Mind Control and the Cults

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Most of this chapter comes from the works of Steven Hassan, particularly Combatting Cult Mind Control. This may come as a surprise to many, but most of what we know about cult mind control practices originated with studies of communist and totalitarian dictators and their strategies. After these findings, studies and connections were made, former members of the cults that we are discussing in this book, as well as others, spoke out, making the same connections to practices within these groups.

Mind Control vs. Brain Washing

When a person is brain washed, they know up front they are being deceived. They are usually physically abused or tortured, and the person brain washing them is the enemy. They have their life threatened, or family member’s life threatened. They get thought reform, and change their way of thinking in order to save their life. That makes them dependent on a group leader.

Mind control is more of a sophisticated and subtle trick. The person it’s being perpetrated on has know way of knowing they are being deceived. It’s usually done by a friend or peer, or somebody seen as an authoritative figure. The people doing it don’t even know they are doing it, or that they are part of a system that does this. The person mind control is being done to does not feel any threat or danger. They usually see it as a positive outcome. Still it results in thought reform and bind them to an organization’s leader.

So right off the start, when people say that cults use brain washing, that is false. That is an offensive term.

The studies have shown that up to 65% of people are prone to mind control, and it’s not because people are stupid. It’s because we are human beings. We want to fit in. We want to belong. We want to be told what to do. The IQ of people in these groups can be over 130 according to studies.

B.I.T.E. Model

Steven Hassan was recruited in the 70’s by the Moonies. After a couple of years, he was able to get out and be reprogrammed. He did research himself, went through schooling, and became an expert in this field.

He came up with one of the most important research items, and that is the B.I.T.E. model, which is a pneumonic that shows the four areas that a group takes control of an individual, making them dependent on the group leader.

Behavior Control

The B in the B.I.T.E. model stands for behavior control. I – information control. T – Thought control. E – emotional control.

According to the theory of cognitive dissonance, if you are able to change one of those areas, the others will shift over time. As soon as you can change all four of those areas in an individual, they will be under mind control.

These organizations will do behavior modifications to control their members. They will tell people what to wear, how to wear their clothes, hair, earrings, tattoos. They will tell them what to eat. They will regulate their time. They will regulate their interactions with people. They will demand perfection and strict obedience. At times they will have bizarre rituals and ordinances. They will always have some form of financial obligation or commitments on the group.

Let’s compare this to the LDS church. They tell them to wear their temple garments 24/7. You must always be in business attire. White shirt, black tie. Clean groomed. One piercing. No tattoos. They regulate what you eat and drink with the Word of Wisdom. They regulate your time by callings and excessive time commitments for indoctrination. Recent studies have shown that on average, LDS people will spend up to 22 hours a week doing church related activities between family home evenings, home teaching, scripture study, prayer, Wednesday night mutual, camp outs, temple trips, 3 hour blocks of meetings, and the whole purpose of this is to keep you so busy that you don’t have time to slow down, stop and think. Just keep putting your shoulder to the wheel and keep pushing along.

They regulate who you interact with, especially apostates. They are strictly forbidden.

The Moonies have their own special weddings, their own special clothing that they wear, and they will follow the law of consecration, which the LDS people were not faithful enough to do. But they also, just like the other organizations I mentioned, are regulated in all these behaviors.

An example of strict obedience would be the following quote. This is a quote from General Conference in 1960. It says, “Always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it… But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” This is strict obedience. It doesn’t matter if it’s wrong. You let them make the decision for you, and you push on. All other mind control groups use these tactics to control behavior.

Information Control

Next is I, which stands for information control. The way these groups do this is they withhold information, they will lie, or do truth bending, or just change the history all together. They will tell people what they can and cannot read, and of course no critical information or material is ever okay. They label it anti material.

These organizations will always tell you that the Bible is not trustworthy, but only they have the ability to interpret it correctly, and all other interpretations have it wrong. They will have pyramid style doctrines. They will have the milk vs. meat and the line upon line, precept upon precept. They will not tell you anything up front. They will encourage members to spy on each other. They will encourage extensive use of group materials, such as church magazines, church newspapers, church photos, church books, etc… If somebody’s home is littered with extensive group material, you should be concerned. That’s not normal.

They will tell you that new revelations trump the old stuff, so just pay attention to the new stuff.

Lastly, these organizations will hide their leader’s false prophecies or criminal and immoral behaviors and downplay them. They will tell you that it’s all lies and none of that ever happened, even if you have strict physical evidence.

Some examples of information control:

Boyd K. Packer said, “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.”

An example of lying:

“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago.”

Another example is the recent LDS video showing the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. Does it show Joseph Smith with a gun, shooting it into the crowd, and killing two men the day he died? No, they just leave it out. Because it’s going to alter your way of thinking about Joseph Smith.

A snapping point is when everything starts to unravel when you are in one of these organizations.

Other examples of information control is Joseph Smith burning down the printing press, missionaries not telling you the deep doctrines. They don’t want to tell you the doctrines until you are inside because it’s a need to know basis, and you must be indoctrinated in a pyramid type scale.

Spying. This is what home teaching serves to do. They come into a person’s home and they’re to find out if you are reading the Scriptures, are you praying, are you obeying the Word of Wisdom, are you doing all of these behaviors you’re supposed to be doing, and then they report to their superiors. And if you’re not doing those things, then they’ll be sent back in, or the missionaries, to do more behavior modification.

