Mind control, also known as brainwashing or coercive persuasion, refers to a process in which a group or individual systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s). It is a dishonest influence used covertly to recruit, indoctrinate and control prospective members.
High-demand cultic groups utilize deception and mind control to gain followers. People who know the true intentions of these groups are not likely to join,so these groups keep the truth hidden.
Mind control methods can include the following:
- extensive control of behavior, information, thoughts and emotions, in order to limit the alternatives from which members may make choices
- confusing doctrine
- the rejection of old values through continual criticism of former beliefs and values
- group pressure which eliminates all resistance and doubt by exploiting the need to belong
- intense indoctrination into a belief system that denigrates independent critical thinking and considers the world outside the group to be threatening, evil, or gravely in error
- an insistence that members’ distress, which often consists of anxiety and guilt subtly induced by the group, can be relieved only by conforming to the group
- physical and/or psychological debilitation through inadequate diet or fatigue
- the induction of dissociative (trance-like) states via the misuse of meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, and other exercises in which attention is narrowed, suggestibility heightened, and independent critical thinking weakened
- alternation of harshness/threats and leniency/love in order to effect compliance with the leadership’s wishes
- isolation from social supports
- pressured public confessions