Book Review: Combatting Cult Mind Control

combattingBook Title: Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults

Author: Steven Hassan

Star Rating:  gold stargold stargold stargold stargold star –  A must-read for ex-jw’s

As I mentioned to the Editor of this blog, as a book reviewer I would love to contribute some articles about books written by or for Jehovah’s Witnesses.  There are a number of books available, I hope to help give a quick general overview of these books so that you can decide which you’d like to read.

I chose this book as the first to review because it marked the beginning of my journey out of “the truth”.  As such, it is a personal favorite of mine.  It is the first book I read when I finally realized that “the truth” was in fact… not truth at all.  Usually I don’t get particularly personal when writing a book review for my blog, but it’s impossible to divorce my feelings and impressions of this book from my own “waking up” story.   So I will try to keep it short and to the point but you know how it is.  I mean… we are all sisters here right?

As it is for many, my waking up process was stretched out over a series of years.  I liken it to a crack in the windshield of a car, it starts tiny.  I gained more cracks over the years for a multiple of reasons, some doctrinal some personal.  I could feel the religion slipping away from me little by little, but it was as though my brain refused to acknowledge the reality.  One afternoon, July 28, 2016 to be precise, I drove home from work listening to a podcast interview with a Mormon who had left his church. I heard a voice in my head saying, “that’s what you’re doing, you’re leaving.”  I was stunned at this thought.  It was too much to think about and it made me feel afraid.  I turned the podcast off, and searched online for a recording of the Watchtower but found I couldn’t concentrate.  It was boring and unbearable.  I reached a local pizza place and walked in half in a daze, ordered dinner to-go for my family and sat down at a table to wait.  I searched my phone, desperate for an article, a talk, something from Watchtower to restore my equanimity.

Google. *tap*

Watchtower… just pick something. *tap*

JW Facts? *tap*

United Nations… oh my god… United Nations.

The windshield of my faith shattered in an instant. I collected my pizza, made my way home and explained to my mother that it was all over.

As you all know, that moment is not the end of the story but the beginning. Now is the hard part.  Now is when we pick up the pieces and try to understand what has happened to us.  I asked, how could this happen to me?  I’m a bright woman, I’m not stupid.  How did I allow an organization to deceive and control me to this extent for so long?  Why did I not see it? I needed to understand, first, why I had let Watchtower exert control over me to begin with, and second, how to extricate myself from the disaster of my faith now that I’d pulled it all down.

Thankfully I found this book pretty quickly.  It helped me to regain a measure of understanding. I imagined that reading about Mr. Hassan’s personal experiences with cult indoctrination was inoculating me against further manipulation.  I was frightened by the prospect of returning to a state of indoctrination.  How can I keep from going back?  How do I keep other groups from taking advantage of me?  I know that my inclination will probably be to allow others to reinsert a measure of control into my life so how do I prevent that?  This book helped me to understand that all the questions I was asking and the sense of insecurity I felt was a natural part of being subjected to undue influence for so many years.

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new when it comes to the B.I.T.E. model.  This model is used to explain the ways in which a cult asserts its power over you.  I touched on these points in a review for another book, but I think they really belong here with this book, where I found them to begin with:

  • Behavior – The lives of JW’s are highly controlled.  Their dress and grooming, what jobs they perform, their entertainment, the amount of time they spend studying Witness publications and witnessing to outsiders is all highly controlled.  And then there is their prohibition of holidays and their stand on blood transfusions.
  • Information – JW’s are not allowed to listen to any information about the Jehovah’s Witnesses unless it comes directly from Watchtower.  This includes anything on the internet or from the news media.  JW’s are not allowed to speak with people who have left the organization.  You cannot even acknowledge that persons existence.  Needless to say, lack of un-biased information is dangerous.
  • Thoughts – All thoughts are to be regulated.  Doubts about the religion are not tolerated.  You can be brought before a Judicial Committee and expelled from the congregation for holding a different opinion from the Governing Body.  If you voice that opinion then watch out!
  • Emotional – Guilt and fear figure mightily in this religion.  No matter what you do in service of this religion, it is never, ever enough.  JW’s are encouraged to spy and tattle on each other to the elders in the congregation for even minor offenses.  JW’s are not allowed to speak with anyone who is expelled (disfellowshipped or disassociated), even if it is an immediate family member.

This synopsis is admittedly superficial, there is much more information to be found in Mr. Hassan’s book.  If you are newly awake to your time within the Watchtower organization this is an excellent book to read.  It is the first that I recommend to anyone who is leaving the Jehovah’s Witness religion.

If you are finding it difficult to understand why the cracks in the windshield can make you feel so free and so lost all at once, allow the examples in the book to assure you, these feelings are temporary and you can regain the control you once relinquished to The Cult.  With understanding you can start to live the life you were meant to live.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Khalil Gibran

Song for this book: Level up by Vienna Teng

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