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Steve Hassan Practices Information Control

January 12, 2012

Update: For those who have implied I am lying about Steve Hassan’s deletions see:

Hassan FB Jan 10 2012

for a snapshot of the conversation, as it existed on January 10, 2012. Then click here for the conversation, as it exists today with my posting deleted.

Steve Hassan has proclaimed himself to be a “cult-expert” and at times, America’s Leading Exit Counselor. These appellations are ironic indeed given the way he deals with those who disagree with him. In the past few days, Steve Hassan has deleted two politely phrased comments I have made on his Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc. and Author Facebook pages and I have been blocked from making further postings on these pages. Apparently he does not want to contaminate his pages with the thoughts of those who disagree with him. On this FB page you’ll see “xoxo” and heart icons and praise from his sycophants but what you will not see is any kind of serious challenge to his unsubstantiated assertions he makes in the name of being a “cult expert”.

[update: the same thing happened to another person recently who posted a link on Hassan’s Facebook page to a critical book review of Hassan’s latest book— the posting was deleted and the person who posed it was banned from posting anything further. It would be understandable if the postings had included personal attacks, but they did not. Clearly, Steve Hassan will not tolerate criticism, it would seem.] Since that time, he has deleted the postings of other people who posted things that were a challenge to his views.

Before going any further, some people will respond to this by pointing out the obvious, that people who Hassan bans are free to post elsewhere, as if that somehow makes what he did not problematic. Of course they can and of course Hassan has every right to ban whomever he chooses from his sites, but that’s not the point. Yes, to make my position perfectly clear, Steven Alan Hassan has every right to engage in hypocritical behavior and engage in information control. However, people equally have the same right to call him out on his behavior and such exercise of free speech which we also have a right to, in no way violates his rights. I find it interesting that some people seem to feel that the expression of my opinion violates his rights, as if he is the only one entitled to such rights. Rights go both ways.

The point is that as a self-proclaimed expert on “cults” we have the right to expect that he would be modeling non-cult-like behavior and practicing what he preaches and that includes open acceptance and discussion of criticism, rather than shutting out criticism, as he has done repeatedly. If a group Hassan considers a “cult” engaged in that kind of behavior, he would be all over it very loudly, but when he does it, apparently it is somehow not supposed to be a problem.  To me, such hypocritical behavior is a big problem.

There are also those who have asked me why don’t I just focus on fighting Scientology, rather than criticizing “cult experts”? There are plenty of people who are out of Scientology much more recently and were in much higher positions than I was who are far more qualified to do so and are doing quite an excellent job. My role, as I see it, is to focus on the broader, bigger picture of cult like behavior. If the “cult experts” engage in such behavior, then their words and actions are all for naught and as many others have pointed out, such behavior is all too common among people who profess to be “fighting cults” or “education the public” about “cult mind control” and yet engage in the very tactics they accuse the cults of, such as information control. Scientology itself, as most have noticed, has very little power these days, except over a relatively small group of adherents. It is much more interesting and important to focus on behaviors that make such abuses possible in the first place and Steven Hassan, in my opinion, is part of that problem.

I have no doubt that Steve Hassan will come up with some kind of rationalization for why it was okay to delete my comments, but not okay when cults delete comments from critics. He will probably give this rationalization, not publicly, but privately to selected people. I predict he will say he did it because he considers, in his “expert” opinion that I am an unrecovered ex-cult member with serious issues that needs intensive therapy and that therefore he had to delete my postings and block me from posting, so as to not to harm the oh so fragile ex-cult members that visit his site — or words to that effect. Maybe he’ll even accuse me of “mind controlling” people with my postings but of course he will not do this to my face because that would mean actually having to have a discussion with me and honestly responding to and dealing with my arguments and needing to hear my rebuttals, etc.

If Steve Hassan is offering anyone some kind of rationalization about his information control of my postings to anyone reading this, all I ask is that you please stop, reflect, and think this through. Isn’t this exactly what cultists do to protect their members? Denigrate critics or deem them to have personal/mental/emotional problems or accuse them of in some way being controlling all as a way of  isolating followers from anyone who dares to question. I believe that according to Steve Hassan’s BITE model, that would be information control. Steve Hassan has also said that the truth will stand up to scrutiny, so what is he so afraid of that he has to delete my words? In my opinion, Steve Hassan deleting my postings is practicing information control. The only problem is that he can only control his own websites, blogs and FB pages. He cannot control what people write on the internet and hence, he will be called out on his behavior.

In contrast, as people who read this blog can see that I allow for open, free discussion and many people who have disagreed with me have commented here. Steve Hassan, in contrast, has no mechanism on his blog for anyone to comment and on his Facebook pages, apparently he only allows comments from people who are favorable towards his approach.

My posting on his Freedom of Mind Resource Facebook page was in response to a posting made by ex-Mormon David Van der Leek, who had opined that he considered the Mormon church to be a cult.  Click here to read the discussion that ensued, minus the posting of mine which he deleted where I linked to my blog article where I had expressed a dissenting opinion. My posting  contained no personal attacks on Steve Hassan, only an expression of disagreement. In the discussion, Steve immediately asked David how he felt about Romney and Huntsman “wishing to become President of the USA.” David’s initial response was non-commital, saying that he was a Canadian citizen and distrusted politics in general, but Steve immediately jumped in with a leading question, which in a court of law would have been considered grounds for objection (leading the witness). He asked David:

Is there a concern that he might get instructions or possibly ordered from the “Prophet?” Could he say “no” if a revelation is received, and communicated to him if he was President that would interfere with his objectivity as leader of a very diverse nation of believers?

David responded that “to say no to Mormon authority would be like saying no to God.” Steve Hassan has a habit of uncritically accepting proclamations made by former member of group, so in spite of my documentation and proof that David is incorrect, Steve would dismiss any rebuttal from me and go with the long-time former member.  For those who are not so uncritically accepting, being very familiar with the Mormon religion, I know this to be incorrect and here’s why. The Mormon (LDS) religion does not consider Joseph Smith or any of its living prophet deities. The only deities are God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Prophets, Bishops and other church leaders are not claimed to be infallible. On the contrary, there are a number of checks and balances within the system that allow for correction, should a leader take an action that a member believes was unwise or even harmful. Go here to read what Jeff Lindsay, who served as a bishop for a Wisconsin ward had to say about how he was always open to feedback from other during his tenure as a bishop. If a member feels an injustice has occurred involving a bishop, that person does have recourse to go to someone with higher authority than the bishop. Even the Prophet has counsel.

On the contrary, there is abundant evidence that the many current LDS elected officials do not impose their religious beliefs upon others. For example, Romney has taken a pro choice position on abortion, something that he and the LDS religion are strongly opposed to, yet his political position on this issue has been pro choice. There is no evidence or good reason to believe that if elected, Romney would govern by the dictates of church leaders. The US President doesn’t have that kind of power anyway, as the system has checks and balances.

Personally, I would have no problem voting for a Mormon running for political office. For example, if I were a Minnesota resident, I would have gladly campaigned and voted for Chris Barden for state Attorney General (who unfortunately lost the election last year), who has been a champion for cracking down on bogus mental health practices.

Hassan immediately banned me from his “Freedom of Mind Page.” However, I had not been banned from his Author page. The second posting I responded to concerned Steve Hassan posting an interview he did with John Walsh, shortly after Elizabeth Smart had been found. Click here to view it.  I made a brief, simple comment about Elizabeth Smart’s resilience and support from her loving Mormon family and having gone on a mission with no attacks on Steve Hassan whatsoever, and guess what happened? No big surprise by this time, by the following morning my posting had been removed and I have been banned from posting there.

