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Mind control

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Mind control &not to be confused 'ith (brain'ashing() refers to a broad range of
psychological tactics able to subvert an individual%s control of his o'n thinking, behavior,
emotions, or decisions. The concept is closely related to hypnosis
* citation needed +* dubious discuss+
but differs in practical approach.
There are a number of controversial issues regarding mind control and the methods by
'hich control might be attained &either direct or more subtle) are the focus of study
among psychologists, neuroscientists, and sociologists.
The $uestion of mind control has been discussed in relation to religion, politics, prisoners
of 'ar, totalitarianism, black operations, neural cell manipulation, cults, terrorism,
torture, parental alienation, and even battered person syndrome.
,ind control as a legal defense tactic &see also temporary insanity) 'as re-ected by the
court in the case of Patty .earst, and in several court cases involving /e' 0eligious
1lso, $uestions of mind control are regarding ethical $uestions linked to the sub-ect of
free 'ill.
* citation needed +
2 Theoretical models and methods
o 2.2 3ifton thought reform model
o 2.! William argant%s theories on mind control
o 2.4 ,argaret inger%s conditions for mind control
o 2.5 teven .assan%s 6IT7 model
o 2.8 ,ind 9ontrol and the 6attered Person yndrome
o 2.: ocial psychology tactics
o 2.# ocial psychological conditioning by tahelski
o 2.; ubliminal advertising
! 9ults and mind control controversies
o !.2 cholarly points of vie'
o !.! ,ind control, e<it counseling, and deprogramming
o !.4 ,ind control and recruitment rates
o !.5 ,ind control and faith
o !.8 9ounter=cult movement and mind control
4 3egal issues
5 ,ind control against children in Parental 1lienation
8 ,ind control in fiction and popular culture
: ee also
o :.2 ,ethods
o :.! 0esearchers
o :.4 ,iscellaneous
# Further reading
; 7<ternal links
> 0eferences
[edit] Theoretical models and methods
[edit] Lifton thought reform model
Main article: Thought Reform (book)
In his 2>:2 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of
"rain!ashing" in "hina, psychiatrist 0obert Jay 3ifton, ,.?., describes eight coercive
methods 'hich, he says, are able to change the minds of individuals 'ithout their
kno'ledge and 'ere used 'ith this purpose on prisoners of 'ar in @orea and 9hina.
These include:
Milieu Control. This involves the control of information and communication
both 'ithin the environment and, ultimately, 'ithin the individual, resulting in a
significant degree of isolation from society at large.
Mystical Manipulation. There is manipulation of e<periences that appear
spontaneous but in fact 'ere planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders
in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some special
gift or talent that 'ill then allo' the leader to reinterpret events, scripture, and
e<periences as he or she 'ishes.
Demand for Purity. The 'orld is vie'ed as black and 'hite and the members are
constantly e<horted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for
perfection. The induction of guilt andAor shame is a po'erful control device used
Confession. ins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal
monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentialityB members% (sins,(
(attitudes,( and (faults( are discussed and e<ploited by the leaders.
Sacred Science. The group%s doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate
Truth, beyond all $uestioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the
group. The leader, as the spokesperson for Cod or for all humanity, is like'ise
above criticism.
Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses 'ords and phrases in ne'
'ays so that often the outside 'orld does not understand. This -argon consists of
thought=terminating clichDs, 'hich serve to alter members% thought processes to
conform to the group%s 'ay of thinking.
Doctrine over person. ,ember%s personal e<periences are subordinated to the
sacred science and any contrary e<periences must be denied or reinterpreted to fit
the ideology of the group.
Dispensing of eistence. The group has the prerogative to decide 'ho has the
right to e<ist and 'ho does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in
the outside 'orld are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be
converted to the group%s ideology. If they do not -oin the group or are critical of
the group, then they must be re-ected by the members. Thus, the outside 'orld
loses all credibility. In con-unction, should any member leave the group, he or she
must be re-ected also.
In his 2>>> book #estroying the !orld to sa$e it: Aum Shinrikyo% A&ocaly&tic 'iolence
and the (e! )lobal Terrorism, he concluded that thought reform 'as possible 'ithout
violence or physical coercion.
0obert W. Ford, a 6ritish radio operator 'ho 'orked in Tibet in the 8"%s, spent 8 years in
9hinese -ails. .e published a book entitled (9aptured in Tibet(, describing and analyEing
thought reform to 'hich he 'as harshly sub-ected.
