HUMAN CHANGE – THE CLOSED SYSTEM

EIGHT CRITERIA OF THOUGHT REFORM

(Investigator 48, 1996 May)



1. MILIEU CONTROL:
Control of human communication, i.e. what we see, hear, read, write, speak, and think (speak to myself). Totalist administrator's primary job is to guarantee purity of thought (beliefs), behavior, and loyalty of group members to the leaders, thus to isolate members from outside information. Some group leaders impose painful consequences on members caught reading items written by, or talking to, former group members, or anyone critical of the group.

2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION:
Planned spontaneity, i.e. love bombing, instant acceptance, friends, and social life. Feeling of belonging and it was easy. A sense of having and being a part of a "higher purpose." Only organization with "truth". God's "only channel of communication". "God's prophet". The pursuit of the goal based on total acceptance and ultimate trust in leaders supersedes everything, and everyone else. Combating independent thought and behavior becomes a survival issue.

3. THE DEMAND FOR PURITY:
The world is sharply divided into us vs. them, good vs. evil, God vs. Devil, and white vs. black. Good is defined as all feelings, behaviors, and thoughts (beliefs) that conform to the group leaders current teachings (doctrine) and policies. Guilt and shame become the frame of the lid on the box (trap). Unforgiving, ideological judgment and guilt relieving righteous anger become personality characteristics.

4. THE CULT OF CONFESSION:
Obsession with personal confession taken beyond its ordinary usefulness. Closely related to the demand for purity, requires confessing insignificant crimes and crimes not yet committed. Healthy confession makes a person feel better. Cult confession amounts to coerced purging of a person’s innermost private thoughts. The result is more guilt, feeling worse, more dependence on the group, and a shame induced lowering of the self image.

5. THE "SACRED SCIENCE":
Is evident in the prohibition against questioning the origination of the "Word", of the present bearers of the "Word", or the "Word" itself. Recruits often have the feeling that the search is over, there is an absolute science of ideas. In the indoctrinated believer’s mind, this combination of ideas and mystical leaders, represent God and God’s will. Members very existence is contingent on acceptance of this, combined with reinforced behavior as required by the "Word".

6. THE LOADED LANGUAGE:
Characterized by thought terminating cliche. The most complex human issues are reduced to bumper-sticker slogans. The language is unique to the group, categorical, judging, an expression of unity, and exclusiveness. Serves as a means to identify & label members. Thought and expression is compressed to fit the available jargon.

7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON:
Interpretation of experience, past and present, replaces the reality of the experience itself. Events are simply altered, rewritten, or ignored to make them consistent with group beliefs and practices. Doctrine (beliefs) is viewed as solid truth, while human experience and perception are seen as unreliable. New behaviors will require new doctrine for justification. When two or more behaviors or doctrines are in conflict, compartment thinking is required. Dogmatism, arrogance, and intimidation are used by group leaders to maintain the illusion of control.

8. THE DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE:
The group models and teachings clearly define who has the right to exist and who doesn't. After a degree of indoctrination is complete, a new recruit sees a complete conversion as the only means of any possible future existence. Some groups actually kill questioning or disobedient members, while others inflict painful psychological wounds by shunning in whole or part. Relationships are group leader controlled.

(THOUGHT REFORM AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALISM, Robert Jay Lifton, The University of North Carolina Press 1961, 1989 ed.)
© 1996 Gary Busselman
 
 
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