The fact is that Steve Hassan’s dire predictions about what happens to ex-cult members who do not get his “expert” form of post cult therapy and his diagnosis of ex-cult members of having “dissociative” disorders, did not apply to Elizabeth Smart, who did just fine without Steve Hassan and although her mother reported she did have some form of therapy, the therapy was obviously oriented towards encouraging her resilience and nearly a decade later, she is doing very well. The naysayers keep saying her trauma is going to pop up later and get her, but there is no good evidence for delayed onset PTSD which contrary to popular belief, is actually quite rare according to more carefully conducted studies. What evidence does strongly show is that family and social support are very strong determining factors of a person’s recovery and Elizabeth Smart had that with her close, loving, Mormon family and she has stated in numerous interviews that she has drawn strength from her religion (yes, the one Steve Hassan considers to be a cult). Contrast the reality of Elizabeth Smart’s resilience with what Steve Hassan in 2003 predicted would happen to her, which never materialized:

But Hassan worries that when things calm down, when she’s no longer basking in the feel of her own clothes and the taste of home-cooked food, she may long for the person known as “Augustine.”

“There is a nine-month-old formed identity that is indoctrinated with this man’s belief,” Hassan said. “I think ‘Augustine’ will miss him and she may feel some anxiety and panic over that.”

There is no evidence that Elizabeth Smart ever developed such an “identity”. In fact, her recent testimony directly contradicts this. She maintained her identity throughout the experience.

Hassan also asserted:

Hassan believes once Mitchell had Elizabeth he immediately began to drive home his belief system, laid out in a dense 27-page manifesto in which he declared himself a messenger of God. “He likely began saying in a very fanatical way that he was a prophet, and that she was meant to be his wife,” he said. “He knew the right words to say because he was a Mormon who was excommunicated and she was Mormon.”

This connection between them, a shared knowledge of religious doctrine and reference points, allowed the hold over her to become that much stronger.

“Someone who already believes in God and the revelation as a respected religious experience is more … vulnerable,” he said.

Again, there is no evidence that people who believe in God and revelation are more vulnerable to cults, but he states his speculation as if it were a proven fact.

Elizabeth Smart testified as to the actual reason she didn’t ask for help and it had nothing to do with Hassan’s “cult” identity” theory. Let’s use Occam’s Razor. The truth is much simpler. He threatened her life.

A prosecutor asked Smart whether Mitchell gave her instructions about how to behave as they went into public. Smart testified that, “If I try to run away I will be killed. He said I wasn’t to talk to anybody. I wasn’t to go anywhere without him that I needed to stay next to him at all times.

and she said this about a police officer who almost discovered them:

“I felt like hope was walking out the door. I was mad at myself that I didn’t say anything. Mad at myself for not taking a chance but I just felt like…I felt terrible. I felt terrible that the detective hadn’t pushed harder, and he just walked away. I felt mad at myself that I hadn’t done anything; that I hadn’t taken a chance. I thought something would have happened to me and to my family, but I was very upset,” said Smart.

Again, it is obvious that the reason why she didn’t say anything was because he had frightened her into thinking she and her family would be harmed if she did. No pseudoscientific “dual identity” theory needed to explain that. There is no indication of any “cult identity” that missed the experience which Elizabeth Smart described as her “nine months of hell.”

Hassan is now pointing out how open he is to other points of view because he posts the links to websites with which he disagrees on his website compilations of various groups. Those are not websites, however, that directly challenge him as I have.  Additionally, there is no mention of the extensive critique of his work by cult experts David Clark, Carol Giambalvo, Noel Giambalvo, Kevin Garvey and Michael Langone in their chapter on exit counseling  in a 1993 edited book entitled Recovery from Cults (something his supporters managed to get deleted from his Wikipedia page in the “Criticism” section). Obviously, Steve Hassan will not tolerate my challenges to his point of view. This is something people might want to consider, when contemplating his ability to help as as “cult expert”.

Update: A supporter of Hassan is also attempting to delete the following criticism of Steve Hassan from his Wikipedia entry:

Criticism from Other Cult Experts

Cult experts David Clark, Carol Giambalvo, Noel Giambalvo, Kevin Garvy and Michael Langone, PhD have criticized Steve Hassan’s approach to exit counseling in a chapter entitled “Exit Counseling: A Practical Overview” from an edited volume “[26]. These authors stated that Hassan’s four core beliefs are “vague and rather standard fare for counseling approaches within the field of humanistic psychology. As with many humanistic counseling approaches, Hassan runs the risk of imposing clarity, however subtly, on the framework’s foundational ambiguity and thereby manipulating the client.” (p. 175). The authors gave Hassan an opportunity to respond. Hassan’s response was that the critique “exaggerates the manipulativeness of his approach” and offered clarification that he tries to “minimize the danger by taking a step-by-step approach to help the cultist ‘grow'”. Clark et al.’s reply is “Despite these clarifications of Hassan’s approach, we still have several concerns.” Their concerns were first, that Hassan did not clearly communicate this sensitivity in his writings, second, that other professionals who rely on Hassan’s writings might not be sensitive enough to the potential of his approach to become manipulative, third, that Hassan’s approach “even when practiced in its most pure form, strategic intervention therapy is still overtly intrusive” (p. 176). Their fourth objection is that “subordinating exit counseling to a family counseling structure is usually not necessary for a successful exit counseling.” Their central criticism is that Hassan’s approach is said to “effect” change without the cult-involved person’s prior approval and is hence, manipulative, whereas in contrast, Clark et al’s informational approach “invites” change. To date, no research exists that demonstrates the superiority of either method of exit counseling.

^ Recovery from Cults, Michael Langone (ed), 1993, New York: W.W. Norton and Company, ISBN 0-393-70164-6, p. 173-177

Why are Steve Hassan’s supporters making this attempt at information control?

Update: In his latest FB posting, Steven Hassan demonstrates how little he actually knows about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Someone asked him if Romney was still a Bishop and Hassan replies, “yes, I believe he is”. If Steve Hassan knew anything at all about the Mormon faith, he would understand that Bishop is a church calling and like any calling, it is only a temporary title — Bishops serve an average of 5 to 7 years. Romney has not been a Bishop since the 1980s. This, however, does not stop Steve from using his self-proclaimed “expertise” to answer questions about a faith he knows very little about. This is not a trivial blunder on his part, as it is indicative of his serious lack of knowledge on how church callings such as Bishop operate. Instead, Mr. Hassan appears to have only a superficial understanding into which he inserts his stereotypes and unsupported theories. It is also interesting and telling that thus far, his Ex-Mormon followers who know better, have apparently thus far not taken the trouble to correct him on this easily refutable blunder.

  1. Lots of people who are ideologically welded to a position do that. My stepfather used to call it “Don’t bother me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

    • Very true that lots of people are. When it comes from someone who professes to be a “cult expert” which should mean an expert in helping people to think critically, though, it is disappointing.

