President’s column – Mind control: psychological reality or mindless rhetoric?

President‘s column – Mind control: psychological reality or mindless rhetoric?
APA Monitor on Psychology, Nov. 10, 2002
Print version: page 5

One of the most fascinating sessions at APA’s Annual Convention featured presentations by former cult members. (See “Cults of hatred“). Several participants challenged our profession to form a task force on extreme forms of influence, asserting that the underlying issues inform discourses on terrorist recruiting, on destructive cults versus new religious movements, on social-political-“therapy” cults and on human malleability or resiliency when confronted by authority power.

That proposal is intriguing. At one level of concern are academic questions of the validity of the conceptual framework for a psychology of mind control. However, at broader levels, we discover a network of vital questions:

* Does exposing the destructive impact of cults challenge the principle of religious freedom of citizens to mindfully join nontraditional religious groups?

* When some organizations that promote religious or self-growth agendas become rich enough to