[edit] !illiam Sargant"s theories on mind control
William argant connected PavlovFs findings to the 'ays people learned and internaliEed
belief systems. 9onditioned behavior patterns could be changed by stimulated stresses
beyond a dogFs capacity for response, in essence causing a breakdo'n. This could also be
caused by intense signals, longer than normal 'aiting periods, rotating positive and
negative signals and changing a dogFs physical condition, as through illness. ?epending
on the dogFs initial personality, this could possibly cause a ne' belief system to be held
tenaciously. argant also connected PavlovFs findings to the mechanisms of brain=
'ashing in religion and politics.
(Though men are not dogs, they should humbly try to remember ho' much they resemble dogs in
their brain functions, and not boast themselves as demigods. They are gifted 'ith religious and
social apprehensions, and they are gifted 'ith the po'er of reasonB but all these faculties are
physiologically entailed to the brain. Therefore the brain should not be abused by having forced
upon it any religious or political mysti$ue that stunts the reason, or any form of crude rationalism
that stunts the religious sense.( &p. !#5)
[edit] Margaret Singer"s conditions for mind control
Psychologist ,argaret inger describes in her book "ults in our Midst si< conditions
'hich she says 'ould create an atmosphere in 'hich thought reform is possible. inger
states that these conditions involve no need for physical coercion or violence.
@eep the person una'are of 'hat is going on and ho' attempts to
psychologically condition him or her are directed in a step=by=step manner.
o Potential ne' members are led, step by step, through a behavioral=change
program 'ithout being a'are of the final agenda or full content of the
group. The goal may be to make them deployable agents for the
leadership, to get them to buy more courses, or get them to make a deeper
commitment, depending on the leader%s aim and desires.
9ontrol the person%s social andAor physical environmentB especially control the
person%s time.
o Through various methods, ne'er members are kept busy and led to think
about the group and its content during as much of their 'aking time as
ystematically create a sense of po'erlessness in the person.
o This is accomplished by getting members a'ay from their normal social
support group for a period of time and into an environment 'here the
ma-ority of people are already group members.
o The members serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group
and speak an in=group language.
o trip members of their main occupation &$uit -obs, drop out of school) or
source of income or have them turn over their income &or the ma-ority of)
to the group.
o Gnce the target is stripped of their usual support net'ork, their confidence
in their o'n perception erodes.
o 1s the target%s sense of po'erlessness increases, their good -udgment and
understanding of the 'orld are diminished. &ordinary vie' of reality is
o 1s the group attacks the target%s previous 'orldvie', it causes the target
distress and inner confusionB yet they are not allo'ed to speak about this
confusion or ob-ect to it = leadership suppresses $uestions and counters
o This process is sped up if the targetet individual or individuals are kept
tired = the cult 'ill take deliberate actions to keep the target constantly
,anipulate a system of re'ards, punishments and e<periences in such a 'ay as to
inhibit behavior that reflects the person%s former social identity.
o ,anipulation of e<periences can be accomplished through various
methods of trance induction, including leaders using such techni$ues as
paced speaking patterns, guided imagery, chanting, long prayer sessions or
lectures, and lengthy meditation sessions.
o the target%s old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or
evil. 3eadership 'ants these old patterns eliminated, so the member must
suppress them.
o ,embers get positive feedback for conforming to the group%s beliefs and
behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
The group manipulates a system of re'ards, punishments, and e<periences in
order to promote learning the group%s ideology or belief system and group=
approved behaviors.
o Cood behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the
group%s beliefs, and compliance are re'arded 'hile $uestioning,
e<pressing doubts or criticiEing are met 'ith disapproval, redress and
possible re-ection. If one e<presses a $uestion, he or she is made to feel
that there is something inherently disordered about them to be $uestioning.
o The only feedback members get is from the groupB they become totally
dependent upon the re'ards given by those 'ho control the environment.
o ,embers must learn varying amounts of ne' information about the beliefs
of the group and the behaviors e<pected by the group.
o The more complicated and filled 'ith contradictions the ne' system is
and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion
process 'ill be.
o 7steem and affection from peers is very important to ne' recruits.
1pproval comes from having the ne' member%s behaviors and thought
patterns conform to the models &members). ,embers% relationship 'ith
peers is threatened 'henever they fail to learn or display ne' behaviors.
Gver time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties
of learning the ne' system is to inhibit any display of doubts == ne'
recruits simply ac$uiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and
accept the ne' ideology.
Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no
feedback and refuses to be modified e<cept by leadership approval or e<ecutive
o The group has a top=do'n, pyramid structure. The leaders must have
verbal 'ays of never losing.
o ,embers are not allo'ed to $uestion, criticiEe or complain == if they do,
the leaders allege that the member is defective = not the organiEation or the
o The targeted individual is treated as if he or she is al'ays intellectually
incorrect or in-ust, 'hile conversely the system, its leaders and its beliefs
are al'ays automatically, and by default, considered as absolutely -ust.
o 9onversion or remolding of the individual member happens in a closed
system. 1s members learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted
in this closed system, they change == begin to speak the language == 'hich
serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.
1 report on brain'ashing and mind control presented by an 1merican Psychological
1ssociation &1P1) task force kno'n as the 1P1 Taskforce on ?eceptive and Indirect
Techni$ues of Persuasion and 9ontrol &?I,P19), chaired by inger, 'as re-ected in
2>;# by the 1P1%s 6oard of ocial and 7thical 0esponsibility for Psychology &670P)
as lacking (the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for 1P1
imprimatur.( and cautioned the task force members to (not distribute or publiciEe the
report 'ithout indicating that the report 'as unacceptable to the 6oard.(
In !""2, 1lberto 1mitrani and 0affaella ?i ,arEio, from the 0oman seat of the Croup
for 0esearch and Information about ects &C0I) published an article in 'hich they
assert that the re-ection of the report should not be construed as a re-ection of the theories
of thought reform and mind control as applied to /e' 0eligious ,ovements, and that the
re-ection by one division of the 1P1 does not represent the 'hole association. They $uote
a personal e=mail from 6en-amin Hablocki, professor of sociology, from 2>># in 'hich
Hablocki told the authors (many people have been misled about the true position of the
1P1 and the 11 'ith regard to brain'ashing(, and that the 1P1 urged scholars to do
more research on the matter. They also 'rite that they have reason to believe that the 1P1
still considers (psychological coercion( to be a phenomenon 'orth investigating, and not
a notion re-ected by the scientific community. They also 'rite (Gther'ise, 'hy 'ould
people such as ,argaret inger, ,ichael 3angone, and others considered to be %anti=
cultists% contribute to 1P1 9onventions and be respected in other prestigious professional
bodies as 'ellI(
Writing in 2>>>, research and forensic psychologist ?ick 1nthony noted that the removal
of inger%s brain'ashing concept from the most recent edition of the ?iagnostic and
tatistical ,anual of ,ental ?isorders &?, IJ) ('ould seem to indicate that the
1merican Psychiatric 1ssociation, like the 1merican Psychological 1ssociation, the
1merican ociological 1ssociation and the ociety for the cientific tudy of 0eligion,
has repudiated inger%s cultic brain'ashing theory because of its unscientific character.(
1nthony also noted that inger%s testimony had also been repeatedly e<cluded from
1merican legal trials.
[edit] Steven #assan"s $%T& model
In his book Releasing the onds: *m&o!ering Peo&le to Think for Themsel$es, mental
health counselor and e<it counselor teven .assan describes his mind=control model,
(6IT7(. (6IT7( stands for (6ehavior, Information, Thoughts, and 7motions.( The model
has a basis in the 'orks of inger and 3ifton, and in the cognitive dissonance theory of
3eon Festinger.
In the book, .assan describes the components of the 6IT7 model:
6ehavior 9ontrol
o 0egulation of individualFs physical reality
o ,a-or time commitment re$uired for indoctrination sessions and group
o /eed to ask permission for ma-or decisions
o /eed to report thoughts, feelings, and activities to superiors
o 0e'ards and punishments &behavior modification techni$ues positive and
o Individualism discouragedB (group think( prevails
o 0igid rules and regulations
o /eed for obedience and dependency
Information 9ontrol
o Kse of deception
o 1ccess to non cult sources of information minimiEed or discouraged
o 9ompartmentaliEation of informationB Gutsider vs. Insider doctrines
o pying on other members is encouraged
o 7<tensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
o Knethical use of confession
Thought 9ontrol
o /eed to internaliEe the groupFs doctrine as (Truth(
o Kse of (loaded( language &for e<ample, Lthought terminating clichDs().
Words are the tools 'e use to think 'ith. These (special( 'ords constrict
rather than e<pand understanding, and can even stop thoughts altogether.
