Cult Deprogrammer: Trump Uses Mind Control Tactics on His Followers
Steven Hassan is a former member of the Unification Church (also known as the Moonies, named after the leader of the church, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.) After leaving the Moonie cult, with the help of deprogrammers and his family, he became a mental health professional and cult deprogrammer. Hassan has seen the dangers of the cult of Trump, or Cult 45, as its often called. He laid out some of his fears and ways to help people leave the cult in his book “The Cult of Trump.” Here is my interview with him.
Otiko: When did you see the signs of Trump followers developing into an actual cult?
Hassan: It started in December 2015. I was studying ISIS recruitment online. He said we needed a “total Muslim ban.” I wrote a Huffington Post piece titled “Donald Trump Is ‘Greatest Collaborator’ of ISIS,” Within hours, I was attacked with over 200 negative comments towards me. I thought, “This is really dangerous.”
Otiko: In your book, you mention that social decay, the decline of the family, and economic stress are all factors that make people vulnerable to cults. It seems America has created a perfect storm for cults. Are the numbers increasing?
Hassan: It seems to be growing exponentially. Whenever there is upheaval, people are more susceptible to a person with hope, speaks with certainty, and says that he has all the answers.
The best people to help people out of the cult of Trump are friends, family, and former members. You need to remind them (Cult 45 members) of the person they were before. The worst thing you can do is cut off contact. Engage them respectfully, ask for opinions, ask for facts, etc.. That’s the process that will work to bring our country back together. — Steven Hassan
Otiko: You mention that people in one cult are often led to other cults. (Attorney General Bill Barr, Vice President Mike Pence, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are all involved with what Hassan terms authoritative cults.) How does that play out in Cult 45?
Hassan: If you’re from one of these authoritarian Christian groups, you have a leader you believe is the pipeline to God. You’re pretty much going to do what they tell you to do. People are going to go from that cult to the Cult of Trump.
Otiko: You mentioned Christan-themed cults and Trump’s links to Christian nationalism. How do they justify his behavior? Is it a case of the means justifying the ends?
Hassan: A lot of people in the cult of Trump are not orthodox Christians. They have a biased picture of the Bible (according to devout Christians). As for him being a sinner, they say “We’re all sinners” and “God is using him.” This is all about money, power, and sex.
Otiko: What are the behaviors you’ve seen in Cult 45 that are similar to other cults?
Hassan: Deception, lack of critical information, phobia programming, attacking whistleblowers, for example, “the mainstream media is the enemy of the people.” Using the BITE model (controlling Behavior, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions.)
Otiko: Cults can do so much damage, is there anything society can do to prevent their growth?
Hassan: I believe in looking at things through complex systems thinking. We need to do many things such as educating children. We also need to teach teachers and law enforcement (about the dangers of cults.). And the media and politicians. The law is out of date. I hope to update the model the legal system uses so we can better protect people from undue influence.
Otiko: Lastly, what would your advice be to someone who lost a friend or family member to Cult 45?
Hassan: The best people to help people out of the cult of Trump are friends, family, and former members. You need to remind them (Cult 45 members) of the person they were before. The worst thing you can do is cut off contact. Engage them respectfully, ask for opinions, ask for facts, etc.. That’s the process that will work to bring our country back together. Also, talk about Chinese communist brainwashing tactics. Tell them about pimps and traffickers and how they use mind control. (Both groups use some of the same mind control tactics.)
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