Confronting Thought Reform & Coercive Persuasion

The last entry on this blog offered a humble introduction as well a list of common terminology for one of the hardest topics that former members of destructive groups have to face when they reflect back on the trauma inflicted on them by an abusive church:

  Thought-Stopping cultic influences in the form of: mind control, thought reform and coercive persuasion. Big scary words that basically mean the same thing but are often blown so far out of proportion that they become another form of dangerous disinformation.

Soothing the Soul with Laughter

The subject of thought reform and similar cultic influences is often affectionately referred to by fully recovered ex-cultists that are typically several years down the road to healing through educational therapy as: "WTF Did They Do To ME!?!?!!!"

When you can honestly face the answers to that question - and laugh more than you facepalm - you can rest assured that worst of the harm done to your psyche is well on its way be to be sufficiently healed.

Unfortunately, it takes time to get that point of being thankful enough to have survived that you can wholeheartedly laugh at the whole affair no matter how tragic it may have been. The recommended approach by many modern cult recovery experts for reaching that point in your life is by learning everything you can in relation to subversive influences a destructive cult exerts over its unfortunate members.

"We can only feel sorry for ourselves when our misfortunes are still supportable. Once this limit is crossed, the only way to bear the unbearable is to laugh at it."

As dually warned in the last post, this subject matter is not for the faint of heart. We strongly recommend that those who have only recently left the Church of Scientology take the time to sort out their doubts, and then become informed on the basic issues and controversies first, while saving this material for later.

Then ideally, once you can pass the basic litmus test of using laughter as a sign of readiness — tackle the subject matter outlined in these recent posts on thought reform and coercive persuasion once you find yourself a little further down the road of cult recovery through education.

Healing the Mind with Knowledge

Once your ready to proceed digesting this unsavory plate of need2know material that comes bundled under a variety of words for basically meaning the same thing in conversational usage (brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind control, thought reform, and cultic influences).

The first step of this learning curve journey is to get comfortable with the basic clinical explanation of mind control in the academic context from the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA):

What is Mind Control?

Mind control (also known as "brainwashing," "coercive persuasion," and "thought reform") refers to a process in which a group or individual systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s).

Such methods include the following:

  • extensive control of information in order to limit alternatives from which members may make "choices"
  • deception
  • group pressure
  • intense indoctrination into a belief system that denigrates independent critical thinking and considers the world outside the group to be threatening, evil, or gravely in error an insistence that members’ distress-much of which may consist of anxiety and guilt subtly induced by the group-can be relieved only by conforming to the group
  • physical and/or psychological debilitation through inadequate diet or fatigue the induction of dissociative (trance-like) states via the misuse of meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, and other exercises in which attention is narrowed, suggestibility heightened, and independent critical thinking weakened
  • alternation of harshness/threats and leniency/love in order to effect compliance with the leadership’s wishes isolation from social supports pressured public confessions 

Further Reading

The published report below is a compilation of recommended books for those seeking to understand more about these types of coercive mind control tactics that destructive cults typically employ as a means of mind control over their members. Many of these written works will be reviewed for providing a summary of key highlights and valuable excerpts on the Exit Zone blog in the months ahead.

For a checklist of established strategies for counteracting these forms of thought-stopping cultic influences, see Prevent and Remedy Coercive Persuasion, Brainwashing and Mind Control.

For additional reference with the above reading list, please see:
Glossary of Wog Words #2

For more insights from a former scientologist turned expert:
The Use of Mind Control in Scientology (Pignotti) 

Other similar materials for further study are also indexed
under Resources and Reading Lists.

Click the title of this post or ob any other entries on this micro blog to visit the related link for a given announcement.

No comments:

Post a Comment