Steven Alan Hassan (born 1954) is an American licensed mental health counselor who has written on the subject of cults and published three books through his Freedom of Mind Press.[2]

Hassan is a former member of the Unification Church. He founded Ex-Moon Inc. in 1979[3] before assisting with involuntary deprogrammings in association with the Cult Awareness Network[4] developing in 1999 what he describes as his own non-coercive methods for helping members of alleged cults to leave their groups.


Hassan became a member of the Unification Church in the 1970s, at the age of 19, while studying at Queens College. In his first book, Combatting Cult Mind Control (1998), he described his recruitment as the result of the unethical use of powerful psychological influence techniques by members of the Church.[5] He spent over two years recruiting and indoctrinating new members, as well as fundraising and campaigning.[6]


In 1979, after the Jonestown deaths, Hassan founded a non-profit organization called "Ex-Moon Inc.", whose membership consisted of over four hundred former members of the Unification Church.[6]

Around 1980, Hassan began investigating methods of persuasion, mind control and indoctrination. He first studied the thought reform theories of Robert Lifton, and was "able to see clearly that the Moon organization uses all eight" of the thought reform methods described by Lifton.[7]

He later attended a seminar on hypnosis with Richard Bandler, which was based on the work that he and transformational grammarian John Grinder had done in developing Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Hassan felt that this seminar gave him "a handle on techniques of mind control, and how to combat them." He spent "nearly two years studying NLP with everyone involved in its formulation and presentation." During this period, Hassan moved to Santa Cruz, California for an apprenticeship with Grinder. He became concerned about the marketing of NLP as a tool for "power enhancement", left his association with Grinder, and "began to study the works of Milton Erickson M.D., Virginia Satir, and Gregory Bateson, on which NLP is based." His studies gave him the basis for the development of his theories on mind control.[8]

Hassan continued to study hypnosis and is a member of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis[9] and the International Society of Hypnosis.[10]

In 1999, Hassan founded the Freedom of Mind Resource Center.[11] The centre is registered as a domestic profit corporation in the state of Massachusetts, and Hassan is president and treasurer.[12]

In his third book, Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs (2012), Hassan says his approach has evolved over the last 13 years and offers a more extensive bibliography. In addition, Hassan presents Lifton's and Singer's models alongside his own BITE model. The book has garnered a favorable review from Jerome Siegel, PHD[13] who says: "Its weakness is repetitiveness, flatness, and some theorizing that might turn off professional readers. Nonetheless, I recommend it highly for its intended audience."

Hassan has spoken out against involuntary deprogramming since 1980.[10][14] In Combatting Cult Mind Control, he stated that "the non-coercive approach will not work in every case, it has proved to be the option most families prefer. Forcible intervention can be kept as a last resort if all other attempts fail."[15]

After the Boston Marathon bombing, Steven was interviewed by some reporters to explain his view of the bombers' mind state and how mind control was involved.[16][17][18]



  1. ^ "Data Mind Games". New York Magazine (New York Media Holdings). July 29, 1996. p. 52. 
  2. ^ "Steven Hassan Verification - Psychology Today". 
  3. ^ Chryssides, G.D. and B.E. Zeller. 2014. The Bloomsbury Companion to New Religious Movements: BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING.
  4. ^ (notarized) Declaration of John M. Sweeney, Jr. on deprogramming and the Citizens Freedom Foundation. Maricopa County, Arizona. March 17, 1992.
  5. ^ Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, 1998, Ch. 1, ISBN 0-89281-243-5
  6. ^ a b Biography of Steven Hassan, Freedom of Mind Center[self-published source]
  7. ^ Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, 1998, Ch. 2, ISBN 0-89281-243-5
  8. ^ Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, Ch. 2, Steven Hassan, FOM Press, 2000
  9. ^ "Member Referral Search". Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  10. ^ a b "The International Society of Hypnosis". World News. Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  11. ^ "Freedom of Mind". [self-published source]
  12. ^ "Business Entity Summary for Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc.". Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  13. ^ "Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs". Psych 
  14. ^ Mind Warrior. New Therapist 24, March/April 2003.
  15. ^ Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, 1998, ISBN 0-89281-243-5, p. 114[self-published source]
  16. ^ Was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Brainwashed? Wall Street Journal Live Interview
  17. ^ Radicalism and mind control NECN Interview
  18. ^ Officials: Suspect claims they were self-radicalized on Internet CNN Erin Burnett OutFront Interview