Mind Control

on Monday, August 11, 2008

Mind Control

The subjects of mind control, exit-counselling and deprogramming are very interesting. However when people mention these subjects, people often have incorrect preconceived ideas as to what the subject matters are about.

Mind Control for instance, is often confused with brain-washing. Brainwashing, is the act of actually kidnapping someone or holding them against their will so that we can “wash their brains” of what they already know, and feed into them a new way of looking at their beliefs, behaviour, thinking and emotions.

Brain washing is often mentioned in conversation by people who do not understand the reality of mind control amongst destructive cults and the occult. It is a way of glossing over the subject. The mindset has been put in place over the last 20 or 30 years that if someone is in a cult, then we do not have to do anything to do with them. We are to ignore them because they are “brain washed”.

This is not the case, and we would be doing very well to find anyone today who fits the category of brain washed.

Mind control, whilst sounding similar to brain washing, is actually very complex, and cannot be totally understood in our short time this evening. However, we will try our best to get a definition of mind control so that we at least know what to look out for when we deal with the cults and the occult.

What then is mind control? How does it affect people?

Mind control loosely defined is the the systematic and deliberate control of someone’s thought processes by another person or group. It is a “system” of influences that disrupt and individuals’ identity (beliefs, behaviour, thinking and emotion) and replaces it with a new identity.

In most cases, the new identity is one that the original identity would strongly object to if it knew in advance what was in store.

This however, isn’t the way things turn out. Most people do not have the time or resources to discern the facts of the situation such as
1) Who the group they are joining actually are. (and)
2) What they do to the individual’s rights.

Leon Festinger, a psychologist, said of the “cognitive dissonance theory”, that there were three key elements to mind control. Control of behaviour, control of thoughts and control of emotions. Steven Hassen, author of the book “Combatting Cult Mind Control, Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults,” says that he likes to add another one to Festinger’s list, - that is “control of information”.

1. Behaviour
2. Thoughts
3. Emotions
4. Information

George Orwell, in his book “Nineteen Eighty Four” mentioned these concepts. He recognised that within cult groups there is no basic respect for the individual. The people are gradually led to think and behave in very similar ways through a process of mind control. As a result, they become totally dependent on the group: they lose their ability to act on their own and are often exploited for the sake of the group’s economic or political ends.

On example is the Watchtower Society, the governing body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses are nobodies. They must give up many things to be in favour with the organisation. They give up their right to think for themselves in regard to their spiritual life, and do not even trust their own interpretation of the Bible.

A Jehovah’s Witness cannot understand the Bible by themselves. They are taught to only trust the Watchtower Society’s interpretation of the Bible. When talking with a Jehovah’s Witness, the results of this mind control process is obvious. You can point out Scripture that says one thing, and the Jehovah’s Witness will have a re-interpretation of the Scripture quicker than you can read it. Even if it may say that black is black, if the Watchtower Society says that it is white, then to the Jehovah’s Witness, black is white.

Mind control is a very subtle process. It is not something that people go looking to have done to them. It is often difficult to detect.

There are four main types of cults in the world. If you do not remember them, then that’s fine, the idea is to recognise the techniques that they use to recruit people and keep them within the group.

1. Religious cults.

These are the best known and are the most numerous. These groups tend to focus on religious teaching. Many are Bible based, however, some are eastern-religion based, whilst other are drawn into the occult ways and practises, and still others are purely inventions of their leaders.

Of the religious cults, most claim to be in the religious realm, however, one only has to look at the lifestyle of the leaders, their real estate, their business enterprises, etc.

Most religious cults make claims such as “we are the only true Church” “we are God’s church for this age” “we are the only way to truly know God” “we are the light” “our teacher is the Messiah” “you are on a pathway to becoming gods” “through us you can attain spiritual perfection”.

