Combating Destructive Mind Control – Part I

by ABibleStudent 10 Replies latest watchtower scandals

  • ABibleStudent

    For the past month I have been reading threads on the JWN that mentioned Steve Hassan’s books. Last week while I was at the library, I checked out “Combatting Cult Mind Control” by Steve Hassan. I agree with all of what Steve Hassan wrote about destructive mind control (I may disagree with some of his conspiracy theories). I started this thread for three reasons, 1) inspire people – especially lurkers and new faders - to read Steve Hassan’s books by briefly stating some of his ideas, 2) to raise awareness of former JWs, who are seeking therapy for themselves, to ask their therapist about their knowledge of cult mind control, and 3) encourage people to write about how to overcome mind control of born-in JWs. Knowledge about involuntary and destructive mind control can empower JWs, former JWs, and non-JWs to free individual’s minds and the Holy Spirit inside of them by overcoming the effects of destructive mind control. I apologize if I saved this thread in the wrong catagory.

    Quote from: ”Combatting Cult Mind Control” by Steve Hassan, Preface pg xviii

    “ On completing this second reading [of Hassan’s book], go find the answers to the issues that are raised pertaining to your group! Take some time off (if possible, a minimum of a few weeks) and go to a restful place away from other group members and gather more information from other sources. Remember, if the group is a legitimate, valid organization, it will stand up to any scrutiny. It is far better to find out the truth now than to invest more time, money, energy, and resources only to discover years later that the group is very different from it’s idealized image.

    Truth is stronger than lies, and love is stronger than fear. If you are involved with a religious organization, keep in mind that God created us with free will and that no truly spiritual organization would ever use deception or mind control or take away that freedom.”

    I will be breaking this thread into three parts because I want to include throughout this thread quotes from Steve Hassan’s book that I thought were profound or insightful. Also, I do not want to overload readers with the amount of information about describing destructive mind control, how to combat it, and challenges of combating it for born-in JWs. Part II will present Steve Hassan’s keys to combating mind control and Part III will be about how to use/adapt Steve Hassan’s theories to overcoming the challenges of helping born-in JWs. So what is mind control to Steve Hassan and why is he considered an expert about it?

    Quote from: Chapter 1, “Exit Counseling: The Background”, pg 7

    ”There are many different forms of mind control, and most people think of brainwashing almost as soon as they hear the term. But for the purpose of this book – which is to help you recognize it and protect yourself and others from groups that use it – “mind control” may be understood as a system of influences that disrupts an individual’s identity (beliefs, behavior, thinking, and emotions) and replaces it with a new identity. In most cases, that new identity is one that the original identity would strongly object to if it knew in advance what was in store.”

    Steve Hassan describes his life and his experiences in “Combatting Cult Mind Control”. Steve joined the Unification Church (Moonies) in the 1970’s while he was attending college. As a Moonie, Steve became a skillful leader in the cult who helped to indoctrinate many other people to become Moonies. Only after breaking his leg in a terrible vehicle accident, were Steve’s parents able to help Steve break free from the Moonies control over him. Steve Hassan became an exit counselor because of his experience with the Moonies.

    Quote from: Chapter 3, “The Threat: Mind Control Cults Today”, pg 37

    ”A destructive cult distinguishes itself form a normal social or religious group by subjecting its members to deception or other damaging influences to keep them in the group.” . . .

    . . . ”How a group recruits and what happens during membership determine whether or not it respects people’s rights to choose for themselves what they want to believe. If deception, hypnosis, and other mind control techniques are used to recruit and control followers, then people’s rights are being infringed upon.”

    In Chapter 4 Steve Hassan identifies four components of mind control that allows groups to control even the strongest minded individuals:
    1) Behavior control – regulation of a person’s physical reality (i.e., where they live, what they wear, what they eat, how little they sleep/rest, what decisions they can make, where they work, what rituals they perform, are financially dependent on the group, act as a group, etc.)
    2) Thought control – includes indoctrinating members so that they internalize the group’s doctrines as their own, use a new language system of clichés or loaded language, and use thought stopping techniques to keep their mind “centered” when exposed to criticism of the group. To be a good member a person needs to reflexively manipulate their thoughts to conform to the group’s doctrines.
    3) Emotional control – attempts to manipulate and narrow the range of a person’s feelings using guilt (i.e., blame themselves for all failures) and fear of persecution from everyone not in the group and if they every leave the group.
    4) Information Control – uses information that fuels people’s minds to control how members think and act. Members are required to read group literature, minimize how much non-group information they read/listen to, and to limit contact with people outside of the group, unless they are potential converts.