  2. Whosays permalink

    Personally I believe that Steve Hassan is still very much a cultists. He seems to take great pleasure in being “the authority”. He mentions his time with the Unification church as (IMHO) incidental, and his part as that of a victim with no personal responsibility. Rather ironic I think… ( and yet that is the draw for his cult following) After all, what is better in this day in age than “it is not my fault”? It rather strikes me as the reformed alcoholic who chastises anyone who chooses to have a drink whether or not they have a problem, except that he still has a problem… He takes the very things that cause people to feel truly connected to each other and uses his own “victimized” experience to declare them unacceptable and “brain washed”. Yes, I am not a fan, and see him as a typical pseudo intellectual new age hack! You on the other hand have a new reader…

  3. Borz Lom Nal permalink


    Regarding Hassan’s labelling those who disagree with him as “unrecovered ex-cult members,” I remember that Dennis Erlich in FOM admitted that he was still recovering, though he had left Scientology 27 years before. The same Erlich also called Hassan his old friend and, of course, did not disagree with him. When Erlich wrote that he was still recovering, I thought, “Is Hassan himself recovered since he left his cult just several years before Erlich?” I could not understand why it takes so long time to recover. I never accepted this idea of “endless recovering.”

    I will not be surprised if Hassan label me as “unrecovered ex-cult member with serious issues that needs intensive therapy” as well because I also disagree with him. I left the cult in 2002. Although I did have depression after leaving, I did not have many of the symptoms from Hassan’s symptom lists in his books. I read his books in 2006. After that, I began to experience episodes of floating which I had not experience before. I had also some other problems. In January 2009, I learned from you that some symptoms may be suggested rather than really caused by cults. Then, I realized that the episodes of floating that I experienced were actually suggested through reading his books. I did not have any of them since that. I also got rid of all the other cult-related (or supposedly cult-related) problems that I had by April 2009. My cult experience has not affected my life since then. So, since that time, I consider myself recovered. It took me less than 7 years to recover from both cult involvement and suggested “post-cult symptoms.”

    I realize that Hassan (as well as some other people) may claim that I am “in denial.” Well, the thing is that Hassan and I have never met in person. He has never examined me. In September 2009, that is, five months after I believe I achieved post-cult recovery, I had a thorough psychological and psychiatric examination by a group of mental health professionals. Their conclusion was that I am mentally healthy. They did not give me any diagnoses often given to ex-cult members such as PTSD, C-PTSD, DID, DD NOS, and so on. They did not say that I need any therapy. So, Hassan has no basis to claim that I am an “unrecovered ex-cult member in denial” and that I need therapy.

    His habit of labelling people as “unrecovered ex-cult members” because they disagree with him is not much different from Soviet psychiatrists giving dissidents diagnosis of schizophrenia only because they disagreed with the communist ideology: They even invented a special type of schizophrenia – “sluggish schizophrenia” which was applied to dissidents. According to the current Russian Mental Health Law, psychiatric diagnoses may not be given only on the basis of a person’s disagreement with moral, cultural, political or religious values accepted in the society. As far as I understand, this statement is based on international standards for mental health professionals.

  4. I am a long time member of a religion that many deem a cult, and which Steve Hassan has labeled a cult, but I have approached my religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses, from every angle, and questioned everything in my own mind and sought answers and found them. I gave the benefit of the doubt to those claiming it to be a brainwashing or destructive cult and decided to view my religion from the angle of the possibility of it being such.

    In my personal experience, I have met people who were part of actual destructive cults, and I mean the rings around the eyes, sleep deprivation, dietarily restricted, must isolate themselves from other ideas, etc. These are people that are very clearly and negatively affected by control features of a cult. So when i heard about Steve Hassan, I tried very hard to give his views the benefit of the doubt, but his viewpoints were clearly too broad. He even admits that it is able to be applied to just about every organizational structure in existence, including the home. His one qualifier on that matter, was whether the cult actually achieves the effect of mind control This completely nullified every word he said about how to identify a cult. It’s basically saying that you have to just use your own judgment as to whether a religion is a brainwashing cult, and that opinion is based solely upon whether one person thinks another person demonstrates features of someone controlled by another. (This excludes any consideration to the idea of the person voluntarily submitting their self to the doctrines of another.)

    Then I came across the actual opinion of the psychiatric community toward the idea of brainwashing, and they said the idea of brainwashing was “quackery”. (That was the actual word used in the final comments by the inquiry committee of the APA.)

    When I noticed that there was an awful lot of aggrandizement going on around him, people lauding him for this and that, I decided to apply his BITE model toward him and found that he fit every aspect of his own model. Upon investigation, I found that he doesn’t actually qualify as a “mental health professional” as he claims on the John Walsh show. People think he was a Cambridge graduate, but he didn’t go to Cambridge University. He went to Cambridge College, a non-profit college, meaning it is funded by the state, which puts it a step below community colleges. It has NO association with Cambridge University. The school’s own web site says that their counselling master’s degree is non-credited and only applies to school counselors and non-psychological professions.

    But now I noticed in this video that Steve has a very self-satisfied smile on his face every time he talks about his system or subjects related to it. He seems more pleased with himself than with facts. His words were aimed at trying to establish the validity of his ideas toward the matter rather than geared toward providing healing.

    Because of these things I am thoroughly convinced that Steve has NO idea what he’s talking about. I believe he utilizes his ideas to produce a cult of personality around himself, not because of his own psychological state, but for the purpose of securing his status.

    After having questioned everything in my religion, I am confident not only that it is not a mind control or destructive cult, but that it is true religion. But that is my opinion. But, of course, I can never have a good conversation with anyone on that matter, because instead of sticking to the facts of how to identify a religion as a brainwashing or destructive cult, they always get sidetracked into attacking doctrine and spitting out lies they heard instead of addressing facts.

    Requesting a self-imposed restriction on information is not the same as imposing penalties for such. Not openly dissenting on doctrine with unqualified members of a religion is not the same as not questioning doctrine. But Steve makes no effort to provide these distinctions. He makes no distinction between dissension and questioning. (Look the two words up in any dictionary and you’ll find a world of difference.) He makes no distinction between volunteering their will and being controlled. He makes no distinction between a person’s own responsibility to ask questions of their religion and a person’s feeling restricted from questioning. (Many simply don’t question their religion at all, while others mistakenly think that not being able to openly dissent is the same as not being able to question, but in some cases the religion may actually restrict thought with such claims that “reasoning is evil” or “questions are from the Devil” and by requiring confessions of thoughts.) In regard to excommunication procedures, he makes no distinction between restrictions on talking about spiritual matters and not talking at all, between not greeting and not communicating at all. Though he makes a pretense of a distinction, he ultimately achieves no effective distinction between “thought reform”, brainwashing and mind control. He didn’t even bother to correct John Walsh on the distinction.

    Brainwashing is a total wiping of one’s former personality and overwriting a new personality. That sounds exactly like what Hassan was claiming, but not only is this unproven, it is deemed “quakery”. Mind control does not require that a personality be overwritten, but requires that the person’s mind is actually controlled by another. This has also been proven to be unlikely without some form of hypnosis or severe threat. There are actually only two forms of control that can be exercised on a person: external control and volunteering. External control is the imposing of penalties for not conforming. This requires that there cannot be a means of leaving the organization. The person must feel threatened and restricted from leaving. Volunteering means that one has volunteered themselves to the will of another. In this case, no fear is necessary and the person is allowed to leave of their own accord. Every organization that does not use external controls uses volunteer controls. Period. No exceptions. Volunteer controls are neither brainwashing nor mind control; you are either part of the religion or you’re not; if you don’t believe what they believe, there’s the door.