As soon as you hear phrases like that you know you are encountering a cult. Religious cults also see their group as “pure” and the rest of society as “misled” “evil” or “Satanic”, there is often a clear division between them and us. This is a very effective mind-control technique as any attempt to leave induces the terrible fear of entering the evil world and parting with the only possibilty of salvation of one’s soul - the cult.

2. Political cults.

Whilst not religious in their outlook, these groups often have a set plan in mind. One thing that spring to mind is the “fringe” or “extremist” groups that fight for such things as “white supremacy rule”, etc.

These groups often have key supporters in government and subtly recruit followers through training camps, etc.

3. Psychotherapy/educational cults.

These groups often hold workshops that are said to provide “insight” and “enlightenment.” The meetings are usually held in a hotel conference room environment, and often have a goal that should be achieved. This goal is often said to be the “peak” experience.

Those who attend, whether they achieve the “peak” experience or not, are then invited to attend more advanced courses. Advanced courses often lead to the attendees becoming involved in the group. Once the person is in the group, they are then to invite friends, business colleagues and family along to the meetings so that they can in turn invite friends, business colleagues and family along, and so forth.

These groups often cause nervous breakdowns, broken marriages, and business failures.

4. Commercial cults.

These groups exist for the purpose of greed. They deceive and manipulate the people within the group to work for little or no pay in the hope of getting rich.

Pyramid-style or multi-level marketing organisations that promise big money but fleece their victims are many.

Success within commercial cults involves recruiting new people who in turn will recruit new people, and so on.

People involved often become slaves to the “company” and turn over their money in order to pay for “living expenses.”

Who can fall a victim to mind control?

Cult groups recruit intelligent, middle class people. They look for bright young people who look like they could further the cause of the group/leader/organisation with little fuss.

When recruiting, the recruiter must size up the recruitee to determine the best approach to use to get that person into the organisation. A very deep philosophical approach would not be taken with a doer. Doers are people that respond to actions, to physical things.

Just a point to note, that not all of our decisions are thoroughly thought through, if at all. We have a certain degree of conscious control, but many more matters are controlled unconsciously. The conscious mind has a narrow range of attention. The unconscious does all the rest, including regulating all body functions. Imagine having to tell your heart to beat 72 times every minute. You would be flat out telling your heart to beat, and would have little time for anything else.

Our mind and the way it is controlled and can be controlled can be seen by a little experiment.

Try this: Close your eyes for a minute. Take a moment to imaging that you are in a tropical paradise for a minute. You are on a beach and the waves are gently lapping up on the soft white sand. There is a slight breeze blowing and you can smell the ocean.

Did you go somewhere else for a moment? This is one way in which we can control our mind, however, cults use more of subtle approach than this, and they don’t have a certain class of people that they restrict themselves to.

People are often recruited into cults in one of three different ways...

1. A friend or relative who is already a member
2. A stranger who befriends them
3. A cult sponsored event, e.g. a lecture, seminar, or movie.

People who are being recruited often do not know that this is the case. Surveys show that present and former cult members were recruited into the cult when they were most vulnerable, i.e. at a time of crisis, distress or depression. It may have been the death of a loved one, an accident or even the parting of company from a very dear friend. Starting a new job is another point when people are vulnerable, as is being in a financially bad situation. Commercial cults, i.e. those that have the aim of “making more money than ever and being your own boss” are the ones that breed on the latter situation.

A key factor is the suspension of “reality testing” during the entrance phase because the group is seen to be meeting a deep seated emotional, spiritual or financial need. Reality testing is our ability to check out the world for ourselves. It is our internal warning light against deception. It operates by comparing the object we are examining -whether it be a cult, a motor car or a house with some external standard such as Scripture, a RACQ check or a builder’s inspection. We use our knowledge, logic and common sense to “sus out” the situation. Cults isolate people from external standards in order to make reality checking as difficult as possible. They are like a fast-talking used car salesman who won’t let you look at other dealerships or have a mechanical check done on the car. It involves considerable assertiveness to resist such people especiaaly if they have a “nice personality” as most cult leaders do on first sight. People are conned by cults if they let their emotional needs lead them and fail to check things out thoroughly.

