May 22, 2024
Recommended Reading (updated May 2021)

Recommended Reading (updated May 2021)

These are some of the best books and publications about cults, thought reform, and related topics. Some of these titles may be out of print or difficult to find, but many are well worth the search.

On Cults & Their Techniques of Influence and Control

  • Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults by Janja Lalich (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). (Democratic Workers Party & Heaven’s Gate)
  • Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion by Marc Galanter (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
  • Cults in Our Midst by Margaret Singer, with Janja Lalich (San Francisco: Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 2003).
  • Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out and Starting Over by Janja Lalich & Karla McLaren (New York: Routledge, 2017).
  • Losing Reality: On Cults, Cultism, and The Mindset of Political and Religious Zealotry by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: The New Press, 2019).
  • Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems by Alexandra Stein (2nd. ed., London/New York: Routledge, 2021).
  • Them and Us: Cult Thinking and the Terrorist Threat by Arthur J. Deikman (Berkeley: Bay Tree, 2003).
  • Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Norton, 1961).
  • Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation by Daniel Shaw (New York: Routledge, 2014).
  • Women Under the Influence: A Study of Women’s Lives in Totalist Groups, edited by Janja Lalich, special issue of the Cultic Studies Journal 14:1 (1997).

On the Psychology & Social Psychology of Influence and Control

  • Asylums by Erving Goffman (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1961).
    Coercive Control: The Entrapment of Women in Personal Life by Evan Stark (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • Coercive Persuasion: A Socio-psychological Analysis of the “Brainwashing” of American Civilian Prisoners by the Chinese Communists by Edgar Schein, I. Schneier, & C.H. Barker (New York: Norton, 1961).
  • Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassen (Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1988).
  • Commitment and Community: Communes and Utopias in Sociological Perspective by Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972).
  • Gaslighting by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis (New York: da Capo Press, 2018).
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini (New York: Perennial Currents, 1998).
  • Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram (New York: Harper & Row, 1974).
  • Principles of Group Solidarity by Michael Hechter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987).
  • The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).
  • The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence by Philip G. Zimbardo and Michael R. Lieppe (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991).
  • The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson (New York: Worth, 2003).
    When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, & Stanley Schachter (New York: Harper & Row, 1964).

On Trauma & Recovery

  • Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion by Carol Tarvis (New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1989).
  • For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989).
  • Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors: Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation by Janina Fisher (New York: Routledge, 2017).
  • Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptoms, Evaluation, and Treatment by John Briere and Catherine Scott (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006).
  • Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships by Janja Lalich & Madeleine Tobias (Berkeley: Bay Tree, 2006).
  • The Art of Empathy: A Complete Guide to Life’s Most Essential Skill by Karla McLaren (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2013).
  • The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk (New York: Penguin Books, 2014).
  • The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller (New York: Basic Books, 1981).
  • The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You by Karla McLaren (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2010).
  • Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence-From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Lewis Herman (New York: Basic Books, 1992).
  • Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery: Leaving the Prison of Shame and Fear by Daniel Shaw (New York: Routledge, 2021).