  5. Follow the money$$$, what can I say? I spent a bit of time on FOM yahoo group many years ago because I was looking for info on a not well know cult that someone I knew was a part of. Hassan seems to be playing the same tune as the 12-Step cult, who claim that anyone who hasn’t done things their way is not recovered. They have a marketshare problem in that 70% of all alcoholics who quit drinking do so on their own.

    I have discovered that some who leave cults maintain their cult mentality, and Hassan seems willing and able to exploit the need for someone to tell them what to think and determine truth for them, to fill the hole left by the cult. One girl on his list, who had recently left a cult and was very vulnerable, forwarded me an email Hassan sent her where he excoriated her and told her she would not be welcome at his conference because she took a slight dig at Muslims, and Hassan informed her Muslims were his wonderful and accepting friends. While we are well aware that Islam is perhaps the most dangerous and abusive cult in existence, I noted that Christians on the list seemed to only be tolerated in this environment of anti-religion if they kept their nose down and apologized for their faith. I questioned if Christians were the “list dhimmis,” and everyone thought that was funny.

    The Mormons I know are decent, honest people, probably more so than Hassan. I have been told that a Mormon is allowed to leave their spouse if they leave Mormonism to remarry a true Mormon, and they have a practice of using manipulative means to seek to retain those who seek to leave openly, rather than live as, “Jack Mormons.” There was a situation a few years ago where a Mormon adoption agency in Utah, with the help of various officials, prevented a deployed (married) father from finding out what happened to his daughter who had been given up for adoption without his consent or knowledge, and fought him for two years to keep him from regaining custody of his daughter and even seeing her. The family that adopted, knowing the situation was questionable, asked for donations on their website to continue the legal fight. I don’t know how this panned out, but I pray the father and daughter are reunited and doing well. The local Mormon community supported this deception because they believed they were doing the right thing in having this child raised in a Mormon home, rather than by her biological father.

    I assume Hassan was well-educated during his time in the Moonies, and so enabled to create his own cult of self. He should give the Moonies a cut of his very expensive and not guaranteed, “cult-exit” earnings.

  6. Linda Method permalink

    Talk about ‘cult mentality’ !!! All of you making claims that Mr. Hassan is practicing ‘information control’ are the epitome of what you accuse him of. You are speaking from your own programmed point of view rather than an honest and objective perspective. I know Steve Hassan personally, and have been on media appearances with him including live TV shows in Seattle speaking out against my own former cult leader. He’s very intelligent,and knowledgeable about mind control and rightly deserves the label of ‘cult and mind control expert’. Robert J. Lifton actually learned a lot from HIM, because he recognized the great expertise Mr. Hassan gained from his own experience going through the mind control on one end, and coming through it on the other end a very enlightened person. Mr. Hassan realized his calling in life, and he’s been tireless in fulfilling that purpose ever since. To be honest, I don’t think there are many people who can claim to know and understand more about this subject than Steve Hassan. The author of this article needs to calm down just a little bit and get over the fact that whatever comment he made on Facebook was deemed inappropriate and removed.

  7. Linda Method permalink

    By the way, if you delete my comment because it disagrees with you, then you are committing the same offense you accuse Steve Hassan of committing. Let’s see if you put your money where your mouth is, Sir.

    • On the contrary, my dear, I am more than happy to approve both of your comments, for the world to see a walking illustration of what a Steve Hassan Groupie looks/sounds like. Honey, I worked with Hassan many, many times and he and I go way back – more than 25 years, so I speak from personal experience. Mark my words, sooner or later, you will learn, as I did and have to deal with the pain of having been had not once, but twice. You have my deepest sympathies.

      If your comments don’t immediately appear, it’s because I have all new commenters on “moderate” status because unlike Facebook, here, people can be anonymous or use pseudonyms as you do and I need to filter out any spam where people are trying to sell products that have no relevance to this blog. I don’t check this everyday, so there may be a delay in approval.

      Oh, and by the way, I’m not a “sir”.

      • This sounds like a, “keep the patient sick so you can keep treating them,” or worse, “make the patient sick so they require your (dubious) treatment.” I had a friend who got lured into the, “recovered memories,” hypnosis induced syndrome, and she spent years and $$$$ in it.

  8. Linda Method permalink

    I will cease to call you Sir if you promise not to call me ‘Honey.’ I find the term insulting and usually spoken to me in a denigrating and patronizing way by people attempting to sound sincere.

    I go back just as long as you do with Mr. Hassan. About six years ago I decided to start a YouTube channel for activism against my former cult leader (Roy Masters/Foundation of Human Understanding), but I didn’t have the videotape given to me by KOMO-TV in Seattle that I had received as a courtesy after my appearances there. Luckily Steve Hassan still had the programs on DVD and sent a copy to me immediately when I requested it from him. It also included some expose material on Roy Masters from Entertainment Tonight in the 1980’s. I uploaded several clips from those programs, including a segment I entitled ‘Roy Masters Calls Steve Hassan A Parasite’ which Masters accuses Mr. Hassan of being a parasite who makes a living off destroying his reputation and who lives off of former cult members in the guise of helping them recover from their experiences. This was on live TV at the time, and Steve is also in front of a studio audience. Realize I did this with Mr. Hassan’s full knowledge that I was going to upload segments of these programs to YouTube and allow people to comment freely about them. If Steve had been in fact practicing ‘information control’ don’t you think he would have edited out that part of the DVD about calling him a parasite? I didn’t even remember that part of the program as it had been 20 years ago, and I wouldn’t have even missed it if it had been removed. You can still see the video on YouTube, and even though the quality is terrible and the editing atrocious, I presented the events exactly as they happened. At no point did Steve report the video for being slanderous or any such thing, or contact me privately and request that I remove it. He didn’t get worked up about a cult leader making such ridiculous statements about him, but you’ll notice that Masters interrupts repeatedly and hardly even lets him speak.

    Your point about Mr. Hassan practicing ‘information control’ and behaving like a cult leader is ridiculous and unfounded, just because he didn’t like your comments on his FB page. In my experience I’ve never heard or seen Steve claim that unless a recovering cult member gets help from him, that they’ll suffer a terrible fate. That’s a ridiculous claim. Me, I have no degree, license, credentials, or initials after my name. Nevertheless, Mr. Hassan has offered to allow me to assist him if he wanted my help as a lay-person counseling someone from the FHU/Masters cult. He really isn’t sanctimonious and elitist as you seem to portray him.

    It’s also ridiculous for you to presume and surmise what Steve will say or do about anything, including ‘rationalizing’ removing your comments: “He will probably give this rationalization, not publicly, but privately to selected people. I predict he will say….blah-blah-blah…..etc.”…and all because you’re angry that he deleted your comments. Maybe get over it, or maybe you’re doing this article as a therapy to get over your upset about being blocked. Hey, whatever works.

    The point about Joseph Smith is also debatable. I spent three years in Salt Lake City, I lived eight blocks from Temple Square and was invited to attend sacrament meetings at the local ward a few times even though I’m not a Mormon. No, the Mormon Church doesn’t ‘worship’ Joseph Smith per se, but they do sing songs and praises to him and his status in the church is very close to deity. I remember seeing a huge bulletin board in the children’s primary room where they were taught Mormon lessons, the board was filled with quotes and images of Joseph Smith and only one small image of Jesus Christ, somewhere near the bottom of the board. It was mildly suggestive of the focus being more about Joseph Smith’s life testimony about Jesus Christ and less about who Jesus Christ actually was. I got the distinct impression that the church was all about Joseph Smith and often wondered why it’s not called The Church of Joseph Smith’s Testimony of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. Even the Mormon’s ‘testimony’ about faith in the Church attests to reverence for Joseph Smith as His Prophet, it’s in the mantra they all commit to heart as a good Mormon. Living in the mecca of the Mormon world is an enlightening experience about how the church works.

