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The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control

a book by Steven Hassan

(our site's book review)

Hassan Draws Parallels between Trump and People Like Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon

The Amazon blurb says that One of America’s leading experts in cults and mind-control provides an eye-opening analysis of Trump and the indoctrination tactics he uses to build a fanatical devotion in his supporters.

Over the past two years, Trump’s behavior has become both more disturbing and yet increasingly familiar. He relies on phrases like, “fake news,” “build the wall,” and continues to spread the divisive mentality of us-vs.-them. He lies constantly, has no conscience, never admits when he is wrong, and projects all of his shortcomings on to others. He has become more authoritarian, more outrageous, and yet many of his followers remain blindly devoted. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert and a major Trump supporter, calls him one of the most persuasive people living. His need to squash alternate information and his insistence of constant ego stroking are all characteristics of other famous leaders—cult leaders.

Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult
Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult

In The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, mind-control and licensed mental health expert Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult. He specifically details the ways in which people are influenced through an array of social psychology methods and how they become fiercely loyal and obedient. Hassan was a former “Moonie” himself, and he draws on his forty years of personal and professional experience studying hypnosis and destructive cults, working as a deprogrammer, and a strategic communications interventionist. He emphasizes why it’s crucial that we recognize ways to identify and protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Hassan’s Book Is Essential Reading for Anyone Wanting to Understand the Trump Phenomenon and Looking for a Way Forward

The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control is an accessible and in-depth analysis of the president, showing that under the right circumstances, even sane, rational, well-adjusted people can be persuaded to believe the most outrageous ideas. Hassan’s book is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the Trump phenomenon and looking for a way forward.

Oligarchs maintain various mind control tactics to make us continue to be loyal consumers—Trump employs the same mind control tactics to make us continue to be loyal Trumpists
Oligarchs maintain various mind control tactics to make us continue to be loyal consumers—Trump employs the same mind control tactics to make us continue to be loyal Trumpists

Trump is using the demagogic playbook to keep attention on himself from the social media and the media news networks like Fox and MSNBC and CNN. Hitler used a similar playbook that taught demagogeury 101, causing divisiveness, and how to lie and control the news cycle, and get big lies accepted. He wrote it himself: Mein Kampf. See Demagoguery and Democracy. Trump got an estimated 2 billion dollars worth of free publicity by being a master media manipulator. He branded opponents with names like "crooked Hillary" and "Lying Ted" and used simple slogans like "build the wall" and "lock her up." Hitler's playbook said to brand others negatively, make up lies about them, repeat slogans and insults and lies endlessly, push us-versus-them thinking and hate of the Others, and keep your messages simple—and Trump did every one of these. So did Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon.

Trump is using the demagogic playbook;  Hitler used a similar playbook (which he wrote himself) that taught demagogeury
Trump is using the demagogic playbook; Hitler used a similar playbook (which he wrote himself) that taught demagogeury


Thought control by the corporatocracy is simply non-politically-aimed propaganda and psychological manipulation
Thought control by the corporatocracy is simply non-politically-aimed propaganda and psychological manipulation

Hassan says "Questioning government, politicians, and the media are all signs of a healthy democracy, one that values free and critical thinking. Trump's exhortations do the opposite. By promoting the idea of 'fake news' and calling journalists who disagree with him 'enemies of the people,' he is closing his followers' minds to disconfirming evidence and arguments. He sounds to me like notorious cult leader Jim Jones, who, as he was taking his last breaths, told his followers at Jonestown that it was all 'the media's fault—don't believe them.' Over the years, I've received thousands of calls, emails, and letters from people who have lost loved ones to a destructive group."


Hassan's Goal Is to Heal Fractured Families, Fractured Relationships and a Fractured Nation

Hassan's goal is to heal fractured families, fractured relationships and a fractured nation. That is a very ambitious goal, by any measure. Since there are at least 5000 destructive cults in the U.S., he's got plenty of potential clients for his business of helping people escape from cults. He knows from personal experience the attraction of a cult operation with a charismatic leader—he was a Moonie for 2.5 years. After getting out and getting deprogrammed, he became a mental health professional and a cult expert.

In a cult like the Moonies, says Hassan, meetings are begun by bowing to the leader. He mentions analogous actions in Trump meetings where he soaks up praise and loyalty like water to a sponge, rather than bowing, but rest assured, if there was a way to arrange bowing, this too would be occurring in the Oval office, or even at his incessant rallies.

If there was a way to arrange bowing, this too would be occurring in the Oval office, or even at his incessant rallies
If there was a way to arrange bowing, this too would be occurring in the Oval office, or even at his incessant rallies

Trump Sows Fear of the Others in His Us-Versus-Them Strategy

Trump, Hitler, and the other cult leaders used an us-versus-them tactic as a framework for increasing participation in their cults, or in the case of Trump, Trump's devoted voter base of what Hillary Clinton called a "basket of deplorables." Trump sowed fear of the Others ("invading hordes" and "criminal gang members" and "rapists" and "terrorists") so he could be the great leader who would save us from them, but to help him he'd need a great Wall. But caravans of migrants were mostly fleeing abuse and climate change that rendered them hungry and desperate.

