Margaret Thaler Singer Ph.D. (1921–2003) was a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
- Perhaps, if in psychophysiological research, we can phrase our conceptualization of how to rate transactional behavior more in terms of systems, in terms of extents of engagement-involvement, and in terms of specified durations, of where a person is moving across a number of processes of adaptation, we can perhaps come to see more clearly how we work.
- Engagement-Involvement: A Central Phenomenon in Psychophysiological Research, Presidential Address, Psychomatic Medicine, Journal of the American Psychomatic Society, Vol. 36, No. 1
- While everyone is influenced and persuaded daily in various ways, vulnerability to influence fluctuates. The ability to fend off persuaders is reduced when one is exhausted, rushed, stressed, uncertain, lonely, indifferent, uninformed, aged, very young, unsophisticated, ill, brain- damaged, drugged, drunk, distracted, fatigued, frightened, or very dependent.
- Undue Influence and Written Documents: Psychological Aspects, Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, Journal of Questioned Document Examination, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1992, the official publication of the Independent Association of Questioned Document Examiners, Inc.
- An estimated 5,000 economic, political, and religious groups operate in the United States alone at any given time, with 2.5 million members. Over the last ten years, cults have used tactics of coercive mind control to negatively impact an estimated 20 million victims in the last ten years. Worldwide figures are even greater.
- Dr. Margaret Singer, Cults in Our Midst
- I started hearing from families who had missing members, many of them young kids on our campus, and they all would describe the same sorts of things. A sudden change of personality, a new way of talking...and then they would disappear. And bingo, it was the same sort of thing as with the Korean War prisoners, the same sort of thought-reform and social controls. You find it again and again, any time people feel vulnerable. There are always sharpies around who want to hornswoggle people.
- Margaret Singer - expert on brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 2003
- The term "cult" is always one of individual judgment. It has been variously applied to groups involved in beliefs and practices just off the beat of traditional religions; to groups making exploratory excursions into non-Western philosophical practices; and to groups involving intense relationships between followers and a powerful idea or leader. The people I have studied, however, come from groups in the last, narrow band of the spectrum: groups such as the Children of God, the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the Krishna Consciousness movement, the Divine Light Mission, and the Church of Scientology. I have not had occasion to meet with members of the People's Temple founded by the late Reverend Jim Jones, who practiced what he preached about being prepared to commit murder and suicide, if necessary, in defense of the faith.
- Coming Out of the Cults, Dr. Margaret Singer, Psychology Today, January, 1979
- Just look up to the sky and talk to God yourself. You don't need an organization to do that. …They're all the same, really, these groups — they prey on the most lonely, vulnerable people they can find, cage you with your own mind through guilt and fear, cut you off from everyone you knew before, and when they're done doing that, they don't need armed guards to keep you. You're afraid that if you leave, your parents will die, you will die, your life will be ruined. Flim-flam men, pimps, sharpsters — that's what they are. Liars. Tricksters. It's been the same ever since Eve got the apple, and I doubt it will ever change. A real religion is truthful, you can come or go from it if you wish. And most importantly, there is no one leader claiming he is a god. Big, big difference.
- The public takes care of their fear by thinking only crazies and stupid people wind up in cults. I've interviewed over 4000 ex-cult members. There's no one type of person who is vulnerable.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1997, as cited in Margaret Thaler Singer, The Lancet, January 31, 2004
- Thought reform is accomplished through the use of psychological and environmental control processes that do not depend on physical coercion. Today's thought reform programs are sophisticated, subtle, and insidious, creating a psychological bond that in many ways is far more powerful than gun-at-the-head methods of influence. The effects generally lose their potency when the control processes are lifted or neutralized in some way. That is why most Korean War POWs gave up the content of their prison camp indoctrination programs when they came home, and why many cultists leave their groups if they spend a substantial amount of time away from the group or have an opportunity to discuss their doubts with an intimate.
- Thought Reform Exists: Organized, Programmatic Influence, Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D., The Cult Observer, Vol. 11 No. 6 1994.
- Hundreds of other cult leaders have gathered far more followers than Jones by promising new psychological and spiritual utopias. They have succeeded by combining various ages-old psychological and social persuasion techniques in an atmosphere os Madison Avenue soft-sell approaches. Because most of the followers have been youthful or poor, little attention and credence has been given to reports from ex-members, families and friends who report the effects of the techniques of manipulation used by the groups.
