Dr. Janja Lalich

Janja Lalich, Ph.D. is a researcher, author, and educator specializing in self-sealing, or closed, systems (cults, human trafficking, situations of coercive influence and control, ideological extremism), with a particular focus on recruitment, indoctrination, and methods of influence and control. She is Professor Emerita of Sociology at California State University, Chico and has been studying the social psychology of controversial groups and exploitative and abusive relationships for 30+ years. Dr. Lalich has written and lectured extensively, has advised the international intelligence community on extremism and indoctrination, and has served as consultant and expert witness in civil and criminal cases.

Her critically acclaimed book, Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults (University of California Press, 2004), is based on her comparative study of the Heaven’s Gate cult, which committed collective suicide in 1997, and the Democratic Workers Party, a radical U.S.-based political cult active in the 1970s and ’80s, of which Lalich was a leading member, thus giving her first-hand experience with cultic behavior. That book elucidates Dr. Lalich’s bounded choice framework and theory, a major theoretical development that offers a new and sophisticated approach for understanding the internal dynamics of self-sealing groups. Dr. Lalich’s 2006 book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships (Bay Tree Press), is a fully revised and expanded edition of her first book, Captive Hearts, Captive Minds (Hunter House, 1995). Take Back Your Life is the number-one cult recovery resource used by clinicians, helping professionals, former cult members, and their friends and families. Dr. Lalich’s work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Serbian, French, Japanese, Russian, and Polish. Her most recent book, coauthored with Karla McLaren, M.Ed., is Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out, and Starting Over (Routledge, 2017).

Dr. Lalich can be reached via her website: www.cultresearch.org

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