series of exchange between Diane and Monica starts at this point. I
tried to extract the most significant posts of this exchange, and I
quote them here in full:
5 Sep 1996 22:11:56
Subject: Re: KIM BAKER
Monica Pignotti (firstname.lastname@example.org)
>Diane, would you like to suggest an ethical way to set up such
an experimental, double-blind study. If you can, you will probably win a
Nobel prize. Such an experiment would be grossly unethical. So we have to
go on the information we have, which is clinical experience of people who
have worked with people in cults and their families. That is the best we
can do right now. To dismiss the entire topic just because such studies do
not exist, is ridiculous.
Surely, as a social scientist with a master's degree, you're not
suggesting that the *only* way to test such a statement
is with a double-blind study, Monica?
There are a number of other investigative methods put to use by
social scientists, mental health experts, and others, to test the
validity of such statements. Surely you've
read the works of Marc Galanter, M.D., of
New York University?
A number of people who have "worked with people in cults" have
reached conclusions that directly contradict the statements you have
made here. Dr. Galanter's series of studies done with Moonies, published
in the American Journal of Psychiatry and Archives of Psychiatry, are
classics in the field of cult studies -- which, by the way, includes a
large body of peer-reviewed research in spite of your
claims to the contrary.
Stories from your "clinical practice" are nothing more than anecdotal
evidence. The anecdote you have provided does not even address the
question I posed. I have not claimed that some people are too "smart" to
be lured into cults -- I don't believe that intelligence has anything at
all to do
with the attraction some people feel
Deirdre made that claim that "Those who believe they cannot be
controlled are the easiest prey of all." I
disagree with that statement.
Do you have any evidence to prove that people who believe they cannot
be controlled are the easiest prey of all,
Monica? Right -- I didn't think you did.
is from a 1994 paper I wrote on cults, critiquing Galanter's work:
>In his book, Cults -- Faith, Healing and Coercion, Marc Galanter
provides us with material gleaned from fifteen years of research on the
subject. Professor Galanter had the unique opportunity of studying
active members of a number of cults in their natural environment. In
studying group cohesiveness, he distributed a seven page questionnaire
to 119 subjects from the Divine Light Mission. This questionnaire
measured subjects' perceptions of their psychological well being before
and after joining the group. (Clearly, this was an extremely biased
group in that they were still active members and one must question using these subjects'
perceptions as a valid measure.)
Galanter was studying *group cohesiveness* in this study. Are you
suggesting that members of the group are not the best determinants of
whether the group is cohesive or
Or do you believe that others (you, perhaps?) are better qualified to
determine whether or not a group
As part of the study, Galanter administered a multiple-choice
questionnaire to measure their sense of well-being within the past two
months as compared to how they felt before they entered the cult.
Galanter was not attempting to
measure whether these people were
happier in the cult than they would ever be in their *lives*, just
whether they were happier once they joined the cult than before they
Once again, I must question whether you believe that others are more
qualified to determine whether or not an individual is *happy*. Isn't
well-being nothing BUT a personal perception? Would you have others
(who? -- social scientists?) decide for others whether or not they are
happy? Perceptions are, by nature, biased. Do you honestly believe that
people are stupid enough to be "mind-controlled" into thinking they are
happy, when you know the *real* truth -- that they are not
Or is this comment merely an artifact of your *own* bias against
and cult members?
[snipped Monica's summary of
>Using a scale to measure psychological well-being, he found the
that 9% who actually joined scored lower on this scale, confirming his
suspicions that "the sect tended to attract people who were experiencing
distress" (Galanter, 1989, p. 142) He also found that "those who were
likely to join were unhappy young adults with limited feelings of
affiliation toward friends or family [and] who were sufficiently
responsive to the group to become strongly engaged early on in the
workshop sequence" (Galanter, 1989, 142). Conversely, he found that
those who did not join the group scored significantly higher on scales
that measured affiliation toward persons outside the group, i.e.,
friends and family. Galanter's results that the people who did not join
scored considerably higher on a scale that measures strength of "outside
affiliations" supports our hypothesis that lack of supports is a
contributing factor to vulnerability to cults. However, there are
problems with the fact that he studied people currently involved in the
Unification Church. According to former members of this group, part of
the indoctrination process used is to isolate members from their friends and family, who are seen as
being "under the influence of Satan". Therefore, someone who
has joined the Unification Church might report lower affiliation with
outside sources than actually was the case, prior to joining.
