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An absorbing and informative account of an abusive Australian cult that needs to be read...

The Cult Effect is an honest, grounded and, more often than not, terrifying recounting of a young woman's 13 year journey spent within an organisation that sought to brainwash and mind control its followers into giving their finances, labour and selves to its leader. You really get a sense of 'seeing behind the curtain' here with this account being from within the circle that is more often than not only seen from the outside. The result is a self-reflective telling of a story that explains how young people can be tricked into organisations and made to stay in them against their will. We see that these people are not at all gullible or easily fooled. It is the cults themselves that are clever enough to twist people until they don't know which way is up. 

I admit I found it hard to put this book down. It's a credit to the book that such a distressing read can be so engagingly written and yet still retain its objectivity despite how deeply the author was entwined with the events. The statement at the front that truth often is stranger than fiction certainly holds its own here. 

This is a fascinating and essential read for all people who have been through a similar struggle or know someone who has. Or anyone by that manner. This book helps to dispel certain misnomers about cult life and helps to raise awareness that this is an issue that is hardly protected by law in our country and more prevalent than a lot of people would imagine. 
An essential and eye-opening read. Highly recommended. 

Henry Boffin (Goodreads)

The Cult Effect is a well written, gripping account of one girl's involvement in a destructive cult...

Carli McConkey's life was derailed in her early 20's when she was caught up in a cult for thirteen years. In The Cult Effect she chronicles her journey, from her induction into the seemingly innocuous New Age group who offered 'life integration programmes' to her eventual degradation and abuse at the hands of the cult leader, the charismatic woman who took Carli's money to enrich her own company and abused Carli mentally, emotionally and physically. Carli bravely details her descent to rock bottom and the years of recovery since. This very personal, eye opening story sheds light on the process of indoctrination and the mind control methods which keep cult members loyal, despite the urgings of their inner selves and friends and families to escape. Carli battles the charismatic cult leader in court towards the end of the story and her recount shows the extent to which even people outside a cult can be easily manipulated by a consummate liar. The Cult Effect is very well written, with the events relayed in a matter of fact, objective way, keeping the story real and gripping throughout. An important resource for all those connected with the growing number of cults both in Australia and overseas.

Linda (Amazon)

This is a very honest and searing account...

This is a very honest and searing account of a young woman captured by the magnetism of a cult leader. The treatment of this woman and her young family will be of interest to any families who have members caught up in similar situations. While not a 'thriller' it is a real page-turner as the reader waits with baited breath to see how many indignities and how much abuse the author will have to suffer before making a break. It comes as a real relief to hear that she has saved her sanity and reconnected with her loving family, and is making a successful life for herself.

F.G. (Amazon)

A wrenching true tale...

The Cult Effect is a wrenching, heartbreaking read, an honest account of the cruelty and manipulation suffered at the hands of an egoistic and abusive cult leader. But it is also a story of hope: Carli’s incredible courage and tenacity allowed her not only to survive and escape, but also to provide encouragement to other cult survivors and their families.

Carli is a gifted writer, able to recreate scenes from memory so vividly the reader feels as though they are really there. Her candid, matter-of-fact voice, neither emotional nor detached, makes her account all the more harrowing. Carli does not just recount her own memories, but also, towards the end, examines the way cults work in general. From her story it is easy to see how magnetic personalities and promises of fulfilment can appeal to young people who are searching for meaning in life, and how cult leaders maintain power by preying on people’s insecurities.

The book also provides insight into the process of recovery, and could serve as a powerful resource for other cult survivors struggling to readjust after their trauma. Few books chronicle the degeneration of a cult over such a long period of time – because few would survive intact, and be able to record it in such detail. Carli should be applauded for her courage and for shining a light onto an issue that is far more prevalent than people think.

Kirsty (Kindle)

When I heard that this book had been published...

When I heard that this book had been published, I couldn't get hold of it quick enough to read it. I was involved with Lakaev's courses close to two decades ago and was absolutely shocked to learn that this woman went from operating her cult to becoming a registered psychologist in Australia (current) and at some stage was even working for Queensland Health as a government-employed psychologist. Unfathomable and this was despite several media exposes on her, an obviously questionable online presence and several complaints to the Queensland Psychology Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This book reveals it all, providing not only in-depth, clear and and explanatory description of how this Australian cult operated but in the final chapters also provides insights into how AHPRA and the Queensland Psychology Board allowed Lakaev to continue with her registration as a psychologist despite what has been presented in front of them.

Lisa Thomas (Amazon)

I couldn't put this book down...

I couldn't put this book down. The author should be proud of herself for having the courage to write this book and take charge of her life again and move forward.
She was such a young vulnerable girl looking to improve her life and all she got was abuse and torment, not to mention manipulated and mind controlled.
She was obviously not able to be the mother she could have been at that time and this woman Natasha has a lot to answer for in her abuse of this young girl.
No one should be able to get away with what this woman had done to her and her young family. Obviously many have suffered from this Natasha's hands over the years. I wish Carli every success and happiness in her life moving forwards.

Georgia (Amazon)

A timely warning on the dangers of mind control...

As a parent in an extended family who has been profoundly affected by the pernicious influence of Natasha Laekev, I thank Carli for her brave and honest account of this personal journey. Mind control may seem unfathomable to anyone who has not encountered (and acknowledged) it on a personal level or witnessed it in an intelligent and beloved friend, sibling or family member. I hope this books find wide readership - every person who is tempted to fall into the trap of such manipulative narrcisstic sociopaths can learn, and those in recovery surely take some heart that they were by no means alone in their misguided steps. Many ex members of Natasha's various schemes and enterprises are recovering from not only their psychological wounds, but crippling debts. As she outlines, Carli fought bravely through the court system not to be silenced, however to protect individuals she has only used real names and places essential for complete clarity. I have no hesitation of putting my name forward as someone who can verify the story she tells.

Marian Teresa (Tess) Bell (Amazon)

A must read to understand how the dynamics of undue coercion and control entrapped an intelligent courageous young woman...

Carli McConkey has shared her journey into a New age cult with honesty and courage. This book will be invaluable in helping others who have been, or find themselves drawn into what appears to be a group offering courses to benefit their lives, often at a vulnerable time in their life.
Trapped for 13 years in a world of abuse and control Carli bravely tells her story of life in Universal Knowledge and her journey to freedom.

Ros Hodgkins


Cult Information and Family Support

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