02 December 2006

Brainwashing, Consciousness-Raising, and Cult Indoctrination

"Brainwashing" came to be recognized as a term around 1950, in Mao's attempts to transform revolutionary China. The term came into use in the western world in the USA during the Korean War of the 1950s, when it became known that the Chinese communists were using brainwashing techniques on western prisoners of war.

What is brainwashing?

In the late 1950s, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton studied former prisoners of Korean and Chinese war camps. He determined that they'd undergone a multistep process that began with attacks on the prisoner's sense of self and ended with what appeared to be a change in beliefs. Lifton ultimately defined a set of steps involved in the brainwashing cases he studied:

1. Assault on identity
2. Guilt
3. Self-betrayal
4. Breaking point
5. Leniency
6. Compulsion to confess
7. Channeling of guilt
8. Releasing of guilt
9. Progress and harmony
10. Final confession and rebirth

Each of these stages takes place in an environment of isolation, meaning all "normal" social reference points are unavailable, and mind-clouding techniques like sleep deprivation and malnutrition are typically part of the process. There is often the presence or constant threat of physical harm, which adds to the target's difficulty in thinking critically and independently.

These methods should be familiar to anyone who has experienced indoctrination into a cult, or the political indoctrination known as "consciousness raising." Consciousness raising is a method of "programming" a person into an extremist philosophy--and is common practise in many leftist and nazi-type organisations. In fact the original method of programming for radical feminists was consciousness raising. It is important to separate the individual from her previous "program", in order to program her into the new ideology.

Our study groups were radicalizing our own consciousness and it suddenly became apparent that women could be doing on a mass scale what we were doing in our own group, that the next logical radical action would be to get the word out about what we were doing. This kind of study would be part of what was necessary to achieve the liberation of women on a mass scale. Source.

Cult indoctrination and indoctrination in muslim extremism follows much the same form as the other types of brainwashing.

* Breaking sessions: that pressure a person until they crack.
* Changing values: to change what is right and wrong.
* Confession: to leave behind the undesirable past.
* Entrancement: open the mind and limit rational reflection.
* Engagement: that draws a person in.
* Exhaustion: so they are less able to resist persuasion.
* Guilt: about the past that they can leave behind.
* Higher purpose: associate desirability with a higher purpose.
* Identity destruction: to make space for the new identity.
* Information control: that blocks out dissuading thoughts.
* Incremental conversion: shifting the person one step at a time.
* Isolation: separating people from dissuasive messages.
* Love Bomb: to hook in the lonely and vulnerable.
* Persistence: never giving up, wearing you down.
* Special language: that offers the allure of power and new meaning.
* Thought-stopping: block out distracting or dissuading thoughts.
Anyone reading the above list of characteristics of "conversion techniques" will notice similarities between cult techniques, political ideological techniques, and techniques used against prisoners of war in the Korean and Vietnamese wars.
The sad truth is, in leftist dominated universities in the western world, as in muslim and extreme fundamentalist religious schools, such "consciousness raising" types of brainwashing are routinely used in many classes given by women's studies, ethnic studies, political science, and many other departments where political and religious indoctrination is considered more important than preparing the students to be fit to meet the future.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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