Friday, February 22, 2013

Indoctrination is Subtle and Sneaky

At TM-Free we recently received a question from a concerned former TMer. What I found interesting about the email was that its writer is quite savvy about the hypocrisy of the TM organization, and has put a lot of serious research into cult issues. It brought home to me how there's always more to be learned about mind control, how it's all around us, how vulnerable we are to its sneaky tactics, and how we have to keep practicing our critical thinking. It also reminded me that we at TM-Free can serve a role in helping people learn how to deal with people they love who may be involved in a destructive cult.  

IMPORTANT NOTE: We at TM-Free are not professionals counselors in this field. If you are concerned about someone, read and consult professionals such as those listed on the right at our home page. (Note: We do NOT recommend the Cult Awareness Network, since that organization was bought by Scientologists a decade or so ago). 

Here is the question from the reader: I wonder if any of you know anything about the "XYZ" group. A dear relative of mine has gotten into it and swears her "cult radar" is not going off. But I keep seeing things in it that remind me of other groups that use undue influence. She is highly aware of the influence of group think, (emphasis added), having been along for the ride during the T.M. circus years in Switzerland during the 70's....  

Response from various TM-Free editors:  Keep an eye on things.  It doesn't necessarily matter how much she knew about cults ahead of time.  Once the right kind of person is in a trance state, the executive control function of the brain is shut down.  And without the executive control function, any foreknowledge about cults is not being processed or applied to the current situation.  Cult dogma can then be steadily ladled in without the person realizing it's happening.

And afterwards the person still doesn't know it happened, even after being away from the indoctrination experience for awhile.  People can't detect reality shifts; they don't remember what reality was like before the indoctrination.

Of course everything depends on how much "the right sort of person" she is.  Maybe she's not.

If you research nothing else, please watch this amazing YouTube for a demonstration of surreptitious induction of dissociation, and of exploiting it to change people's beliefs in under 5 minutes: 

This is an extraordinary demonstration of how easy it is to get people under your thumb, of how to be a cult leader.

Do look up the group in some of the websites listed on the right.  Also, here are some questions that might help you determine if she's unknowingly come under their influence:  Does she seem evangelical about the group?  Defensive about criticism of it?  Questioning of it?  How much does she say her life was "transformed"?  Is she keen to go back for more?  Is she keen to get you to go?

I can understand you wanting to keep at arm's length from the group, but it I were you I'd start asking her to share what she had learned from the experience, and what growth she felt she had achieved from it.  For one thing, you might get a better idea of where her head is at regarding it.  And if there are current or potential problems, you're better off establishing that she can share things with you, thus keeping the line of communication open.  

If she starts sliding down the slope into full-scale cult involvement, you want her to share the ride with you as much as possible.  You would then be an open connection to reality.  The reason that you want to back off if she gets defensive is to avoid triggering a cognitive dissonance response.  If she gets defensive, then don't be critical about the group, or she might disconnect as far as sharing about it goes: 

which would shut down communication.

Or of course everything might be just fine with her.  It still wouldn't do any harm to open a dialogue about it with her.  Just be interested, curious and respectful when asking, not critical, to see how things lie.

The "cult leader" in the video mentioned above is Derren Brown.  Brown is a master of a classic branch of stage magic called "Mentalism."  You can find many excerpts from his performances on YouTube.  A "mentalist" is a performer who simulates having supernatural powers, but who is honest that it is all a fake.  A mentalist uses mental acuity, cold reading, warm reading, hot reading, principles of stage magic, hypnosis and/or suggestion to present the illusion of mind reading, psychokinesis, extra-sensory perception, precognition, clairvoyance or mind control.

In other words, a mentalist uses the exact same techniques that a cult leader uses.  The only difference is that the mentalist is honest about it all being an act.

(Thanks to Wikipedia and for selected quotes).

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