The following books are highly recommended for exiting Jehovah's Witnesses.
Book reviews have been included for your reference. Many of these books can be found at your local library or if you wish to purchase them by clicking on the image link here (merchant: Amazon), JWR will receive a small commission that will go towards the maintenance costs of this site.
“If you have doubts about Jehovah’s Witnesses, THIS is the book to start with. Before I read this, I figured that the Watchtower Society might have some doctrinal problems, but I thought that they were decent, well-meaning folks. This book showed me just how controlling — even Machiavellian — they can be.
The astonishing thing about this book is that its tone is so mild. Ray Franz was treated very badly indeed by the Watchtower power structure, but he never sounds nasty in his book. His gentle tone inspired me when I created my web site (Beyond Jehovah’s Witnesses); I decided that I would never sound bitter or take cheap shots.
If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, you are not supposed to read a book like this. The rule has its purpose: this book will let you see just how the Watchtower Society really operates — as seen by somebody who was at the very top of the organization. It’s not a pretty sight.”
Review by: Timothy Campbell (Toronto, Ontario Canada)
Reader Review: "As a former Jehovah's Witness for 35 years, this book is one of the best written on the subject. Franz exposes the innner workings of the Jehovah's Witnesses, however, it does not have bitter tone but rather an honest tone. It is his description of being a long time member of the organization, his work as one of their authors, a member of the Governing Body, his removal, and his being accused of apostasy. His honest and documented history of this period is not only helpful in understanding the inner workings of this group, but it is a revealing study in what happens when absolute power corrupts the thinking of good people."
When Abrahams was growing up, her world was neatly divided between those who would live forever in a paradise on earth and all the "worldly" people her Jehovah's Witness family prayed for. Her congregation forbade Christmas and Halloween, aggressively shunned anyone who left the fold and taught children that birthday parties were of the devil. For kicks in her early teens, Abrahams would go witnessing door-to-door with her pal Lisa, a die-hard J-Dub. This acerbic, witty memoir chronicles the first 23 years of Abraham's life with candor and a good dose of comedy. Unlike other memoirs written by the disenchanted, Abrahams musters some affection for her decent but screwed-up family, and even for the religion itself. Where the story hits a rough patch is in her account of her late teens and early 20s, when she dropped out of high school; rushed into a disastrous teen marriage; fell into alcohol, drugs and adultery; and finally "fired Jehovah as [her] personal bodyguard" and became an apostate divorcée. None of this is particularly funny, and Abrahams's tale of self-destruction ends abruptly enough that readers will wonder how she managed to pull herself together.
The Spanking Room is the true story of a young boy's upbringing, and how the unorthodox doctrines of the Watchtower Society encourage violence against its most helpless members--the children.
Whether you are looking for specific answers or an overall understanding of Jehovah's Witness beliefs and practices, The Spanking Room delivers in a straightforward, compelling manner.
Journey with little Billy Coburn as he grows up in the Watchtower Society, learn what Jehovah's Witnesses believe about God, and experience the inner workings of the Kingdom Hall through a child's-eye view. If you or someone you love is a Jehovah's Witness, this book is for you.
Since 1876, Jehovah's Witnesses have believed that they are living in the last days of the present world. Charles T. Russell, their founder, advised his followers that members of Christ's church would be raptured in 1878, and by 1914 Christ would destroy the nations and establish his kingdom on earth. The first prophecy was not fulfilled, but the outbreak of the First World War lent some credibility to the second. Ever since that time, Jehovah's Witnesses have been predicting that the world would end 'shortly.' Their numbers have grown to many millions in over two hundred countries. They distribute a billion pieces of literature annually, and continue to anticipate the end of the world.
Apocalypticism is the key issue in this detailed history, but there are others. As a long-time member of the sect, now expelled, Penton offers a comprehensive overview of a remarkable religious movement. His book is divided into three parts, each presenting the Witnesses' story in a different context: historical, doctrinal, and sociological. Some of the issues he discusses are known to the general public, such as the sect's opposition to military service and blood transfusions. Others involve internal controversies, including political control of the organization and the handling of dissent within the ranks. Penton has combined the special insight of an insider with the critical analysis of an observer now at a distance from his subject. From them he has created a penetrating study of a spreading world phenomenon.