Related Topics

  • Alienation and Charisma: A Study of Contemporary American Communes by Benjamin D. Zablocki (New York: Free Press, 1980).
  • American Messiahs: False Prophets of a Damned Nation by Adam Morris (New York: Norton, 2019),
  • Becoming an Ex: The Process of Role Exit by Helen Rose Fuchs Ebaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).
  • Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control by Kathleen Taylor (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Maltreatment by Janet Heimlich (New York: Prometheus Books, 2011).
  • Charisma by Charles Lindholm (Cambridge, Mass.: Basil Blackwell, 1990).
    Charisma and Leadership in Organizations by Alan Bryman (London: Sage, 1992).
  • Churches That Abuse by Ronald Enroth (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1992).
  • Cities on a Hill: A Journey through Contemporary American Cultures by Frances FitzGerald (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986).
  • “Crazy” Therapies: What Are They? Do They Work? by Margaret Singer & Janja Lalich (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996).
  • Divine Disenchantment: Deconverting from New Religions by Janet Liebman Jacobs (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989).
  • Feet of Clay—Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus by Anthony Storr (New York: Free Press, 1997).
  • Forced into Faith: How Religion Abuses Children’s Rights by Innaiah Narisetti (Amherst, NY: Prometheous Books, 2009).
  • God vs. the Gavel: Religion and the Rule of Law by Marci A. Hamilton (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
  • Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids by Maia Szalavitz (Independently Published, 2020).
  • Institutionalized Persuasion: The Technology of Reformation in Straight Incorporated and the Residential Teen Treatment Industry by Marcus Chatfield. 2014.
  • Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field, edited by Benjamin Zablocki & Thomas Robbins (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001).
  • Prisons We Choose to Live Inside by Doris Lessing (New York: Harper & Row, 1987).
  • Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities by Len Oakes (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1997).
  • Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994).
  • Religion and Political Violence: Sacred Protest in the Modern World by Jennifer L. Jefferis (New York: Routledge, 2010).
  • The Dark Side of Transformational Leadership: A Critical Perspective by Dennis Tourish (New York/London: Routledge, 2013).
  • The Fundamentalist Mindset by Charles Strozier, David Terman & James Jones, with Katharina Boyd (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • The Hidden History of Coaching by Leni Wildflower (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013).
  • Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1968).
  • Walking Away from Terrorism: Accounts of Disengagement from Radical and Extremist Movements by John Horgan (New York: Routledge, 2009).
  • Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs by Kenneth R. Rosen (Little A, 2021).
  • Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare (New York: Pocket Books, 1993).