I'm not at all sure *which* of Galanter's several studies you refer
to here. Galanter did a study interviewing people as they were attending
their first Moonie workshop, which is long before they become members of
the cult. He interviewed individuals who left the workshop without continuing any contact with
Moonies as well as the few individuals who
continued their relationship with the cult. How would these people know
ahead of time that they were going to be Moonies? How would they know
whether they should lie to Galanter's researchers about their
outside affiliations or not?
I have not read Galanter's book, only the original papers as
presented in peer-reviewed journals. Perhaps we could have a better
you were to cite the specific
studies to which you refer.
>Another problem is that the presence of researchers who were
there administering questionnaires at the workshop could very well have
influenced the behavior of the workshop leaders. The very fact that
researchers were present, made it easier for potential recruits to opt
out than would have been the case
if the researchers were not present.
I would suggest you read Geri-Ann Galanti's paper "Reflections on
Brainwashing," published in _Recovery from Cults_ (edited by Michael D.
Langone, Norton, 1993). Dr. Galanti went to a workshop "undercover" and
found little evidence of the "brainwashing" techniques ascribed to the
Moonies at these events. (And yes, Dr. Galanti's reference to
"brainwashing" matches your description of mind
Perhaps the presence of researchers influenced the behavior of
workshop leaders during Dr. Galanter's study. But that does not explain
why the standard "mind control" techniques were not applied
when Dr. Galanti attended one
>Several former members have reported being stranded at the workshop
site (which is typically in an isolated area two hours from the city
they were recruited in) with no
transportation home if they wanted to leave. The workshop leaders put
considerable pressure on potential recruits to stay. Such pressure might have
been less during this study so that they could look good for the
Read Geri-Ann Galanti's
account. You've urged people to read the
book; perhaps you'd do well to
reread it again yourself.
> It is also necessary to note that, according to numerous former members (Hassan, 1988, and
many others), the Unification Church has a policy of "heavenly
deception" towards outsiders, meaning that it is morally justifiable to lie to
people for their cause. One former member told me that "I wouldn't
be surprised if they filled the workshop with long-term members who were
not new at all." (Based on a personal conversation between a former
member and Monica Pignotti.) As we mentioned earlier, we have to
conclude that the credibility of responses obtained from current members
is very questionable.
Why would you suspect that a
group of researchers could be so easily
deceived? I'm particularly
interested in this suggestion of yours
since Galanter's group studied
Moonies for well over a decade -- not
just one isolated group of
culties in one specific location.
Galanter's group began the
study without any preconceived opinions
about whether the cult was good
or harmful. Are you suggesting that
going into a study with a bias
against the subjects will provide a
more objective study?
Wed, 11 Sep 1996
Subject: Re: KIM BAKER
>Additionally, it is the general consensus among mental health professionals as well. Whether any of us care to admit it or not, Margaret Singer and her supporters are most definitely in the minority in accepting the concept of cult mind control. Marc Galanter and others who represent the APA's viewpoint reject the notion of "brainwashing" and have solid evidence to support their opinions (unlike Dr. Singer).
>What solid evidence?
Specific references, please. I haven't seen any.
I'd suggest you start with the
studies conducted by Saul V. Levine,
M.D., of the University of
Toronto. His work has been as extensive as
that of Dr. Galanter of NYU.
Their conclusions, by the way, concur.
Specifically, a good paper to
start with would be Levine's "Cults and
Mental Health: Clinical
Conclusions," published in the Canadian
Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 28,
no. 12 (December 1981), pp. 534-539.