    Quote from: Chapter 3, “The Threat: Mind Control Cults Today”, pg 42

    ”The average person doesn’t stand much chance. He doesn’t understand mind control. He doesn’t know how different cult groups operate. He doesn’t know what questions to ask and what behaviors to watch out for. The average person assumes he could never be sucked in.”

    It is a relatively simple 3-step process of gaining control of another person’s mind and it takes 8-keys to free a person from mind control. According to Kurt Lewin’s model, a 3-step process of controlling a mind involves unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. Unfreezing uses sleep deprivation, changes in diet and eating schedule, and hypnotic techniques (i.e., sensory overload, double blinds, guided meditations) to break down a person’s frame of reference for understanding themselves and their environment. Changing is a slow process of telling a person only what they can except to create a new set of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Refreezing involves giving a person a new purpose in life and new activities that will solidify the new identity.

    Quote from: Chapter 4, “Understanding Mind Control”, pg 72

    ”The new member is typically assigned to proselytizing duty as soon as possible. Research in social psychology has shown that nothing firms up one’s beliefs faster than trying to sell them to others. Making new members do so crystallizes the cult identity quickly. “

    Destructive mind control creates two personalities in the same body. One personality is the authentic person before mind control and the other is the mind controlled personality. It is essential to help mind controlled individuals for family members/friends to sensitize themselves to the differences between the two identity patterns, in terms of both content (what a person talks about) and communication patterns (the ways one speaks and acts). Each one looks and sounds distinctively different.

    Quote from: Chapter 4, “Understanding Mind Control”, pg 73-74

    ”A member of a mind control cult is at war with himself. Therefore, when dealing with a cult member, it is extremely important to always keep in mind that he has two identifies” . . .

    . . . “Recognizing the change, and acting appropriately, is the key to unlocking the person’s real self and freeing it from the cult’s bondage, as will be described in upcoming chapters.

    As much as cult indoctrination attempts to destroy and suppress the old identity, and empower the new identity, it almost never totally succeeds. Good experiences and positive memories rarely disappear entirely. Of course, the cult identity will try to bury former reference points and submerge the person’s past. Yet, over time, the old self exerts itself and seeks out ways to regain its freedom. This process is speeded up by positive exposure to non-members and the accumulation of bad experiences he has while in the group.”

    Does anyone see how the WTBTS uses mind control techniques to control its members? Does anyone, who is or has undergone therapy because of being a JW, understand how important it is for their therapist to have some knowledge about the special needs of JWs because of the use of mind control by the WTBTS?

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,
    ABibleStudent (on the JWN) and BibleStudent (on the JWSF)

  • Alfred

    Sadly, very few therapists are familiar with the kind of mind control that breaks down JWs...

  • Mad Sweeney
    Mad Sweeney

    The premiere show of Cult Free Radio discusses this same topic, focusing specifically on Hassan's BITE as the Watchtower commonly applies it.

    There's also a great thread on JWR about this. I forget who originally posted it.

    Excellent book summary and analysis so far, Bible Student. I'm looking forward to more of it.

  • Knowsnothing

    I can certainly attest to Information Control, at least as my personal experience. I was brought up reading mostly JW literature. While I did read alot of fiction as well, the majority of "facts" and important or interesting news came from the WT or Awake. It was the only frame of mind that existed to me, and if I ever posed a tough question, I was ultimately "led" to the answer in WT literature. Even if the answer seemed unsatisfactory, I would accept it and focus on the "greater good" the religion acheived. If I ever asked too much, I would again be directed to the benefits of being in the religion, and answering the question itself wasn't paramount.

    The emphasis and focus was always that this religion is true, no matter what. I still have trouble accepting this isn't the "truth" at times. And, currently being in sometimes reinforces this.

    I have, however, learned alot about loaded language and how that would trigger in me the cultic personality. Whenever I hear "organisation", "faithful and discreet slave", "governing body", I immediately wake-up from the hypnosis. I realise that no matter how much good they think they do, they have bound people to organisation, and that "organisation", is above individual conscience, objective reality, etc.

    In fact, I think South Park says it better.

    <div style="background-color:#000000;width:368px;"><div style="padding:4px;"><embed src="" width="360" height="293" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" base="." flashVars=""></embed><p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;"><b><a href="">Something Wall Mart This Way Comes</a></b><br/>Tags: <a style="display: block; position: relative; top: -1.33em; float: right; font-weight: bold; color: #ffcc00; text-decoration: none" href="">SOUTH<br/>PARK</a><a href="">more...</a></p></div></div>

    The organisation becomes an entity of it's own. I believe even Ray Franz mentions this in CoC.