  • A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011). (Phillip Garrido kidnap victim)
  • A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992). (Black Panther Party)
  • Awake in a Nightmare—Jonestown: The Only Eyewitness Account by Ethan Feinsod (New York: Norton, 1981).
  • Betrayal of Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement by Nori J. Muster (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997).
  • Bhagwan: The God that Failed by Hugh Milne (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986).
  • Blue Windows: A Christian Science Childhood by Barbara Wilson (New York: Picador, 1997).
  • Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult by Catherine Oxenberg with Natasha Stoynoff (New York: Gallery Books, 2018). (NXIVM)
  • Caryatid: Memoir of Life in a Religious Cult by Christine Rugullies (Brooklyn: Long Dash, 2008). (family cult with uncle as minister)
  • Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up in a Cult by Jayanti Tamm (New York: Harmony Books, 2009). (Sri Chinmoy)
  • Crazy for God: The Nightmare of Cult life by an Ex-Moonie by Christopher Edwards (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1979).
  • Cult Child by Vennie Kocsis (Self-published, 2014). (Sam Fife’s Move of God)
  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (New York: Random House, 2018).
    Dead, Insane, or In Jail: A CEDU Memoir; Books 1 & 2 by Zack Bonnie (Dyke, VA: Not With the Program, 2018).
  • Deceived: An Investigative Memoir of the Zion Society Cult by Michael R. King (Profiling Evil, 2021).
  • Enlightenment Blues: My Years with an American Guru by Andre van der Braak (Rhinebeck, N.Y.: Monkfish, 2003). (Andrew Cohen)
  • Escape by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer (New York: Broadway Books, 2007). (FLDS)
  • Escape from Utopia: My Ten Years in Synanon by William Olin (Santa Cruz, Calif.: Unity Press, 1980).
  • Escape: The True Story of a Young Woman Caught in the Clutches of a Religious Cult by Rachel Martin (Denver: Accent Books, 1979). (Jim Roberts/“Brother Evangelist”)
  • Escape through the Window: A Cult Survivor’s Story by Sarah Rose (Self-published, 2012).
  • Freedom: My Book of Firsts by Jaycee Dugard (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2016). (Phillip Garrido kidnap victim)
  • From Dean’s List to Dumpsters: Why I Left Harvard to Join a Cult by Jim Guerra (Pittsburgh: Dorrance, 2000). (Jim Roberts/“Brother Evangelist”)
  • Heartbreak and Rage: Ten Years Under Sun Myung Moon by K. Gordon Neufield (College Station, TX.:, 2002).
  • Heaven’s Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult by Miriam Williams (New York: William Morrow, 1998).
  • Hellbent on Enlightenment: Unmasking Sex, Power, and Death with a Notorious Master by Rosemary Hamilton (Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 1998.) (Rajneesh)
  • Holy Hell: A Memoir of Faith, Devotion, and Pure Madness by Gail Treadwell a.k.a. Gayatri (Maui, HI: Wattle Tree Press, 2013). (Amma, the “hugging saint”)
  • I, Tina: My Life Story by Tina Turner, with Kurt Loder (New York: Avon Books, 1986).
  • In the Days of Rain: A Daughter, a Father, a Cult by Rebecca Stott (New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2017). (Exclusive Brethren)
  • In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Family by Nansook Hong (New York: Little, Brown, 1998).
  • Inside Out: A Memoir of Entering and Breaking Out of a Minneapolis Political Cult by Alexandra Stein (St. Cloud: North Star Press of St. Cloud, 2002).
  • L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman by Bent Corydon and L. Ron Hubbard, Jr. (Fort Lee, N.J.: Barricade Books, 1992). (Scientology)
  • Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding Life by Amber Scorah (New York: Viking, 2019). (JW)
  • Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (New York: Viking Penguin, 1988). (Maoism)
  • Little X: Growing Up in the Nation of Islam by Sonsyrea Tate (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997).
  • Lord of the Air: Tales of a Modern Antichrist by Tal Brooke (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1990). (Sai Baba)
  • Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz (New York: Broadway Books, 2009). (FLDS)
  • Masoud: Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel by Masoud Banisadr (London: Saqi Books, 2004). (Mojahedin)
