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Select Bibliography

I compiled the select bibliography below to reflect themes in my book, The Weaponization of Loneliness.  It is by no means exhaustive.  Several of the entries are classics that seem to have been lost until recent years.


After the first sessions discussing The Weaponization of Loneliness, Stella's Book Club will draw from many of the titles below. The syllabus for that first book consists of four sessions because there is so much material to cover within it. Your club may decide to condense the sessions for the first book into three or two or even pack it into one session before proceeding to other works.  If so, please allow time to absorb the material. 


The longer books in the bibliography below can be overwhelming, so I will generally offer selections from the most critical chapters or pages of those books to discuss. More details to follow.


Attkisson, Sharyl. The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What you Think, and How you Vote.  New York: Harper, 2017.  Emmy-awarding winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson describes how elites silence people through harassment and smears.


Bernays, Edward.  Propaganda, 1928.  This is the book that gives away the game of power elites. Written by "the father of public relations" and nephew of psycho-analyst Sigmund Freud.


Cacioppo, John T., and Patrick, William.  Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008.  An overview of why we’re so hard-wired to connect.


Cialdini, RobertInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion. New York: Harper Business, 2006 (first published 1986) Cialdini has been a professor of marketing as well as psychology, and has been described as “godfather of persuasion.” 


Ellul, JacquesPropaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.  This is the premier classic on how propaganda works and why it is ever more dangerous in an increasingly technological society.  


Havel, Vaclav. The Power of the Powerless” (1978) in Open Letters: Selected Writings 1965-1990. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. An extraordinary essay that explains that the private sphere of life (the "hidden sphere") is of critical importance for preserving freedom.


Hoffer, Eric.  The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: HarperCollins, originally published in 1951.   This book is key to understanding how mobs form and how the mob mindset works. 


Jung, Carl.  The Undiscovered Self (1957) is a very slim volume—basically a long essay—packed with insights about how manipulating the human psyche ends up empowering the mass state and destroying individual freedom. 


Lessing, Doris. Prisons We Choose to Live Inside, New York: Harper and Row, 1987.  Lessing (1919-2013) was a famous icon of feminism, a Nobel laureate in literature, and became a strong opponent of totalitarianism in later life. Resisting group think is key to freedom.


Meerloo, Joost M. M. The Rape of the Mind: the Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1956.   This book cracks the code on groupthink.  This is the book that prompted Stella to write her Federalist article “How to Escape the Age of Mass Delusion” which Rush Limbaugh read verbatim and discussed at length on his show (June 15, 2015.)


Morabito, Stella. The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer.  New York/Nashville: Bombardier Books, 2022.  


Nisbet, Robert. The Quest for Community. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2010. (First published 1953.)  In this classic, renowned sociologist Robert Nisbet recognizes that tyrants always seek to destroy the private sphere of life. 

Noelle-Neumann, Elisabeth. The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion – Our Social Skin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.  Noelle-Neumann developed a model called “the spiral of silence” whereby our fear of expressing our opinions allows opposing opinions to dominate even if they are not majority opinions.

Packard, VanceThe Hidden Persuaders, first published 1957.  Vance Packard was the first to illustrate how advertisers used “depth psychology” to profit off of the innermost desires and fears of the public. 


Schouten, Ronald, MD, JD and Silver, James, JD. Almost a Psychopath. Hazelton Publishing, Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, 2012.  This book clarifies what it means to be an “almost-psychopath” – a high functioning and persuasive tyrant who (unlike a full-blown psychopath)--can reach the highest levels of power in government, business, and education by preying on others. 


Singer, Margaret Thaler. Cults in Our Midst: the Hidden Menace in our Everyday Lives, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995. Singer (1921-2005) explains how coercive persuasion causes people to do things they would have never dreamt of doing had they not fallen under its influence.


Wilcox, Laird (ed.) Propaganda, Persuasion and Deception: Over 1,120 Selected Quotations for the Ideological Skeptic.  A fantastic reference work compiled by expert on propaganda, the late Laird Wilcox (d. November 2023) known for founding and maintaining The Wilcox Collection on Political Extremism at the University of Kansas.