At this very moment, there are millions of cult members world-wide. Do you think you could never become one of them? Think again. Brenda Lee has written a heart-wrenching, yet inspiring tale about her battle to escape from a religious cult after enduring decades of dysfunction and abuse. "Out of the Cocoon" is a remarkable story about how a single visit from two seemingly "nice" strangers nearly cost her everything, including her life. This story begins at the pinnacle of the author's desperation, by relaying a chilling fantasy she created when she was twelve years old. After accomplishing her grisly, murderous task within the security of a dream, she poses a disturbing question that sets the stage for the rest of her story: What could make a child so angry that she would fantasise about taking away the lives of the two people who gave her life?To understand Brenda's fragile emotional state, we have to go back to the beginning, when her childhood innocence reigned and unconditional love was abundant - when she didn't feel all alone in the world. In subsequent chapters, author Brenda Lee transports the reader back in time to relive the innocence of her childhood on a 100-year-old farm in rural Pennsylvania, where her carefree days were filled by swinging from vines, raising farm animals as pets, romping through the forests with her cousins, and plunging from the hayloft.Once "The Friends" knock on the door, however, her childhood and innocence dramatically disappear. But Brenda Lee refuses to become a victim and, like a butterfly, she learns to change the world within her when her external world becomes unbearable. After surviving years of stifling oppression and isolation, Brenda emerges from her cocoon and struggles to take flight. As she tries to fit into society as a young adult, she learns some startling things about her family, this "wicked world", and herself. In time, she learns to forgive not only those who tormented her, but also the mother who disowned her.
“This book is essential to anyone having doubts about the witnesses, or who have left. It basically shows how it is impossible for the Watchtower organization to have been chosen by God in 1914, which they claim, because the beliefs at that time were all lies. Most of what they taught at that time they no longer believe, and are actually embarrassed when people find out what was taught. And back then they insistently claimed that it was God speaking through them. So either God was a liar, or they were false prophets. The truth is always the truth, yet they claim it can change because the light gets brighter. Truth doesn’t change! This book makes this point using the watchtower’s own literature.”
Review by: Amarantha (Flint, Michigan)
A former cult member, now a counselor helping those affected by destructive cults, Hassan exposes the troubling facts about cults' recruitment, their use of psychological manipulation, and their often subtle influence on government, the legal system, and society as a whole. This updated paperback edition includes a new preface by the author and an expanded bibliography and resource list.
About the Author:
An internationally recognized authority on cults, Steven Hassan has appeared on hundreds of television and radio programs, and is extensively quoted in the media. He lectures frequently at universities and conferences for educators, counselors, religious leaders, and law enforcement personnel. He is a member of the American Association for Counseling and Development, and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology from Cambridge College.
Nationally renowned cult expert Steven Hassan presents the state of the art guide on how to help someone involved with cult mind control. Releasing the bonds reveals a much more refined method to help family and friends, called the Strategic Interaction Approach. This non-coercive, completely legal approach is far better than deprogramming, and even exit counseling. Topics covered in depth include: evaluating the situation; interacting with dual identities; communication strategies for phone calls, letter writing and visits; understanding and utilizing cult beliefs and tactics; techniques to reality-test and promote freedom of mind; and planning and implementing effective interventions.
Tobias and Lalich spent a combined total of 24 years in "restrictive groups" (i.e., cults), and both are currently involved in providing post-cult counseling and therapy. Their first collaboration, this book succeeds as an ambitious, comprehensive explanation of the cult experience and works well on several levels. Its stated focal intent is to encourage and assist those former cultists struggling to readjust to the "real world." Powered by the authors' experience, compassion, and intellect, it capably provides such support. In addition, however, Tobias and Lalich's systematic analysis of the shared characteristics of cults and cult leaders, along with extensive first-person accounts by former cultists, will educate those readers with a purely intellectual interest in the allure, power, and structure of cults. Recommended for public and religious libraries.
Bill Piekarski, Southwestern Coll. Lib., Chula Vista, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The term ‘brainwashing’ was first recorded in 1950, but it is an expression of a much older concept: the forcible and full-scale alteration of a person’s beliefs. Over the past 50 years the term has crept into popular culture, served as a topic for jokes, frightened the public in media headlines, and slandered innumerable people and institutions. It has also been the subject of learned discussion from many angles: history, sociology, psychology, psychotherapy, and marketing. Despite this variety, to date there has been one angle missing: any serious reference to real brains. Descriptions of how opinions can be changed, whether by persuasion, deceit, or force, have been almost entirely psychological.
“I have read this author’s other books I think this book is by far his best book. He touches on many many different subjects, hypnosis,NLP, and verbal techniques. He’s certainly would wet someone’s appetite to want to search more in-depth on these subjects. Overall this book is excellent, one of the best books I’ve read on this type of subject.
I have learned a lot of new ideas from this book and would really recommend it to someone who is in a situation with a need to know this information. To be quite honest this book incorporates most everything else in his previous books, so you really would only need this volume.”
Review by: DMK (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Clinical psychologist Singer, emeritus professor at Berkeley, and former cult member Lalich (coauthor of Captive Hearts, Captive Minds) here present an instructive report on the cult phenomenon, which they regard as a growing menace around the world. They define cults as organizations that feature “coordinated programs of coercive influence and behavioral control,” many religiously or politically oriented and increasingly centered on New Age self-improvement techniques that they claim are now being peddled to businesses. They enumerate the dangers of cults to the individual, particularly the attack on the sense of self; they analyze the leaders’ techniques (almost all these groups are authoritarian), including isolation from family and friends, trance induction, guided imagery and indirect suggestion; they offer practical advice on methods of helping survivors to escape and recover. Includes an appendix of resources and organizations for those seeking help.