Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change  
Paperback Edition
AuthorFlo Conway
Jim Siegelman
CountryUnited States
Publisher1st ed. Lippincott,
2nd printing Dell,
2nd ed. Stillpoint Press
Publication date1978
Media typePaperback
ISBN1st ed. ISBN 0-397-01258-6; 2nd printing ISBN 0-440-57970-8.; 2nd ed. ISBN 0-9647650-0-4

Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change is a 1978 anti-cult book which describes the authors' theory of religious conversion, called snapping in terms of mind control, a mental process which the authors argue by which a person is recruited by a cult or other religious movements.

It is also used to describe the process of "snapping out of it" during deprogramming or exit counseling, which the authors recommend as an antidote, a way of repairing the "snap".

Two editions of the book were published, the first one (1978) was published by Lippincot;[1] which was reprinted in 1979 by Dell;[2] and a second edition (1995) was published by Stillpoint Press, a publishing company owned by the authors.[3][4]

Content Edit

The authors Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman describe snapping as:

"an experience that is unmistakably traumatic ... Sudden change comes in a moment of intense experience that is not so much a peak as a precipice, an unforeseen break in the continuity of awareness that may leave them detached, withdrawn, disoriented - and utterly confused." [3]

Ted Patrick, sometimes called the "father of deprogramming" and who was later convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to one year in prison for his attempt to deprogram Roberta McElfish,[5] was interviewed in the book. He said:

They have the ability to come up to you and talk about anything they feel you're interested in, anything. Their technique is to get your attention, then your trust. The minute they get your trust, just like that they can put you in the cult." [3]

Marjoe Gortner explained some of the tricks and methods in the book that he used when he was still an evangelical preacher.

The book did not make it clear what the difference is between a conversion to a mainstream religion and to a cult.[citation needed]

Second edition (1995) Edit

The second edition, which was self-published by the authors,[3][4], includes excerpts from a prison interview with Charles Manson Family member Leslie van Houten, and extensive commentary on the brainwashing of Patty Hearst by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The text expands on the idea of "information disease," as an illness caused purely by information, but having an impact on brain chemistry, and points out similarities between this disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also links the "information disease" diagnosis they believe is caused by the practices of certain new religious movements and other groups referred to as cults to situations such as the impact of military basic training and prolonged drug use on the "Son of Sam" killer, David Berkowitz.

Reviews of sourcesEdit

Brock Kilbourne challenged findings in a 1982 Conway and Siegelman paper cited in the 2nd edition of the book. Kilbounre said that no statistical support was found for the study's finding of "information disease", and that the only significant correlation from the data provides was one that supported a therapeutic view of some cultic affiliations.[6]


  1. Siegelman, Jim; Conway, Flo (1978). Snapping: America's epidemic of sudden personality change. Philadelphia: Lippincott. ISBN 0-397-01258-6. 
  2. Siegelman, Jim; Conway, Flo (1979). Snapping: America's epidemic of sudden personality change. New York: Dell. ISBN 0-440-57970-8. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Siegelman, Jim; Conway, Flo (1995). Snapping: America's epidemic of sudden personality change, Stillpoint Press. ISBN 0-9647650-0-4. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stillpoint Press; 20 Park Ave., New York, NY, United States,; Corporate officers: Siegelman, James; Conway Flo. Source: Company Intelligence Database, Thomson Gale;
  5. Hunter, Howard O., Price, Polly J., Regulation of religious proselytism in the United States. pp. 537-574, Brigham Young University Law Review. Available online: "Regulation of religious proselytism in the United States". Retrieved on 2008-04-04.
  6. Kilbourne, Brock K. , The Conway and Siegelman Claims against Religious Cults: An Assessment of Their Data, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Dec., 1983), pp. 380-385

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit