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Author Topic: Could It Be Brainwashing?  (Read 28285 times)
MarthaH
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« on: September 29, 2010, 06:13:18 am »

I remember a speaker talking at a GC conference one time about accusations he gets from time to time about being brainwashed. It is interesting how he didn't blatantly deny it, but instead misused Romans 12:1-2 and emphasized the "renewing of your mind". He didn't say, "brainwashing", but said we have been, "brain-dirtied" by this world. I remember feeling a little uncomfortable by that analogy.

As I am trying to heal and get a clear picture of what I came out of, I recently asked the question, "was I brainwashed?" It seems like such an extreme to even consider the thought. Wouldn't that make me naive, gullible and just plain out stupid?

Anyhow, I read this article and thought I would share it. I think a lot of things could apply to what I experienced over the years and it actually helped me forgive myself for allowing myself to be duped:
http://icsahome.com/infoserv_respond/info_educators.asp?Subject=Building+Resistance:+Tactics+for+Counteracting+Manipulation

Hope it helps or at least gives cause for thoughtful reflection.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 10:27:33 am »

I'm only halfway through and ˇwowza! this is good!
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newcreature
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 11:43:09 pm »

Thanks for posting that link, Martha. The title of the article really caught my attention: “Building Resistance: Tactics for Counteracting Manipulation and Unethical Hypnosis in Totalistic Groups.” Before reading “Marching to Zion” (M2Z) by Larry Pile, I don’t recall ever hearing the word “totalist.” Now I have read the word in several recent articles. Larry used it in his acronym TACO (Totalist Aberrant Christian Organizations) to refer to Christian groups with many of the characteristics described in your link.

The concluding sentence in the final paragraph is very sobering to me, especially since I am aware of “professional persuaders” who are still manipulating others:

“As our understanding of hypnotic communication and our ability to subtly influence behavior increases, it may become the obligation of the professional persuader (the hypnotist, the psychotherapist) to assist clients to develop their resistance to manipulative groups and individuals.”

Here is another sobering news story that dove-tails quite remarkably with your article. (Well, at least in my mind it made a tangible connection.)

I was watching 60 Minutes Sunday night and tonight I found that TV segment online:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5153459n&tag=related;photovideo

It is the true story of mistaken identity when a rape victim picked the wrong man out of a photo lineup. The innocent man went to jail. The conclusion is an amazing story of justice and forgiveness; so that is reason enough to watch it. But in regards to the subtle, yet very powerful, use of manipulation, watch the results of a study by a psychology professor at Iowa State University. Watch the amazing results when he positively reinforces a false conclusion (from  the 5:25 to the 6:25 minute mark in the video).
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MarthaH
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2010, 07:24:15 am »

Wow, I just watched that! Yes, I think the two dovetail quite nicely. After watching the 60 minutes segment I was almost crying at the end when the two had become such good friends. There may be a time we can reconcile relationships with the people who hurt us, but it may take a few years. I pray God would deliver many people who have hurt us and that they would find mercy and forgiveness when He does; just as Joseph's brothers were eventually forgiven by their little brother whom they sold into slavery. I suppose that will be another thread  Smiley

I have a thought or two on the statement you quoted:
“As our understanding of hypnotic communication and our ability to subtly influence behavior increases, it may become the obligation of the professional persuader (the hypnotist, the psychotherapist) to assist clients to develop their resistance to manipulative groups and individuals.”

I spoke with a former leader who also left and reached out to me. I found it really helpful as he explained certain things he participated in and disagreed with (or perhaps a better way to say it is that he exposed some of the tricks of the trade). He told me of a conference that he went to for leadership, and they brought in a Christian speaker/entertainer to teach them all how to give messages. He looks back on it now and thinks that while the intentions of the people attending were good in wanting to communicate their messages better, it also had a manipulative aspect to it.