This brings us to the question of deprogramming and exit-counselling.

Deprogramming, especially in the 70’s and the 80’s, was the act of kidnapping someone against their will, locking them in a room with the deprogrammers and showing them all the wrong things about the group/ leadership of their cult. This is what the media portrayed anyway. This method often backfired, and the cult member would dig their heels deeper into the cult because everything out there is “satanic” and they are out to take the truth from you.

The best deprogramming, is done by the person themselves. It is the type where the ex-member must “de-program” their beliefs, thoughts, lifestyle and life. This way is the most effective.

Exit counselling is different again. The cult member must be willing to talk with an exit counsellor.

In Australia, there are only a few exit-counsellors for people within the cults. This number is very sad, considering the vast growing mission field in the cults and the occult.

Exit-counsellors discuss aspects of the group with the cult member, and best try to help them realise that they have been conned. The term “mind-control” is generally best not used at first so as not to be too confusing. The aspects that are discussed are generally:-

A. Leadership.

Who is the leader of the group in question? What is his or her life history? What kind of education/training have they undertaken? Does the group’s leader have a criminal record? Where does the balance of power lie?

B. Doctrine.

Does the group publicly disclose their beliefs? Is there an “insider” and an “outsider” doctrine? Do they believe that the end justifies the means? Do they claim the “only truth”? Does or has their truth changed?

C. Membership.

Is some form of deception used to recruit members? In the membership drive, is the org’s real name involved? Does the recruitee meet the leadership straight away? Are members segregated from society? How is membership maintained?

This will show a basic organisational structure, and will help the cult member to actually consider how they get into the group, and what happens once they are in there.

Deeper questions will reveal exactly the state of the group...

How long have you (the recruiter) been involved? Are you trying to recruit me into any type of organisation?

Can you tell me the names of all the other organisations that are associated with this group?

What does your group believe?

What are new members expected to do once they join? Do I have to quit school or work, donate my money and property, or cut myself off from family and friends who might oppose membership?

Is your group considered to be controversial by anyone? If people are critical of your group, what are their main objections?

How do you feel about former members of the group?

Have you ever sat down to speak with a former member to find out why they left the group? If not, why not?

Does your group impose restrictions on communication with former members?

What are the three things that you like least about the group and it’s leader?

What to do to help a cult member change and grow as their own person ...

Build rapport and trust. It is recognised that friendship evangelism is the most successful evangelism today. If people know and trust you, then they will certainly listen to you thoughts, desires and opinions.

Collect valuable information. You want answers from the cult member, not the leaders of the organisation. You want “him” to answer the questions for you.

Develop the skills to promote a new perspective. After you have the trust of the cult member, and you have much information on the group, you are now ready to promote a new perspective to the cult member. This is the hardest step, and your exact approach will be determined by the nature and character of the cult member involved.

Get the cult member to consider reality from a number of perspectives. This is like explaining the Trinity doctrine 14 different ways until the person finally grasps its factuality.

Side step the thought stopping process. Negative remarks and thoughts are side stepped by destructive cults, therefore, side-step the negatives and introduce a positive. Instead of stating that “your leadership ripped you off $500,000 and now live in a nice big mansion because you were stupid enough to give them your money,” you could try “Where did the money for such a big mansion come from, and why are you living in this small shed, 6 to a room?”

Show the member, after you have done the other steps, a concrete definition of mind control, and how it works, Get them to understand that they are a victim of mind control. Get them to re-establish reality testing and their critical faculties so that they trust their own opinions again. This is an important step forward. It is therfore very important to encourage every type of individual expression they have - even if may seem insignificant it is a first small step back to thinking for themselves. Please go from this seminar with real compassion for those who have been involved in cults and if a cult member should cross your path listen to them, befriend them and believe them - it will be a healing for them and a blessing to you.