Margaret Thaler Singer

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Margaret Thaler Singer is a cult expert and mental health professional. Singer supports brainwashing theory. She advanced the Theory of Systematic Manipulation of Social and Psychological Influence (SMSPI)."[1]


Singer is a member of the board of directors of the American Family Foundation (AFF) and a member of board of advisors for FACTNet.

According to the FACTNet web site:

  • Singer is "A world-renowned cult expert and counselor [who has] dedicated the past fifty years to researching the subject of cults. She is a clinical psychologist, recipient of the NIMH Research Scientist Award, emeritus professor at University of California, Berkeley, and author of numerous titles including Cults in Our Midst (1995). Dr. Singer is a member of FACTNet's Board of Advisors as the organization's scientific advisor. Samples of her work on the FACTNet page include excerpts from Cults in Our Midst, an interview on Heaven's Gate, and the Influence Continuum."[2]

Singer is a member of the the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF). Her organizational profile states:

"After a 50-year career as a therapist and researcher, Dr. Singer has become increasingly concerned over what she sees as a trend toward misuse of therapeutic techniques. 'If therapy works well,' she explains, 'the patient ends up more autonomous, more responsible, more mature and more in charge of her life. But today patients are expected to display emotions in a way the therapist approves of. Many patients tell me they were urged by their therapist to be in a continuous rage. So how could therapy help them become more mature, and more independent, functioning citizens?'

"Dr. Singer's concerns stem from years of experience. A graduate of the University of Denver with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, she has studied a wide variety of subjects. These range from the experimental to the practical; from schizophrenia to speech problems in children; from western equine encephalitis to the process of human aging; from sleep deprivation and peptic ulcer to prisoner-of-war syndrome and teenage suicides.

"In recent years, she has focused on intense influence phenomena in modern society, producing articles on this subject and two recent books Cults in Our Midst and Crazy Therapies.

"As a veteran therapist as well as a teacher - she is adjunct professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California in Berkeley - Dr. Singer has been appalled by therapists who condition their patients to become parent abusers. 'I feel very embarrassed,' says Dr. Singer, 'that a healing profession could have strayed so far since Hippocrates declared, Do not harm the patient.'"


Singer is described as the "grande dame of cults". One promotion for a speaking engagement states that she is a "professor of clinical psychology at UC Berkeley who has worked with people involved in the Jonestown massacre and served as Patty Hearst's psychologist..."[3]


Wikipedia: Margaret Singer

The link to what is apparently the former Margaret Thaler Singer Foundation web site is not working: www.singer.org.[4]


Dr. Margaret T. Singer's 6 Conditions for Thought Reform

"These conditions create the atmosphere needed to put a thought reform system into place:

  • "Keep the person unaware of what is going on and how she or he is being changed a step at a time."
  • "Control the person's social and/or physical environment; especially control the person's time."
  • "Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the person."
  • "Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the person's former social identity."
  • "Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group's ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors."
  • "Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order."

Extracted from the reFOCUS: Recovering Former Cultists' Support Network web site.


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