Cults 101: Dr. Steven Hassan & The BITE Model

Cults 101: Dr. Steven Hassan & The BITE Model

A Little Bit Culty –

What’s the difference between a cult and something that’s just a little bit culty? What should Sarah and Nippy tell their kids when they’re old enough to ask about NXIVM? How do you protect yourself from mind control? On this episode of A Little Bit Culty, our co-hosts chat with cult expert and author Dr. Steven Hassan about what makes people universally vulnerable to undue influence and cultic abuse; how to spot red flags; and some of the striking similarities between Keith Raniere and Donald Trump. They also explore Dr. Hassan’s cult origin story as a former member of the Moon cult, as well as his groundbreaking BITE Model that demystifies the methods that cults deploy to recruit and maintain control over people. Sarah also shares a (ahem) juicy story about a WTF moment of truth about a certain dietary mystery among the women of NXIVM that always perplexed her.

About Dr. Steven Hassan: As one of the world’s leading authorities on cults, Dr. Steven Hassan has been helping people wake up, leave, and heal from cultic abuse for over forty years as a mental health professional, consultant, and educator. He is the founding director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center, an organization that specializes in providing acute intensive care for people exiting destructive environments. Dr. Hassan is also the author of four books, including Combating Cult Mind Control, Freedom of Mind, and most recently: The Cult of Trump.

About the BITE Model, as quoted from the Freedom of Mind Resource center site at “Based on research and theory by Robert Jay Lifton, Margaret Singer, Edgar Schein, Louis Jolyon West, and others who studied brainwashing in Maoist China as well as cognitive dissonance theory by Leon Festinger, Steven Hassan developed the BITE Model to describe the specific methods that cults use to recruit and maintain control over people. “BITE” stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control.

A Little Bit Culty is a proud community partner of the #iGotOut Project. Learn more and find helpful resources for healing, education and prevention at

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