CULT PERSUASION by hfwvCf

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									CULT
PERSUASION

“brainwashing,” mind control,
cult conversion, and
deprogramming
ROOTS OF CULTIC RESEARCH

   POW camps in the Korean war:
    emergence of the term
    “brainwashing”
   “When Prophecy Fails: Festinger,
    Riecken, & Schacter’s 1956
    analysis of an end-of-the earth
    cult
   1960’s: popularity of Hare
    Krishnas and transcendental
    meditation
    MODERN DAY CULTS: A SAD, BRIEF
    CHRONOLOGY
   1978: Reverend Jim Jones and 900                 1997: 39 members of the “Heaven’s Gate”
    followers, including children, commit             cult, led by Marshall Applewhite, commit
    suicide in Jonestown Guyana by drinking           suicide in California. They die so they can
    cyanide-laced punch.                              join the Mother Ship following the Hale-
   1991: a Mexican minister and 29 followers         Bopp comet.
    suffocate after he instructs them to keep        2000: More than 900 members of a
    praying and ignore toxic fumes filling the        reclusive Christian doomsday cult in Africa
    church.                                           were murdered by their leaders. Many
   1993: At least 80 Branch Davidians,               burned to death, others were buried in
    followers of David Coresh, perish in a fire       mass graves.
    and shoot-out with the BATF at their             2003: Members of the Raelians, a cult
    compound in Waco, Texas.                          founded by Claude Vorilhon
   1993: 53 Vietnamese tribal villagers              now known as "Rael" claimed that with the
    commit suicide with primitive weapons in          assistant of Clonaid, a human cloning
    the belief they will go straight to heaven.       company, they had cloned two or more
   1994: 67 members of the “Order of the             infants.
    Solar Temple,” cult are found burned to
    death in the French alps in Switzerland and
    in Quebec, Canada.
   1995: Shoko Asahara& Aum Supreme
    Truth released Sarin gas in five Tokyo
    subway stations killing 12 people (one
    dying a year after the attack) and
    sickening more than 5,500 others.                                 “Rael” and Brigitte Boisselier,
                                                                      Raelian bishop and CEO of
                                                                      Clonaid
PREVALENCE OF CULTS AND CULT
ACTIVITIES
   Some estimates suggest
    there are over 5000 cults in
    the U.S. alone (including
    militia groups, extremist
    religions, and new age sects)
   The new millennium rekindled
    interest and membership in
    cults.
   Some estimates suggest
    upwards of 185,000 converts
    per year
   Not all cults are religious or
    spiritual in nature. Modern
    cults include large group-
    awareness trainings,
    psychotherapy, business,
    political, and "New Age"
    groups
WHAT IS A “CULT?” DEFINITIONAL
CONSIDERATIONS:

   Difficulty of defining cults
    precisely:
   One person’s cult is another person’s
    religion
   “cult” is a pejorative term, usually
    used by one group to brand another.
   Singer & Lalich (1995): “a cultic
    relationship is one in which a person
    intentionally induces others to
    become totally or nearly totally
    dependent on him or her for almost
    all major life decisions, and
    inculcates in these followers a belief
    that he or she has some special
    talent, gift, or knowledge.”
MORE PROBLEMS WITH DEFINING CULTS

   What is the difference between a
    “cult” and a “social movement,” or an
    “extremist group” or a “club.”
   Which, if any, of the following are
    cults?
      Unification Church (“moonies”)
      Church of Scientology
      Mormonism
      Amish
      the Manson family
      Masons or Shriners
      Militia groups
      Hell’s angels
      Suicide bombers
      Fraternities
      Amway
      Trekkers and Trekkies
      Boy Scouts of America
“BRAINWASHING,” A MISNOMER
   People can’t be “brainwashed.” There is no
    science of brainwashing that allows people to
    be programmed, deprogrammed, or
    reprogrammed like a computer.
      A cult convert has to be a willing
        participant in his/her conversion. He or
        she may not be aware of a persuasive
        effort, but he or she has to go along with
        the process.
      Cults use the same basic techniques of
        persuasion as other persuaders, but in
        addition, they rely on many unethical
        strategies
      Cults employ many strategies at once;
        physical isolation, ego-reinforcement,
        sleep deprivation, deception, etc.
      Cults control the physical environment of
        members as well (that is why cults often
        live away from the rest of society in a
        compound, commune, etc.
ROBERT LIFTON’S (1987) 8 MARKS OF
MIND CONTROL