They will instill in their members that everything is taken out of context, everybody is a liar, and the internet is evil, and there is always some type of worldwide conspiracies against their organization.

Keep in mind that a legitimate organization will allow people to read what they want, speak to who they want, and make their own decisions. If you control somebody’s information, you control them.

This is all completely unethical and immoral.Thought Control

The next is T, which stands for thought control. These groups will always instill in their members that they have the only truth, and they are the only way to salvation. They teach their members what are called thought stopping techniques. This allows them to stop critical thinking and shuts down their ability to think for themselves. That’s why, when they are in a confrontation, they’re getting upset, somebody’s making a good point, they fall back on one of these things. For the LDS, they bare their testimony, they sing a song, they pray to get out the evil spirits, or they tell you that contention is of the devil and shut down the conversation. When this happens, they no longer have a normal, rational conversation about the good and bad of what you are discussing.

If there are any questions that you have, you are always supposed to go to your superiors or the apologists to answer them. You are never supposed to figure it out on your own. They will instill in you that there is no legitimate concern about a leader, a doctrine. And there is absolutely never a legitimate reason to leave the organization. It’s always the person’s fault, never the organization.

They teach you that apostates left the group because they did something wrong or they were hurt by somebody. They are untrustworthy liars, so don’t listen to them. Don’t talk to them.

They attack the person. They don’t attack the information because that is what you’ve been trained to do.

With the Moonies, Steven Hassan talks about how he was giving a talk to the media, and some Moonies were sent in to spy on him. He was talking about mind control, and afterward he got excited thinking he might have awakened these guys. He talked to them afterward, and they said, “You are such a liar. The devil has deceived you, and we can’t believe that you would do this to the Messiah.” The Moonies taught that Reverend Moon was the Messiah and that he proved that from the Bible.

Emotion Control

Last is E for emotion. These organizations will all use guilt and fear heavily. They will make you afraid to ever leave or question the group. They will use your family and your peers to manipulate your emotions and to keep you from leaving, or to keep you in line behaviorally. They will teach you that all feelings are not from God. Good feelings are from God and bad feelings are from Satan. They will teach you that feelings are the ultimate source of truth. We know full well that emotions are nothing more than a psychologically conditioned response. Just like when you hear a patriotic song, or you see a happy ending at a movie.

They will control your fear by phobia indoctrination, which is when irrational fears are implanted subconsciously of ever leaving or questioning the group. Examples would be things like: there will be no happiness if you leave the group, there will be terrible consequences if you leave the group, you will loose your family for eternity, God won’t hear your prayers, you will be a failure if you leave, or you will be Satan’s for eternity.

Examples of guilt use would be the unethical use of confession, such as a Court of Love. Here you will have to tell all of your sins, including all of the details, in front of twelve men. This is completely humiliating and unnecessary.

They will use your past sins to manipulate you. There will never be forgiveness or absolution of sins without complete obedience. Examples within the LDS church of this would be “Those who receive forgiveness and then repeat the sin are held accountable for their former sins.”

“In order to remain forgiven we must never commit the sin again.”

Another technique they use is called the double bind. This is when you put a person in a situation where no is not an option. This is exactly what the Book of Mormon Challenge is. They encourage you to read, pray about this book, pray about the church, based on this very little information we have given you. Don’t read any of this critical information because if you read that you’re not going to get the right answer. Then they tell you how to interpret the answer to your prayer, which is of course going to be an emotion. The person feels like they have three options, but in reality they only have one option. They feel like they can say yes, no or I don’t have an answer yet. If you say yes, then hooray, we get to have a baptism. If you say no, the missionary is already conditioned and preprogrammed to tell you how it’s your fault. Then they will try and modify your behavior by having you stop drinking tea or coffee, going to church, reading Scripture. They will continue modifying your behaviors until you start thinking there is something wrong with you, you get the response they want you to get, or you tell them to go away. Because there is only one right answer.

Top 10 Signs of Mind Control

10. Your organization does not allow scrutiny

9. You run to your leaders and apologists to explain away all of your concerns

8. You are unhappy in your organization, but you can’t see leaving as an option

7. You dismiss facts because they scare you

6. You think there is no happiness ever outside of the group and your life will crumble

5. You had to change your behavior in order to become worthy to receive the correct answer to prayer

4. You fear anti material because you think that the devil will deceive you

3. You think emotions decipher truth

2. You don’t think anyone could ever have a legitimate reason to leave your organization

1. You think there is a worldwide conspiracy against your group

All mind control organizations use the B.I.T.E. model and the double bind to get you to listen to their message and be bound to their group leader. They’re going to alter your behavior. They’re going to limit your information. They’re going to control your thoughts and emotions. They’re going to destroy your ability to think critically. There is only one way to defend this, and it’s to not give up your ability to do critical thinking. Don’t give up your ability to look at the good and bad about what your organization is telling you. Don’t trust your emotions to decipher truth. This is exactly why the Bible teaches time and time again that the heart is deceitful, it bears false witness and it cannot be trusted. Trust yourselves.

Suggested Readings:

Steve Hassan

– www.freedomofmind.com

– Combatting Cult Mind Control

– Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves

Robert J. Lifton

  • Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of “Brainwashing” in China

Cult