Recommended books

Why do people stay in cults like the NAW for so long? One of the reasons is lack of information. These books will help you to understand the psychological processes that occur within the group, as well as helping you to recover once you do leave.

Ouspensky claimed that The Fourth Way had a knowledge of psychology which greatly transcended anything found in the west. Students in the NAW may often tell themselves this story, as it gives one the sense that one is involved in an esoteric march towards objective knowledge. Fortunately, Ouspensky's claim could not be farther from the truth. Bookstores are packed with countless titles that go into much greater detail than any Fourth Way text. And, more importantly, one can continue one's study of psychology without having to commit oneself to absolute devotion to a guru. These ideas are not "hidden from life", they are not owned by some secret esoteric society, they belong to all of humanity and are available in abundance!

In association with In association with, you can now purchase these books directly from this web site. Often, they can even find books which have been out of print for years.

NOTE: For those wondering about how much commission I have made from Amazon, after seven years it still hasn't reached the minimum amount where they will send me a check. In other words, the amount is $0.00.

The Cultic Mindset

The Guru Papers
By Joel Kramer, Diana Alstad

Understanding the guru/disciple relationship, the authoritarian nature of cults, the experience of surrender, paranoia, identity, the need for certainty, and the pitfalls associated with the philosophy of oneness.
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Autonomy and Rigid Character
By David Shapiro

An excellent analysis of the psychological condition that is so pronouced in the NAW and other cults. Discusses individual autonomy, rigid character, obessive-compulsive rigidity, and paranoid rigidity.
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Vital Lies, Simple Truths
By Daniel Goleman

Analysis of the ways in which we avoid seeing things for what they are, how we ignore information and avoid unpleasant realizations. This will help you to understand the ways in which a "student" rationalizes the group behaviors instead of examining them with a critical eye.
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The True Believer
By Eric Hoffer

A short book describing the fanatic personality -- connecting true believers of all kinds (religious, political, etc).
For excerpts from this book follow this link.
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My Father's Guru
By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

A personal and detailed look at the author's childhood, growing up in a home shared by the mystic author Paul Brunton. Masson traces his gradual progression from devoted follower into disillusionment, and he does a good job of describing the mindset of the devotee throughout these stages.
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The Open and Closed Mind
By Milton Rokeach

An exploration of belief-disbelief systems, with a strong emphasis on experimentation. Comparisons between "open" systems (which are dynamic and able to change with new information) and "closed" systems (which are more rigid and unresponsive to change). A significant portion of the book is devoted to Rokeach's experimental confirmation of these theories.
This book has been out of print for quite a while, but can be found in local libraries and used book stores. has also been successful in finding this among its network of dealers.
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Techniques of Persuation

Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism
By Robert Jay Lifton

This classic text describes the process of brainwashing and thought reform, using political prisoners in communist China as a case study. Lifton details the many ways people can be forced to change their attitudes, including some techniques which are used by the NAW (such as sleep deprivation).
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By Robert Cialdini

Analysis of the process of persuation. Although this book does not mention cults specifically, many of the techniques will be very familiar to the NAW student. For a more detailed treatment of this book, see Influence and the New American Wing.
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The Psychology of Attitude Change and Social Influence
By Philip G. Zimbardo, Michael R. Leippe

The relationship between attitudes, behavior, and cognition. Pressures which bring about change in attitudes, and the influence of authority. Examination of the ways we justify ourselves to avoid experiencing our own contradictions. The power of unconscious influences. says this is out of print, but you can order brand new copies from your local Barnes and Noble.
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Related Subjects

The Remembered Self
By Jefferson A. Singer, Peter Salovey

A discussion of the ways we define ourselves by telling ourselves stories about our past. Emotion, memory, and their impact on personality. How we remember our past "through the lens of our most passionate goals". NAW students might be interested in the way they reinterpret their past from the perspective of the school's ideology, and how that process impacts their sense of self.
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By Richard Sennett

A broad historical treatment of authority in both public and personal life. Discusses the fear of authority, paternalism, and autonomy. The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate authority.
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Secular Spirituality

Beyond the Brain
By Stanislav Grof

Birth, death, and transcendence in psychotherapy. Grof was a pioneer in LSD psychotherapy and research, and he details the unusual states of mind that a NAW student might call "higher consciousness". The author takes a refreshingly scientific approach to these experiences, and although he does come to some startling conclusions, he refrains from leaping into the typical New Age explanations and cliches.
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The Spectrum of Consciousness
By Ken Wilber

A vast unification of the major world philosophies into one model of psychological and spiritual development. Wilber does a good job of combining the ancient mystical traditions with modern psychology.
For more information relating to the model of identity that emerges from Wilber's ideas, see Escape from Wholeness.
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The Observing Self
By Arthur J. Deikman, M.D.

An examination of the practices of mystical traditions from the perspective of modern psychotherapy. The NAW student will appreciate Deikman's chapters on "The Observing Self", "The Trance of Ordinary Life", and "Meditation".
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A Path With Heart
By Jack Kornfield

A Buddhist teacher describes his spiritual practices. This book may be interesting to NAW students because it contains chapters regarding legitimate spiritual organizations and ethical issues relating to the teacher-student relationship.
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By Hermann Hesse

A fictional story of a man who leaves his life behind, to begin a life of contemplation, only again to return to the world. An excellent example of the value of searching on one's own, without attaching oneself to a guru.
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Emotional Intelligence
By Daniel Goleman

Introduces the idea that "intelligence" can be used to describe emotional maturity, not just an intellectual measure. Describes the characteristics of emotionally intelligent people. Students of the NAW can gain from this book as they examine their own emotional lives and the condition of those around them.
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