    Before you slam a ‘Hassan Groupie’ label on me, allow me to say that my last contact with him was about three years ago when we were discussing changes on his website and other such things. I’m not a hanger on nor a stalker or follower of Mr. Hassan, other than I sometimes pay attention when he makes media appearances about current events in the world of destructive cults and groups. I think he’s a decent person and has a lot backbone. He has to have some kind of fortitude to keep doing what he does in the face of some of the criticism he often faces…which I find kind of interesting always seems to come from the cults he speaks out against and the members, or former members thereof.

    Mazel tov.

    • If you want to continue to call someone known to be a woman, sir, be my guest. I found it amusing that you felt “Honey” was condescending since I was doing it as a sarcastic imitation of Steve Hassan himself – he just loves to call people “honey”, especially women. Since you say you know him, I thought you might have picked up on it but guess you missed that nuance, but if you are who I think you are, you might be a man and not have experienced that.

      In any case, just because Hassan didn’t use information control to censor the video of a cult leader in one instance doesn’t mean he never uses it. It would be to his benefit to have a video remain up of an obviously unbalanced cult leader, so I’m not surprised. On the other hand, to have a challenge from someone who is not a cult leader would be far more threatening and he tried everything he could to get me booted off his now defunct Freedom of Mind list after I posted something critical of him. He failed because the list was being run by someone else who was fair and didn’t censor me or anyone else who wanted to criticize him.

      As for calling anyone who criticizes Steve a cultist, you are engaging in circular reasoning and that is not so. In fact, there was some quite strong criticism of him in a 1990 volume edited by Michael Langone (not a cultist or even former cultists) entitled Recovery From Cults. I recently tried to reference this in Wikipedia but his groupies deleted it. Rick Ross also has a strongly worded disclaimer about Hassan on his organization’s website, warning people.

      I am not “angry” that Steve Hassan or more likely, one of his flunkees, deleted my comments. I am merely noting that this is very cult-like behavior on his part and not the only instance of it that I have seen.

  9. Linda Method permalink

    Monica, when I clicked on this article, I did NOT see your name on it. I couldn’t tell if it was authored by a man or a woman. Now that I take a look again at it, it shows your name but the contrast is very bad on my screen with your name in blue and a dark brown background, it was very difficult to see. This article just happened to come up during a search I was doing about Steve Hassan at the request of someone I’m helping with their recovery from Roy Masters involvement. I apologize. Seriously, I meant no offense, and perhaps it was wrong and presumptuous of me to assume that you were a man. I’m sorry. I wanted to comment here because I suspected a possible misrepresentation of someone I happen to know personally. Sorry for upsetting the apple cart.

    I am a woman, though, and my maiden name is clear to see on my YouTube channel. I go by Linda Method on discussion forums, but my real given name is Linda. I’m not afraid to let people to see me as I am. Your portrayal of Steve Hassan being a person who “loves to call people ‘Honey’ “…I don’t find that credible in the least. I’ve been in his company a number of times, including in informal meetings and social gatherings as well as when he is putting on his ‘professional’ face — I have never once heard him refer to anyone as ‘Honey.’ Perhaps your experience with him is different than mine, so I can’t attest to what you have heard him say. Calling people ‘Honey’ in a condescending way does not fit the person I know as Mr. Hassan.

    I must correct you about something, though, Dr. Pignotti. Never at any point did I say that “anyone who criticizes Steve is a cultist’ so there’s no reason to call me out about ‘circular reasoning.’ I find that reference fascinating, since the only people who have ever thrown that ‘circular reasoning’ accusation at me are people who are still involved with the cult I used to follow when they criticize me for speaking out against their cult leader. ‘Circular reasoning’ seems to be a buzzword that gets brought up as a defense mechanism against someone not easily stumped.

    Mr. Hassan is still evolving and growing in who he is and how he deals with people who need help with their recovery from cult mind control. When he entered the scene, ‘deprogramming’ was still the recommended ‘intervention’ method for cult members. When he began developing his own methods, none of them resembled ‘deprogramming.’ All your citations from people who have anything negative to say about him are from at least 20 years ago. What’s the current poop? I don’t see anything relevant to recent events and actions and statements made by Steve. It looks to me like you had to dig up decades-old information that was critical of him as documentation that he outed you for some kind of cult-leader-type reason. I just find that reaction to him kind of silly and beneath a person with a PhD. Look, your comments were deemed inappropriate. So what!!!??? Time to unbunch the panties.

    • A person with PhD would be expected to demand legitimate credentials and peer-reviewed research to back up claims and qualify a person to practice psychological counseling. It seems the whole cult-exit world was murky with little protection for the consumer.

      Ross’ cult-exit methods seemed murky and questionable also, but he had an excellent database of cult info for the time.

      Persons who delete polite disagreement and refuse to answer questions aren’t legitimate resources. I’ve noticed that real scholars and scientists, even though they are busy, love to answer questions. Frauds react with anger when they are faced with challenges, rather than praise. The description, “narcissist,” comes to mind. “Deprogramming,” was never a, “recommended,” intervention for cult members, but it was a scam used by shadowy types that made $$$$$ from desperate families, or families who were unhappy with the choices their children had made.

      I put SH in the category of recovered memory pseudo-science practitioners.

    • No, the criticism “disclaimer” from Rick Ross on his website is very recent, within the past year and so is the review of his book written by Dr. Cathleen Mann. This is not ancient history and I predict there will be more to come, as from what I’ve heard he’s gotten worse and more paranoid about criticism, not better. The criticism I cited from 1990 was long after he stopped doing deprogrammings. The criticism had nothing to do with his 1976 deprogrammings and everything to do with his exit counseling methods. I gave a quote from this in the blog.

      And FYI, circular reasoning is a logical fallacy also known as begging the question, not a “buzzword”. You might want to read up on those. And yes, you did say that “He has to have some kind of fortitude to keep doing what he does in the face of some of the criticism he often faces…which I find kind of interesting always seems to come from the cults he speaks out against and the members, or former members thereof.”

      So there you go. Recent and not from an ex- or current cult member.

      “CEI does not recommend Steve Hassan.

      CEI has received serious complaints about Steve Hassan concerning his fees. Steve Hassan does not publicly disclose his fee schedule, but according to complaints he has charged fees varying from $250.00 per hour or $2,500.00 per day to $500.00 per hour or $5,000.00 per day. This does not include Steve Hassan’s expenses, which according to complaints can be quite substantial.

      Steve Hassan has charged families tens of thousands of dollars and provided questionable results. One family that recently complained about Steve Hassan cited total fees charged of almost $50,000.00 and said that the very expensive intervention effort ended in failure.

      Dr. Cathleen Mann, who holds a doctorate in psychology and has been a licensed counselor in the state of Colorado since 1994 points out, “Nowhere does Hassan provide a base rate and/or any type or accepted statistical method defining his results…”

      Steve Hassan has at times suggested to potential clients that they purchase a preliminary report based upon what he calls his “BITE” model. These “BITE reports” can potentially cost thousands of dollars.

      Steve Hassan runs a for-profit corporation called “Freedom of Mind.” Mr. Hassan is listed as the corporate agent for that business as well as its president and treasurer.

