Brainwashing, Thought Control and the Cults
Psychological and Biblical Overview
brainwashing / n. 1: a forcible indoctrination to induce someone to give up basic political, social or religious beliefs and attitudes and to accept contrasting regimented ideas 2: persuasion by propaganda or salesmanship. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary)
When someone speaks of religious brainwashing, we might think of a victim forcibly held in a room while his old belief system is systematically destroyed, which is then replaced by a new, radical belief structure. However, this method has not proven to be especially effective in the last decade or so by cults, and has been largely replaced by more subtle forms of mind control.
There are similarities between mind control and other forms of persuasion, such as is found in advertising and modern sales techniques. Both the religious cult and, let’s say, a doortodoor salesman are offering a product (the religion offers God’s approval and a future reward). Both exert persuasion to “try it out”, as time is supposedly short or limited; soon they won’t be able to choose. It is emphasized that they must make a decision. High pressure tactics are used, with an attempt to overwhelm their listener with positive statements regarding their product or organization. This is done in an attempt to rush the decision before all angles can be considered, or before someone can come along who can effectively challenge the product or organization.
The differences, however, are important. A salesman is out to make a buck and is usually not interested in the person he is speaking to except to make a sale. If, after his or her presentation, the customer is not interested, the salesman goes on his way. A cultist, on the other hand, will usually be interested in the person for more than just their money, and the recruiters are quite sincere in showing affection towards the potential recruit. For the most part, the recruiter STRONGLY BELIEVES deep down that what he has to offer is the best thing going, and he may go to great lengths to convert the person. Sincerity comes through accepting their program as “God’s program”, thereby adding an element of fear and mystery to it; fear that if you don’t join, you will meet the wrath of God, and mysterious in that it is for a select few who meet the qualifications.