Cult expert Steve Hassan told CNN on Tuesday that "all of America needs deprogramming" due to the negative influence of President Trump, especially rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.
"In studying all the thought-reform brainwashing models, I've developed a BITE model of authoritarian control, and it basically talks about controlling behavior, information, thoughts and emotions to create a new identity that’s dependent and obedient," Hassan said in a clip flagged by Grabien Media.
"And this is a radical personality change in the mental health literature, in the APA DSM-5. It’s called the dissociative disorder, questioning of identity. And the bottom line is, all of America needs deprogramming because we’ve all been negatively influenced by Donald Trump."
Hassan's "deprogramming" language mirrors that of people in recent days who have suggested groups ranging from the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol to Trump's Republican backers in Congress are effectively brainwashed.
Hassan is a former member of the Unification Church cult who wrote a book on how he believes Trump uses "mind control" to sway his most devoted fans. He expressed fear of possible violence from Trump supporters after his election loss.
"In 1974, I was fasting for Richard Nixon during Watergate. I was programmed to believe that democracy was satanic and God needed to take over America," he said of his time in a cult.
Since losing the election to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump claimed over and over that he was the true winner and the race had been stolen from him. Although repeatedly rejected in the courts and by his own Justice Department, he pressed Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject electors from battleground states he lost.
On Jan. 6, after a rally on the National Mall where Trump said he would "never concede," a mob of supporters stormed the Capitol to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College. The melee resulted in five deaths and led to Trump's second impeachment on an article of inciting an insurrection.