Terror, Love and Brainwashing: Attachment in Cults and Totalitarian Systems


Product Details

Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.4 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Alexandra Stein is a social psychologist who lectures and writes on cults and totalitarianism. Formerly, she was an associate lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, UK and has also taught at the University of Minnesota, US and the University of Westminster, UK. As a young woman she was a member of a political cult, an experience she described in her first book, Inside Out.


'Alexandra Stein combines deep knowledge of cultic groups from Jehovah's Witnesses to ISIS with wide-ranging research and a rich trove of interviews. This wise and informed book will interest the specialist and the general reader.' Charles B. Strozier, lead author and editor, The Fundamentalist Mindset, and author Apocalypse: On The Psychology of Fundamentalism in America

'A brilliant and much-needed book, grounded in original research and the classic literature in the field, along with plentiful real-life stories to exemplify the main points. Stein informs readers how leaders dominate, how the mechanics of recruitment work, and how the manipulations of indoctrination succeed in creating blindly devoted followers. While indicating that we are all vulnerable, societal solutions are offered. Perfect for classes in sociology, social psychology, psychology, and political science. This book couldn't be more timely!' Janja Lalich, Professor Emerita of Sociology and author of Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults

'A truly remarkable book. Drawing on attachment theory and research, Stein provides penetrating insights into how and why cults--from Jonestown to ISIS gain such control over the minds and behavior of members. It is essential reading for all seeking to understand contemporary threats of "totalist" systems of all kinds.' L. Alan Sroufe, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota and as author of the award winning book, The Development of the Person.

'In Terror, Love and Brainwashing, Alex adds a new and straightforward approach to understanding the profound effect of manipulative processes. This is a rich and rewarding text. It can take even the bravest and cleverest people years to leave, and years more to escape the behavioral conditioning of a totalist group. This book will help to speed that process for many people.' Jon Atack, Open Minds Foundation

"Illustrated with compelling stories from a range of cults and totalitarian systems, from religious to political to commercial, the book defines and analyses the common identifiable traits that underlie almost all these groups. It focuses on how charismatic authoritarian leaders control their followers' attachments via manipulative social structures and ideologies so that, emotionally and cognitively isolated, they become unable to act in their own survival interests." Denise Winn, Author, Human Givens

"This is one of the best books that I have read about cults, and I have a read a few because, like the author, I used to be in one myself... [The book] will be, I believe, a major benefit for those thinking of leaving a cult and for those who, having managed to escape, need to sort out in their own minds what happened to them and what they need to do next." -- James Cook, Journal of Mental Health