you know, we know or artificial. But we accept. You know, I think that there’s something kind of really interesting about that, that if you get you get your punch in the face from the beginning. And once you’ve accepted that, then you can take in maybe some bigger lies. I don’t know how it was framed.

S6: Well, this cognitive dissonance. Yes. We argued. You just one thing and then everything rationalizes and justifies according to that. And that is how we learn also good things is is understanding that feature of the human mind. In my particular case, I was very close to Moon. I’ve heard him a hundred times in person talk about how pathetic Americans were and how the Koreans or the master race and how well the world would be speaking Korean when we took over. And the thing that made me think after five days of programming was I was given a speech that Moon was giving congressmen and senators. And in it, he said this this controversy going on that people think I’m brainwashing American youth. I have a question of this audience, a distinguished American, ladies and gentlemen. Are Americans really that foolish? Could they really be brainwashed by me? Reverend Moon, a Korean? I know your answer is no. My answer is no to. I respect Americans very much. And I’m surprised that such accusations when I read that in the context of my deprogrammer saying know it was like, what a liar. I heard him a hundred times say how pathetic we were. Yeah. And that we needed our brains to be brainwashed because they were so dirty. And he’s just playing to this audience. Yes. Once that thought just grabbed my authentically authentic self, had that thought, it was like a house of cards going plop, plop, plop, plop, plop, plop, plop, plop, plop. Right. Cents. I realized, how can I trust someone who’s a liar? Like, what person would want to have a relationship with a liar? Right. Want to enter a business relationship with someone where you knew you were going to get screwed? Yeah. Like nobody would do that. Right? Except in mind control cults because of the behavior control information thought and emotional controlled dimensions. We get taken over into this all or nothing belief system, an identity system.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

S9: Well, it’s great to talk to your free mind today. I mean, you think you’ve given us some practical tips for addressing people who may be overly influenced right now in this supercharged time. My hope is that with the next president, there is just a normal state, he asserts at all.

S6: Absolutely. No, it’s critical. But let’s not let’s not get lazy and think that Trump is not going to get elected at this point. I think there’s going to be huge amounts of psychological warfare done on people between now and then. And that’s why I’m urging everyone who who cares to get educated about what what this is.

S13: Please continue to come on the show through the spring and summer and tell us, you know, where you see this happening, because it really does. This is good for America. What you’re doing and I’m very glad you’re doing it. Thanks so much for being back on the show, Steve.

S6: Yeah. Thank you for for for being you.

S13: Stephen Hassin is the author of four books, An Ex, Mooney and mental health professional who now does recovery interventions for people involved in cults. That’s it for today’s show. What do you think? Tell us on Twitter. But don’t get sucked into Twitter. The endless roll of Twitter that can influence you every bit as much as YouTube or Facebook. I’m at page 88. The show is at Real Trump Cast. Our show today was produced by Phil Circus and Melissa Kaplin and engineered by Merrett Jacob. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Thanks for listening to Trump Cast.