Levine reaches 10 conclusions,
each of which are supported in the
paper. These conclusions are:
1. Cults do not attract a more clinically disturbed population (than any other intense, demanding, dedicated movement);
2. Cults do attract a group of individuals who experience specific painful feelings prior to their joining;
3. Cults significantly reduce stresses of anxiety, depression, confusion in those members who experienced these;
4. Cults can serve as a haven, and even a therapeutic milieu for members with serious psychiatric or behavioural disorders;
5. Cults do not adversely affect their members clinically any more than any other intense, dedicated demanding movement;
6. Cult do often contribute to the appearance of emotional problems in a significant number of ex-cultists;
7. Cults do often contribute to cognitive and behavioural patterns which are of considerable concern;
8. Cult do fulfill crucial needs, especially those of Believing and Belonging, and overcome alienation, demoralization, and low self-esteem;
9. Cult wield extraordinary power over their "true-believing" members;
10. Individual susceptiblity (auto hypnosis) and potent recruitment techniques combine to captivate the potential member.
In his discussion of his tenth
clinical conclusion, Dr. Levine writes:
"There have been
accusations about the use of hypnotic techniques,
programming and brainwashing in
the recruitment and indoctrination
techniques utilized by the cults.
Hypnosis refers to an altered state
of consciousness induced by
specific external techniques which include
an individual's suggestibility.
The fact is, while various potent
methods are indeed used, the
major determinant of an individual's
commitment to a group is his own
susceptibility needs, and
That is, he often comes in "preprogrammed," with
an a priori conviction, search,
and heightened expectations. An
altered state of consciousness in
fact can occur in these intensely
pressured group experiences (31).
Furthermore, the techniques
utilized and effects of stress on
members have been seen in other
intense, pressured group
situations such as political groups,
established religions, and some
>It is not, by any means,
the "general consensus" of mental health professionals -- the subject
remains very controversial with people on both sides of the issue. Drs.
Robert Jay Lifton and Louis Jolyon West, to mention a few, are also on
the side of Dr. Singer.
Well, I'd venture to state
that both the American Psychiatric
Association and the Canadian
Psychiatric Association disagree with
your assessment. They have both
issued statements urging their
members to deal with cult members
as they would a member of any
mainstream religion and not to
prejudge a patient's mental status
based on his religious
As Bernie stated in another
post, this controversy ended years ago.
Those arrayed with Dr. Singer,
Dr. West, et al., are in the decided
minority and their theories are
most definitely not indicative of
currently accepted opinion on the
Unfortunately, most of my
papers are not at hand at the moment. I
will be glad to provide you with
a number of citations and excerpts
once I've relocated.
Wed, 11 Sep 1996
Subject: Re: KIM BAKER
>>>Diane, you must have
missed my post -- perhaps it was on the other Kim Baker thread. I DID
address Marc Galanter's research of which I am familiar and have
criticisms of. Just because something was published in
journal does not mean that it is solid evidence. I think that even Dr.
Galanter himself would object to your saying that his studies constitute
"solid evidence" against mind control. Research in this entire field is
inconclusive on both sides and I think it would be irresponsible to
claim anything else.
>>One researcher's work
does not constitute "solid evidence." However, others have conducted
similar research and reached conclusions identical to those
identified by Dr. Galanter.
>If you are referring to
Eileen Barker, perhaps you would be interested in
knowing that the U.K.
government withdrew funding for her organization because it was discovered
that the Moonies were funding part of her research. I have the full
details in another post titled: EILEEN BARKER: Moonie-Funded Cult
No, I am not referring to
Eileen Barker. I learned of her admission
that she accepted travel funding
from the Moonies and consequently
never read anything she has
written. Oops! I take that back. I
*have* read a paper she's
written, but it was about cults in general,
not about the Moonies.
>I don't know what studies
you are referring to, since I did a full computer search (in a
university library) of several databases of the literature and found no solid
evidence, so I would appreciate it if you would give me specific names
In another post I suggested
you begin reading the studies done by Saul
Levine of the University of
Toronto. I've provided you with a
citation to a review article
written by him, published in the Canadian
Journal of Psychiatry, which
summarizes his findings (and those of
other professionals) regarding
the effects of cult membership on
If you bother to read the
article, you will find that Dr. Levine's
research, which was completely
independent of Dr. Galanter's, reached
the same conclusions as Dr.
Galanter's group reached. That's called
replication, Monica, and I'm sure
you realize the significance of
replicability in research.
