The word "lemmings" comes to mind.
The word "lemmings" comes to mind.
Okay, I'm one of the ones who has vaccilated in this thread. At the beginning I was "Duh, yes mind control" and towards the middle I was feeling that mind control does not apply because so many witnesses know what they are doing and why they do it. Still they choose to anyways.
I think the issue in my mind is one of responsibility. Are JWs under mind control, in other words, so manipulated and brainwashed, that it absolves them of responsibility to be moral and functioning members of society? Or are they so controlled that they have no capacity or ability to decide their own actions?
Random House/Webster defines brainwashing as:
1. a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, esp. through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques.
2 any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, esp. one based on repetition or confusion.
Using these definitions one could say that, yes, with very few exceptions, JWs are brainwashed or mind-controlled. However, because JWs are still marginally a part of regular society through work, school and housing, they have opportunity to challenge the "repetitive and systematic indoctrination." Some do, many even, so this gives credence to the feeling that they are not truly "under mind control." They certainly can learn to think for themselves, and some do. Many choose not to.
One thought occured to me, that maybe the manipulation is more critical to the argument. The extent to which deception is involved is very telling. Ideas are presented as fact, in such a way that no one thinks to challenge the idea. After all, they have already built up a history of "truthfulness" with the new recruit, using scriptures. One who has a working knowledge of scripture before encounter with Witnesses is not as vulnerable. The vast majority of people who come into JWism from the "world" are very green with regard to the bible and religion, sometimes having no background at all. They have nothing to challenge the new teachings and are inclined to accept anything they are shown in the bible. Therefore they are highly vulnerable to manipulation and indoctrination. Of the others, those "born to it" like I was, are vulnerable because of never having known anything else.
But there is problem with blaming the WTS wholesale for the indoctrination of its converts. Use of the term "mind control" implies that inductees have NO choice in their involvement. That they bear NO responsibility for their decision to adhere to WTS teachings and "spirit of the rules." I don't believe WTS has reached that point where they are such skilled brainwashers that people are really UNABLE to think for themselves. It is a weakness across the board in people, the vast majority wanting to be told what to believe and handed their beliefs and morals, without thinking for themselves. The WTS and other cults merely take advantage of that fact to a greater or lesser degree.
Is it really "mind control" if you are allowing someone else to dictate your thoughts, morals and beliefs? Or is it natural weakness? When I really stop and think of "mind control" I am reminded of the scene in "Clockwork Orange" where McDowell has his eyes held open and his thoughts filled with graphic images. Clearly no JW is subjected to that kind of brainwashing.
I'm forced to remember some of the things I have done as a "good JW" that it never occured to me to challenge. Things I can look back now and say "Why did I ever do that?" So does that mean my actions were a product of mind control? If mind control means a lack of education as to my options, then yes. If mind control means I was forced to do that, then NO. I chose to act that way, based on the information I had. IMO, the only solid accusation I can make against WTS in that case is "control of information flow." It definitely impacted my actions, but does not excuse me from investigating.
It would be easy if I could blame all the unkind, unjust, and uninformed things I have ever done, on "mind control." But I find now, in good conscience, that I have to take a great deal of responsibility myself for my actions. The WTS set the stage, but I still chose to act accordingly. Was I manipulated and deceived into my actions? YES, most assuredly. Was I under "mind control?" Probably, but it really depends on how one defines it. And even after definition, it is purely subjective. Each person should look back and determine for themselves how controlled they were, and to what measure they have to take responsibility for themselves.
When I really stop and think of "mind control" I am reminded of the scene in "Clockwork Orange" where McDowell has his eyes held open and his thoughts filled with graphic images. Clearly no JW is subjected to that kind of brainwashing.
I'm not sure they don't use this technique . They are constantly pressured to read the WT material in preperation for meetings . They have to make every meeting . They are constantly told not to think for themselves but let the watch tower do it for them because they are the only channel of communiction to God . You would think that many more people would notice the inconsistencies associated with the organization , the failed prophesies and the changing of doctrine . Sometimes I wonder if they aren't pumping something thru the air conditioning .
Garybuss (and others that agree with him) -- You are right.
Minimus (and others that agree with him) -- You are right.
I am going to quote Steven Hassan in Combatting Cult Mind Control a number of times in this post.
I do not 100% agree with everything Hassan has to say, but I do agree with the quotes used here and he says things much better than I can.
Pg 7 -
"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, the new identity is one that the original identity would strongly object to
if it knew in advance what was in store.
Not all mind control techniques are inherently bad or unethical; for some, the manner
in which they are used is what is important. The locus of control should always remain
within the individual.
Pg 44-45 :
Phobias: The Force that Robs Cult Members' Freedom
What do phobia have to do with cult groups and mind control? In some cults, members are
systematically made to be phoic about ever leaving the group. Today's cults know how to
effectively implant vivid negative images deep within members' unconscious minds, making
it impossible for the member to even conceive of ever being happy and successful outside
of the group.
