[ot] cult influence and power, 1988-2018
Undiscussed Groomed for Male Slavery, One Victim of Many
gmkarl+brainwashingandfuckingupthehackerslaves at gmail.com
Sat Aug 27 18:53:44 PDT 2022
Remainder of Chapter 4
Three Steps To Gaining Control Of The Mind
It is one thing to identify the four
components of mind control but quite another to know how they are
actually used to change the
behavior of unsuspecting people. On the surface, the process of
gaining control of someone else’s mind seems quite simple. There are
three steps: _unfreezing_, _changing_ and _refreezing_.
This three-step model was derived in
the late 1940s from the work of Kurt Lewin, and was described in
Edgar Schein’s book _Coercive Persuasion_. Schein, like Lifton,
studied the brainwashing
programs in Mao Tse Tung’s China, in the late 1950s. His book,
based on interviews with former American prisoners, is a valuable
study of the process. Schein’s three steps apply just as well to other
forms of mind control as they do to brainwashing. As he described
them, _unfreezing_ consists of breaking a person down; _changing_
constitutes the indoctrination process; and _refreezing_ is the process
of building up and reinforcing the new identity.
Destructive cults today have the added
advantage of many decades of psychological research and techniques,
making their mind control
programs much more effective and dangerous than in the past. Hypnotic
processes, for example, are much more significant parts of modern mind
control. In addition, modern destructive cults also tend to be more
flexible in their approach. They are willing and able to change their
approach to fit a person’s specific psychological make-up, use
deception and highly sophisticated loaded language, or employ
techniques like thought-stopping and phobia indoctrination.
Let’s take a closer look at this three-stage model to see how the
step-by-step program creates a well-disciplined cult member.
To ready a person for radical change, their reality must first be
shaken up. Their indoctrinators must confuse and disorient them. Their
frames of reference for understanding themselves and their
surroundings must be challenged and broken down. Upsetting their view
of reality disarms their natural defenses against concepts that
challenge that reality.
Unfreezing can be accomplished through a variety of approaches.
Disorienting a person physiologically can be very effective. Sleep
deprivation is one of the most common and powerful techniques for
breaking a person down. In addition, new diets and eating schedules
can also have a disorienting effect. Some groups use low-protein,
high-sugar diets, or prolonged underfeeding, to undermine a person’s
Unfreezing is most effectively accomplished in a totally
controlled environment, like an isolated country estate, but it can
also be accomplished in more familiar and easily accessible places,
such as a hotel ballroom.
Hypnotic processes constitute another powerful tool for unfreezing
and side-stepping a person’s defense mechanisms. One particularly
effective hypnotic technique involves the deliberate use of confusion
to induce a trance state. Confusion usually results whenever
contradictory information is communicated congruently. For example, if
a hypnotist says in an authoritative tone of voice, “The more you try
to understand what I am saying, the less you will never be able to
understand it. Do you understand?” the result is a state of temporary
confusion. If you read it over and over again, you may conclude that
the statement is simply contradictory and nonsensical. However, if a
person is kept in a controlled environment long enough, and is
repeatedly fed such disorienting language and confusing information,
they will usually suspend their critical judgment and adapt to what
everyone else is doing. In such an environment, the tendency of most
people is to doubt themselves and defer to the group.
Sensory overload, like sensory deprivation, can also effectively
disrupt a person’s balance and make them more open to suggestion. A
person can easily be bombarded by emotionally laden material at a rate
faster than they can digest it. The result is a feeling of being
overwhelmed. The mind snaps into neutral and ceases to evaluate the
material pouring in. The newcomer may think this is happening
spontaneously within themselves, but the cult has intentionally
structured it that way.
Other hypnotic techniques, such as double binds, can also be
used to help unfreeze a person’s sense of reality. A double bind
forces a person to do what the controller wants while giving an
illusion of choice. For example, a cult leader may say, “For those
people who are having doubts about what I am telling you, you should
know that _I_ am the one putting those doubts inside your mind, so
that you will see the truth that I am the true teacher.” Whether the
person believes or doubts the leader, both bases are covered.
Another example of a double bind is, “If you admit there are
things in your life that aren’t working, then by not taking the
seminar, you are giving those things power to control your life.” The
message is: _Just being here proves you are incompetent to judge
whether or not to leave_.