>Another criticism I have
of Galanter that I later realized I left out of my critique is that he
studied one cult, the Moonies in the study you refer to. The Moonies
recruiting techniques have major differences from other cults, like Scientology
and I don't think that the results of this study can be generalized to
other cults. Michael Langone, did a very recent study comparing the
after-effects of Boston Church of Christ members to members of a
mainstream Christian Intervarsity group and found significant differences on
several psychological scales. However, he was honest enough to say that his
results were only on one cult and could not be generalized. This is the
general consensus among researchers who study only one cult group.
That's not correct, Monica. In
your paper you also refer to Dr.
Galanter's research regarding
members of the Divine Light Mission.
You know as well as I that Dr.
Galanter did not restrict himself
solely to one cult in his
Additionally, Dr. Levine's
work was done using other cults, but his
findings were the same as Dr.
Galanter's. I could, of course,
continue to name additional
researchers who have conducted similar
research and reached the same
conclusions. There are quite a number
of them, although you still seem
to hold to the belief that this is an
uninvestigated area for some
>What I still don't see is
how Galanter shows anything for or against mind control. So what if only 9%
joined? This was one particular group at one particular point in time and
when compared to percentage of converts at a Billy Graham Crusade (2%)
this number is considerably higher. His study does nothing to refute the
existence of mind control.
If "mind control" is
so powerful (remember? you said "more powerful
than brainwashing") and so
overwhelming, why do only 9 percent of the
people who are subjected to it
succumb to it?
That's the question I'm asking
you, Monica. That's the question that
you don't appear to be able to
I'm not at all sure I
understand the reference to Billy Graham. I was
not under the impression that
Billy Graham has been accused of
control"? Do you believe that he does?
Fri, 13 Sep 1996
Subject: Re: KIM BAKER
>Diane Richardson wrote:
>>If you bother to read
the article, you will find that Dr. Levine's
research, which was
completely independent of Dr. Galanter's, reached
the same conclusions as
Dr. Galanter's group reached. That's called
replication, Monica, and
I'm sure you realize the significance of
>Replication is when you do
the same study or a very similar one. I don't
see where Levine has done
this. That article just stated his clinical opinion, which I responded to
(the part of it you posted). I will get the full article and let you know
what I think after reading it.
Great! Levine includes
citations to the studies he conducted up to
that time in the references at
the end of the review, along with a
number of other studies done in
>>>Another criticism I
have of Galanter that I later realized I left out of my critique is that
he studied one cult, the Moonies in the study you
refer to. The Moonies
recruiting techniques have major differences from
other cults, like
Scientology and I don't think that the results of this
study can be
generalized to other cults. Michael Langone, did a very
comparing the after-effects of Boston Church of Christ
members to members of
a mainstream Christian Intervarsity group and found
differences on several psychological scales. However, he was
honest enough to say
that his results were only on one cult and could not be generalized. This
is the general consensus among researchers who study only one cult group.
>>That's not correct,
Monica. In your paper you also refer to Dr. Galanter's research
regarding members of the Divine Light Mission. You know as well as I
that Dr. Galanter did not restrict himself solely to one cult in his
>I meant that he only
studied one cult in any one particular study. The Divine Light Mission study
and the Moonie study were two different studies. The results cannot
be generalized to other cults for either of these studies.
That's not quite correct
either. I'm not sure how many of Galanter's
studies you've looked at, but his
investigations into cults were all
begun for the same reason and
examined the same areas. Are you
suggesting that unless *all*
cults are studied in *every* research
project, their results aren't
Levine's work was done using other cults, but his findings were the same as
Dr. Galanter's. I could, of course, continue to name
additional researchers who have conducted similar research and reached the
same conclusions. There are quite a number of them, although you
still seem to hold to the belief that this is an uninvestigated area for
>Again, I haven't seen his
actual research. If it is contained in the article you referred to me I
will get the article and see. Galanter's research, as I have
previously commented, was flawed in that he studied a group that, putting aside the
mind controls, has a proven track record of lying to outsiders (and this
would include researchers). This is proven not only according to the
testimony of ex-members (which you might not care to believe) but Moonies
have actually been videotaped by reporters lying about who they were to
outsiders and where their money was going. They call this "heavenly
I believe that ex-Moonies who
were recruited into the cult in past
decades experienced deception
that, by all reports, is much less
prevalent today. You haven't
responded to my question about what you
think of Geri-Ann Galanti's paper
"Reflections on Brainwashing" in
Langone's _Recovery From Cults_.