Pg 55 :
"Brainwashing" is typically coercive. The person knows at the outset that he is in the
hands of an enemy. It begins with a clear demarcation of the respective roles - who is
prisoner and who is jailer - and the prisoner experiences an absolute minimum of choice.
Pg 59 :
The Four Components of Mind Control
As I have come to see it, mind control may be largely understood by analysis of the three components
described by Lean Festinger, a pschologoist, in what has become known as the "cognitive dissonance
theory". These components are control of behavior, control of thoughts, and control of emotions.
Each component has a powerful effect on the other two: change one, and the others will tend to
follow. Succeed in changing all three, and the individual will be swept away. However, from my
experience in researching destructive cults, I have added one additional compnonent which is vital:
control of information. If you control the information someone receives, you restrict his free
ability to think for himself.
Steven Hassan describes in detail all four components. Most importantly, this is what he says about information control --
Pg 65 :
Information control also extends across all relationships. People are not allowed to talk to each
other about anything critical of the leader, doctrine, or organization. Members must spy on each
other and report imporper activites or comments to leaders... Most importantly, people are told
to avoid conact with ex-memvers or critics. those who could provide the most information are the
ones to be especially shunned.
In summary of this discussion, Steven Hassan states:
Pg 66 :
Together, the form a totalistic web, which can manipulate even the strongest-minded people. In fact,
it is the strongest-minded individuals who make the most involved and enthusiastic cult members.
Before I answer the Minimus' question, I want to assure myself part of the class of individuals that garybuss will "have little interest in perusing that topic with". Is education a form of mind control, or, more generally, is living in society a form of mind control?
I would unequivocally answer YES to both of these questions. The education system in the US is a form of mind control. We only study historical events from the US perspective, we have books censored because they open peoples minds to "politically incorrect" behaviors, attitudes, and/or political positions. We, as a society, conform to and live within this education system because we choose to. Because we believe it is better than others or maybe because it would emotionally cost us too much to move 1/2 way around the world to obtain a more open form of education. Whichever the case, we have free will to not attend this educational system (although we could be punished).
Now, in response to Minimus --
There are degrees to everything, and there are individual responses to everything. For whatever reason (or lack thereof), eg. childhood, abuse, emotional awareness, etc. people will respond and recover differently from identical forms of trauma. Some will be able to process the after effects of the trauma they experienced more easily than others. Some will be able to resolve the cognitive dissonance, others will not.
As in Love and War, everyones experience and emotional investment is different. For example, extramarital[?] affairs and divorce are part (or a way) of life for some. For others, these events create cognitive dissonance and these individuals have therefore been subjected to mind-control.
So, I argue, that you are under extreme mind control as a Jehovah's Witness if you are experiencing cognitive dissonance and yet continue to follow along, just as the wife of an abusive husband who cannot muster the willpower to leave. (My apologies to any I offend with this statement. I am in no way trying to minimize such a traumatic situation.)
From my perspective, and from my relationships with my family, Jehovah's Witnesses are under mind control. More so that you and I. They have been given a restricted source of information, been told how they must behave in order to obtain an everlasting life, told how to "think" about their own flesh and blood who happen to disagree with their spiritual beliefs, and they are held "emotional hostages" out of fear, guilt, and loneliness.
Do they have free will to choose? Yes, they do. And I had free will went I went to college, which, BTW, I only did to get a piece of paper so I could make enough money to support my family... therefore a victim of social mind control... Now, I WANT to go to school to take classes I enjoy and find personal satisfaction in.
Gary Buss also stated --
Education, influence and free will are different things. One popular opinion here is that the Witness people have no free will. I disagree with that. I made every decision to do every action as a Witness of my own free will. Was I deluded? Often, yes! Were my actions pragmatic? Many were not. Did I have choices? Yes!
de·lud·ed, de·lud·ing, de·ludes
To deceive the mind or judgment of --
Gary, If your mind or judgement where often decieved by someone or something you had 100% trust in, you wouldn't consider this a form of mind control? I am in no way eliminating your own responsibility in the situation... but, honestly, you wouldn't consider this a form of mind control? Interesting !
I can see I haven't been clear in my writing. I have gone too far too long trying to debate the mind control issue. The answers to the questions relative to mind control are going to be subjective. Tactics are used, enough compliance is noticed by the Witness leaders to indicate those tactics are effective. Witness leaders and ex-members think those tactics are working. Witness people are sure they are not.
I am sure the Witness people do their behaviors with free will and conscious decision. I'm pretty sure I'd be able to prove it in a court.
I think there are evil people who are Witnesses. I have met more than a few of them. I may have been one of them. I made some bad decisions as a Witness but I have to accept the responsibility myself for choosing not to look into the principles and practices I supported. I was willfully ignorant and I was willfully self centered and self righteous. I stayed and supported the group long after I was aware it was abusive and dishonest.
