Hi! Luna Lindsey here. Great stuff. I’m glad that my work is reaching people and inspiring people to do their own writing on the topic. ^_^ I hope you keep at it.
I’d like to point out that the field is not actually polarized, and there is a great deal of consensus. I’m a member of the International Cultic Studies Association, receive their publications, and have been to their conferences. Lifton’s work is not controversial, and has only been built upon since by these researchers.
There have been a number of controversies in the cult research field in the past, but they frequently have to do with cult apologists trying to smear the work of honest scholars to enforce milieu control over their own members and make their particular group look better in the public eye. For instance, there once was a reputable anti-cult website called CAN (Cult-Awareness Network), which was sued into bankruptcy, and then Scientology bought them out and replaced their website content. They then used that as a platform to discredit cult research. (Here’s the Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_Awareness_Network )
There have also been controversies over practices such as “cult deprogramming,” (in which members were forcibly removed from cults) but those have long been resolved. The core ideas of how thought reform work, including Lifton’s foundational writing, are still accepted as valid.
note, she is /u/jamgrrl on reddit