Trump has set himself up as the great leader who would save us from the evil Others, but to help him he'd need a great Wall to keep them out
Trump has set himself up as the great leader who would save us from the evil Others, but to help him he'd need a great Wall to keep them out


Trump, Hitler, and the other cult leaders used an us-versus-them tactic as a framework for increasing participation in their cults, or in the case of Trump, Trump's devoted voter base of what Hillary Clinton called a 'basket of deplorables'
Trump, Hitler, and the other cult leaders used an us-versus-them tactic as a framework for increasing participation in their cults, or in the case of Trump, Trump's devoted voter base of what Hillary Clinton called a 'basket of deplorables'

Fearmongering Is One of Trump's Main Strategies

Trump got most of the Christian right on his side by exploiting their fear of hordes of Muslims trying to rule the world and impose sharia law on Americans. As Hassan sees it, "Trump uses all kinds of cult tactics—lying, insulting opponents, projecting his weaknesses onto others, deflecting, distracting, presenting alternative facts and competing versions of reality—to confuse, disorient, and ultimately coerce his followers. Repetition programs the beliefs into the unconscious. But fearmongering tops the list. In my experience, phobia indoctrination—the creation of fearful thoughts to promote and reinforce a desired set of beliefs or behaviors in followers—is one of the most powerful and universal techniques in the cult leader's arsenal. This is why Trump spends so much air and Twitter time painting a frightening picture of the danger posed by immigrants —Mexicans, Muslims, the migrant caravan."

The Christian right wished to stop the Muslim's invasion, so they strongly support the U.S. military actions in the Middle East
The Christian right wished to stop the Muslim's invasion, so they strongly support the U.S. military actions in the Middle East

Hassan tells us "Fear defines Trump's philosophy, his personality, and his presidency. It is also his definition of power, according to Bob Woodward's aptly titled book, Fear. Trump, like cult leaders and dictators throughout history, seizes upon people's needs and fears and amplifies them . . . he may manufacture problems that do not exist, and then . . . promise that only he can fix it." He, Donald Trump, can Make America Great Again.

Only Donald Trump can Make America Great Again, or at least make Trump great
Only Donald Trump can Make America Great Again, or at least make Trump great


Leftist radicals like Antifa assault people for rejecting their toxic, racist message and block conservative speakers and speeches from being heard
Leftist radicals like Antifa assault people for rejecting their toxic, racist message and block conservative speakers and speeches from being heard

Leftists' Main Tactic Is Racist Indoctrination, but They Use Fear Even More Aggressively Than Trump

However, the Leftists use fear even more aggressively than Trump, as in Bullies: How the Left's Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans. Their religion/cult is the Church of Political Correctness, and they force college kids to get indoctrinated with their toxic PC beliefs. Leftist radicals like Antifa assault people for rejecting their toxic, racist message and block conservative speakers and speeches from being heard. They've got Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream media brainwashed with their toxic messages like blacks are victims and whites are victimizers, a pathetic lie that attempts to cover up the fact that there is vastly more racism from blacks to whites than there is from whites to blacks. See:

The liberal narrative's  religion/cult is the Church of Political Correctness, and they force college kids to get indoctrinated with their toxic PC beliefs
The liberal narrative's religion/cult is the Church of Political Correctness, and they force college kids to get indoctrinated with their toxic PC beliefs

Trump gets vital aid from the rightwing media like Fox News amd Breitbart to keep his messages strong and well dispersed. He relies also on internet trolls, fanatic followers on social media, the alt-right, the Christian right, and Trump's buddy Putin, who's election interference helped Trump win in 2016. See Fake News: How Propaganda Influenced the 2016 Election, A Historical Comparison to 1930's Germany.

Trump's buddy Putin, who's election interference helped Trump win in 2016, wants him to win in 2020 as well—we wonder what treats this Russian oligarchal strongman is cooking up this time?
Trump's buddy Putin, who's election interference helped Trump win in 2016, wants him to win in 2020 as well—we wonder what treats this Russian oligarchal strongman is cooking up this time?