Winn, Denise.  The Manipulated Mind: Brainwashing, Conditioning, Indoctrination.  Malor Books, first published 1983. This book serves as an excellent primer to understanding how easily people can be psychologically manipulated.



We, Yevgeniy Zamyatin (1920’s)  In this novel, the earth’s remaining inhabitants in “The One State” have developed a mechanical, predictable society and are now ready to travel through space to absorb all other life forms to become part of their Borg-like hive mind. And yet there are some who resist.  I wrote an article about We which you can access at this link:

You can read George Orwell’s 1946 review of We in the London Tribune:


Brave New World, Aldous Huxley. Humans have bioengineered and conditioned themselves into castes.  Sex has become entirely recreational, and people soothe away their uneasy feelings with the drug “soma.”  


Nineteen-Eighty-Four, George Orwell.  In this surveillance society, no one can develop bonds of trust or loyalty.  Events are sent down the “memory hole.” People dutifully perform their “two minutes hate.”


The Giver, Lois Lowry, 1993.  A society devotes itself to “sameness” so that suffering will disappear from life.  But there is no emotional depth, no cultural memory, nothing that truly binds people together.


“The Grand Inquisitor” chapter in The Brothers Karamazov, Fedor Dostoyevsky. Do people at root reject freedom?  This question lies at the heart of the story told by Ivan Karamazov to his brother, the monk Alyosha in Dostoyevsky’s classic novel.


"Harrison Bergeron," 1961 short story by Kurt Vonnegut – Everyone is made to be equal by the office of the “Handicapper General” who disables any special talent or attractiveness one person might have over another.


"The New Utopia," by Jerome K. Jerome (1891)  In one of the first modern dystopian stories, there is an attempt to make everyone equal by “leveling down” everyone, rather than allowing for any real diversity of human beings.



American Psychological Association.  The APA-suppressed DIMPAC report. DIMPAC stands for “Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control.” In the aftermath of much cult activity in the twentieth century—which culminated in the 1978 Jonestown massacre—the American Psychological Association asked cult expert Margaret Thaler Singer (author of the book Cults in Our Midst) to head up a task force to provide recommendations to the APA, but then decided not to publish it. The DIMPAC report is extremely difficult to locate on the Internet. Here I link to one (incomplete) copy of it:


Asch, Solomon. “Opinions and Social Pressure,” Scientific American, Vol. 193, 1955

Professor Asch is known for his famous "line experiment" in social conformity.


Commission on Children at Risk. “Hardwired to Connect: A Report to the Nation.” In Authoritative Communities: The Scientific Case for Nurturing the Whole Child, edited by Kathleen Kovner Kline, _pages_. _City_: Springer Science-Business Media, LLC, 2008.  The findings of this study, first published in 2003, found that mental health is largely dependent upon two primary connections among human beings:  with family and with the transcendent (religion.)


Deneen, Patrick. “How a Generation Lost its Common Culture.” Minding the Campus, February 2, 2016.  The tragedy of the loss of our common culture through an education establishment that no longer imparts real knowledge.


Fromm-Reichmann, Frieda. “Loneliness.” Psychiatry, 22:1-15, 1959.

The famed psychotherapist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann offers her thesis on the connection between a deep feeling of social isolation and psychosis.


How to Recognize a Mind Hacker.”

This is a very useful pamphlet put out by anti-cult organization, NJ Safe and Sound.  It’s intended to guard against family separation by building awareness of a cult technique called “predatory alienation,” which turns the recruit against his loved ones. 


Jones, Ron. “The Third Wave.” Co-Evolution Quarterly, 1976.  This website explores a famous 1967 experiment in social conformity at a Palo Alto high school. 


Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” Horizon, April 1946.

In this famous essay, Orwell makes the connection between the manipulation of our language and the manipulation of our minds.


