Understanding unhealthy forms of control

Escaping Utopia (Routledge, 2017), which I co-authored, tells the stories of 65 people from 39 different cults in more than a dozen countries. My co-author, sociologist Janja Lalich, PhD, is an internationally renowned expert on cults, indoctrination, extremist groups, and terrorist groups, and she is a cult survivor. So am I. Janja’s work on cults is groundbreaking because she knows cults from the inside out, and she … Read More

Understanding unhealthy belief systems

Escaping Utopia (Routledge, 2017), which I co-authored, tells the stories of 65 people from 39 different cults in more than a dozen countries. My co-author, sociologist Janja Lalich, PhD, is an internationally renowned expert on cults, indoctrination, extremist groups, and terrorist groups, and she is a cult survivor. So am I. Janja’s work on cults is groundbreaking because she knows cults from the inside out, and she … Read More

Understanding unhealthy leadership

Last year, I co-authored a book about children who grew up in cults (like I did) and escaped. Escaping Utopia (Routledge, 2017) tells the stories of 65 people from 39 different cults in more than a dozen countries. My co-author, sociologist Janja Lalich, PhD, is an internationally renowned expert on cults, indoctrination, extremist groups, and terrorist groups, and she is a cult survivor as well. Because we … Read More

How to Be a Privilege Traitor

There is a tremendous amount of structural injustice and inequality occurring, and when a structure is unjust, it’s important that people learn how to think structurally in order to change the system. The concept of privilege can really help with that thinking, unless … I’ve been noticing a lot of anguish and conflict occurring in my online communities about the word privilege. White privilege, male privilege, … Read More

How the world didn’t end — again

Hello time travelers! Last year, I made a prophecy about the Mayan 2012 prophecy, which is being promoted by some as either the end of the world or the beginning of a new dawn in human spiritual development. Since I grew up in a spiritual group that believed in an earlier version of this exact same prophecy, I took an empathic, historic look at prophecies that … Read More

Emotion Work Identified

As I’ve been working with neuroscientist Antonio Damasio’s definition of emotions as action-requiring neurological programs, I created a flowchart to help you understand the difference between feelings and emotions. This is my simplified flowchart: An emotionally evocative stimulus occurs → The stimulus evokes a specific emotion → You utilize your ability to feel that emotion → You name that emotion → You act on the information … Read More

Surviving the apocalypse, chapter 743

Okay, we’ve survived the most recent prophecy about the end of the world, but (spoiler!) we always will. Prophecies are richly fascinating, and they tell us so much — sociologically, anthropologically, and historically — about what their believers feel, sense, think, and hope about the world, but they’re never right. This weekend, yet another group of believers found that out for themselves. My hope is that … Read More

Why did you believe in the end of the world?

I’ve been thinking — or more honestly, feeling — a great deal about this weekend’s purported Judgment Day, when there will supposedly be huge, planet-wide earthquakes, a rapture into heaven for 200 million true believers, and the beginning of the end of the world. The Apocalypse, Armageddon, Judgment Day. Of course, none of that will happen. It never happens. Hundreds and thousands of Judgment Days, Armageddons, … Read More

Is it real, or is it reified?

We talked about the difference between imaginary things and imaginal things a few days ago, and about how important our imaginal capacities are. Basically, the difference between the two is that imaginal things are those that we create intentionally, whereas imaginary things (such as Easter Bunnies and optical illusions) are those that we don’t consciously choose. For me, imaginal things have intentionality behind them; they have … Read More

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