There are many more resources out there to support people in their recovery from cults and high control organizations than there were when I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the year 2000. There are books, foundations, support groups (many on-line), and ongoing research into understanding and undoing what has been done to people both as born-in and converted members.
This short list is to get you started. I encourage you to explore these and other resources and if at all possible find websites, books, and support groups with other ex-members of your specific group. General information is helpful but perspectives about your particular group are very helpful.
The following are listed in alphabetical order by author.
- “Opening Minds: The Secret World of Manipulation, Undue Influence and Brainwashing” By Jon Atack, 2015
- He was a Scientologist and since leaving, he has worked for over 30 years interviewing hundreds of cult survivors and deconstructing the Scientologist system. I find his main focus is deconstructing the tools and techniques of cults and high control organizations. He talks about how cults manipulate and trap people.
- He is one of the founders in 2015 of Open Minds Foundation
- “Combating Cult Mind Control” By Steven Hassan Ph.D. 2016 (3rd ed.)
- A member of the “Moonies” for several years, since leaving he has focused on helping families support their loved ones to undo mind control and the impacts of undue influence of membership in a cult. He has a lot of great information about what can be helpful and what can be harmful in doing this type of work with someone.
- Dr. Hassan is the founder of the foundation to help cult survivors and their families.
- “Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma” By Peter A. Levine with Ann Frederick 1997
- Dr. Levine has his Ph.D. in Medical and Biological Physics and a doctorate in Psychology. He has studied stress and trauma for 30 years and this book is a very accessible guide to healing emotional trauma that is held in the body. While it is not about cults specifically, I found it to be very helpful.
- “Cults in our Midst: The Hidden Menace in our Everyday Lives” By Margaret Thaler Singer Ph.D. with Janja Lalich 1995
- Singer was a clinical psychologist and professor at U.C. Berkeley. She counseled and interviewed more than 3,000 current and former cult members and their families and friends. Her co-author Lalich is a cult survivor, consultant, and writer. This book has a lot of information about how different types of cults, from religious to corporate, to psychiatric, tend to function with lots of interview material from survivors of these groups. This was the only book I could find when I first got out in 2000. My copy is heavily underlined with lots of notes in the margins!
- “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” By Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D. 2014
- In this book Dr. van der Kolk brings his knowledge of neuroscience and how the brain works as well as hundreds of case studies to explore practical ways to rewire the trauma that survivors of war, abuse, and other harmful experiences are still carrying in their minds and bodies. His book makes brain science very understandable to the layperson and his work is quite applicable to cult survivors.
- “Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists: What Every Cult Victim Wants Their Therapist to Know” By Bonnie Zieman M.Ed., 2017
- An ex-Jehovah’s Witness, and then a therapist for many years, she focuses on the psychological and emotional impacts of the control and coercion people experience in cults making it easier for therapists, friends, and family to figure out how to help a recovering ex-member.