- Margaret Singer, Ph.D., The "Not Me" Myth: Orwell and the Mind, January 19, 1996 - Vol.2, no.2, ISSN 1523-1712, Idea Journal
- I do not endorse them [Landmark Education] - never have. The SOBs have already sued me once. I'm afraid to tell you what I really think about them because I'm not covered by any lawyers like I was when I wrote my book.
- Quoted in Drive through Deliverance, Phoenix New Times, October 19, 2000
- In addition to her high-profile work on cults, Singer was also an authority on schizophrenia, and was nominated twice for a Nobel Prize for her research.
- "Margaret Thaler Singer." Biography Resource Center Online. Gale, 2004.
- She is the most recognized expert in her field in the whole world, and that's why I sought her out. She's also a real doll, and a very decent human being, above and beyond everything else.
- San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Dennis Morris, quoted in Margaret Singer has made history delving into the psychology of brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2002
- In this era of clichés, the word “giant” is bandied about all too frequently. But Margaret was a genuine giant. She made enormous contributions to the psychological understanding of cults, including the Unification Church, Heaven’s Gate, and the Branch Davidians; and cult therapies, including Synanon and Scientology.
- In Memoriam: Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer, The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, Spring/Summer 2004 Volume 3., Number 1., by Scott O. Lilienfield, Emory University
- She's one of a kind, the foremost authority on brainwashing in the entire world. She is a national treasure.
- Paul Morantz, attorney, quoted in Margaret Singer - expert on brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 2003
- She was a remarkable person -the only genius I ever met in our business. There are simply very few people anywhere who had the clinical skills that she had - period. In addition, she was a world-class researcher. She was twice nominated for a Nobel Prize for her work in schizophrenia. That work revealed that the best indicator of the disordered mind was the schizophrenic's odd and peculiar use of language.
- Daniel Goldstine, chief psychologist of the Berkeley Therapy Institute, Margaret Singer, 82; Expert on Brainwashing, Cults Testified at 1976 Trial of Patricia Hearst, Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2003
- Margaret Thaler Singer stands alone in her extraordinary knowledge of the psychology of cults
- Robert Lifton, M.D., foreword to Cults in Our Midst
- Her testimony would help people understand the clinical impact of a cult's manipulation and exploitation. There was a constant stream of people who would go into these organizations and end up in psychiatric emergency rooms.
- Dr. Richard Ofshe, a sociology professor at the University of California at Berkeley who worked with Dr. Singer for 20 years, New York Times, December 7, 2003, By Anahad O'Connor
Harrassed by critics
- Psychologist Margaret Singer, 69, an outspoken Scientology critic and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, now travels regularly under an assumed name to avoid harassment.
- Over the decades, cult operatives have fished through Singer's trash, sent her death threats and picketed her lectures. They've released dozens of live rats at her house, put dead ones on her doorstep (hearts skewered with lollipop sticks) and hacked into her computer so many times she doesn't use one any more. Once a cultist talked her way into working in Singer's campus office, then stole a sheaf of term papers and sent bizarre notes to the students.
- Margaret Singer has made history delving into the psychology of brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2002
- One of those groups went through my mom's mail and knew everything about us - my girlfriend's name, where we went, what we bought, all kinds of stuff. We all put up with a lot, but nobody more than her.
- Sam Singer (son), Margaret Singer has made history delving into the psychology of brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, May 26, 2002
- But not everyone agreed with her views on the subject, and Singer paid a price for her work. Cult "operatives" dug through her trash, went through her mail, picketed her lectures and sent her death threats. They also hacked into her computer countless times, once released dozens of live rats in her house, and frequently left dead rats on her doorstep with threatening notes.
- Margaret Singer, 82; Expert on Brainwashing, Cults Testified at 1976 Trial of Patricia Hearst, Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2003
- Bio, Idea Journal, Margaret Thaler Singer Ph. D.
- FACTnet past board of directors, brief biographical profile
- "Professor Margaret Singer dies at 82: Former UC educator was psychologist, champion of free thought and an expert on cults", Alameda Times-Star, November 27, 2003, Katherine Pfrommer, cited in Rick Ross' website
- Margaret Singer -- expert on brainwashing, San Francisco Chronicle, November 25, 2003
- A Loss for the Family Field: The Death of Margaret T. Singer, Family Process, March 1, 2004, Lyman C. Wynne
- The Lancet, 2004, Ivan Oransky