CNN's Stelter Interviews Cult Expert: Are Trump Supporters In A Cult? How Do You Deprogram Them? | Video | RealClearPolitics

CNN's Stelter Interviews Cult Expert: Are Trump Supporters In A Cult? How Do You Deprogram Them?


BRIAN STELTER, CNN, 'RELIABLE SOURCES' HOST: The world cult has been popping up more. Think about two weeks ago on this program, Anthony Scaramucci talked about his claim that Trump supporters are in a cult. Just last week Dan Rather said he thinks support for Trump seems increasingly cultish. And this weekend in The Washington Post, Trump critic and Republican Strategist John Weaver said the GOP is not a party anymore in the traditional sense, it's a cult.

But none of them are mental health experts, Steven Hassan is. He's out with a brand-new book called the Cult of Trump. He has first-hand experience escaping the Unification Church back in the 70s. And he's decided to write this book because believes there's something seriously wrong with our politics.


STEVEN HASSAN, MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR: So I define a destructive cult as an authoritarian pyramid structured group with someone at the top who claims to have total power and total wisdom that uses deception and control of behavior, information, thoughts, and emotions to make people loyal, and dependent, and obedient followers.

So for me, the issue between an ethical healthy cult where you're free to think and free to leave versus a destructive cult, I'm referring to Trump's organization and followership as a destructive cult where people are being fed propaganda and they're not being encouraged to think for themselves and not be encouraged to really explore and look at the details and arrive at their own conclusion.

Much of what they're hearing is emotionally driven loaded words, thoughts stopping and thought-terminating type cliches like fake news, or build the wall, or make America great again.

STELTER: You say the president is using mind control. But how is it provable?

HASSAN: So look, we can start with the pathological lying which is characteristic of destructive cult leaders saying things in a very confident way that have nothing to do with facts or truthfulness, the blaming others and never taking responsibility for his own failures and faults shunning and kicking out anyone who raises questions or concerns about his own behavior. His use of fear-mongering, immigration is a horrible thing.

STELTER: It is frightening to hear a cult expert say that you see all these signs right now today in American politics.

HASSAN: But wake up, this is what's happening and our democracy is a stake here. Freedom of the press is absolutely vital for a healthy, healthy country. And anyone like him that says the press is the enemy of the people, that's what Hubbard would say. That's what Moon said. That's what LaRouche said. Why, because they're demagogues.

STELTER: So finally, the first step, if you say this is a cult, what's the first step of deprogramming?

HASSAN: The first step with anyone who's a true believer is contact with people that are outside the bubble. Cult leaders want to isolate their people they want -- they want family and friends to just disappear rather than keep engaged. Hey, did you read this article? What do you think of it? You know, I'll watch one of your shows, watch one of my shows.

In other words, appealing to the person's true self, their authentic self that wants to be a good person, that want -- that believes in America and democracy and truth.

STELTER: For the people who are dreading Thanksgiving, you're saying it's an opportunity to get together.

HASSAN: Exactly. Let's -- we're family, we're friends. Let's talk and you know, truth will out, truth will stand up to scrutiny.

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