Exercises such as guided meditations, personal confessions, prayer
sessions, vigorous calisthenics and even group singing can also aid
unfreezing. Typically, these activities start out quite innocuously,
but gradually become more intense and directed. They are almost always
conducted in a group. This enforces privacy deprivation and thwarts a
person’s need to be alone, think and reflect.
At this stage of unfreezing, as people are weakening, most cults
bombard them with the idea that they are seriously flawed—incompetent,
mentally ill or spiritually fallen. Any problems that are important to
the person, such as doing poorly in school or at work, being
overweight, or having trouble in a relationship, are blown out of
proportion to prove how completely messed up the person is. Some
groups can be quite vicious in their attacks on individuals at this
stage, often humiliating them in front of the whole group.
Once a person is broken down, they are ready for the next phase.
Changing consists of imposing a new personal identity—a new set of
behaviors, thoughts, and emotions—to fill the void left by the
breakdown of the old one. Indoctrination in this new identity takes
place both formally (for instance, through seminars and rituals) and
informally (by spending time with members, reading, and listening to
recordings and videos). Many of the same techniques used in the
unfreezing phase are also carried into this phase.
Repetition, monotony, rhythm: these are the lulling, hypnotic
cadences in which the formal indoctrination is generally delivered.
Material is repeated over and over and over. If the lecturers are
sophisticated, they vary their talks somewhat in an attempt to hold
interest, but the message remains pretty much the same.
During the changing phase, all this repetition focuses on certain
central themes. The recruits are told how bad the world is and that
the unenlightened have no idea how to fix it. This is because ordinary
people lack the new understanding that has been provided by the
leader. The leader is the only hope of lasting happiness. Recruits are
told, “Your old self is what’s keeping you from fully experiencing the
new truth. Your old concepts are what drag you down. Your rational
mind is holding you back from fantastic progress. Surrender. Let go.
Have faith.’’ Scientologists are told that they must put their minds
under the control of a counselor, to show that their minds can be
Behaviors are shaped subtly at first, then more forcefully. The
material that will make up the new identity is doled out gradually,
piece by piece, only as fast as the person is deemed ready to
assimilate it. The rule of thumb is, “Tell the new member only what
they are ready to accept.”
When I was a lecturer in the Moonies, I remember discussing this
policy with others involved in recruiting. I was taught this analogy:
“You wouldn’t feed a baby thick pieces of steak, would you? You have
to feed a baby something it can digest, like formula. Well, these
people (potential converts) are spiritual babies. Don’t tell them more
than they can handle, or they will die.” If a recruit became angry
because they were learning too much about the real workings of our
organization, the person working on them would back off and let
another member move in to spoon-feed them some pablum.
The formal indoctrination sessions can be very droning and
rhythmic—a way to induce hypnotic states. It is fairly common for
people to fall asleep during these programs. When I was a cult
lecturer, I was taught to chastise people and made them feel guilty if
they fell asleep, but in fact they were merely responding well to
hypnosis. Even while lightly dozing, a person is still more or less
hearing the material and being affected by it, with their normal
intellectual defenses down.
Another potent technique for change is the induced “spiritual
experience.” This is often contrived in the most artificial manner.
Private information about the recruit is collected by the person’s
closest buddy in the group and then secretly passed to the leadership.
Later, at the right moment, this information can be pulled out
suddenly to create an “experience.” Perhaps weeks later, in another
state, a leader suddenly confronts a recruit about their brother’s
suicide. Knowing that they didn’t tell anyone in this new place about
it, the recruit thinks the leader has read their thoughts or is being
informed directly by the spirit world. The recruit is overcome and
begs forgiveness for not being a better member.
Destructive religious cults are not the only ones to engineer
“mystical” experiences. One martial artist and self-professed
mentalist who formed his own cult secretly paid hoodlums to mug his
students on the street, in order to heighten their fear of the outside
world and become more dependent on him. Another cult leader, a
psychotherapist, manipulated one of his clients by confronting her
inability to stay on her diet. She believed that he had special
powers. He didn’t tell her that he had seen her earlier that day
eating an ice cream sundae. She believed that he had special “powers.”
A common technique among religious cults is to instruct people to
ask God what He wants them to do. Members are exhorted to study and
pray in order to know God’s will for them. It is always implied that
joining the group is God’s will and leaving the group is betraying
God. Of course, if a person tells the cult leader, “I prayed, and God
told me to leave,” this will not be accepted.