They function to reduce comple<ities of e<perience into trite, platitudinous
(buEE 'ords.(
o Gnly (good( and (proper( thoughts are encouraged.
o Kse of hypnotic techni$ues to induce altered mental states
o ,anipulation of memories and implantation of false memories
o Kse of thought stopping techni$ues, 'hich shut do'n (reality testing( by
stopping (negative( thoughts and allo'ing only (good( thoughts
o 0e-ection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism. /o
critical $uestions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate.
o /o alternative belief systems vie'ed as legitimate, good, or useful
7motional 9ontrol
o ,anipulate and narro' the range of a personFs feelings
o ,ake the person feel that if there are ever any problems, it is al'ays their
fault, never the leaderFs or the groupFs
o 7<cessive use of guilt
o 7<cessive use of fear
o 7<tremes of emotional highs and lo's
o 0itual and often public confession of (sins(
o Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about ever leaving the
group or even $uestioning the leaderFs authority. The person under mind
control cannot visualiEe a positive, fulfilled future 'ithout being in the
.assan 'rites that cults recruit and retain members through a three=step process 'hich he
refers to as (unfreeEing,( (changing,( and (refreeEing(. This involves the use of an
e<tensive array of various techni$ues, including systematic deception, behavior
modification, 'ithholding of information, and emotionally intense persuasion techni$ues
&such as the induction of phobias), 'hich he collectively terms mind control. .e
describes these steps as follo's:
KnfreeEing: the process of breaking a person do'n
9hanging: the indoctrination process
0efreeEing: the process of reinforcing the ne' identity
In Releasing the onds he also 'rites (I suspect that most cult groups use informal
hypnotic techni$ues to induce trance states. They tend to use 'hat are called
(naturalistic( hypnotic techni$ues. Practicing meditation to shut do'n thinking, chanting
a phrase repetitively for hours, or reciting affirmations are all po'erful 'ays to promote
spiritual gro'th. 6ut they can also be used unethically, as methods for mind control
.assan, after taking part in a number of deprogrammings in the late 2>#"s, states that he
is no longer involved in this practice.
and 'hich eventually became completely illegal
e<cept in the case of minors.
* citation needed +
In Releasing the onds, .assan describes an approach that he calls the (trategic
Interaction 1pproach( &I1) in order to help cult members leave their groups, and in
order to help them recover from the psychological damage that they have incurred. The
approach is non=coercive and the person being treated is free to discontinue it at any time.
.e 'rites: (The goal of the I1 is to help the loved one recover his full facultiesB to
restore the creative, interdependent adult 'ho fully understands 'hat has happened to
himB 'ho has digested and integrated the e<perience and is better and stronger from the
In 2>>; the 7n$uete 9ommission issued its report on (o=called ects and Psychogroups(
in Cermany. 0evie'ing .assan%s 6IT7 model, the report said that:
Thus, the milieu control identified by .assan, consisting of behavioural control, mental control,
emotional control and information control cannot, in every case and as a matter of principle, be
characterised as (manipulative(. 9ontrol of these areas of action is an inevitable component of
social interactions in a group or community. The social control that is al'ays associated 'ith
intense commitment to a group must therefore be clearly distinguished from the e<ertion of
intentional, methodical influence for the e<press purpose of manipulation.
[edit] Mind Control and the $attered Person Syndrome
1 very different e<planation of the control some groups have over their members is by
associating it 'ith 6attered person syndrome and tockholm syndrome. This has been
done by psychologists Teresa 0amireE 6oulette, Ph.?. and usan ,. 1ndersen, Ph.?.
[edit] Social psychology tactics
1 contemporary vie' of mind control sees it as an intensified and persistent use of 'ell
researched social psychology principles like compliance, conformity, persuasion,
dissonance, reactance, framing or emotional manipulation.
Gne of the most notable proponents of such theories is social psychologist Philip
Himbardo, former president of the 1merican Psychological 1ssociation:
+ concei$e of mind control as a &henomena
encom&assing all the !ays in
!hich &ersonal% social and institutional forces are e.erted to induce com&liance%
conformity% belief% attitude% and $alue change in others/

"Mind control is the &rocess by !hich indi$idual or collecti$e freedom of choice
and action is com&romised by agents or agencies that modify or distort
&erce&tion% moti$ation% affect% cognition and0or beha$ioral outcomes/ +t is neither
magical nor mystical% but a &rocess that in$ol$es a set of basic social
&sychological &rinci&les/"
In +nfluence% Science and Practice, social psychologist 0obert 9ialdini argues that mind
control is possible through the covert e<ploitation of the unconscious rules that underlie
and facilitate healthy human social interactions. .e states that common social rules can
be used to prey upon the un'ary, and he titles them as follo's:
(0eciprocation: The Gld Cive and Take...and Take(
(9ommitment and 9onsistency: .obgoblins of the ,ind(
(ocial Proof: Truths 1re Ks(
(3iking: The Friendly Thief(
(1uthority: ?irected ?eference(
(carcity: The 0ule of the Fe'(
Ksing these si< broad categories, he offers specific e<amples of both mild and e<treme
mind control &both one on one and in groups), notes the conditions under 'hich each
social rule is most easily e<ploited for false ends, and offers suggestions on ho' to resist
such methods.
