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)