1.   milieu control: control of the environment,
     communication, access to information
2.   Mystical manipulation: the leader gets to
     reinterpret events and history as she/he sees
     fit.
3.   demand for purity: society is corrupt, members
     must be purified. The desire to become
     mentally and physically pure makes members
     susceptible to guilt, fear, and other moral
     appeals used by the leader.
4.   cult of confession: control of shame and guilt;    Robert Jay Lifton
     members must confess any wrongdoing to the
     leader, including mental infractions
5.   sacred science: reliance on dogmatic
     principles; the leader has all the answers. Only
     the leader is privileged to know the absolute
     truth.
LIFTON’S 8 MARKS…CONTINUED

6.      loading the language: reliance on thought-restraining
        phrases and language; serves to isolate members from
        the outside world and constrict members’ thinking
7.      doctrine over person: the cause’s doctrine takes
        precedence over the individual. Members’ character
        and identity have to be reshaped.
8.      dispensing of existence: Outsiders are unworthy unless
        they join the group. Members fear being expelled from
        the group.

     http://www.csj.org/studyindex/studymindctr/study_mindctr_lifton.htm
     Go to the above link for more detail on Lifton’s 8 marks of mind control
RECRUITMENT TECHNIQUES: THE CULT
CONVERSION PROCESS

   How it starts:
      Windows of vulnerability: targets are most
         susceptible during an emotional crisis (divorce,
         death of loved one, serious illness, etc.)
           target’s judgment may be confused,
             impaired
           target is looking for an answer to life’s
             problems
   Befriending the target
      Ingratiation strategies (compliments, flattery,
         especially about sources of insecurity)
      Lure of forming a serious or close relationship
   Invitation to attend a meeting or retreat
      isolation from friends, family
      control over environment
      Difficult to leave
   Deception: withholding the true identify of the
    group, withholding the purpose of befriending
    another, etc.
PSYCHOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES OF PERSUASION


   Unconditional positive          Confession
    regard                          Fear, guilt appeals
      “love bombing,”group         Sacrifice; personal, financial
       hugs, etc.                   Loyalty tests
   Meditation, chanting, and       Demonizing (doubts are the Devil
    other mind-numbing               at work)
    techniques
   Peer group pressure
      Pressure to conform, be
       part of the group
   Verbal abuse
PHYSICAL TECHNIQUES OF PERSUASION

                                     Repetitive motion (chanting,
      Physical isolation
                                      dancing)
      Sleep deprivation
                                     Hallucinations (via hyperventilation,
      Fasting
                                      hallucinogens, chanting, etc.)
      Control of the person’s
       time (rigorous                Body manipulation
       schedule, no free             Extreme dress codes
       time)                         Loyalty tests
      Loss of privacy
      Constant praying or
       witnessing of beliefs to
       the group
WARNING SIGNS: CHECKLIST OF CULT
CHARACTERISTICS
   The group is focused on a living leader to whom
    members seem to display zealous, unquestioning
    loyalty
   The group is preoccupied with bringing in new
    members
   The group is preoccupied with bringing in money
   Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged, or
    even punished
   Mind-numbing techniques like chanting, speaking in
    tongues
   denunciation sessions are used to suppress doubts
                                                           For more
    about the group or its leadership
                                                           information, see Dr.
   The leadership dictates in great detail how            Margaret Singer’s
    members should think, feel, act. (permission to        excellent book,
    come and go, where to live, how to discipline          Cults in Our Midst
    children, etc.                                         (1996).
   The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted
    status. The leader is considered the Messiah
   Extra-biblical revelation: God communicates directly
    to the group’s leader.
    MORE WARNING SIGNS

   The group exhibits a polarized
    “us-them” mentality. Outsiders
    are evil and must be shunned.
   The group’s leader is not
    accountable to any authorities,
    inside or outside of the group
   The group teaches that its ends
    justify the means (such as
    collecting money for phony
    charities)
   The leadership induces guilt,
    fear, in group members in order
    to control them
   Members’ subservience to the
    group causes them to cut ties
    with family and friends, and to
    give up personal goals in the
    interests of the group
   Social encapsulation: Members
    are encouraged to live with, or
    socialize with the group
    exclusively
A WARNING AND ADVICE:

   Beware of the “self serving bias”
        Most people think they are above average
        Smarter, more attractive, funnier, etc.
   People tend to think they are immune to cult
    influence
        “I’m too smart to be duped by a cult”
        “People with low self esteem join cults”
        Only 5 to 6 percent of cult members demonstrate major
         psychological problems prior to joining a cult (Singer,
         1995).
   Once involved, it can be difficult to take one’s exit
        psychological commitment/cognitive dissonance
        the need to save face
   the vast majority of cult recruits are normal,
    productive people
   the single most important defense against cult
    influence is the realization that we are all
    vulnerable
EXAMPLES OF DESTRUCTIVE CULTS


     Aum Shinri Kyo

     Branch Davidians

     The Family (Charles Manson)

     Heaven's Gate

     The People's Temple (Jim Jones)

     Order of the Solar Temple

								
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