81 episodes

Let's Talk About Sects is an award-winning monthly podcast focusing on a different cult each episode. Sarah takes a storytelling, deep dive approach, looking at the history of a sect's leaders, the recruitment of members, their experiences, psychological aspects, and notable incidents during its existence.
You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available now.
“A fascinating and well-researched look into cults and the charismatic leaders behind them.” Peter Wells, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A fantastic examination of sects, cults, and religion… a fact-based program that’ll hook you in and keep you coming back for more.” Zach Johnston, Uproxx
“Cleverly named, meticulously researched.” Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29
“The best podcast of its kind – I can’t wait for another episode!” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“I study cults and sects and for this reason listen to many podcasts on these subjects. This one is by far the best.” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“Best podcast about cults I’ve found.” Apple Podcasts review from an Australian listener

Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Let's Talk About Sects Sarah Steel

    • True Crime
    • 4.0 • 1K Ratings

Let's Talk About Sects is an award-winning monthly podcast focusing on a different cult each episode. Sarah takes a storytelling, deep dive approach, looking at the history of a sect's leaders, the recruitment of members, their experiences, psychological aspects, and notable incidents during its existence.
You can support us on Patreon, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available now.
“A fascinating and well-researched look into cults and the charismatic leaders behind them.” Peter Wells, The Sydney Morning Herald
“A fantastic examination of sects, cults, and religion… a fact-based program that’ll hook you in and keep you coming back for more.” Zach Johnston, Uproxx
“Cleverly named, meticulously researched.” Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29
“The best podcast of its kind – I can’t wait for another episode!” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“I study cults and sects and for this reason listen to many podcasts on these subjects. This one is by far the best.” Apple Podcasts review from a US listener
“Best podcast about cults I’ve found.” Apple Podcasts review from an Australian listener

Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    Escaping Twin Flames with Cecilia Peck & Inbal B. Lessner

    Escaping Twin Flames with Cecilia Peck & Inbal B. Lessner

    Cecilia Peck and Inbal B. Lessner are the director/producer/editor team behind the award-winning Escaping Twin Flames, a three-part documentary series for Netflix about Twin Flames Universe – a cult you may remember from season 5. This powerhouse duo has turned their talents to investigating high-control groups over their last couple of projects, with Cecilia and Inbal also behind the Starz series Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult. Their filmmaking takes a trauma-informed approach with deep care for its subjects, and they share more about this as well as what they found out about Twin Flames for this interview episode.
    Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation.
    Links:
    Escaping Twin Flames — Netflix, 2023What "Escaping Twin Flames" teaches us about the anti-trans nature of a supposedly loving cult — by Melanie McFarland, Salon, 11 November 2023Seduced: Inside the NXIVM Cult — website for the docuseries including resources for cult survivors and loved onesBrave Miss World — website for the documentary film where rape survivors can also share their storiesThis YouTube School Promised True Love. Students Say They Got Exploited Instead — by Sarah Berman, VICE, 6 February 2020Accused Cult Leader Threatened Ex-Members After VICE Investigation — by Sarah Berman, VICE, 12 March 2020Cecilia Peck's Instagram, X, Facebook and LinkedIn
    If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support with or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia, or with the International Cultic Studies Association.
    If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs support right now, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia, or find your local crisis centre via the International Association for Suicide Prevention website.
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 58 min
    Interview Episode: LGATs with John Hunter PhD

    Interview Episode: LGATs with John Hunter PhD

    For his 2017 PhD, John Hunter put forward a hypothesis that offers insights into both the “transformational” experiences associated with large group awareness training (LGAT) participation and the common claims of psychological harm and problematic behaviour associated with participation. Dr Hunter presented his work at the 2023 International Cultic Studies Association conference, and for this episode, he breaks down some of his findings – including where LGATs may or may not intersect with cults and cult-like behaviour.
    Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation.
     
    Links:
    John Hunter PhD websiteStress-induced hypomania in healthy participants: the allostatic “manic-defence hypothesis” — Dr John Hunter’s 2017 PhD DissertationRational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (Dr Albert Ellis)Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Dr Aaron T. Beck)Robert J. Lifton’s Eight Criteria for Thought ReformThe Book of est — Kirkus Reviews'We're Gonna Tear You Down and Put You Back Together" — by Mark Brewer, Psychology Today, August 1975Mindbreakers — by Roland Howard, The Daily Mail, 23 July 2001Cults in Our Midst — by Margaret Singer, 1995Psychiatric disturbances associated with Erhard Seminars Training — by L. L. Glass, M. A. Kirsch & F. N. Parris, American Journal of Psychiatry, 1977Psychological effects of participation in a large group awareness training — by Fisher, J. D., Silver, R. C., Chinsky, J. M., Goff, B., Klar, Y., & Zagieboylo, C., Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1989The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion — by Richard E. Petty & John T. Cacioppo, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology Vol 19, 1986Thinking, Fast and Slow — by Daniel Kahneman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011The Program: Cons, Cults and Kidnapping — Fishbowl Films, 2024 Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Message from Sarah

    Message from Sarah

    A little update from Sarah about what to expect with Let's Talk About Sects now that we're winding up the sixth season of the show. Don't worry, we're not going anywhere! But there are a few small changes to make sure that this project remains sustainable.
    Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/ltaspod
    https://www.ltaspod.com/supporters
    Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 5 min
    The Retreat: a Divine Madness Update

    The Retreat: a Divine Madness Update

    In the last episode of season 5, we looked into a Boulder, Colorado community then known as Divine Madness and led by Marc Tizer, usually referred to as 'Yo'. Its members were recognised for some amazing results in ultramarathons. At the time of researching that episode, updates about the current status of the group were hard to come by.
    Deru Youmans came across a listing for 'The Retreat' in the Gila National Forest on the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) website, and it sounded amazing. Their recent experience in this remote community had them very concerned for others who might come across a similar listing in the future.
    Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now.
     
    Thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects.
     
    Links:
    Teachings of Value — website for The Retreat and other current activities of Marc Tizer's group once known as Divine MadnessScenic, secluded farm in the Gila National Forest — WWOOF listing for The RetreatInner Journeys Wilderness Camps — Summer overnight camps for girls at The RetreatHighland Intentional Community — Foundation for Intentional Community listing for the group's Boulder, Colorado farmA Running Club Is 100 Miles Outside of the Mainstream — by Jere Longman, The New York Times, 28 July 1997 Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 1 hr 34 min
    Interview Episode: The Troubled Teen Industry with Emma Lehman

    Interview Episode: The Troubled Teen Industry with Emma Lehman

    Journalist Emma Lehman is the creator of the independent podcast Gooned, which dives into the Troubled Teen Industry or TTI – a network of for-profit congregate care facilities for youth ranging from wilderness programs to therapeutic boarding schools. In the podcast, Emma interviews survivors, parents, staff members, experts and activists.
    Across the USA, young people are funnelled into this $23 billion industry not only by their caregivers but by government agencies. While these places advertise themselves as solutions to everything from troublesome conduct to mental illness, Emma shares through Gooned that they are ground zero for emotional, physical, and psychological abuse with lasting traumatic impacts on the teens they say they serve. And a number of the dubious and damaging methods many of them use can draw a straight line to a cult.
    Full episode page here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now.
     
    Thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects.
     
    Links:
    Gooned — podcast, website and TikTokUnsilenced — US non profit organisation that serves past, present, and future victims of institutional child abuseEmma Lehman — Emma's website where you can find out more about her work Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 35 min
    Avatar

    Avatar

    Harry Palmer created Avatar after his presidency of the Church of Scientology's Elmira Mission ended in the mid-1980s, as a result of legal proceedings around trademark infringement. Avatar says that it aims to create an 'enlightened planetary consciousness' or EPC through its courses, which are expensive and numerous. Former students say they have been left with massive debts as a result of their attendance.
    Full research sources listed here. You can support us on Patreon or Acast+, with a one-off donation, or grab some merch. Sarah Steel's debut book Do As I Say is available on audiobook now, and you can order Joe Gould's LTAS soundtrack album here.
     
    With thanks to Audio-Technica, presenting partner for season 6 of Let's Talk About Sects. Head here to enter our competition to win a pair of ATH-SQ1TW Wireless Earbuds!
    Links:
    Who is Harry Palmer? — archived founder bio on former Avatar website, May 2006Living Deliberately: The Discovery and Development of Avatar — by Harry Palmer, Star’s Edge International, 1994Harry Palmer’s Scientology Mission, Star’s Edge, and Avatar — special report series by Lisa Bennett, Elmira Star-Gazette, 2-7 February 1988We'd like to welcome you to 'enlightenment' — by Russell Blackstock, NZ Herald, 17 August 2014Interview with Margie - Ex-Scientology / Avatar | The Origins of the Avatar Course - Part 1 and Part 2 — Avatar Uncovered YouTube channel, 15 & 19 January 2018Avatar Uncovered — website maintained by former Avatar Master Amanda Reed, accessed January 2024An Interview With Harry Palmer — by Matt Ding, HP Magazine, 1996, interview excerpt archived from About Harry Palmer websiteAvatar: Scientology-style sect causes concern in Netherlands — by Anna Holligan, BBC News, 31 March 2018 Subscribe and support the production of this independent podcast, and you can access early + ad-free episodes at https://plus.acast.com/s/lets-talk-about-sects.



    Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5
1K Ratings

1K Ratings

Lulu ledoux ,

Such a fantastic podcast!

This podcast is a brilliant, intelligent and in depth look at cults and the people they harm. Sarah’s compassionate view of cult victims and her understanding of the complex world of coercive control on a wide scale is impressive and the show is beautifully put together, especially the music. I’ve learned so much from listening and it’s one of my favourites. Highly recommended.

Hobinson ,

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fascinating stories. Thoroughly researched with insightful guests. Thank you!

thisphoneiscrazy ,

“Let’s Talk About Sects”

Having had an older sister join The Moonies many years ago in the late 1970’s and remain one to this day, I have had an interest in cults and find Sarah Steele’s podcasts very interesting. I’m continually amazed at the number and variety of cults that have been discussed. I “lost” my sister, who I absolutely idolised when I was a child, and it has been a real sadness and source of grief and will always be so. These evil cults need to be exposed for what they really are.

Top Podcasts In True Crime

The Missing Campers Trial
9Podcasts
Casefile True Crime
Casefile Presents
Blood is Thicker: The Hargan Family Killings
CBS News
The Boy in the Water
newsroom.co.nz
True Crime Conversations
Mamamia Podcasts
Crime at Bedtime
Jack Laurence

You Might Also Like

Coffee And Cults
Coffee And Cults
Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and Manipulation
PodcastOne
Was I In A Cult?
PodcastOne
IndoctriNation
Rachel Bernstein
A Little Bit Culty
Sarah Edmondson & Anthony “Nippy” Ames
Prayed Upon
The Courier Mail