Trump has fantasies of being like his Russian strongman buddy, Putin; they could be in the same wolf pack together
Trump has fantasies of being like his Russian strongman buddy, Putin; they could be in the same wolf pack together

Steven Hassan, a Former "Moonie," Provides Therapeutic Examples We Can Learn From in His Book

"All cults have something in common. They strip away freedom of thought and realign ideas with those of the leader. The author discusses his original way of conceptualizing cults, called the BITE model—the acronym for controlled Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotion. Even more revelatory was his discussion of how hypnotic techniques such as repetition, subliminal messages, programming amnesia, and even guided meditation can be so effective in swaying followers. . . . Meanwhile, like alcohol and drug abuse.counselors, who are often former 'addicts,' it often takes former cult members to learn psychology in some depth in order to become trusted and effective counselors. Steven Hassan, a former 'Moonie' (or, a follower of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon), provides therapeutic examples that we can learn from in the book. Given the question of whether there is a 'Cult of Trump,' as well as the internet providing new opportunities to establish cults, it behooves all mental health caregivers to learn from such a valuable and timely book." (Source: The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, H. Steven Moffic, MD, Psychiatric Times)

Donald Trump (22663248423)
Trump rally—"Trump’s over 500 rallies are far more choreographed and stage-managed than Moon’s assemblies ever were," says Hassan

"Hassan looks at that golden age of cult leaders and draws good lessons about what to watch out for: supreme confidence, a grandiose nature, demands for absolute loyalty, a complex web of simplistic “alternative” facts and a penchant for sowing fear. . . . The president’s convicted lawyer and fixer this year concluded that he’d been under some sort of spell — 'so mesmerized by Donald Trump that I was willing to do things for him that I knew were absolutely wrong.' Trump creates this effect by bullying, insulting, joking, threatening and rewarding. He creates an in-crowd people want to join. Ultimately, the Trump story is the story of that crowd. . . . To Hassan, Trump followers are deluded zealots with a soft spot for authoritarian figures. He casts Trump supporters as an Other, fixating on a Fox News poll that found 'nearly half of Republicans believe Trump was chosen by God to be president.' . . . It can take years, but in a society like ours, powerful forces still push toward the center. One day you look around and it’s 1975 and Nixon’s “silent majority” has vanished, or it’s 1955 and the bottom has dropped out of Joe McCarthy’s support. Nobody got deprogrammed. They just moved on." (Source: The Republican Party is in thrall to Trump. Does that make him a cult leader?, Marc Fisher, Washington Post)

The myths surrounding Trump included one to please Christians—Trump was chosen by God to lead the nation
The myths surrounding Trump included one to please Christians—Trump was chosen by God to lead the nation

Chinese State Police Used to Question Citizens on the Street about Whether They Had Mao’s Little Red Book on Them; with Trump It's MAGA Caps

Did not state police question citizens on the street about whether they had Mao’s Little Red Book on their person?
Did not state police question citizens on the street about whether they had Mao’s Little Red Book on their person?

"Contrary to Fisher’s rhetorical question, asking of Huey Long, George Wallace, Fidel Castro, Mao, Hitler, “Were they cult leaders, too?” In the case of the last two, well, yeah! During China’s Cultural Revolution, didn’t endless numbers of Chinese march around numbingly chanting, 'The East is Red!'? Did not state police question citizens on the street about whether they had Mao’s Little Red Book on their person? But if we really want to talk about psychological techniques for mind control, Hitler is extremely relevant to a technique used by Trump on the day he announced his campaign. When the current President came down the escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower to make his announcement, the first thing that went through my mind was that he took a page right out of Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous Nazi propaganda film, 'Triumph of the Will.' The descending down the escalator is chillingly reminiscent of the opening of Riefenstahl’s film where Hitler flies into Nuremberg to attend a party rally and descends from the aircraft. Both messages convey the same subconscious meaning: a savior coming down from the heavens." (Source: Steve Hassan’s The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How the President Uses Mind Control, Frank Cocozzelli, Daily Kos)

Trump made his 2016 presidential bid announcement at Trump Tower in New York, descending on a golden escalator to stand at the podium before a backdrop of American flags
Trump made his 2016 presidential bid announcement at Trump Tower in New York, descending on a golden escalator to stand at the podium before a backdrop of American flags; © C-SPAN

"The current administration is best understood through cult analogies, including factors such as total authoritarianism and intolerance of any questioning or deviation from the ‘playbook.’ This is a both a clarifying and a terrifying book.”—Harvard psychiatrist Thomas Gutheil


Both the Right and the Left Have Created a Self-Reinforcing Echo Chamber of Propaganda and Mind Control

"[This book] is instructive for all Americans, no matter where they stand on the political spectrum, as it unequivocally shows how President Trump, Republican leaders, and their media and partisan supporters have created a self-reinforcing echo chamber of propaganda and mind control that is a destructive influence to democracy." (Source: The Cult of Trump, Ravi Chandra, Psychology Today)

This may be true about Trump, the G.O.P., and Fox News, but, unfortunately for Chandra's leftwing review, the same is true for the Democrats, CNN, MSNBC, academia, Hollywood, and most non-Fox media. Obama did all kinds of ugly things as President but they never got reported in the mainstream media as he was their darling. Everything that Trump does get reported as bad in the mainstream media. The media for eight years confronted us with the Cult of Obama, and yet no one admitted it. Hassan did a good job in his book of showing one side of the cult issue, but failed to even consider the other side.

