Cults, coercive behavior, and controlled groups: 7 true crime podcasts to stream if you’ve already burned through ‘Twin Flames’

True Crime March 28, 2022

If you’ve already binged “Twin Flames,” and you’re on a quest for comparable shows – look no further. We’ve rounded up 7 podcasts like “Twin Flames” about cults, manipulation, abuses of power, and people seeking guidance from self-proclaimed gurus.

Tune in for podcasts covering histories of cults and controlled groups, leaders’ coercive behavior, and the impact such groups had on the members’ lives. Many of these podcasts highlight survivors’ stories told firsthand.

Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power podcast art

Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power

Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power

PodcastOne presents “Trust Me: Cults, Extreme Belief, and the Abuse of Power.” Hosts Lola Blanc and Meagan Elizabeth successfully left cults and have presented others’ stories in over 60 episodes since 2020. In February, the Airborne Toxic Event’s Mikel Jollett discussed his childhood in the drug rehab cult, Synanon. A recent 2-part episode explained Twelve Tribes and the romance, racism, and cover-ups witnessed by former member Sinasta Colucci. Listeners are invited to share their stories to be featured on a future podcast episode.

Guru podcast art

Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment

Listen to ‘Guru: The Dark Side of Enlightenment’

James Arthur Ray once received Oprah’s stamp of approval and rose to prominence as an inspirational self-help figure. But that was way before his unusual methods were questioned and tragedy hit one of his self-help retreats. This scenario left people wondering how far should one go and where the limits should be. Friends and family members attempted to stop him, but what happened? This 8-episode Wondery series chronicles the “Guru’s” history and practices, hosted by Matt Stroud.

This is Actually Happening podcast art

This is Actually Happening

Listen to ‘This is Actually Happening’

Wondery’s “This is Actually Happening” details true crime stories, real experiences, and traumatic events. With over 250 episodes to stream, there are dozens of firsthand narratives involving abuse, power, obsession, secrets, and more. Hear how a family was impacted when their mom left to join a cult. An episode shared what it was like growing up in a cult. A woman recently shared a story of love and obsession, addicted to a man she could not leave. Tune in weekly for new episodes less than an hour on average.

Let's Talk About Sects podcast art

Let’s Talk About Sects

Listen to ‘Let’s Talk About Sects’

Sarah Steel’s “Let’s Talk About Sects” is a monthly true crime podcast all about cults. Each episode explores a different cult’s history, leaders, members’ recruitment, members’ experiences, psychological elements, notable events, and more. Since 2017, this series has released over 40 episodes and counting, running less than 80 minutes on average.

Was I In A Cult? podcast art

Was I In A Cult?

Listen to ‘Was I In A Cult?’

Comedian Liz Iacuzzi and Tyler Measom host the documentary podcast “Was I In A Cult?” Episodes profile different cults, their leaders, and people who have participated in and left cults. Liz and Tyler joined Podsauce last November and shared how they started the podcast. Iacuzzi is a cult survivor and Measom discussed his Mormon upbringing. On episodes, hear about NXIVM, Children of God, Nashville’s “Millionaire’s Club,” and more. This series is presented by iHeartPodcasts, with average episodes running over an hour long.

The Gateway podcast art

The Gateway: Teal Swan

Listen to ‘The Gateway: Teal Swan’

From Gizmodo comes “The Gateway: Teal Swan,” a 6-episode series about spiritual guru Teal Swan who attracted an audience on YouTube. Teal’s self-help content is geared toward people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. Some followers moved into Teal’s spiritual center, which faced criticism for questionable teachings. Host and Gizmodo reporter Jennings Brown investigated and interviewed Teal, traveled to Utah, and trekked to Costa Rica. Jennings also spoke with Teal’s inner circle to learn more and uncover why some of her followers died.

Heaven's Gate podcast art

Heaven’s Gate

Listen to ‘Heaven’s Gate’

39 people took their own lives in 1997. “Heaven’s Gate” investigates the mass suicide and the cult that lured in regular people searching for something more. Host Glynn Washington reports on this organization and the cult he grew up in. Start at the beginning of this 10-episode series to hear the true stories that inspired an HBO Max docuseries.

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