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Diane Benscoter recommends

The "deprogrammer" shares must-read books on cults, memes, mind control and dangerous manipulation.

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    Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism

    Robert Jay Lifton
    Martino Fine Books, 2014

    This book is often referenced by 'deprogrammers,' especially chapter 22, in which Lifton proposes a criterion by which any environment can be judged for what he refers to as 'thought reform.' It was during the reading of this chapter, by my deprogrammer, that my identity as a disciple of the Messiah, along with the belief system I had come to trust for all of life’s questions, crumbled around me.

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    Kathleen Taylor
    Oxford University Press, 2006

    Neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor brings a unique perspective to the subject of what happens to your brain when you join a cult.

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    The Selfish Gene

    Richard Dawkins
    Oxford University Press, 2006

    This is where the idea of memes was born.

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    The Meme Machine

    Susan Blackmore
    Oxford University Press, 2000

    This book does an excellent job of defining the concept of memes and memetics.

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    Freedom of Mind

    Steven Hassan
    Freedom of Mind Press, 2013

    This is a good book for anyone trying to understand how to help a loved one who is in a cult or to understand their own experience with being controlled.

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    Going Clear

    Lawrence Wright
    Vintage, 2013

    A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now classic study of al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. This book exposes the inner workings of a dangerous group. Well worth the read.

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    My Isl@m

    Amir Ahmad Nasr
    St. Martin's Press, 2013

    I highly recommend this book. I can empathize with Nasr's story as he grapples with freeing himself from a belief system that he deeply loved, and as he discovers (as I did with my belief system) that he has to leave it to be free himself.

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    Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead

    Frank Meeink and Jody M. Roy
    Hawthorne Books, 2010

    This book is painful to read. It demonstrates how a vulnerable young person can find themselves deeply involved with a dangerous and violent group. His story of being seduced by what gave him meaning in life was not so different than mine. It was a long and painful road for him, but he is now helping others to avoid what happened to him.