I had freedom of choice and I chose to ignore that. I don't think being stupid is mind control, I think it's just stupid. Either I was responsible or I was irresponsible, and if I was irresponsible, then I was responsible for being irresponsible. I hold the current Witnesses to that standard. It's the standard they claim. They have grieved me, they have angered me, and I am holding them personally responsible without any excuses or explanations. If they leave the Witnesses, they still have to account to me for their crimes. No amnesty. The time for that has long past. GaryB
It seems as though we are debating two different issues here. I do believe in personal responsibility, and I hold myself responsible and accountable for my actions and I hold JW's responsible and accountable for theirs. When I left the borg at 18, I knew I had to live with myself and that living in the borg wouldn't allow it. So, as soon as I was "legally" or "emotionally" mature enough I assumed responsibility. My sister is still in, at 40 yo, and yes, she feels she is a JW by her own free will and she likes it and she could leave anytime she wants. So, you and I are in agreement with this.
Please, read Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan. He details his time as part of the Unification Church (Moonies)... He assumes full responsibilty for everything he did prior to being a moonie, while being a moonie, and after leaving the moonies. He has a lot of the same hangups... guilty about some of his actions, sad about the way he was thinking, angry that it happened... but, he argues very wisely, that he was still being influenced by subtle (and not so subtle) forms of mind control.
I mentioned in my previous post that "mind control" is more than just controlling thoughts... it can be brought about using ONLY behavior control, which is what you implied when you said --
The're under body control. The Society wishes they had the power of mind control.
I believe we are really in agreement here also.
We all have weak points, weak times in life where all points are weak, and simple weaknesses (passions, loves, dreams). The point, IMHO, of having family and REAL friends alongside you in life, is to have someone to share those weaknesses with so that we keep them conscious and can continue to strengthen ourselves through awareness. When you enter a relationship that has a narcissistic component to it, eg moonies, jw's, etc. unless you are aware (substitute educated or informed) of the nature of the relationship, you will continue to pour your heart and soul into it believing that someone is listening and the feedback is reflective of reality... When you find out that the reflection isn't reality at all, you have just experienced cognitive dissonance... you have been under mind control, whether it was intentional or not, it still happened.
I blame no one but myself for allowing this to happen to me... but I keep turning the TV on and watching commercials and buying adverstised products... The real problem lies in the degree and the awareness !!!! As Odrade said --
If mind control means I was forced to do that, then NO. I chose to act that way, based on the information I had. IMO, the only solid accusation I can make against WTS in that case is "control of information flow."
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (aka Jehovah's Witness) is a destructive mind controlling cult !!!
gambit ** that felt soooo good to say **
Gambit is now my official spokesperson. Listen to Gambit.
Gambit, I have read both of Hassans' books and I have no problem with his work. Please be comfortable with the thought that I understand the issue and am competent to debate both sides of the issue.
I come down hard on the side of personal accountability. I am unable to find the evidence to support the line used by Ray Franz that we were victims of victims. I don't buy the idea that Witnesses are free from responsibility because we were living in a happy cocoon of unwilling delusion, the victim of manipulation by mind control. That we were hypnotized and our behaviors were forced by the Watch Tower Publishing Corporation by unethical means and methods, that the Witness people are puppets lacking free will. That we lived in an Orwellian world and we lived in fear of Big Brother.
That all is the delusion of the ex-Witness. I am convinced the Witness people are no different than the Catholic people or any other free will religion, that their behaviors are all done consciously with free will, that they are responsible for their behaviors, that they be held to the same standards as everyone else in that bad behavior is just that and motives and perceived manipulation do not share a prison cell.
The criminal stands before the judge and says: "It wasn't my fault your honor, I'm a victim of victims. I had to rob the liquor store because I was under mind control and I was threatened by other gang members and if I didn't rob the store they would kick me out of the gang and shun me." None of that impresses the judge and the criminal gets a 20 year prison sentence.
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (aka Jehovah's Witness) is a destructive mind controlling cult !!!
There you have the book publishing corporation mixed up with the criminals again. The publishing corporation is nothing more than a book printing business. The crimes were committed on me on an individual, very personal level. Most not even in the context of the group, most on a social level. Are Jehovah's Witness people destructive to families, businesses and people? Yes! Is the group using high control tactics? Yes! Is the Corporation behind it all? No! The people are behind it all and they make it work. They are responsible. GaryB
If we use the "abused spouse" analogy a little further, what can be done for an abused partner that is so under the influence of her abuser that she is incapable of leaving? Not very much. One can try coersion, but then we are no different than her abuser. Besides, a weak person who is coerced to leave, is just as vulnerable to being sucked back in.
We can work at building that person's confidence in their own decision-making power, so that they have the strength to leave if they chose to. This takes a long time, and it can be excruciating to watch. It is like watching a person leisurely pick at their ropes as a locomotive bears down on them. But I have yet to come up with an easier method.
So in the end, it must come down to personal responsibility to leave or stay, because nobody else can do it for them. To admit to personal responsibility is not the same as denying that there is mind-control.
Gary, it's like the government. The government may employ the services of the CIA to clandestinely get something accomplished. Let's say, for example, that the CIA was responsible for trying to kill Castro. Even if actual members of the CIA did the killing, the government was the entity that made it happen. The government is ultimately responsible for its directives. It's no different with the WT. Society and the individual JW's.