A Cult Tactic: Removing Guilt By Dehumanising Others

by pale.emperor 43 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • pale.emperor

    In the real world, very few parents would disown their own children simply because they read a magazine that told them to do it. Very few people would forever completely ignore their own parents because an elder got up on a platform one day and announced that they no longer follow the same religion as you.

    In the real world it just doesn't happen. And yet, for 8 million Jehovah's Witnesses it's very a normal part of their world to treat "other people" differently than they'd treat each other. Even though their religion is supposed to be one that closely imitates that of Jesus Christ who never practiced shunning or treating others differently in any form whatsoever.

    How can they do it? It's something I've wondered for a while. And the answer, I believe, lies in dehumanizing.

    One evening I was watching an operation on television. A man was having his sternum cracked open, held with a clamp and the surgeons were cutting away growths from his heart and other parts of his body. Not being one for blood and gore, I was wincing and looking away. Then I realized that if I told myself that it wasn't a person being operated on, but instead a dog or a horse, that I could watch the operation without being upset at all.

    And it worked.

    During WWII, Jews were stripped of their citizenship in the third Reich and forced to live in ghetto's. They were stripped of their rights, forbidden to own businesses and the public were even encouraged to vandalize their property. The general public didn't seem to care. Eventually they were sent to Nazi concentration camps where horrors would be inflicted upon children as well as adults. Jews, in the third Reich, were not considered to be fully human. They were sub-human. And, despite being born within the Reich, were considered to be illegally residing there. The general public didn't care where they went. They were simply gone. And, as far as they were concerned, "good riddance, they wernt real Germans anyway".

    During WWII, the Japanese had a lethal human experimentation camp known as Unit 731 (Nana-san-ichi Butai) the prisoners were referred to as "logs". Not human beings, not by their names - but "logs". Women were raped and experimented on by being inseminated with animal semen. Both men and women were operated on without anesthetic, frozen, put in compression chambers, infected with diseased and worse horrors than you can imagine.

    Pick any cult and examine how it portrays non-members and ex-members. Do they have names? Do they use any other terminology to describe them other than a negative one?

    Non-Jehovah's Witnesses are described as:

    • People of the world
    • Worldly
    • Sinful
    • Bad association

    Ex-members have it worse:

    • Mentally diseased
    • Rebellious
    • God's enemies
    • Partaking of the table of demons

    Is it any wonder then, that the indoctrinated Jehovah's Witness has a knee-jerk reaction to treat ex-members with hate, fear and loathing?

    This is because non-Jehovah's Witnesses are dehumanized. We become "things" that are going to be destroyed. We dont have "the truth" and therefore they shouldn't get too close to us or become our friends. Heaven forbid that the Jehovah's Witness see's us as loving, caring, empathetic beings that care for them and who have the same ups and downs in life as they do.

    Remember we were told that the first thing we needed to do to become close to god was to know his name and use it? The same thing needs to happen to short circuit the dehumanizing mentality. Give them your name. Make them use your name. Share aspects of your life with them, good and bad, to let them see that you're just like them. This is why when Jehovah's Witnesses build friendships with non-members they end up slipping away from the religion - they see these people as just like them. It's very powerful and the Watchtower society knows this, that's why they're warned not to have friends "in the world".





  • truth_b_known

    This is so very true. Often during times of war, one nation will come up with a derogatory name for the other nation's troops. This dehumanization can make it easier for soldiers to kill their enemy.

    What I find ironic about Jehovah's Witnesses is that back in the 1990s there was a Watchtower Study Article dealing with this. The article commented how the Pharisees of Jesus time referred to their fellow Israelite as "People of the Earth" which followed the same connotation as "pagan" or "heathen". These were slurs aimed at people who were thought of as uneducated and the last to convert to the state religion.

    The point the article made was that Witnesses should not refer to non-Witnesses with derogatory terms as "worldly". The problem with this, even though they were correct, if that using the slur "worldly" is so ingrained in Witness culture it never really caught on. As someone pointed out in another thread, one of the reasons it is so hard for Witnesses to leave is because the whole concept of being a Witness is that it makes you better than all other people. No matter a person's wealth, power, or stature in society - being one of Jehovah's Witnesses automatically makes you better.

  • zeb

    A most powerful posting..

  • EverApostate

    Very true article on the Psychology of cults.

    When I was leaving the cult, my JW (so called) friends warned me that I would be nothing for them if I leave. And they still behave like that for 10 years. Power of CULTS!!

  • OneEyedJoe

    Beyond the dehumanization (or, perhaps, integral to it) is the way cults and propaganda machines seek to tap into the brain's disgust circuitry. There's strong indication that the moral disgust that we feel when thinking about atrocities committed by others (or, for right-wingers, thinking about homosexuality, etc) come from the same neural structures as the disgust that we feel towards feces, rotting food or carcasses, etc. These are very basic instincts that are wired in such a way as to strongly influence behavior. Two of the four terms you listed as ways ex-JWs are referred to are transparently designed to tap into this - calling us "mentally diseased" or "partaking at the table of demons" evoke images and concepts that trigger a disgust reaction. The feeling of disgust is "designed" to motivate a response of avoidance, so it's a very strong tool to use to separate people from society. It's no wonder that you can break up families, if you're able to make one family member find the other disgusting.

  • Vidiot
    truth_b_known - "Often during times of war, one nation will come up with a derogatory name for the other nation's troops. This dehumanization can make it easier for soldiers to kill their enemy."

    Unsurprising that the Org - for all intents and purposes - does this, really.

    As far as they're concerned, they're at war.

  • StarTrekAngel

    And yet as conscious as we all seem to be of this fact, there are many whom fail to see the same parallels with other situations in life. Very easy to find in politics lately.

    The one thing that has come to shock me after waking up is how many people fail to stay away from the next cult.

  • Diogenesister
    In the Nazi concentration camps they called the inmates "schtuck" (sticks things, items). On one occasion a new German soldier was counting the inmates and reported "dreihundert manner " - 300 men - by mistake and got in big trouble for, as you say, humanizing the inmates.
  • days of future passed
    days of future passed

    A phrase I remember is this - they don't have the right heart condition

    It means no matter how pleasant or friendly they appear, they will never be like the JW's. Honest, truthful, and loving like God. Knowing right and wrong and acting on it.

    It means they embody everything that you would attribute to Satan - headstrong, unrepentant and looking to do evil.

    It makes turning your backs on them justified.

  • Vidiot
    "...they don't have the right heart condition..."

    Authoritarian, ruthless, and scarily loyal?

    I agree.

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