[edit] Social psychological conditioning 'y Stahelski
Writing in the 1ournal of 2omeland Security, a publication of the 1/70 Institute for
.omeland ecurity, 1nthony tahelski identifies five phases of social psychological
conditioning 'hich he calls cult=like conditioning techni$ues employed by terrorist
groups: *tahelski, !""5+:
2. ?epluraliEation: stripping a'ay all other group member identities
!. elf=deindividuation: stripping a'ay each memberFs personal identity
4. Gther=deindividuation: stripping a'ay the personal identities of enemies
5. ?ehumaniEation: identifying enemies as subhuman or nonhuman
8. ?emoniEation: identifying enemies as evil
[edit] Su'liminal advertising
Main article: Subliminal message
ubliminal advertising 'as proposed around 2>:" as a means for organiEed mass control
of human behavior. The allegations has since then fallen out of the common debate,
because there are fe' reports that subliminal advertising has any real effect in the 'ay
advertisers may 'ish.
[edit] Cults and mind control controversies
ome of the mind control models discussed above have been related to religious and non=
religious cults &for debates regarding 'hat is a cult, see the article). There is debate
among scholars, members of ne' religious movements, and cult critics 'hether or not
mind control is applied either in general or by any particular group.
[edit] Scholarly points of vie(
While the ma-ority of scholars in the study of religion re-ect theories of mind control
&e.g., ,assimo Introvigne and J. Cordon ,elton), it is often accepted in psychology and
* citation needed +
&e.g., ,argaret inger, ,ichael 3angone, and Philip Himbardo) and
in sociology the opinions are divided &e.g., ?avid C. 6romley and 1nson hupe contra,
tephen 1. @ent and 6en-amin Hablocki pro). ,ost scholars have either a decided contra
or a decided pro opinionB there are fe' 'ho advocate a moderate point of vie'.
* citation needed +
James T. &Jim) 0ichardson, professor of ociology and Judicial tudies at the Kniversity
of /evada, 'rites in his "rain!ashing" "laims and Minority Religions 3utside the
4nited States: "ultural #iffusion of a 5uestionable "once&t in the 6egal Arena that,
'hile heavy on theory, the mind control model is light on evidence:
"The ""M mo$ement has collected some information to su&&ort its belief that
religious grou&s successfully em&loy mind7control techni8ues/ ut the data is
unreliable/ The information ty&ically re&resents a $ery small sam&le si9e/ +t is not
&ractical to obtain information before% during and after an indi$idual has been in
a ne! religious mo$ement ((RM)/ 3ften% their data is dis&ro&ortionately
obtained from former members of a religious organi9ation !ho ha$e been
con$inced during ""M counseling that they ha$e been $ictims of mind7control/"

James 0ichardson, also states that if the /0,s had access to po'erful brain'ashing
techni$ues, one 'ould e<pect that /0,s 'ould have high gro'th rates, 'hile in fact
most have not had notable success in recruitment. ,ost adherents participate for only a
short time, and the success in retaining members has been limited. In addition, Thomas
0obbins, 7ileen 6arker, /e'ton ,aloney, ,assimo Introvigne, John .all, 3orne
?a'son, 1nson hupe, ?avid C. 6romley, Cordon ,elton, ,arc Calanter, aul 3evine
and other scholars researching /0,s have argued and established to the satisfaction of
courts and relevant professional associations and scientific communities that there e<ists
no scientific theory, generally accepted and based upon methodologically sound research,
that supports the brain'ashing theories as advanced by the anti=cult movement.