Perhaps the most powerful persuasion is exerted by other cult
members. For the average person, talking with an indoctrinated cultist
is quite an experience. You’ll probably never meet anyone else who is
so absolutely convinced that they know what is best for you. A
dedicated cult member also does not take no for an answer, because
they have been indoctrinated to believe that if you don’t join, either
you are evil or _they_ are to blame. This creates a lot of pressure on
them to succeed.
When someone is completely surrounded by such people, group
psychology plays a major role in the changing process. People are
deliberately organized into specific small groups, or cells. People
who ask too many questions are quickly isolated from the main body of
In the Moonies, we would set up teams at the beginning of a
workshop to evaluate the recruits. We would divide them into sheep and
goats, and assign them to groups accordingly. The sheep were the ones
who were “spiritually prepared.” Goats were stubborn individualists
who were not expected to make good members. If they couldn’t be
broken, their “negativity” was safely confined to a goat team where
sheep couldn’t see it, and they could be asked to leave. (After I left
the Moonies, I was amazed to learn that entirely different cults were
doing the same thing. I thought “The Family” had invented the
But the changing process involves much more than obedience to a
cult’s authority figures. It also includes numerous “sharing” sessions
with other ordinary members, where past evils are confessed, present
success stories are told, and a sense of community is fostered. These
group sessions are very effective in teaching conformity, because the
group vigorously reinforces certain behaviors by effusive praise and
acknowledgement, while punishing non-group ideas and behaviors with
Human beings have an incredible capacity to adapt to new
environments. Charismatic cult leaders know how to exploit this
strength. By controlling a person’s environment, using behavior
modification to reward some behaviors and suppress others, and
inducing hypnotic states, they may indeed reprogram a person’s
Once a person has been fully broken down through the process of
changing, they are ready for the next step.
The recruit must now be built up again as the “new man” or “new
woman.” They are given a new purpose in life, and new activities that
will solidify their new identity. Cult leaders must be reasonably sure
the new cult identity will be strong when the person leaves the
immediate cult environment. So the new values and beliefs must be
fully internalized by the recruit.
Many of the techniques from the first two stages are carried over
into the refreezing phase. The first and most important task of the
new person is to denigrate their previous _sinful_ self. The worst
thing is for the person to act like their old self. The best is for
them to act like their new cult self, which is often fully formed
within a few months, or even days.
During this phase, an individual’s memory becomes distorted,
minimizing the good things in the past and maximizing their sins,
failings, hurts and guilt. Special talents, interests, hobbies,
friends, and family usually must be abandoned—preferably in dramatic
public actions—if they compete with commitment to the cause.
Confession becomes another way to purge the person’s past and embed
them in the cult.
During the refreezing phase, the primary method for passing on new
information is modeling. New members are paired with older members,
who are assigned to show them the ropes. The “spiritual child” is
instructed to imitate the “spiritual parent” in all ways. This
technique serves several purposes. It keeps the “older” member on
their best behavior, while gratifying their ego. At the same time, it
whets the new member’s appetite to become a respected model, so they
can train junior members of their own.
The group now forms the member’s “true” family; any other is
considered their outmoded “physical” family. Some cults insist on a
very literal transfer of family loyalty. Jim Jones was one of many
cult leaders who insisted that his followers call him “Dad.”
In my own case, I ceased to be the son of my parents and became
the son of Sun Myung Moon and Hak Ja Han, the “True Parents” of all
creation. In every waking moment, I was reminded to be a small Sun
Myung Moon, the greatest person in human history. As my cult identity
was put into place, I wanted to think like him, feel like him and act
like him. When faced with a problem, Scientologists are encouraged to
ask, “What would Ron (Hubbard) do?”
To help refreeze the member’s new identity, some cults give them a
new name. Many also change the person’s clothing style, haircut, and
whatever else would remind them of their past. As mentioned, members
often learn to speak a distinctive jargon or loaded language of the
Great pressure is usually exerted on the member to turn over money
and other possessions. This serves multiple purposes. First, it
enriches the cult. Second, donating one’s life savings freezes the
person in the new belief system, since it would be too painful to
admit that this was a foolish mistake. Consistency is an important
aspect of influence. Third, it makes financial survival in the outside
world appear harder, thus discouraging the person from leaving.
Sleep deprivation, lack of privacy, and dietary changes are
sometimes continued for several months or even longer. Often the new
member is relocated away from familiar surroundings and sources of
influence, into a new place where they have never been anything but
their new self. This further fosters dependency on cult authority
The new member is typically assigned to proselytizing duty as soon
as possible. Research in social psychology has shown that nothing
firms up one’s beliefs faster than recruiting others to share them.