  • Moonstruck: A Memoir of My Life in a Cult by Allen Tate Wood (New York: Morrow, 1979). (Unification Church/“Moonies”)
  • Mother of God by Luna Tarlo (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Plover Books, 1997). (by the mother of guru, Andrew Cohen)
  • My Life in Orange by Tim Guest (London: Granta Books, 2004). (Rajneesh)
    Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed by Kristina, Celeste and Juliana (London: HarperCollins, 2007). (Children of God)
  • “Our Father” Maciel, Who Art in Bed: A Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ by J. Paul Lennon (Self-published, 2008).
  • Out of the Cocoon: A Young Woman’s Courageous Flight from the Grip of a Religious Cult by Brenda Lee (Brandon, OR: Robert D. Reed, 2006). (JW)
  • Pagan Time: An American Childhood by Micah Perks (Washington, DC: Counterpoint, 2001).
  • Paradise and Promise: Chronicles of My Life with a Self-Declared, Modern-Day Buddha by Marlowe Sand (Arelsford, UK: O-Books, 2015). (Andrew Cohen)
  • Paradise Incorporated: Synanon by David Gerstel (Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2982).
  • Patty Hearst: Her Own Story by Patricia Campbell Hearst (New York: Avon Books, 1982).
  • People Farm by Steve Susoyev (San Francisco: Moving Finger Press, 2003).
  • Red Azalea by Anchee Min (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994). (Maoism)
  • Red Star Tattoo: My Life as a Girl Revolutionary by Sonja Larsen (Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2018). (National Labor Federation)
  • Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM The Cult that Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson (San Francisco: Chronicle Prism, 2019).
  • Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman’s Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond by Deborah Laake (New York: Morrow, 1993).
  • Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple by Deborah Layton (New York: Anchor Books, 1998).
  • Silence and Noise: Growing Up Zen in America by Ivan Richmond (New York: Atria Books, 2003).
  • Six Years with God: Life Inside Rev. Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple by Jeannie Mills (New York: A&W, 1979).
  • Something Somebody Stole: A Personal Journey to Soul Recovery after 20 Years in a Controversial Religious Cult by Ray Connelly (Self-published, 2011). (Children of God)
  • So Late, So Soon: A Memoir by D’Arcy Fallon (Portland: Hawthorne Books, 2004). (Lighthouse Ranch Christian commune)
  • The Burn Zone: A Memoir by Renee Linnell (Berkeley: She Writes Press, 2018). (Buddhist teacher, Lakshmi)
  • The House of Yahweh: My Side of the Story by Kay Hawkins (Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2012).
  • The Program: Inside the Mind of Keith Raniere and the Rise and Fall of NXIVM by Toni Natalie with Chet Hardin (New York: Grand Central, 2019).
  • The Promise of Paradise: A Woman’s Intimate Story of the Perils of Life with Rajneesh by Satya Bharti Franklin (Barrytown, N.Y.: Station Hill Press, 1992).
  • The Prophet’s Children: Travels on the American Left by Tim Wohlforth (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1994). (Trotskyism/Socialist Workers Party)
  • The Serpent Rising: A Journey of Spiritual Education by Mary Garden (Brisbane, Australia: Brolga, 1988). (Rajneesh, Sai Baba, & Swami Balyogi Premvarni)
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda by Amy Wallace (Berkeley, Calif.: Frog, Ltd., 2003).
  • This Road I Ride: Sometimes It Takes Losing Everything to Find Yourself by Juliana Buhring (New York: Norton, 2017). (Children of God)
  • Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church by Megan Phelps- Roper (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019).
  • Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012).
  • Waiting in Captivity: A Memoir by Helen Zuman (Berkeley: She Write Press, 2018). (Zendik)
  • When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir by Said Sayrafiezadeh (New York: Dial Press, 2010). (Socialist Workers Party)
  • White American Youth: My Descent into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement — and How I Got Out by Christian Picciolini (New York: Hachette, 2017). (Hammerskin Nation)
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Judy Chang (New York: Doubleday/Anchor, 1991).
  • Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011).