ociologist 6en-amin Hablocki sees strong indicators of mind control in some /0,s and
suggests that the concept should be researched 'ithout bias:
"+ am not &ersonally o&&osed to the e.istence of (RMs and still less to the free
e.ercise of religious conscience/ + !ould fight acti$ely against any go$ernmental
attem&t to limit freedom of religious e.&ression/ (or do + belie$e it is !ithin the
com&etence of secular scholars such as myself to e$aluate or :udge the cultural
!orth of s&iritual beliefs or s&iritual actions/ 2o!e$er% + am con$inced% based on
more than three decades of studying (RMs through &artici&ant7obser$ation and
through inter$ie!s !ith both members and e.7members% that these mo$ements
ha$e unleashed social and &sychological forces of truly a!esome &o!er/ These
forces ha$e !reaked ha$oc in many li$es;in both adults and in children/ +t is
these social and &sychological influence &rocesses that the social scientist has
both the right and the duty to try to understand% regardless of !hether such
understanding !ill ultimately &ro$e hel&ful or harmful to the cause of religious
liberty/" &Hablocki, 2>>#)
ociologists ?avid 6romley and 1nson hupe consider the idea that (cults( are
brain'ashing 1merican youth to be (implausible(..
ociology professor tephen 1.
@ent published several articles 'here he discusses practices of /0,s as regards to

In 2>;5 the 1merican Psychological 1ssociation &1P1) re$uested ,argaret inger, the
main proponent of mind control theories, to set up a 'orking group called the 1P1
taskforce on ?eceptive and Indirect Techni$ues of Persuasion and 9ontrol &?I,P19).
In 2>;# the ?I,P19 committee submitted its final report to the 6oard of ocial and
7thical 0esponsibility for Psychology of the 1P1. Gn ,ay 22, 2>;# the 6oard re-ected
the report. In the re-ection memo
it is stated: "<inally% after much consideration%
S*RP does not belie$e that !e ha$e sufficient information a$ailable to guide us in
taking a &osition on this issue/".
There are t'o interpretations of this re-ection: one side &e.g. 1mitrani and di ,arEio !"""
and Hablocki !""2) see it as no position on the issue of brain'ashing, the other &e.g.
Introvigne 2>>#) sees it as re-ecting all brain'ashing theories.
Philip Himbardo, 'ho teaches a course on the (The psychology of mind control( at
tanford Kniversity, 'rote that (everal participants *in a presentation called %9ults of
.atred%+ challenged our profession to form a task force on e<treme forms of influence,
asserting that the underlying issues inform discourses on terrorist recruiting, on
destructive cults versus ne' religious movements, on social=political=%therapy% cults and
on human malleability or resiliency 'hen confronted by authority po'er.(
0ecently, there are indications that some members of both sides are 'illing to start a
dialog as, for e<ample, in the !""2 book "Misunderstanding "ults: Searching for
3b:ecti$ity in a "ontro$ersial <ield". 1dditionally, professor of ociology 7ileen 6arker
'as invited to speak at the !""! yearly conference of the International 9ultic tudies
1ssociation. 1nd J. Cordon ,elton and ?ouglas 9o'an 'ere invited to speak at a
conference sponsored by the 7vangelical ,inistries to /e' 0eligions.
[edit] Mind control) eit counseling) and deprogramming
Gpponents of some ne' religious movements have accused them of being cults that
coerce recruits to -oin &and members to remain) by using strong influence over members
that is instilled and maintained by manipulation &see also 1nti=cult movement,
Gpposition to cults and ne' religious movements and 9hristian countercult movement).
uch opponents fre$uently advocate e<it counseling as necessary to free the cult member
from mind control. The practice of coercive deprogramming has practically ceased. &@ent
M Eimhart, !""!)
Gpponents of deprogramming generally regard it as an even 'orse violation of personal
autonomy than any loss of free 'ill attributable to the recruiting tactics of ne' religious
movements. These people complain that targets of deprogramming are being deceived,
denied due process, and forced to endure more intense manipulation than that
encountered during their previous group membership.
teven .assan, 'ho began his career as a deprogrammer, criticiEes deprogramming in his
book Releasing the onds: *m&o!ering Peo&le to Think for Themsel$es. .e 'rites that
(?eprogramming has many dra'backs. I have met doEens of people 'ho 'ere
successfully deprogrammed but, to this day, e<perience psychological trauma as a result
of the method. These people 'ere glad to be released from the grip of cult programming
but 'ere not happy about the method used to help them.(
[edit] Mind control and recruitment rates
7ileen 6arker states that out of one thousand people persuaded by theKnification 9hurch
to attend one of their overnight programs in 2>#>, >"N had no further involvement. Gnly
;N -oined for more than one 'eek and less than 5N remained members by 2>;2, t'o
years later.