Sunstein, Cass.  “Breaking Up the Echo,” New York Times, 2011.  In this brief article, left-wing intellectual Cass Sunstein explains how “surprise validators” can persuade people to change their views.  The surprise validator is someone you can identify with, but whose views are unexpected.  (For example, the black conservative or the radical feminist who challenges gender theory.)


Wilcox, Laird. “The Practice of Ritual Defamation: How Values, Opinions, and Beliefs are Controlled in Democratic Societies.” 1990. This very brief essay is a must-read for understanding how cancel culture works.



The Children’s Story, by James Clavell, 25 minute TV movie, 1980.  From the intro by Peter Ustinov:  “What's brainwashing? And what's the difference between "education" and "re-education"?


Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story, 2015. This film traces the development of the famous and controversial “shock” experiments by Yale professor Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. Trailer:


The Lives of Others, 2006, German with English subtitles. This film shows life in the surveillance society of 1980’s East Germany before the Berlin Wall came down.

One of the most chilling scenes is “The Honnecker Joke” It’s worthy of an entire discussion.


Angi Vera, Hungarian film with English subtitles, by Pal Gabor, 1978.  (The DVD is not easy to obtain, but is worth the search:  Currently available with English subtitles online here:

After the communist takeover of Hungary in 1948, the Stalinist regime worked to re-construct the entire human infrastructure of the nation so that only those who conform to the new order are in positions of authority.


Marty (Ernest Borginine) 1955 – A middle aged bachelor finds love but is about to throw it away because his buddies refer to Marty’s new girlfriend as a “dog” and pressure him to break up with her.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939.  In this movie we can see the anatomy of a demonization campaign. Mr. Smith committed the ultimate crime in elitist Washington:  trying to expose corruption.  Cancel culture ensues.


Gaslight (Ingrid Bergman) 1944 – “Gaslight” is the story that coined the term “gaslighting” as a form of psychological abuse and manipulation through imposed isolation.


The Giver, 2014. A dystopian community is founded on the premise that sameness will save us.


The Wave. Based on real life story by high school teacher Ron Jones – dramatization of social experiment at a Palo Alto High School, 1968.


Mean Girls, 2004 – Quintessential teen high school movie. However, it provides a microcosm of the weaponry of loneliness in action. The queen bees try to control everybody’s relationships and reputations.


A few other videos that provide studies in isolation and psychological manipulation include: Twilight Zone episodes “The Obsolete Man” and “It’s a Good Life” 

The Devil Wears Prada (on the tyranny of the toxic boss);

The Hunger Games series (on divide-and-conquer dynamics);

Imitation of Life (on the tyranny of social conformity);

Mr. Jones (on the tyranny of a totalitarian system in place.) Very dark


SELECT DOCUMENTARIES related to the theme:


The Abilene Paradox, Second Edition, This management training film, based on Jerry Harvey’s book of the same name, is excellent for understanding how easily we all conform publicly -- and unanimously – when we disagree with an idea. This eye-opener is an extremely difficult film to procure. It cannot be downloaded and one 25-minute DVD costs $950, possibly only for industry use. But everyone can profit from watching the full 25-minute film, currently available on Youtube:

Here's The Abilene Paradox trailer:


The Singing Revolution, documentary on the liberation of Estonia from Soviet rule. Another antidote to isolation film.  It shows the ripple effect of speaking freely. And liberation through love, true unity, and song, 2006, produced by Michael Tusty


Margaret Thaler Singer lecture: “What is a Cult and How Does it Work?” The 20th century’s preeminent expert on cults explains the methods and techniques of dangerous cults and how they prey on the lonely.


NBC News Archive footage of Jonestown, including the speech Congressman Leo Ryan gave at the Jonestown compound the night before the mass killing in November 1978 and Ryan's assassination the next day.


Jonestown, “American Experience”, 2018.


Patty Hearst’s Interview with Larry King on Larry King Live. CNN, January 22, 2002. When newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped in 1974 by a violent group of terrorists, they subjected her to six weeks of intense Maoist propaganda while isolating her in a closet. “I had no free will.”

 Part I:

Part II:

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