Organization to Know: The Open Minds Foundation

If you’re interested in coercive control and broader methods of authoritarian control and abuse, you need to know about The Open Minds Foundation. Open Minds works to safeguard people from manipulation and undue influence. The organization is made up of counselors and scholars with an expertise in a variety of areas where manipulation occurs: partnerships, families, cults, gangs, grooming rings, terrorist groups and even totalitarian countries.

Open Minds funds research in the area and is also working on a variety of unique projects with the goal of teaching people how to recognize manipulation, coercion and undue influence, including a graphic novel and a video game geared toward teens, as well as trainings for counselors working with victims. They also advocate for policy and laws that reflect a better understanding of these dynamics. The organization partners with experts in these related fields for collective impact.

For those who are interested in the psychology of these concepts, heavy hitters such as Philip Zimbardo (former American Psychological Association & known for the Stanford prison experiment) and Robert Cialdini (foremost expert on the study of persuasion) are on their Advisory Board. Also, some of our favorites, Alexandra Stein (author of Terror, Love and Brainwashing and on our “people to know” page), as well as Daniel Shaw (expert on pathologizing narcissism), all serve on the Open Minds Foundation advisory board and are contributors to their wonderful and informative blog. Our own Chelsea Brass also serves on the advisory board, where her research on the overlaps between terrorism and cults is showcased.

Be sure to check out their work on developing healthy skepticism, including how to talk to children and aid them in developing critical thinking skills, as well as their whole section on coercive control. This organization is an awesome resource and we hope you'll take a look at their important work!