Tyler .endricks, former president of the Knification 9hurch, estimates that
appro<imately 2"",""" people (moved into( the Knification 9hurch as full=time
members from the 2>#"s to the 2>>"s. ,embership in the church 'as ;,:"" in !""5
&counting only those 'ho -oined as adults and e<cluding the children of members). This
is an attrition rate of >4N.
6illy Craham, one of the most prominent evangelists of the last century had only an
average of 2N of the attendants of his evangeliEations heed the altar call at all. Follo'=up
'ork after evangeliEations sho's that only 2"N of the people responding to an altar call
actually do -oin a church. Therefore successful 9hristian evangeliEations resulted in a
longterm success rate of ".2N, as compared to the 5N of 6arker%s observation. 1nd these
".2N do not become full=time missionaries as in the Knification 9hurch. &3angone,
[edit] Mind control and faith
The 1merican 9ivil 3iberties Knion &193K) published a statement in 2>## related to
brain'ashing and mind control. In this statement the 193K opposed certain methods
(depriving people of the free e<ercise of religion(. The 193K also re-ected &under certain
conditions) the idea that claims of the use of %brain'ashing% or of %mind control% should
overcome the free e<ercise of religion.
3eon Festinger based his theory of the cognitive dissonance, a component of .assan%s
,ind 9ontrol model, on his observation that the faith of most members of a KFG cult
'as unshattered by failed prophecy. .
6arrett 'ho is affiliated 'ith 97/K0 and 7ileen 6arker, 'hom some anti=cult activists
consider cult a&ologists, 'rote that logical arguments are irrelevant 'hen trying to
persuade some members to leave a movement due to the certainty that they have about
their faith, 'hich he sees as not confined to cults, but also occurring in some forms of
mainstream religion. .e also 'rote that some members do not leave the movement even
though they realiEe that things are 'rong. ee also 3eaving a cult.
[edit] Counter*cult movement and mind control
In the 9hristian counter=cult movement there are several commentators 'ho refute mind
control as a factor in cult membership, and membership in both 9hristian and non=
9hristian cults as a spiritual or theological issue.
In an article by the evangelical 9hristian 'riters 6ob and Cretchen Passantino, first
appearing in 9ornerstone magaEine, titled 3$ercoming The ondage 3f 'ictimi9ation: A
"ritical *$aluation of "ult Mind "ontrol Theories they challenge the validity of mind
control theories and the alleged (victimiEation( by mind=control, and assert in their
,///- the ogey Man of cult mind control is nothing but a ghost story% good for
inducing an adrenaline high and maintaining a crusade% but irrele$ant to reality/
The reality is that &eo&le !ho ha$e $ery real s&iritual% emotional% and social
needs are looking for fulfillment and significance for their li$es/ +ll7e8ui&&ed to
test the false gos&els of this !orld% they make &oor decisions about their religious
affiliations/ Poor decisions% yes% but decisions for !hich they are &ersonally
res&onsible nonetheless/ As "hristians !ho belie$e in an absolute standard of
truth and religious reality% !e cannot ignore the s&iritual threat of the cults/ =e
must &romote critical thinking% res&onsible education% biblical a&ologetics% and
"hristian e$angelism/ =e must recogni9e that those !ho :oin the cults% !hile
morally res&onsible% are also s&iritually ignorant/

In a rebuttal to the Passantino%s article, a protagonist of the counter=cult movement, Paul
0. ,artin, Ph.?. et al/ in his 3$ercoming the ondage of Re$ictimi9ation: A
Rational0*m&irical #efense of Thought Reform, &first appeared in 9ultic tudies Journal
28A! 2>>;), 'rites:
"The Passantinos are !ell kno!n and res&ected e$angelical !riters/
"onse8uently% their criti8ue% !hich is rife !ith errors and misinter&retations%
disturbs us $ery much and calls for a detailed rebuttal/ ,///-<or us% theological
considerations inform our understanding of the sociological and &sychological
destruction caused by cults% although others hold similar &ositions !ithout
considering theological issues/ "ults distort one>s &erce&tions both of natural
reality (sociological and &sychological) and s&iritual reality/ +n the "hristian
tradition% the former is su&&osed to re$eal the latter? therefore% those interested in
s&iritual issues must address both sides in order to minister ade8uately to former
cult members/

[edit] Legal issues
ome persons have claimed a (brain'ashing defense( for crimes committed 'hile
purportedly under mind control. In the cases of Patty .earst, teven Fishman and 3ee
6oyd ,alvo the court re-ected such defenses.
