President Donald Trump exhibits many signs of "malignant narcissism," according to some psychologists, and his personality profile fits with other notorious cult leaders.
Steven Hassan, a mental health counselor and an expert on mind control, described the alarming similarities he sees between the president and cult leaders like the one whose control he fell under himself as a young man, in a new column for The Daily Beast.
"I have seen that profile up close," Hassan wrote. "Over 40 years ago, while a junior in college, I was recruited into a destructive mind control cult, the Unification Church, popularly known as the Moonies after its leader, Sun Myung Moon."
"I rose rapidly through the ranks and was invited to attend meetings with Moon and his top aides, where we knelt and bowed to our leader Moon," he continued. "Two years later, after three days straight of leading a fundraising team — selling flowers on street corners — I fell asleep at the wheel and woke up as I plowed into the back of an 18 wheeler. Fortunately, I survived. My family hired deprogrammers and, after five days, I realized I had been brainwashed."
Hassan has devoted himself to studying cults and helping to rescue their victims, and he has found that mind control is the result of a systematic set of methods and techniques.
"Cult leaders may seem crazy, but they are cunning masters of manipulation, employing an arsenal of these techniques to render their followers dependent and obedient," he wrote. "It’s what I call the cult leader’s playbook."
Hassan argues in his upcoming book, "The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How The President Uses Mind Control," that Trump has used the same tactics to build a political cult around himself.
"These include his grandiose claims, his practice of sowing confusion, his demand for absolute loyalty, his tendency to lie and create alternative 'facts' and realities, his shunning and belittling of critics and ex-believers, and his cultivating of an 'us versus them' mindset," Hassan wrote.
Most infamous cult leaders use the same tactics, and Hassan explains how cult members are made to feel like "enlightened" insiders to tap into ancient fears and anxieties.
"Even in literature there is a hero and a villain," Hassan wrote. "But cults take this human habit of viewing the world in binary terms and infuse it with a kind of all consuming passion, which they reinforce in the minds of followers using cliches, platitudes, lies, and endless repetitions. You come to believe that you are superior to the rest of the world."
Hassan fears that Trump cultists will be inspired to take up arms to protect the president from an election loss, just as he would have laid down his life for Moon.
"Worse still is the possibility that, if feeling sufficiently threatened, Trump might, like (cult leader Jim) Jones, try to take everyone with him, using his access to the nuclear codes," Hassan wrote. "It’s a dark scenario, but not entirely outlandish."