Here's a thought I had after talking with him and reading the article and seeing the 60 Minutes segment. What was the environment like when I bought into the subtle false doctrines that were slipped in? So many things come to mind now. Here are a few:
1. A cool atmoshphere with a coffee shop or concert feel.
2. A performance by a cool band and participation in singing. This often felt like a rock concert, which is an important point for me. During concerts, I'm the type of person who really gets drawn in, dances, raise my hands (if it's Christian) and buy the cd and merchandise afterwards.
3. After that, a hip person comes up on stage (if it's on campus) and the spotlight is placed squarely on them. They are amplified.
4. Add in a couple jokes to warm up the crowd and show a video or two and all of the sudden they can share something very close to the truth (see Gen 3:1-5) and a person may consume it.

I also mustered up the courage recently and listened to a few messages online by some of the younger speakers (I think they may have stopped posting them now). Every message seemed to hit at some point on either evangelism, purity or unity/commitment. It's like a steady dripping that slowly works its way into your thinking.

I know of many people who made verbal and sometimes public commitments to stay in one church for life. Many of these verbal commitments seemed to come either during or right after conferences. I think a lot of unhealthy pressure comes during retreats and away from places where you can receive objective counsel before making such a big decision. I've heard so many people speak of the emotional mountaintop experience they have at conferences. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, it does create an environment where ones guard can easily be let down.

All this to say, that if all it takes for the mind to be influenced is a simple diverting of one's attention and focus, a person attending these events should be aware of it. By the way, the Iowa college retreat this fall is called Focus  Shocked Wink
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EverAStudent
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2010, 01:21:49 pm »

Immediately after leaving GC, we became members of a Regular Baptist Church.  The pastor was fond of saying, "If you preach the Bible, people will come."  And come they did.  

The church grew so much in that year that they had to build a new one.  The lighting technician asked where they should install the dimmer switch panels for the new main auditorium.  The pastor asked why they needed dimmer switches.  The technician answered that all churches dim their lighting during the altar call to create a more compelling emotional atmosphere.

The pastor ordered that all the dimmer switches be removed from the plans.  He said if the gospel was not sufficiently compelling he was not going to manipulate a decision with lighting and emotional trickery!!!
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MarthaH
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« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2010, 04:29:48 am »

How refreshing! Praise God! If you don't mind, could let me know the church, that would be great (pm is fine). Does anyone know of a church like that in Omaha?
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certificatetips
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2012, 12:57:57 am »

you will hear of a sociable young man "brainwashed" into hiding in a specially outfitted car trunk and murdering people. In the Elizabeth Smart case, a typical suburban youngster was so "brainwashed" by her captor, the story goes, that she had chances to escape and didn't. Patty Hearst went from carefree socialite to bank robber.
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Linda
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2012, 09:23:18 am »

Not sure how I managed to miss this thread two years ago. Wow, I just went to that link. Didn't have time to read it all yet, but this just popped out:

In order to influence or brainwash people, the following methods work best: isolate them in new surroundings apart from old friends or reference-points, provide them with instant acceptance from a seemingly loving group, keep them away from competing or critical ideas, provide an authority figure that everyone seems to acknowledge as having some special skill or awareness, provide a philosophy that seems logical and appears to answer all or the most important questions in life, structure all or most activities so that there is little time for privacy or independent action or thought, provide a sense of "us" versus "them," promise instant or imminent solutions to deep or long-term problems, and employ covert or disguised hypnotic techniques.
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araignee19
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2012, 09:18:41 pm »

"Manipulators do not make things easy. People actually place more value on their actions if the task to be performed is somewhat unpleasant or difficult, even if it did not need to be unpleasant or difficult (Festinger, 1957). Corollary: making a task artificially "tough" typically makes it appear more meaningful and important than it may in fact be."

That is so true. I know lots of times when I was involved in this GC where I convinced myself things were tougher than they really were. I did things, like deprive myself of sleep, in order to feel like I was "fighting the good fight." After I left the group, God put me in a place of extreme, forced restfulness (there was nothing to do, at work or free time, other than sleep and relax), so I was forced to rest. But for a few months, I fought to make myself busy. I felt worthless without that sense of struggle and being overly busy.
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Outtathere
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2014, 02:08:19 pm »

After watching this, I felt that some of my GC best friends in college were in fact, Winter Soldiers who had been brainwashed.
http://video.wired.com/watch/science-friction-wired-edition-how-to-brainwash-someone
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