1lso in the court cases against members of 1um hinrikyo regarding the 2>>8 sarin gas
attack on the Tokyo sub'ay system the mind control defense 'as not a mitigating factor.
tarting from the Fishman case &2>>") &'here a defendant accused of commercial fraud
raised as a defense that he 'as not fully responsible since he 'as under the mind control
of cientology) 1merican courts consistently re-ected testimonies about mind control and
manipulation, stating that these 'ere not part of accepted mainline science according to
the Frye tandard &1nthony M 0obbins 2>>!: 8=!>). ,argaret inger and her associate
0ichard Gfshe filed suits against the 1merican Psychological 1ssociation) &1P1) and the
1merican ociological 1ssociation &11) &'ho had supported 1P1%s 2>;# statement)
but they lost in 2>>4 and 2>>5.
The Frye standard has since been replaced by the ?aubert standard and there have been
to court cases 'here testimonies about mind control have been e<amined according to the
?aubert standard.
ome 9ivil suits 'here mind control 'as an issue, 'ere, though, more effective:
In the case of Wollersheim v. 9hurch of cientology of 9alifornia the court states church
practices had been conducted in a coercive environment and so 'ere not protected by
religious freedom guarantees. Wollersheim 'as finally a'arded O; million in damages.
&9alifornia appellate court, !nd district, #th division, Wollersheim v. 9hurch of
cientology of 9alifornia, 9iv. /o. 6"!42>4 9al. uper. &2>;:)
(?uring trial, Wollersheim%s e<perts testified cientology%s (auditing( and (disconnect(
practices constituted (brain'ashing( and (thought reform( akin to 'hat the 9hinese and
/orth @oreans practiced on 1merican prisoners of 'ar. 1 religious practice 'hich takes
place in the conte<t of this level of coercion has less religious value than one the recipient
engages in voluntarily. 7ven more significantly, it poses a greater threat to society to have
coerced religious practices inflicted on its citiEens.( (Ksing its position as religious
leader, the %church% and its agents coerced Wollersheim into continuing auditing even
though his sanity 'as repeatedly threatened by this practice... Thus there is ade$uate
proof the religious practice in this instance caused real harm to the individual and the
appellant%s outrageous conduct caused that harm... %9hurch% practices conducted in a
coercive environment are not $ualified to be voluntary religious practices entitled to first
amendment religious freedom guarantees(
In 2>>4 the 7uropean 9ourt of .uman 0ights upheld the right of a Creek Jehovah%s
Witness ,inos @okkinakis, 'ho had been sentenced to prison and a fine for
proselytiEing, to spread his faith, though the court sought to define 'hat it regarded as
acceptable 'ays of sharing one%s faith. .o'ever, in a dissenting -udgment, t'o -udges
argued that @okkinakis and his 'ife had applied (unacceptable psychological techni$ues(
akin to brain'ashing. @G@@I/1@I v. C07797 &254"#A;;) *2>>4+ 79.0 !" &!8 ,ay
[edit] Mind control against children in Parental
tanley 9la'ar and 6rynne 0ivlin have claimed in "hildren 2eld 2ostage: #ealing !ith
Programmed and rain!ashed "hildren that many forms of mind control are used in
Parental alienation by one parent against the other parent using both parents% children as
un'itting 'eapons. This use of devastating mind control is often detrimental to children
and follo's them into adulthood by creating a chronic condition 'hich the authors have
named Parental 1lienation yndrome. &It should be noted that there is no medical or
psychological recognition of P1 as an actual syndrome, and that the use of this term
serves to reify the age=old practice of one parent turning the child against the other). The
authors claim the mind control used in Parental 1lienation often permanently damages or
destroys the target parent%s bonds 'ith his or her children. While this is undoubtedly true
in some cases, in others, the alienating parent may be in fact protecting the child from an
abusive or inade$uate parent. These kinds of disputes are comple< and the use of a
simplistic term such as P1 can distract from the uni$ueness of each situation.
The parental alienation syndrome is not currently considered a syndrome in the ?,=IJ
and the 1merican Psychological 1ssociation officially takes no position on (the
purported syndrome.(
It has been stated that the parental alienation syndrome should
not be admitted in court, due to evidentiary and causation problems 'ith its theory and
due to the dangerous feeling of reliability and believability in this self=published theory.
[edit] Mind control in fiction and popular culture
Main article: Mind control in &o&ular culture
?espite, or because being a serious topic in itself, mind control have attracted a large
interest in the eyes of the popular culture, since, by the same logic as in conspiration
theories, it may make the plot believable and more e<citing.