Michael Langone

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Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.
Born 1947
United States
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields psychology, cults, new religious movements
Institutions International Cultic Studies Association
Known for Recovery from Cults, Cultic Studies Review, editor
Notable awards Leo J. Ryan Award, 1995

Michael D. Langone, is an American counseling psychologist who specialises in research about "cultic" groups and psychological manipulation. He is executive director of the International Cultic Studies Association, editor of the journal Cultic Studies Review.

Langone is author and co-author of several books and has published numerous articles. He first joined the American Family Foundation in 1981.

In 1995 he was named visiting scholar at Boston University's Albert Danielsen Center for the Study of Religion and Psychology and did research comparing former members of a cultic group and of two mainstream religious groups regarding psychological distress and members' perceptions of abusiveness. He also received the Cult Awareness Network's Leo J. Ryan Award in the same year.


  • Leo J. Ryan Award,[1] 1995


Models for conversion[edit]

Langone presents three different models for conversion and then describes his own integrative model.

  • The deliberative model states that people are said to join cults primarily because of how they view a particular group. Langone notes that this view is most favored among sociologists and religious scholars.
  • Under the "psychodynamic model", popular with some mental health professionals, individuals choose to join for fulfillment of subconscious psychological needs.
  • The "thought reform model" states that people do not join because of their own psychological needs, but because of the group's influence through forms of psychological manipulation.

Langone claims that those mental health experts who have more direct experience with large numbers of cultists tend to favor this latter view. He presents an integrated model by explaining that deliberation is a function of manipulativeness and psychological neediness. By breaking down manipulativeness and psychological neediness into low and high conditions Langone can determine which of the three models would be favored[citation needed]. A deliberative model would be utilized when a person falls into low manipulativeness and low psychological neediness categories. When manipulativeness is high but psychological neediness low would result in the use of the thought reform model. In the case of the opposite with low manipulativeness but high psychological neediness a psychodynamic model is used. In cases where both manipulativeness and psychological neediness are high, both psychodynamic and thought reform models awould be expected; Langone notes that more research is necessary for this cross-section as the literature was lacking.[2]

Books and papers[edit]




  1. ^ ICSA Annual International Conference, Conference Handbook, ICSA Annual International Conference, Denver, Colorado, June 22–24, 2006.
  2. ^ Langone, Michael, "Clinical Update on Cults", Psychiatric Times July 1996 Vol. XIII Issue 7 [1]

External links[edit]

Official sites
Media/Press mention
Article search
  • Shuppe, Anson; Darrel, Susan, The Attempted Transformation of a Deviant Occupation into a Therapy: Deprogramming Seeks a New Identity, annual meeting SSSR/RRA, Norfolk, VA, October 2003. Available online

See also[edit]