Making new members do so quickly crystallizes their new cult identity.
Some groups finance themselves by difficult and humiliating
fundraising methods, such as all-day and all-night solicitations.
These experiences become a form of glorious martyrdom that helps
freeze commitment to the group. Running around a supermarket parking
lot selling overpriced flowers in the pouring rain is a powerful
technique for making you really believe in what you are doing!
After a few weeks of proselytizing and fundraising in the outside
world, the member is often sent back for reindoctrination. This entire
cycle may be repeated dozens of times over several years.
After a novice spends enough time with older members, the day
finally comes when they can be trusted to train other newcomers by
themselves. Thus, the victim becomes victimizer, perpetuating the
Dual Identity: The Key To Understanding Cult Members
Given freedom of choice, people will predictably always choose
what they believe is best for them. However, the ethical criteria for
determining what is best should be your own, not someone else’s. In a
mind control environment, freedom of choice is the first thing that is
lost. The cult member no longer operates as an individual. They have a
new artificial _cult identity_ structure, which includes new beliefs
and a new language. The cult leader’s doctrine becomes the master map
Members of a mind control cult are at war with themselves.
Therefore, when dealing with a cult member, it is extremely important
to always keep in mind that they have _two_ identities. This applies
even to people born into destructive cults—they too have an authentic,
private self and a cult self.
Identifying these dual identities is often confusing for relatives
and friends of cult members. This is especially true in the early
weeks or months of the person’s cult involvement, when their new
identity is most obvious. One moment the person is speaking cultic
jargon with a hostile or elitist know-it-all attitude. Then, without
warning, they seem to become their old self, with their old self, with
their old attitudes and mannerisms. Just as suddenly, they flip back
to the cult identity. (This behavior is very obvious to anyone who
works with cult members.)
For the sake of convenience, we can call these dual identities
_John_ or _Jane_ (when the person is most themself) and _John-cultist_
or _Jane-cultist_ (when functioning as a cult clone). Ordinarily, only
one of these two selves occupies the person’s consciousness at a time.
However, the personality on duty most of the time is the cult
identity. Only intermittently does the old self reappear.
It is essential for family members to sensitize themselves to the
differences between the two identity patterns, in terms of both
content (what the person talks about) and communication patterns (the
ways they speak and act). Each looks and sounds distinctively
When John or Jane-cultist is talking, speech is robotic, or like a
tape recording of a cult lecture—what I call a “tape loop.” They will
speak with inappropriate intensity and volume. Their posture will
typically be more rigid, facial muscles tighter. Their eyes will tend
to strike family members as glassy, cold or glazed, and they will
often seem to stare through people.
On the other hand, when the authentic John or Jane is talking,
they will speak with a greater range of emotion. They will be more
expressive and will share feelings more willingly. They will be more
spontaneous, and may even show a sense of humor. Their posture and
musculature will appear to be looser and warmer. Eye contact with them
will be more natural.
Such a stark description of a divided personality may seem overly
simplistic, but it is remarkably accurate. It’s an eerie experience to
be talking with someone and sense that, mid-sentence, a different
identity has taken over their body. As you will see in later chapters,
recognizing the change and acting appropriately is the key to
unlocking the person’s real self and freeing them from the cult’s
As much as cult indoctrination attempts to destroy and suppress
the old identity, and empower the new one, it almost never totally
succeeds. Good experiences and positive memories rarely disappear
entirely. The cult identity will try to bury former reference points
and submerge the person’s past. Yet, over time, the old self will
eventually exert itself and seek ways to regain freedom. This process
is speeded up by positive exposure to non-members and the accumulation
of bad experiences the person has while in the group. The real
identity deep down—the hardware (self) beneath the mind control
virus—sees and records contradictions, questions, and disillusioning
It still amazes me, even though I had such an experience myself,
that my clients are able to verbalize very specific painful incidents
that occurred while they were members. People are able to recall
horrible things, like being raped by the cult leader or being forced
to lie, cheat or steal. Even though they knew at the time that they
were doing something wrong or were being abused, they couldn’t deal
with the experience or act on it while their cult identity was in
control. It was only when their real self was given permission and
encouragement to speak that these things came back into consciousness.