Dr. Galanti is quite adamant that
she encountered none of the
deceptive practices once so common with
Moonies when she attended the
introductory workshop undercover.
Are you willing to comment on
Dr. Galanti's personal account of her
>>>What I still don't
see is how Galanter shows anything for or against mind control. So what if
only 9% joined? This was one particular group at one particular point in
time and when compared to percentage of converts at a Billy Graham Crusade
(2%) this number is considerably higher. His study does nothing to
refute the existence of mind control.
control" is so powerful (remember? you said "more powerful than brainwashing")
and so overwhelming, why do only 9 percent of the people who are subjected
to it succumb to it?
>Again, I have to point out
that this is one cult at one particular point in time. The remaining 90%
might not have been in a vulnerable time in their lives (such as going
through a personal crisis, stress or transition period) and so they were not
as vulnerable and able to resist. For those 9% it was a matter of being
in the wrong place (meeting up with a Moonie recruiter) at the wrong time
(a time of life crisis). Had those same 90% been approached at another
point in their lives, they too might have succombed. Also, not every
cult appeals to every person. A person who resists the Moonies might go
for Scientology, and vice versa. Or someone might join a political cult
who would have nothing to do with a religious cult. It has never been
claimed by anyone that I know of (except cult apologists) that mind control
is some magical spell that is 100% effective. This is a straw
man that cult apologists set up, but this is not the claim that is
actually being made.
Sorry, Monica. I guess I
misunderstood what you were trying to say in
previous posts. I understand what
you mean now.
>>That's the question
I'm asking you, Monica. That's the question that
>>you don't appear to be
able to answer.
>I believe I have answered
So let me get this straight.
Mind control is more powerful than
brainwashing. It is effective on
*all* people, but only at
particularly vulnerable periods
of their lives. When these same
people are not vulnerable, mind
control is not effective. Is that
>>I'm not at all sure I
understand the reference to Billy Graham. I was not under the impression
that Billy Graham has been accused of practicing "mind
control"? Do you believe that he does?
>That is my point! Billy
Graham is NOT a mind control cult, and he only got 2% converts, while the
Moonies got 9%, because, IMHO they do practice mind control. That's
Ummmm, but there's a big
difference between the states of mind of the
respective audiences as well, or
at least I would assume so.
Wouldn't you agree that many,
if not most, of the people who attend
Billy Graham's rallies are
already fully born-again Christians? One
would hardly expect born-again
Christians to convert every time they
go to hear Billy Graham speak.
OTOH, the people who attend
the Moonies' initial workshops (as in
Galanter's study) are being
introduced to the religion for the first
time. Billy Graham is, by and
large, preaching to the choir in his
"crusades." The Moonies
aren't doing this when they hold introductory
workshops. Do you see the
difference? That difference is enough to
make the comparative statistics
>>As to my
opinion of Margaret Singer, I have stated here in the past, and I will
say again, that I hold Dr. Singer in the highest regard for
he work she
has accomplished over many years of counseling ex-cult members. She
has, without doubt, assisted more people to recover from their cult
experiences than anyone else in the world. This does not
mean, however, that I will accept unquestioningly any and all
claims made by Dr. Singer about the existence of mind control without
seeing solid research to back up such claims. A good clinician is
not necessarily a good researcher.
Singer has also done research of her own, which she cited in her book.
that my copy of Dr. Singer's book is now packed in a box
and 400 miles
away. Would you please give me the full reference for
Without the reference, I have no means of knowing what the
research is to
which you refer, unless it's her 1978 article in
Journal of the
National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals,
which I don't
think would qualify as "research," would you?
that I have read, Dr. Singer presents no research to back up her theories.