      CEI does not recommend “Freedom of Mind” as a resource.

      CEI also does not list or recommend Steve Hassan’s books.

      To better understand why Steve Hassan’s books are not recommended by CEI read this detailed review of his most recently self-published book titled “Freedom of Mind.”

      Steve Hassan’s cult intervention methodology has historically raised concerns since its inception. The book “Recovery from Cults” (W.W. Norton & Co. pp. 174-175) edited by Dr. Michael Langone states the following:

      “Calling his approach ‘strategic intervention [sic] therapy,’ Hassan (1988) stresses that, although he too tries to communicate a body of information to cultists and to help them think independently, he also does formal counseling. As with many humanistic counseling approaches, Hassan’s runs the risk of imposing clarity, however subtly, on the framework’s foundational ambiguity and thereby manipulating the client.”

      CEI has also learned that Steve Hassan has had dual-relationships with his counseling clients. That is, clients that have seen Steve Hassan for counseling may also do professional cult intervention work with him.

      Professionals in the field of cultic studies have also expressed concerns regarding Steve Hassan’s use of hypnosis and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

      Based upon complaints and the concerns expressed about Steve Hassan CEI does not recommend Steve Hassan for counseling, intervention work or any other form of professional consultation.

      Note: From time to time the Cult Education Institute receives complaints and reports of other concerns expressed about cult intervention practitioners. The institute makes every effort to follow up on those reports and relay them to the individuals involved for their response. Steve Hassan is the only deprogrammer/exit-counselor about whom CEI has received numerous and consistent complaints over a period of years involving matters of cult intervention methods, fees, and professional ethics.”

  10. Linda Method permalink

    Fair enough, chaya1957. I just find it interesting that Dr. Pignotti’s Disclaimer dated May 18, 2010, claims that the purpose of this blog is not “to give any specific advice on specific professionals” and not to “dissuade anyone from seeing any particular professional or to recommend any particular professional and my positive or negative views ought not to be interpreted in that manner”…..yet the emphasis in this article is blatantly indicative of Steve Hassan’s methods and approaches being very ‘cult-like.’ That’s a serious accusation and a sharp departure from what the disclaimer states about the purpose of the blog, and all because Monica was so offended by having comments removed and being blocked from commenting further. This blog post come across very much like a personal grudge and maybe even retribution for the offense, that’s why I said it seemed beneath a person of obviously impressive credentials and experience in this field of study.

    Yes, the ‘deprogramming’ method was never actually ‘recommended’….however it was at least allowed for a number of years until the lawsuits put an end to this ‘intervention’ method. I’ve never seen Mr. Hassan respond with anger about being questioned, and he’s been questioned and accused quite a number of times publicly and privately, and I’ve never seen him shrink in fear from criticism. I’m not in continual contact with him, however, so if he does display the kind of behavior described in this blog post then all I can say is it has certainly NOT been my experience with him. Accusing Mr. Hassan of being a ‘fraud’ just because comments were removed from a Facebook page seems a gross overreaction to a difference in opinion. He has credentials and experience, too, the last time I checked.

    • Knock off the distortions. It’s not “all because” he deleted comments on his FB page. If you read this blog, that is one of many, many, much larger criticisms of his work. And I said the purpose of this blog is not to dissuade anyone from going to a particular individual but no where did I say I will not criticize an individual and express my own opinions which I will continue to do. And yes, I will repeat that I stand by my opinion that Steve Hassan has become what he is fighting. I find his behavior very cult like, not just based on his FB page,but based on many, many interactions I have had with him and I have had reported to me by others who had recent contact with him.

      Just because you say you haven’t experienced these things personally does not mean that many others have had the same positive experience you had. Even L. Ron Hubbard was nice to some people. I know several people who were on the ship with him that would give the same kind of testimonial of Hubbard that you give of Steve. He never did anything bad to them and I believe them. Does that mean that Hubbard is okay and ot a cult leader? Of course not. Abusers aren’t abusive to everybody they meet.

    • It was probably around 2002-3 that I received the email from a distraught former cult member, forwarding me the abusive email SH sent her. I understand that SH is not a licensed therapist, in which case he could bill insurance, and also be subject to disciplinary procedures.

      My own take is that someone who deletes comments and questions, unless they cross the line into obscenity, threats, etc., looks like a fraud, and to block persons who do not display the aforementioned traits reveals lack of character and professionalism. They say you can test a person by how they respond to praise and how they respond to criticism. This is one way I have been able to weed out the untrustworthy in my own dealings.

      I’ve discovered both in religious groups and other social situations that one can be showered with love, acceptance, help and support in return for loyalty and validation of the entity. Linda, you might want to test your hypothesis by noting how Hassan responds if you ask him hard questions. I suspect he may turn on you, and perhaps you want to discover this for yourself, or perhaps not.

      Was Catherine Mann the person who was leading FoM? I remember the moderator was a psychologist in Colorado and had been in the Elizabeth Clare Prophet cult.

      • Would you be willing to say more about what was in that abusive email?

        Just FYI, Steve Hassan is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Massachusetts (not a psychologist, this is a Masters degree level licensure). What this means is that if someone feels they have been abused, there is recourse to file a complaint so this might be reviewed. Although state boards sometimes tend to collude with the therapists, sometimes these complaints can be effective. I realize that it is too late to do so for something that he allegedly did in 2003, but just FYI. People do not need to put up with abuse from licensed professionals.

        Yes, Cathleen Mann was the person running the FoM list serv – she did so for more than 10 years.

  11. Linda Method permalink

    I can’t really comment on Mr. Hassan’s fee schedule because I’m only relying on second-hand information about it. The hourly fee sounds similar to what it costs to see a psychiatrist, however.

    All I know is that in 2008 when I was recovering from a decades long abusive, violent, controlling relationship with the person who ‘rescued’ me from the cult I was in….(someone that Mr. Hassan actually knew personally but didn’t know about the abuse)….I contacted him and he offered to counsel me for free because I was destitute. So there may be times he actually helps people without charging them, because I’m a prime example of him offering his services for free. When they cleared out the Warren Jeffs compound in Texas, I think he offered to counsel the people there without charge as well.

    Apparently there’s a buttload of available information very critical of Mr. Hassan, much more than I knew about. In this age of instant information and blog posting, I’m sure that that pile will only grow. Helping professions are replete with abuses and misuses, and the field of cults and destructive religious groups seems to be a veritable minefield of its own kind. I myself am just a nobody who speaks out against my own former cult leader, and I get attacked on a daily basis by his followers. I welcome people who have suffered damage from this cult to contact me privately or publicly, whichever way they prefer, and I do my level best to help and counsel them. I’m not always successful, and I tell everyone I deal with that I am no substitute for professional licensed mental health care and counseling. Fixing things that are broken beyond the abilities of medication and Band-Aids, namely things that are in the realm of the mind and spirit, is sometimes like fighting ghosts. I’m glad I at least fought my own, and won.

  12. Linda Method permalink

    chaya I don’t understand your point about Mr. Hassan ‘not being a licensed therapist’…doesn’t he hold a Masters Degree in counseling? I thought he was also a Nationally Certified Counselor. Are you implying that he doesn’t have legitimate credentials?

