BVU professor Records Documentary on Psychology of Cults in Washington, D.C.

(story by Tim Gallagher)

Buena Vista University Professor of Experimental Psychology Dr. Wind Goodfriend spent time in Washington, D.C., this summer working to record a documentary delving into the psychology of cults.

Goodfriend was contracted for the project by Wondrium, which produces audio books written and performed by scholars. The 1998 BVU graduate is a prolific writer, having researched and written or co-authored eight books. She uses a couple of the textbooks she’s written as the sources for her BVU classes, including her Social Psychology book which won the Most Promising Textbook of the Year Award in 2019 from the Textbook & Academic Authors Association.

“I wrote the scripts for 12 episodes, each lasting 30 minutes,” she says of her latest venture. “I’m delivering those scripts as well, so I’ll be the person on the screen hosting the documentary.”

The shows can either be purchased on DVD or streamed through Wondrium’s site. Goodfriend was recruited as the scholar to deliver the audio book, The Science of Love.

“They asked if I would be willing to write and perform that audio book as I’d just written a textbook on the subject,” she says. “I wrote the audio book in 30-minute chapters and the company flew me to Washington to record in their sound studio in February 2021.”

Goodfriend interviews cult survivors for at least two of the episodes, and those survivors appear with her as the segment is recorded. One survivor is Thomas Heinzen, who has co-authored books with Goodfriend. The other is author Alexandra Amor, who wrote, “Cult: A Love Story,” a book from which Goodfriend teaches in her BVU instruction.

“I’ve worked with Tom on book projects, and I’ve had Alexandra lecture in my class,” Goodfriend says. “They’re both wonderful.”

In the fall of 2023, Goodfriend plans to return to Washington, D.C., to record all 12 episodes as much of the preliminary work was completed during the early summer.

A social psychologist who has published dozens of journal articles and book chapters, Goodfriend focuses her research on understanding and preventing relationship violence, sexism, and homophobia. Honored as a recipient of the Wythe Award for Excellence in Teaching, BVU’s highest honor in teaching, Goodfriend has also been voted Faculty of the Year by BVU students on three occasions.

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