Narcissist
Narcissist

"Like [Jim] Jones and other cult leaders, Trump exhibits features of what psychologist Erich Fromm called 'malignant narcissism'—bombastic grandiosity, a bottomless need for praise, lack of empathy, pathological lying, apparent sadism, and paranoia. In short, he fits the stereotypical psychological profile of a cult leader. Author of The Cult of Trump Steven Hassan, in The Daily Beast"

". . . it is fascinating to see this latest 'cult-of-Trump' meme coming from the left, because they are the true masters of deploying mobs to demand total conformity and compliance with their agenda,” says state Rep. Micah Van Huss (R). Exactly!

The left uses more than mobs to achieve conformity—here we have censoring
The left uses more than mobs to achieve conformity—here we have censoring


Here we see censorship of the news by the left-slanted mainstream media
Here we see censorship of the news by the left-slanted mainstream media

Society Is Being Dumbed Down, Sold a False Reality of Things Via Propaganda, and Told What to Think, Not How to Think

Hassan outlines how mind control is used in cults as well as in the Trumpocracy. He looks at mind control and cringes: Mass Control: Engineering Human Consciousness

"Control of thought is more important for governments that are free and popular than for despotic and military states."—Noam Chomsky

Society is being dumbed down, sold a false reality of things via propaganda, and told what to think, not how to think
Society is being dumbed down, sold a false reality of things via propaganda, and told what to think, not how to think


The result of this dumbing down is that the citizens are walking around with their heads up their butts, knowing nothing, learning nothing, thinking nothing
The result of this dumbing down is that the citizens are walking around with their heads up their butts, knowing nothing, learning nothing, thinking nothing
The corporatocracy doesn't want us to think or we'll detect their mind control scam; so they distract us, keeping us chasing shiny objects
The corporatocracy doesn't want us to think or we'll detect their mind control scam; so they distract us, keeping us chasing shiny objects


The Impeachment Trial Was an Exercise in Frustration for the Liberals

Trump's power over his followers as well as his exploitation of Fox News and other rightwing media are a good part of how Trump keeps Congress obedient so that the impeachment trial was an exercise in frustration for the liberals.

People who join cults are often seen as hypnotized zombies, brainwashed fools, or dumb naïfs, or all of these
People who join cults are often seen as hypnotized zombies, brainwashed fools, or dumb naïfs, or all of these


Jim Jones in front of the International Hotel
Jim Jones in front of the International Hotel—his followers were so naive and gullible they took poison because he told them to!

The KKK Is a Heretical Christian Cult Which Practices Persecution of African Americans; Trump's Cult Persecutes Others, Like Immigrants

The KKK is a heretical Christian cult which practices persecution of African Americans.

Klan-in-gainesville
Members of the second Ku Klux Klan at a rally in 1923

"The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 by ex-Confederate soldiers and other Southerners opposed to Reconstruction after the Civil War. In the waning years of Reconstruction the Klan disbanded. Nearly 50 years later, in 1915, 'Colonel' William Joseph Simmons, revived the Klan after seeing D. W. Griffith's film Birth of A Nation, which portrayed the Klansmen as great heroes. Simmons made his living by selling memberships in fraternal organizations such as the Woodmen of the World, and looked to the Klan as a new source of membership sales. In his first official act, he climbed to the top of a local mountain and set a cross on fire to mark the rebirth of the Klan." (Source: The Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s , PBS)


The Aum Cult Is the Terrorist Organization Behind the Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attack

The Aum (a Japanese doomsday cult from 1984) story examines a New Age high-tech cult of homicidal zealots who released sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system
The Aum (a Japanese doomsday cult from 1984) story examines a New Age high-tech cult of homicidal zealots who released sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system

The Aum (a Japanese doomsday cult from 1984) story examines a New Age high-tech cult of homicidal zealots. These losers recruited scientists from top Japanese laboratories, got into illegal drugs, connected up with the yakuza and with veterans of the KGB, and enlisted doctors to drug patients and perform Frankenstein experiments on them. And, of course, the one, overriding question here is: Why was anyone willing to go along with their grotesquely immoral and irrational ideas—ideas originating from a blind and bearded madman so full of hate and insanity he wanted to take out as many humans as possible with weapons of mass destruction. [On the morning of 20 March 1995, Aum members released a binary chemical weapon, most closely chemically similar to sarin, in a coordinated attack on five trains in the Tokyo subway system, killing 13 commuters, seriously injuring 54 and affecting 980 more. Some estimates claim as many as 6,000 people were injured by the sarin.] (Source: The Cult At The End Of The World, David E. Kaplan and Andrew Marshall, The Big Answer)