    If you don't mind, I'll repost this in part II for benefit of all.

  • tornapart

    Excellent! Thanks for this BibleStudent.. will read your parts II and III as well.

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    I was recruited by JWs- I can tell you how it happened. Lovebombing was a big part- as soon as I started attending meetings, everyone was interested in me. I didn't have many friends, and JWs gave me a lot.

    Information control- Also they influence your perception? I was impressed by how clean living the JWs were, that is, neat houses, no swearing, dressed nicely. Also you have your weekly study, and you're encouraged to come to meetings asap. There you hear more crap, and early on in the study you're told that Satan will try to stop you from studying, so if anyone in your family or whatever kicks up a stink, it's Satan trying to stop you from getting life.

    Life: yes, you want life. You are promised the new system with no injustice or death, and time to do whatever you want and go wherever you want without getting sick or tired, or worrying for your safety. There'll be no children starving, no wars, no cruelty to animals... Then once you get baited, it's switched to OBEY US and then you know the rest. This is the unfreezing: capitalise on your desire for peace, life, justice and wanting to serve God...

    Change - meeting, unbaptised publisher, TMS, baptism - they develop in you a persecution complex and convince you the world is much worse than it is - then refreeze, you're constantly kept surrounded by propaganda, kept too busy to think, with assemblies, witnessing etc, and cut off from anything critical of WT and former members.

  • Satanus

    I haven't read it. Thanks for the rundown. I am interested in what the are his conspiracy theories to which you don't prescribe. I haven't heard of that. Thanks.


  • flipper

    Good job in posting this thread to assist JW's exiting the cult to understand how they were manipulated in their minds by the WT Society. Newly exiting JW's need this information in order to move ahead in understanding HOW they were controlled and manipulated psychologically. I made a few threads like this over the last several years as well. Thanks for doing this Bible Student- it's really needed. Peace out, mr. Flipper

  • ABibleStudent

    Thanks for bumping this thread.

    As I initially wrote, I wrote this thread to inspire ex-JWs and JWs to read Steve Hassan's books. I feel that Steve Hassan's BITE model and methods are currently the best resources to empower JWs to critically think for themselves and to help ex-JWs to heal emotionally and psychologically.

    Since I wrote this thread, I visited Steve Hassan's website and learned about Steve Hassan's video archive and about his for fee telephone counseling. I wish that I had known about these additional resources about three years ago when I first met my former friend who is a "Spiritually Strong" (non-thinking) JW. Although JWN members are knowledgeable about WTBTS doctrines and policies, JWs shunning them, and the emotional roller coaster of fading, how many ex-JWs have successfully helped more than 5 JW family and friends to awaken. IMHO getting professional help to awaken a JW (and any dangerous cult member) is priceless!

    Anyone who has not read Steve Hassan's books, at least spend 1 and 1/2 hours to watch one of his videos to decide how Steve Hassan's model and methods can help empower JWs to think critically for themselves as well as help ex-JWs to heal quicker emotionally. Although Steve Hassan's website has a lot of videos in the archive (some are not as helpful as others), I recommend watching the following two vidoes:

    1. Steve Hassan explains SIA method to rescue loved ones from unhealthy situations (2003)
    2. Steve Hassan at NYC Ethical Culture Society February 2013

    By the way has any JWN member contacted Steve Hassan's website to help JWs and Bible students to critically think for themselves? JW Cult surviors with a little training and professional advice have the experience and credentials to help a JW to awaken.

    Peace with you and everyone, who you love,


  • sd-7

    Absolutely, reading Steve Hassan's books is a critical part of understanding what was done to us all. I've read his first two books and am currently reading his latest, 'Freedom of Mind', and I definitely recommend this as essential reading for all you lurkers out there, faders, and all ex-JWs.

    Let me tell you, I used to doze off from time to time at meetings. After I read Steve Hassan's books, I never fell asleep at a meeting again. The tone of voice they use and the music they play is also a part of lulling your mind to a standstill. I didn't fully grasp that part until I was mentally free, and hearing my wife listen to the meeting over the phone one day. Everyone has this same zombie-like tone of voice at the meetings, when they comment, the person giving the talk, all of that.

    I've also come to understand from my own dealings with JW family members that they will never believe they are under some 'destructive influence' (which is the new term Steve Hassan is using these days rather than 'mind control'). There is a very strong resistance to any attack on the belief system or the leaders. Hassan explains why very clearly. One thing that's said over and over is NEVER to criticize the group, the leadership, or the teachings in front of your family member or friend who is in a cult. (Naturally it's first instinct to do so, but it never turns out well.)

    Anyway, this is a very good thread to keep close to the top!


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