Raphael Aron’s novel appealed to me, not only because the subject of cults and mind control is an important topic of which all people need to become aware, but also because I found the different family’s stories moving and their experience of having a loved one caught in a cult very realistic. I know a bit about cults and how they operate, but only someone with the author’s experience in working with real life families in this kind of situation could write such diverse stories on the theme and have each one ring with truth.
It’s an entertaining read that also shows just how easy it is to become bound by the beliefs foisted on us by others.
After a lifetime mourning the disappearance of her daughter, who was mysteriously abducted by her husband thirty years earlier, Australian mother, Laura Fields, forms a support agency, CultAssist, to help other grieving parents and finds herself on a dangerous odyssey which leads her into the entangled world of cults.
Among the clients are five desperate families whose worlds dramatically collide as she battles to help them break the mesmerising spell of unscrupulous spiritual leaders and gurus who prey on the vulnerable and destroy many lives along the way.
Based on true stories from the case files of Raphael Aron, Director of Cult Consulting Australia, Beyond Belief highlights a basic human instinct – the need to belong. It demonstrates how individuals, family and society play a pivotal role in providing protection from the destructive influences of organizations seeking to deprive their followers of their identity and sense of self; a timely message in an increasingly uncertain world.
Raphael Aron is the author of Cults: Too Good to be True, (Harper Collins 1999) and Cults, Terror and Mind Control, (Bay Tree Publishing 2009/11)
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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING ABOUT BOUND BY BELIEF:
Raphael Aron’s superb retelling of the kind of cases that he has worked on as a cult exit counsellor will give many people pause to wonder why there is so little regulation or even exposure of self-proclaimed religious groups that impose outlandish and oppressive regimes on to unsuspecting followers, enslaving and hurting them while depriving them of their freedom and basic human rights. It is all the more concerning as they continue to thrive in Australia, claiming victims, while out of the public eye. Few people understand as well as Aron, the psychological and emotional trauma they inflict on their followers, families and loved ones, and the enormous skill and risk it takes to rescue them. This book needs to be read widely by young and old alike, as no one can afford to be naïve and uninformed about the cult phenomenon that is now aided and abetted by social media. – Dr. Rachael Kohn, AO, FRSN, author: The Other Side of the Story: Essays on Jews, Christians, Cults, Women, Atheists and Artists (2021)
Bound by Belief is an account of some of the cases dealt with by CultAssist, a fictional organisation which helps those caught up in cults free themselves and return to their families and normal lives. With diverse and well-developed characters, this important novel shows how people from different walks of life and of different ages can be inveigled into a cult by a charismatic leader.
The novel is written from several points of view and each individual character’s story is well developed with realistic struggles and outcomes. Plenty of action and emotional insight makes Bound by Belief a compelling read. This is a novel which catches the attention and holds it throughout. The scenes set in an ashram in India are particularly tense.
Overall, I found this novel to be engaging with sympathetic characters, an interesting and unusual theme, and a serious message. – Barbara Scott Emmett, Writer and Editor
‘Bound by Belief‘ presents the issues around cults and control in an easy to read and entertaining manner, while at the same time giving great insight into the mindset of adherents, their families, and those attempting to combat controlling groups. The author has drawn on extensive personal experience in the field to create a factual base for this work.’ – Tore Klevjer, President: Cult Information Family Support inc. CIFS