    I’ll add something to your assertion of ” … you can test a person by how they respond to praise and how they respond to criticism”….I believe you can also test a person by how angry they get when you disagree with or question their criticism of another. I’ve noticed that not only on this blog post but on others as well, if anyone doesn’t agree with Dr. Pignotti’s assessment of Mr. Hassan, she becomes angry and suspicious of the person making the comment. You are also implying some kind of ‘hypothesis’ in the above comment that seems to suggest I’m scratching Steve’s back because he’s scratching mine….and you’re advice is to ‘test’ him by provoking him to ‘turn on me.’ I wouldn’t even do that to an enemy, let alone a friend. I sure wouldn’t do it to any of you here on this blog. I’m not much on manipulating others, I guess.

    My only involvement in any anti-cult activism at this time is at street-level. I’m not credentialed or educated or nuthin.’ Just me talking to people and making videos about my former cult involvement. I’ve not been involved with cult experts and authorities outside of Mr. Hassan. I don’t go to conventions or seminars and rub elbows with all the big shots of the ant-cult world. If the back-biting and ill-willed exchanges I’m seeing here on this site happen between colleagues who are supposed to be on the same side fighting the good fight….then I can certainly say I’m glad I’m not part of it. Seriously. What a pile of horse-hooey.

    Thanks for allowing me to interject here.

    • I understand he is not licensed and his MS is unaccredited, but please correct me if the info is wrong. AFAIK, there is no such thing as a, “Nationally Certified Counselor,” and membership in some of these quasi-professional associations only requires payment of dues.

      I have a friend who recently obtained her MFT (Master’s in Family Therapy) from an accredited institution. She was required to do an unpaid, supervised internship prior to passing an exam and receiving her own license. I suppose I could call myself a counselor or therapist of some kind and charge fees for services, as long as I didn’t claim to have credentials I didn’t posses. Another example, Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, calls himself a psychologist. His Ph.D is in Education; he holds no license and has never had a clinical practice. It pays to dig, and I do it autopilot.

      I am not saying to act in a manipulative manner, but, when I sense an, “authority,” is full of it, I test my theory by finding holes in their narrative. I suppose it is second nature with a background in journalism.

      I think it is difficult, via social media, to determine is someone is angry, or their motives. Their behavior is not subject to question. If I were a former cult member, it would upset me to see ex-cultists and their families being taken advantage of financially and in every other way. While I understand that a common cognitive fallacy is to explain away evidence we dislike with suspicions about the motive of the source; all that matters is whether the information is accurate or not.

      • He is licensed in Massachusetts as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He got his Masters in Counseling from Cambridge College (not UK, Cambridge, MA aka Leslie College), an institution that is accredited but known as an easy place for people to get fast MA degree for about a year or two of night school. He is not a psychologist, he is a mental health counselor, with an MEd. He is in no position to declare him as an expert in a category by himself as he seems to be implying, or really an expert of any legitimate kind, in my opinion.

        Good point about attacking the source of criticism. It’s a common tactic of cultists and unfortunately, some anti-cultists who still act like cultists.

    • Angry, Linda? You seem to be projecting and making unwarranted assumptions as you do not know me and have no way to know how I am responding. This only shows your propensity to jump to unwarranted conclusions based on zero evidence. The fact that I am willing to stand up for myself and be an assertive woman does not make me angry. Only sexists would make such an assumption.

      • The program he took was not accredited at the time. In fact, Cambridge College only recently got its accrediting. That is, the class was non-accredited. Even now, the degree only qualifies for addiction counseling, nothing more, though they created an offshoot specifically aimed at School Counseling. At the time Hassan received the degree, he was only qualified as a school counselor. In fact, the counseling profession was not recognized as a psychological profession until 2000, which means it did not achieve acceptable standards until that time. Therefore, for the decades prior, they were not practicing with acceptable standards to the psychiatric community.

        That said, a counselor provides treatment through education, identified as “holistic” and non-medical (Meaning that no medicine is used), educating the individuals on their disorders, through which the individual is able to make efforts to overcome the effects of the disorder. What Steve Hassan practices is not holistic education, but environmental interference.

        Also, the AMHCA claims that counseling is “cost effective”, but what I am seeing here is a man who charges far more than most psychologists or psychiatrists, though granted, he charges by the “day”, which technically means anywhere between 15 minutes to 24 hours. I am interested to find out how he spends these very expensive days and how he expects to “cure” these individuals in a single day.

      • CJ, that’s interesting about the program’s lack of accreditation but I do know for a fact that he is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Massachusetts because I have gone to the MA State website and seen all his licensure info. I’m not sure how he managed it, but he is. That said, I agree with you that he charges far more than most psychologists or psychologists, let alone his MA level degree. I once had a conversation about this at a time when he was charging $5,000 per day/$500 an hour and he told me he feels justified in doing this because no one else in the world does what he does. Of course, that’s bunk, since there is no empirical evidence that anything unique about what he does is effective and actually helps people, but FYI, that seems to be his rationale. He charges by the day when he does interventions – he says his fee is now $2500 a day, but I have heard of him charging much more than that, plus he demands first class airfare, travel time pay and all kinds of other extras. He sometimes charges by the hour when he works locally. I too would like to know how he has been spending those days with clients lately. We might some day learn more.

      • I should have said “psychotherapy” instead of “psychological” or “psychiatric”.

  13. Linda Method permalink

    I’m assertive, too, Dr. Pignotti, and even though I don’t have the education you have I’m no idiot. I’m only making an observation about you based on what you say, not knowing you personally l that’s all I have to go by. You seem to have a huge chip on your shoulder regarding Steve Hassan. If I’m wrong, please show me.

    For the record, I am not ‘attacking the source of criticism.’ I am –questioning it—. That’s all I am doing, questioning. The fact you perceive it as an ‘attack’ says a lot. Hence the term ‘angry.’

    Am I wrong or are you insinuating that because I don’t agree with and applaud your criticism of Mr. Hassan that I am a ‘cultist’ ?? Because seriously, if I’m a cultist and don’t even know it or recognize that about myself, then please just come right out and tell me plainly. Stop implying things in a vague manner so you don’t have to actually back up what you’re accusing me of. Unless….you’re not actually accusing me. So which is it? Do you think I’m ‘cultic’ for not agreeing with you or what? C’mon I can take it. Be honest please. I thank you in advance.

    • Interesting, Linda, it is a common tactic of cultists to portray any critics of their guru as “angry” or having a “chip on their shoulder”. I have very good reason to be blowing the whistle on Mr. Hassan and I am not the only one to be doing so. Wake up, look around you rather than dismissing as a cultist does, everything I point you to. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid – even very sharp, intelligent people, as I’m sure you know, can be taken in by charismatic personalities. I’m not saying you are a “cultist” – I really can’t know that without having a great deal more information, but the way you are behaving here is very similar to the behavior I’ve seen of cultists when their guru is criticized. Instead of responding to the criticism, you attack the one doing the criticism. Whether I’m angry or not at him is irrelevant. How many ex-cult members are angry at their former guru and justifiably so, yet have very valid criticisms? Lots. And please knock off the straw man fallacy – I am not “angry” at you for disagreeing with me – what I do observe is that your personal attacks on me as “angry” and “having a chip on my shoulder” is very much like the ones I get from cultists. That’s not disagreement with the subject – that is a personal attack on what you imagine to be my state of mind – completely irrelevant as angry people can have very valid points. If you click on “Steve Hassan” in my key words on this blog, you’ll see the other postings I’ve done that contain other criticisms. What he did on FB was just the tip of the iceberg. The one you’re responding to I did over 2 years ago and since that time, I have even more reason to be concerned. I am way past anger. I am deeply concerned and as you’ll see from Rick Ross’ statement, I am not alone.

