How to Brainwash Someone


Are you disappointed by the lack of obedient minions in your life? The prospect that a person can control the thoughts and actions of another is a subject of longstanding fascination, from the classic film The Manchurian Candidate to the popularity of performance hypnotists, who convince people to cluck like chickens in front of large groups of people. But what do you actually need to know in order to really get inside someone's head and get them to do your bidding?

In this week's episode of How To Do It, we talk to a former cult member about the banana and the walk that led her into the Moonies, a psychologist who consulted on a terrifying experiment to create a real-life Manchurian candidate, and a "cult counselor" who specializes in helping people escape the grasp of cults. Plus, our hosts put their own minds on the line by putting themselves into the hands of a professional hypnotist!

In this episode we speak with...

  • Diane Benscoter, former cult member and author of the new memoir Shoes of a Servant: My Unconditional Devotion to a Lie.
  • Robert Fitzpatrick, an expert in pyramid schemes, and the author of False Prophets.
  • Cynthia Meyersburg, an experimental psychopathologist at Coastal Carolina University, who consulted on an experiment to hypnotize someone into becoming a murderer.
  • Robert Maxwell, hypnotherapist by day, "comedy hypnotist" by night.
  • Steve Hassan, a counselor who helps people leave cults, and the author of Freedom of Mind.

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