• Terror, Love and Brainwashing

  • Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems
  • By: Alexandra Stein
  • Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
  • Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Terror, Love and Brainwashing

By: Alexandra Stein
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
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Publisher's Summary

Written by a cult survivor and renowned expert on cults and totalitarianism, Terror, Love and Brainwashing draws on the author's 25 years of study and research to explain how almost anyone, given the right set of circumstances, can be radically manipulated to engage in otherwise incomprehensible and often dangerous acts.

Illustrated with compelling stories from a range of cults and totalitarian systems, from religious to political to commercial, the book defines and analyzes the common and identifiable traits that underlie almost all these groups. It focuses on how charismatic, authoritarian leaders control their followers' attachment relationships via manipulative social structures and ideologies so that, emotionally and cognitively isolated, they become unable to act in their own survival interests. Using the evolutionary theory of attachment to demonstrate the psychological impact of these environments, and incorporating the latest neuroscientific findings, Stein illustrates how the combined dynamic of terror and "love" works to break down people's ability to think and behave rationally.

This important book offers clarity and a unique perspective on the dynamics of these systems of control and concludes with guidance to foster greater awareness and prevention.

©2017 Alexandra Stein (P)2020 Tantor

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Thank You!

Wonderfully layed out and insightful for those looking to better understand coercive control and totalitarianism.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book about nos cults work

Great book about what is a cult, types of cult - religions, political and others -, nos people join these types of groups or relationships, cult leaders, brainwashing or undue influence, how members are isolated, how the cult self works and many other features of cults. Clear and detailed exposition with examples of people in cults and many references to the literature on this topic.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent explanation of totalitarianism and attachment

I love the personal stories interwoven with attachment theory, for a comprehensive and understandable explanation of how attachment theory and assessment can create trauma bonds and reveal continued unresolved traumas. Being able to recognize the underlying mechanics of totalitarian/coercive dynamics is crucial to having that ‘Ah-ha’ realization and running the other way, and protecting/ advocating for the safety of possible vulnerable children within.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent book, distracting performance

Thoroughly researched, well written, and profoundly insightful… but the narrator sounds like a character in a crime noir film. It’s not as bad once you get a third of the way through, but it struck me as a pretty odd match for a book of this caliber. Don’t let that stop you from spending a credit on this though - it’s an important read. Highly recommend

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Not worth the time.

This is little more than a thinly veiled screed against the conservative end of things, with a few examples of the truly weird to even things out and be entertaining. Pass.

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Alexandra Stein understands cults

Alexandra Stein was a cult member herself before she decided to help others to escape totalitarian systems. It pays off that she really knows what she's talking about - she's been there, done that. Great insight into human psychology and her own trappings. A fascinating read and help for people who are prone to hand over their power to a system or a person who have not their best interests in mind.

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  • SIMON T-W
  • 06-13-22

Excellent book, but the narrator is really slooow.

A really Interesting book, with first and second hand accounts of cult coercion and manipulation. A little repetitive in places but contextually relevant. The narrator was so slow though. I ran the book at 1.25x and that was a more appropriate speed. still recommend the book though.

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  • Nomz Bee
  • 02-19-22

I can see why this book is highly recommended

I heard the author interviewed on two different podcasts about escaping and preventing the ongoing harm done by ‘high demand’ groups. Ie: organisations (small or large) that fill up all of your available time. These might be religious, political, new age, gamers/social, businesses or groups within those. Big tip: you won’t be able to tell straight away, because high control organisations or individuals reach you through everyday activities which are friendly and helpful.

The fact that the author herself was trapped in one of these high control organisations for 9 years meant that I greatly trusted the academic lens that she also brings to this work.

Real examples, sobering facts and practical suggested solutions.

I found this book so insightful that I have also bought a hard copy so I can look at the diagrams and refer back.

I recommend this to anyone who has themselves left a high control group, or was born into one, including families where control is exercised through fear, guilt, reward and punishment, control of financial resources, close monitoring of time and activities etc.

I also recommend this book for anyone who thinks ‘this could never happen to me or my children’. Also recommend it to anyone who works in public health, politics, activism, policing, security, family violence prevention/recovery and teaching. To be informed is certainly to be forearmed!

Reading this book has helped me feel more compassionate towards myself and others, and curious to keep learning more.

Absolute gem of a book. I reckon it would be great for adult book groups and high school classes in civics or health.

Thank you Alexandra for turning your experience into an important shared learning.