Indeed, an essential part of helping counsel a cult member involves
bringing that person’s own experiences into the light, so that they
can process them consciously with their real self.
In my work, I have seen time and again that a person’s real
self—their mental and emotional hardware—holds the keys to undoing the
mind control process. Indeed, this real self is responsible for
creating the frequent psychosomatic illnesses that cult members
experience. I have met people who have developed severe skin problems,
which excused them from the normal grueling work schedule and gave
them a chance to sleep. I have seen people develop asthma and severe
allergic reactions in order to seek outside medical attention and
help. Migraine headaches, backaches, chronic fatigue are just a few
more very real and painful things that members develop which may help
them to exit.
The real self exerts itself in other ways as well. It can exert
pressure on the cult self to go home to the family for a visit, using
as an excuse the need to collect clothes or funds, or to look for new
recruits. The real self can also drop hints, when speaking to family
members or friends, that the member wants to be rescued. I have had
several families contact me after their children in cults told them
specifically _not_ to get a professional counselor to get them out.
Before the cult members made that remark, the families hadn’t even
known that there was someone they could contact to help.
People’s real selves have also been responsible for generating
thematic dreams. I have met hundreds of former members who reported
having nightmares over and over again while in cults. These dreams
typically involved being lost, hurt, or trapped, of being choked or
suffocated, or of being imprisoned in a concentration camp.
Some people have told me of receiving a dream or “revelation” that
they were supposed to leave the group. At the time, their cult
identities didn’t want to leave, but their “spiritual” experiences
were so powerful that they followed instructions and eventually were
able to receive counseling.
I like to use the metaphor that there is hardwiring in our DNA
that influences our bodies and minds to move away from harm. The real
self resists conditioning and indoctrination and any attempt to
I wish to add something here. My own spirituality has evolved over
the decades. My family and I belong to an independent religious
community in Boston that is non-dogmatic, egalitarian and
justice-oriented. We do traditional services as well as meditation
services. Our community allows for both analytic atheists and more
mystically oriented people to feel at home and be part of a community.
Faith can be a wonderful thing if it is balanced by critical thinking.
For me, I still have the belief that somehow there is a
transcendent force, One God that is the unifying power of love and
creativity. Whether people the world over like to call that being God,
Manitou, Jesus, Hashem or Allah—or the sound of breathing (as we
do)—that force resonates and works through people. And despite all
that I know about psychology and influence, there are still
experiences that have happened in my life that I can’t just chalk up
to coincidence or confirmation-bias, and which I prefer to believe as
mysterious and mystical. One of these experiences has to do with how I
came to be rescued from the cult.
After I had been out of the Moonies for over four years, I
accidentally overheard my mother saying to a friend, “And don’t tell
Steven, but I was praying for a whole year that God should break his
leg! I said, Dear God, don’t hurt him too much—just enough so we can
find him and rescue him.” Amazed, I asked my mother why she hadn’t
told me this after so many years. She answered, “It’s not nice to pray
that someone should hurt himself. I didn’t want you to be upset.” I
wasn’t. In fact, I thought back to what the emergency technicians told
me as they were prying me out of the wreckage: “It’s a miracle you
So, in my own life of faith, I choose to believe that God did
answer my mother’s prayers. Of all my injuries and what could have
happened in the crash, the main injury was indeed that my leg was
broken. I believe that on some deep unconscious level, the real me was
influenced by my mother’s love to fall asleep and wake up at precisely
the right moment. Of course, there is no way I can prove this. But I
have heard of others being involved in accidents that led them
eventually to freedom.
I might add that I have had other mystical experiences during my
life, like when I met my now wife, Misia. On our very first date, I
knew we were meant to be together and have a child together. And so it
has come to fruition. We got married within a year and are raising our
amazing son Matthew together.
Of course, there are so many prayers that so many good people
utter to ease suffering, to prevent harm, that seem to go unanswered.
I do not believe in an anthropomorphized deity who sits on a throne
with a beard, with a book on his lap deciding what events takes place
on earth. That said, I encourage my clients to pray and have hope and
do everything in their power to help their loved ones and friends who
are still involved with cult groups.
No matter how long a person has been involved with a destructive
cult, there is still hope that they can be helped. I have talked with
an 85-year-old grandmother who left a destructive cult after 15 years
of membership. Tears came to her eyes as she described how wonderful
it was to be free again. I cried, too, as she spoke. I knew exactly
what she meant.
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