This does not mean that the theories are wrong, only that they
have not been proven.
by Galanter, Levine, Barker and others are also not "proof" of anything. I
have detailed my criticisms of them elsewhere on ars, but I will say just
briefly here that Levine's study was in no way comparable to Galanter's and
was definitely not a replication because his sampling methods and
measures were completely different from Galanter's study. (the study I
refer to is in Adolescent-Psychiatry, 1978, Vol.6 75-89).
I will have to defer my response regarding Levine's
believe he did more than one, did he not?) until I once
access to my papers.
remains, however, that a number of other researchers have
studies similar to those done by Dr. Galanter, and which
conclusions in agreement with those of Dr. Galanter.
Michael D. Ross in Australia conducted a study in which
population of the Hare Krishna Temple in Melbourne were
tested on the
MMPI, the General Health Questionnaire, and the Eysenck
Questionnaire. He found that this group was, in all
less stable or less capable of making decisions for
the population at large. He concludes:
In short, the popular view of Hare Krishna devotees as brainwashed and maladjusted individuals who have been snatched from their families was shown to be fallacious.
discussion, he makes the point that:
Deprogramming and other actions against these individuals and their right to practice a particular religion cannot be justified on the grounds that they have been "brainwashed." . . because this sample included all members of one temple and was not subject to selection
bias, the argument that my sample is unrepresentative would not appear to be applicable. Furthermore, I suggest that individuals who seek help because they have difficulties after leaving the Hare Krishna movement may well be unrepresentative.
Once I have
access to all of my papers, I will, of course, be able to
with many, many more studies, all of which reach similar
This area is not, as you claim, a new area that remains
uninvestigated -- it has been investigated to death.
amounted to a qualitative analysis of people who had cult experiences.
Most of Levine's opinions were based on his clinical experience,
which was only with 50 ex or current cult members, while Singer has
experience with over 2000.
Singer's sample a random sample of cult members? Or was her
sample a *very*
self-selected sample of those who sought counseling
from her? If
Dr. Singer relied solely on her patients as research
Ross's statement, as quoted above, seems quite
was self-selected, and in his own
words, "skewed". Levine was very honest about the limitations of his study
and I'm sure would be horrified to see it being touted as proof of
that Dr. Levine speaks for himself quite well on this point.
the conclusions he reached (which I posted earlier), Dr.
conclusions are not based on epidemiological studies of a
of members of various cults. They are based on the
other studies of cult members (7, 8, 9, 10), interviews
with 453 young people in a variety of cults, membership on
commission exploring cults and other "mind-bending"
extensive clinical work with 83 excult members, interview
with approximatelv 100 parents of cult members,
cult leaders, deprogrammers, adversaries and
attendance of many rituals, classes, meetings of a
wide variety of
such groups, and participation in many professional
conferences and meetings dealing with the subject. Most of
inter-viewed, worked with, observed and surveyed, belonged
Krishna, Divine Light Mission, Unification Church (Moonies),
Church, Foundation Church, Scientology, Children
of God, Jesus
People, Born Again Christians, Jews for Jesus, as well
as members of
five Orthodox Jewish Yeshivot (seminaries). The
place in Canada, the United States and Israel,
members from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia,
France and New
Zealand also were interviewed. In addition, young
been studied in intense political and therapeutic settings
Therafields, PSI, New Left, Draft Dodgers, and so
That's a few
more than "50 or so cultists or ex-cultists." :)
agree with much of what Levine says, even though none of it constitutes
proof and what he says in no way refutes the mind control hypothesis. I
thought his statement about the dangers of forcible deprogramming
to disagree with many of the conclusions he reached in his
Journal of Psychiatry article.
Do you agree
with Dr. Levine's conclusion that "the major determinant
individual's commitment to a group is his own susceptibiliy,
needs, and even
If you agree
with that statement, I cannot see how you can hold the
all people are equally susceptible to cult recruitment,
are approached during a vulnerable period of their
Random Quote :
This web site is
NOT created by a Scientologist. It is created by a Scientology EX-MEMBER
who is critical of Scientology. However, this ex-member is ALSO critical
of the anti-Scientology movement. This does not make him a
Scientologist, nor a defender of Scientology.