Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer, (1921--2003) was a clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.
Singer's main areas of research included schizophrenia, family therapy, brainwashing and coercive persuasion. Singer performed research at the University of Colorado's School of Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center Institute of Research, the National Institute of Mental Health, the United States Air Force and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received many awards for her work, including the Leo J. Ryan Memorial Award, the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, and both the Hofheimer Prize and the Stanley R. Dean Award from the American College of Psychiatrists.
In the 1960s she began to study the nature of cults and mind control and served on the board of the American Family Foundation. She is the author of the book Cults in Our Midst. She gave expert testimony in several cult-related trials, including the 1976 trial of Patty Hearst, who had previously been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the 1977 hearing for five members of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.
In 1987, as head of the APA taskforce on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control for the American Psychological Association, Singer oversaw the production of a report that was later rejected by the APA's Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology. Thereafter, Singer's expert testimony in four subsequent cases was not accepted. In 1992 she sued the APA for "defamation, frauds, aiding and abetting and conspiracy", but in 1994 she lost.
Articles in The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times reported complaints by Singer and her family that she had been enduring harassment and death threats due to her "battles" with the cults.