Margaret Thaler Singer
Margaret Singer was born on July 29, 1921 in Denver, CO. Her father was the chief engineer at the city’s U.S. Mint. She was an accomplished cellist as a young woman. She played with the Denver Civic Symphony while attending University of Denver. She first received an undergraduate degree in speech, and then moved on to receive her master’s degree in pathology. After her master’s degree, in 1943, she moved on to finish a doctorate in clinical psychology.
The first place Singer worked after finishing her doctorate was the psychiatry department at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine. She worked there for eight years before joining the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, D.C. Singer was very fascinated by U.S. soldiers that were held captive during the Korean War. Some of the soldiers who returned seemed to have an aversion to Americans. She began to conduct research on the techniques used to cause this aversion. With her professorship at University of California at Berkeley in 1958, she continued with her research and was also a family therapist.
Margaret Singer began to hear from parents whose children had suddenly disappeared. She connected the phenomenon to a rise in the nontraditional, quasi-religious groups that on the fringes of hippie culture. Singer stated, “A sudden change of personality, a new way of talking and then they would disappear,” to Steven Rubenstein, a San Francisco Chronicle interviewer. In her fight against cults, one of her first targets was the Synanon. Synanon is a California group that gained a measure of fame in the 1960s for its work as a substance-abuse rehabilitation facility. Another thing she began investigating was the practices of the Unification Church.
Not much is known about her work with investigating the Unification Church, but in 1976 is when she entered the limelight with her testimony against Patty Hearst, a California newspaper heiress. Hearst was kidnapped by the...