Specific Groups

  • A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed by Jon Atack (New York: Carol, 1990).
  • American Guru: A Story of Love, Betrayal and Healing — Former Students of Andrew Cohen Speak Out by William Yenner and Contributors (Rhinebeck, NY: Epigraph Books, 2009).
  • American Swatika: Inside the White Power Movement’s Hidden Spaces of Hate by Pete Simi and Robert Futrell (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
  • Amway: The Cult of Enterprise by Stephen Butterfield (Boston: South End Press, 1985).
  • Bare-faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller (New York: Henry Holt, 1987).
  • Becoming Unorthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews by Lynn Davidman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
  • Bitter Harvest: Gordon Kahl and the Posse Comitatus by James Corcoran (New York: Viking Penguin, 1991).
  • Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpuram by Lewis F. Carter (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
  • Charismatic Capitalism: Direct Selling Organizations in America by Nicole Woolsey Biggart (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). (MLMs)
  • Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999).
  • Doomsday Cult: A Study of Conversion, Proselytization, and Maintenance of Faith by John Lofland (New York: Irvington, 1966/1981). (Unification Church/“Moonies”)
  • Earth First: Environmental Apocalypse by Martha F. Lee (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995).
  • Enthralled: The Guru Cult of Tibetan Buddhism by Christine A. Chandler (Self-published, 2017). (Includes personal experience and discussion of many Tantric groups)
  • Falun Gong’s Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or “Evil Cult”? by Danny Schechter (New York: Akashic Books, 2000).
  • From Slogans to Mantras: Social Protest and Religious Conversion in the Late Vietnam War Era by Stephen A. Kent (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2001).
  • God’s Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation in Contemporary Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy and the Stories of 18 Women Who Escaped by Andrea Moore-Emmett (San Francisco: Pince-Nez Press, 2004).
  • Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Buglioso (New York: Bantam Books, 1974).
  • Herding the Moo: Exploits of a Martial Arts Cult, Legend of the Upside Down King by Joe Smith (Victoria, BC, Canada: Trafford, 2007). (Grandmaster Kim)
    Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden by Peter L. Bergen (New York: Free Press, 2001).
  • Hypocrisy and Dissent within the Findhorn Foundation by Stephen J. Castro (Morayshire, Scotland: New Media Books, 1996).
  • Insane Therapy: Portrait of a Psychotherapy Cult by Marybeth F. Ayella (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998). (Center for Feeling Therapy)
    Inside al Qaeda by Rohan Gunaratna (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses: Watch Out for the Watchtower! by Gordon E. Duggar (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
  • Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge by Don Lattin (New York: HarperOne, 2007). (Children of God/The Family International)
  • Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism by Dennis King (New York: Doubleday, 1989).
  • Monkey on a Stick: Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988).
  • My Life in the Klan by Jerry Thompson (New York: Putnam, 1982).
  • On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left by Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth (Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 2000).
  • Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves by Matthew Sweet (New York: Henry Holt, 2018). (Lyndon LaRouche)
  • Outrageous Betrayal: The Dark Journey of Werner Erhard from est to Exile by Steven Pressman (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993).
  • People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia by Michael I. Niman (Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 1997).
  • Prophet of Death: The Mormon Blood-Atonement Killings by Pete Early (New York: Morrow, 1991).
  • Raven: The Untold Story of Reverend Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs (New York: Dutton, 1982).
  • Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow (New York: Random House, 2018). (Stormfront)
    Synanon: The Tunnel Back by Lewis Yablonsky (Baltimore, MD: Pelican, 1967).
  • Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern (New York: HarperCollins, 2003). (The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord; Messianic Jews; Army of God; and others)
  • The Ayn Rand Cult by Jeff Walker (Chicago: Open Court, 1999).
  • The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ by Carol Giambalvo and Herbert Rosedale (Bonita Springs, FL.: AFF, 1997).
  • The Cult of Trump by Steven Hassan (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019).
  • The Discipling Dilemma by Flavil Yeakley (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1988).
  • The Joyful Community: An Account of the Bruderhof by Benjamin D. Zablocki (Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1971).
  • The Light on Synanon by Dave Mitchell, Cathy Mitchell, and Richard Ofhse (New York: Seaview Books, 1980).
  • The Long Prison Journey of Leslie Van Houten: Life Beyond the Cult by Karlene Faith (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2001). (Manson)
  • The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo: The D.C. Sniper by Carmeta Albarus, with Jonathan Mack (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
  • The Other Side of Joy: Religious Melancholy Among the Bruderhof by Julius H. Rubin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • The Rise and Fall of Synanon: A California Utopia by Rod Janzen (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
  • The Rise and Fall of the Nine O’Clock Service: A Cult within a Church? by Roland Howard (London: Mowbray, 1996).
  • The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology by Roy Wallis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977).
  • The Suicide Cult by Marshall Kilduff & Ron Javers (New York: Bantam Books, 1978). (Jonestown)
  • The Sullivanian Institute/Fourth Wall Community: The Relationship of Radical Individualism and Authoritarianism by Amy Siskind (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003).
  • Therapy Gone Mad: The True Story of Hundreds of Patients and a Generation of Betrayal by Carol Lynn Mithers (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1994). (Center for Feeling Therapy)
  • TM and Cult Mania by Michael Persinger, N.J. Carrey, and L.A. Suess (North Quincy, MA: Christopher, 1980).
  • Trumping Democracy: From Reagan to the Alt-Right, edited by Chip Berlet (New York: Routledge, 2020).
  • Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (New York: Anchor Books, 2004). (LDS offshoots/polygamy)
    Without Sin: The Life and Death of the Oneida Community by Spencer Klaw (New York: Penguin, 1993).