      • Linda Method permalink

        Seriously, you actually think I am a ‘cultist’ and that Mr. Hassan is my ‘guru,’ merely because I questioned you about your criticism of him? Unbelievable, and kind of disappointing to see this response from you. I said I’m not attacking, I am just questioning you — the same way you question anyone you have a difference of opinion with!! Getting angry and defensive over being questioned is to me the first hallmark of a real ‘cultist.’ Well no matter, you see me as a cultist and I see you as someone whose anger and spite toward a fellow professional in your field of expertise as very unbecoming and unprofessional. We’re even-Steven, aren’t we.

        Apparently I’m not all that smart because I don’t even understand your ‘straw man’ reference. I am smart enough, however, to observe that where there’s a lot of smoke, there’s probably a fire. If Mr. Hassan is in fact doing anything abusive or harmful, there are plenty of resources and recourses available for people to seek out. In this age of instant information on the internet of everything, word gets around pretty fast. Most of your ‘Steve Hassan’ -tagged posts are very solicitous of people coming forward with criticism and claims of abuses by him. I find it interesting that there is nary a one actual complaint from anyone stating that they suffered some kind of ‘bad experience’ with him in particular. Most of the complaints on this site about him are from people who merely have a difference of opinion with him. So what? That doesn’t make him a fraud or a ‘cultist.’ I don’t see any bandwagon that people are jumping on because they’ve got some kind of serious problem from their dealings with him. Interesting that your article from November 2012 asking for people to comment about having a bad experience with a ‘cult expert.’…to date, no one has brought up Mr. Hassan as having done them wrong in any way. Not that it couldn’t happen….just sayin. Reviewing all the information on this site about Mr. Hassan, which by the way you really spend an inordinate amount of time posting things about him….I just don’t see proof that he is a cultist or an abuser of his position. His fees….OK yes they seem high and out of reach… are most psychiatrists and doctors’ fees in this country.

        I think you need to get over the ‘tip of the iceberg’ situation with Facebook, which you’re still upset about. If I got upset every time somebody muted me on YouTube or left me obnoxious mean-spirited comments on my profile, or un-Friended me on Facebook because I stood up to their b******t, I’d be a wreck. Don’t become what you yourself don’t like….in other words if you do try to run a ‘smear campaign’ you just might be the one who gets smeared.

      • Linda,
        A straw man argument is another form of logical fallacy where someone concocts an argument that is easy to strike down, that has nothing to do with the original argument being made. Your ignorance of this doesn’t mean that you’re stupid – it only means that you really haven’t learned about logical fallacies which are important basics of critical thinking skills. Your “straw man” argument is that I “get angry” when people disagree with me. Disagreement is not the issue here. You are engaging in verbal abuse and personal attacks rather than addressing issues and I draw the line there.

        As for Hassan, I can see that you are determined to defend the man. If you knew what I know, much of which I am not at liberty to publicly discuss, you would be falling all over yourself to apologize to me and feel pretty foolish. That’s all I can say for now. Let’s talk in a few years. This discussion is not getting anywhere and I am going to draw the line at allowing you to vomit more personal attacks all over my blog. This is not “information control” I have allowed you to be very verbose but at this point you are doing nothing more than personally attacking and I draw the line there. I gave plenty of links to material that shows what is in the public domain about what Mr. Hassan has done. If you still want to follow your guru, that is your choice. You cannot accuse me of doing the same thing Hassan did on FB because I allowed you to vomit tons of verbiage all over this blog whereas Steve Hassan censored a simple brief respectful comment and I have allowed you to rant and dump all over my blog far more than most people would. Enough is enough.

        As for complaints against therapists, I am NOT going to specifically address this as it applies to Hassan but I will point out a well known fact that applies to board complaints in general against mental health professionals and that is, that it is very hard to make complaints stick. I know of cases where therapists have lost their licenses only after more than a decade of complaints that the board did not make public until the very end after the therapist had spent over a decade harming others. Therefore, just because a person’s record looks clean and says “no complaints” doesn’t mean that no complaints were ever filed against the person (there may or may not be), nor that there was not valid cause, only that state boards move very slowly. Again, this is based on a number of state board cases I know about where it took literally decades to get a therapist disciplined. It’s a very sad state of affairs but one that therapy consumers need to be aware of.

      • Linda Method permalink

        Monica, all I am ‘determined’ to do is question YOU, and offer an opinion that is vastly different from yours. You should be able to stand up to the same questioning and scrutiny that you focus on Mr. Hassan without turning on the person asking the questions and calling them ‘ignorant.’ You are behaving just the same way you accuse Steve Hassan of doing — you can’t tolerate a dissenting opinion. Interesting how you qualify and rationalize your own form of ‘information control’….like it doesn’t apply to you.

        How have I ‘attacked’ you other than disagreeing? Seriously, you should look at that.

        You’re right, I don’t know what you know. Steve Hassan I know and have associated with…you, I don’t know and haven’t associated with. You obviously don’t know me either, else you would understand that I don’t “fall all over myself to apologize” to someone if they show me where I’m wrong. I don’t bow and scrape before anyone. Not even your enemy Mr. Hassan who you are ‘determined’ to consider my ‘guru.’

        If you have a lot of ‘dirt’ about Mr. Hassan then you should be able to effectively do something about it, like get some advocacy in your corner, someone who can help you do whatever it takes to stop the offense you feel that he is committing. If he is in fact as terrible as you think he is, there must be some evidence of it, something concrete you can build a case on. If there isn’t, then you can just keep blogging about it and hope you hit pay dirt some day.

        You see, I have a nemesis, too, in the form of a cult leader. My stupid little YouTube channel actually gives people who have suffered from their experience with him a place to come to for help and information. I’m doing my part to inform the public about him, like you seem to be doing here. I’ve helped a number of people who have contacted me privately — and all without a ‘credentialed’ degree. I don’t know everything — I just know everything about this cult.

        There’s no malice from me to you, Monica. If you are doing something good here, then good will come your way. If Steve Hassan is doing something bad, then he’ll get his, too. We reap what we sow. Make sure you sow good things.

        Best wishes for success in what means the most to you.


  14. Linda, you attacked me, as I have repeatedly pointed out, by portraying me as angry and vindictive for pointing out Steve Hassan’s numerous attempts to censor people – not just on FB, but many other places on the internet now (see Rick Ross’ update on how Hassan tried to censor people in other places and failed). This is a pattern with him. You did far more than just offer a differing point of view and your comments make that obvious.

    And once again, all I can say is that you make unwarranted assumptions about what I am and am not doing in the form of advocacy, but I am optimistic that in time, the whole truth will come out. It is very naive to assume that mental health professionals who behave unethically and harm clients are quickly brought to justice. Just look at the “parts work” being done at Castlewood Treatment Center (see my earlier postings about the 4 lawsuits and they use the same unsupported “Internal Family Systems” parts work that Hassan does) and how they continue to practice with impunity after a court settlement that gagged the victims from speaking about it) for an example of how the system has repeatedly failed therapy consumers, and it is not uncommon that even people with very strong cases can be made to settle these cases if the financial resources of the defendants outlast the ones of the victims – see Scientology settlements where the victims were gag-ordered for example of that) but I will keep trying to get justice for victims of harmful therapy. If you only got started in 2008, you are relatively new to this scene and obviously have a great deal to learn about what is done to victims and how long it can take to get someone brought to justice.

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