Friday, 23 August 2013

What do the "experts" say Mind Control is?

This is a brief overview of the “official” mind control or “persuasion techniques” that are said to apply to JWs that have arisen from the work of Robert Lifton. The idea of cult mind control seems to have grown out of the work of Robert Liften an American psychiatrist (born 1926) who investigated what he say as thought-reform procedures or coercive techniques that were supposedly used against American POWs from the Korean War (1950-1953). In 1961 he published a book called “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China”. He came up with eight detailed methods which he says was (can be) used to change peoples minds without their agreement. Other people since then have labelled his theories as “mind control” methods though Liften evidently preferred “thought reform”

In brief his eight methods are

MILIEU CONTROL or information control

              the control of human communication within and environment if the control is extremely
              intense, it becomes an attempt to manage all a person sees, hears, reads, writes creating       
              an environment of isolation from other people especially the outside world which seen as
              against them

MYSTICAL MANIPULATION (Planned spontaneity)

             seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it 
             appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually 
             has been orchestrated leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, to claim
             exclusivity, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation 
              (or enlightenment) and participates actively in the manipulation of others


                  everything out side the group is absolutely evil, one must continually change or conform
                  to the group "norm". The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure,
                  the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside
                  the group), one has great difficulty in regaining a more balanced inner sensitivity to
                  the complexities of human morality the radical separation of pure/impure is both 
                  within the environment (the group) and the individual ties in with the process of
                  confession -- one must confess when one is not conforming


                  cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic
                  expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one 
                  confesses to one's sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, 
                  generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward 
                  personal change is an act of symbolic self-surrender makes it virtually impossible 
                  to attain a reasonable balance between worth and humility a young person  
                  confessing to various sins of pre-cultic existence can both believe in those 
                  sins and be covering over other ideas and feelings that s/he is either unaware of 
                  or reluctant to discuss often a person will confess to lesser sins while holding 
                  on to other secrets (often criticisms/ questions/doubts about the group/leaders 
                  that may cause them not to advance to a leadership position) "the more I
                  accuse myself, the more I have a right to judge you"


                  the language of the totalist
environment is characterized by the thought-terminating 

                  (thought-stoppers) repetitiously centered on all-encompassing jargon "the language
                   of non-thought" words are given new meanings -- the outside world does not use
                   the words or phrases in the same way -- it becomes a "group" word or phrase


                  the pattern of doctrine over person occurs when there is a conflict between 
                  what one feels oneself experiencing and what the doctrine or ideology says 
                  one should experience if one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders 
                  of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with 
                  them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the 
                  questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly
                  the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, 
                  true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience 
                  and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of 
                  contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel 
                  that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts 
                  become intense


                  since the group has an absolute vision of truth, those who are not in the group
                  are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right 
                  to exist "being verses nothingness" impediments to legitimate being must be pushed
                  away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence
                  by joining the group fear manipulation -- if one leaves this group, one leaves God or
                  loses their transformation, for something bad will happen to them the group is the
                 "elite", outsiders are "of the world", "evil", "unenlightened", etc.

It is true that that have been some groups that have been labelled as cults that have used some or al of those tactics to a detrimental effect on their members, and one could possible quite rightly call then destructive cults. Some people might remember back in 19913, the 51 day Waco Texas siege of the Branch Davidians under the leadership of David Koresh, a breakaway group of the Seventh Day Adventist, that had a “shoot out” with the American “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms” (ATF) that resulted in the deaths of four ATF agents and six cult members.

Then there was the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project” also known as “The Peoples Temple”. They were followers of Jim Jones. They had a settlement in Guyana. On November 18, 1978, 918 people died in the settlement, at a nearby airstrip Most of he died after drinking cyanide. A few were evidently murdered for refusing to drink.

More such cults can be found at

Now the big question is, do these eight “criteria” apply to Jehovah's Witnesses and if they do are they harmful and dangerous mind control, or, thought reform techniques that enslave JWs to the WTBTS? These are the questions I will be looking at in this serious of essays. 

In discussing the above so called though reform methods I will be be quoting from a book called "Straigh Talk about Cults" and a  paper I was given by a man  that was doing a "Christian Counselling" course. (he now lectures at a university)  This paper was a  "research report submitted to" his collage as the " Directed Study Project component for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Christian Counselling"

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