New Age and Eastern Topics

  • A Generation of Seekers: The Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation by Wade Clark Roof (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993).
  • Channeling into the New Age: The “Teachings” of Shirley MacLaine and Other Such Gurus by Henry Gordon (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988).
    Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today by Don Lattin (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).
  • Getting Saved from the Sixties: Moral Meaning in Conversion and Cultural Change by Steven M. Tipton (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
    I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions by Wendy Kaminer (New York: Vintage, 1993).
  • Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East by Gita Mehta (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).
  • Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America by Peter Washington (New York: Schocken, 1995).
  • Mesmerized: Powers of Mind in Victorian Britain by Alison Winter (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
  • Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret History of Our Nation by Mitch Horowitz (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
    Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by Barbara Goldsmith (New York: Knopf, 1998).
  • Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism by Miranda Shaw (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994).
  • The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in Our Time by Marilyn Ferguson (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1987). (The Bible of the New Age movement)
  • The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age by Michael F. Brown (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • The Demon-haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan (New York: Random House, 1995).
  • The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer & Diane Alstad (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1993).
  • The Harmonious Circle: The Lives and Work of G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky and Their Followers by James Webb (New York: Putnam, 1980).
  • The New Age Movement by Paul Heelas (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1996).
  • The Sixties Spiritual Awakening: American Religion Moving from Modern to Postmodern by Robert S. Ellwood (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1994).
  • The Spiritualists: The Passion for the Occult in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries by Ruth Brandon (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984).
  • Traveller in Space: In Search of Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism by June Campbell (New York: George Braziller, 1996).
  • Understanding the New Age by Russell Chandler (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993).

Special Interest

  • Apocalypse: On the Psychology of Fundamentalism in America by Charles B. Strozier (Boston: Beacon Press, 1994).
  • Corporate Cults: The Insidious Lure of the All-Consuming Organization by David Arnott (New York: American Management Association, 1999).
    Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (New York: New York University Press, 1992).
  • Revolutionary Immortality: Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Random House, 1968).
  • Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right by Sara Diamond (Boston: South End Press, 1989).
  • Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence by Mark Juergensmeyer (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
  • Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill by Jessica Stern (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).
  • The Future of Immortality and Other Essays by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Basic Books, 1987).
  • The Nazis and the Occult by Dusty Sklar (New York: Dorset Press, 1990).
  • The Nazi Doctors by Robert Jay Lifton (New York: Basic Books, 1986).
  • The Year 2000: Essays on the End, edited by Charles B. Strozier & Michael Flynn (New York: New York University Press, 1997).
  • Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudo-science, Superstition, and Bogus Notions of Our Time by Michael Shermer (New York: MJF Books, 1997),


  • 1984 by George Orwell (New York: New American Library, 1949/1983).
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (New York: New American Library, 1961).
  • Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm (New York: Avon Books, 1965).
  • From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, ed. &trans. by H. H. Gerth & C. W. Mills (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946).
  • Greedy Institutions: Patterns of Undivided Commitment by Lewis A. Coser (New York: Free Press, 1974).
  • Identity and the Life Cycle by Erik H. Erikson (New York: Norton, 1959/1980).
  • Identity: Youth and Crisis by Erik H. Erikson (New York: Norton, 1968).
    On Charisma and Institution Building by Max Weber, ed. by S.N. Eisenstadt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
  • Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity by Erving Goffman (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1963).
  • The Authoritarian Personality, edited by T.W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswick, Daniel J. Levinson, & R. Nevitt Sanford (New York: Norton, 1950/1982).
  • The God that Failed, edited by Richard Crossman (New York: Bantam Books, 1965).
  • The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973).
  • The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (New York: New American Library, 1962).
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1959).
  • The True Believer by Eric Hoffer (New York: Harper and Row, 1951).
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James (New York: Penguin, 1902/1985).


Dr. Janja Lalich

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. is a researcher, author, and educator specializing in cults and extremist groups, with a particular focus on charismatic relationships, political and other social movements, ideology and social control, and issues of gender and sexuality.