psychologists Robert J. Lofton and Steven Hassan
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, Lofton outlines the eight basic elements of mind control
The first is “milieu” or environment control. Lofton explains that cults control the environment around recruits in a number of ways. most always using some form of isolation. They can be physically separated from society or they can be warned to stay away from media that might provoke critical thinking. Any book, movie, testimony or ex-members, or anyone critical of the group, in any way, is to be avoided.
The second elemlent of mind control is “mystical manipulation.” It is a systematic process planned and managed from above leadership. God is supposedly ever present in the organization. Leaders become mediators for God. God centered principles can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively so the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation. If one has not seen the light, and is not in the realm of the cult, one is in the realm of evil.
Lofton cites the “demand for purity” as another defining element. Such a demand calls for the radical separation of pure and impure or good and evil within an environment and within oneself. The world is depicted as black and white, with little room for making personal decisions. One’s conduct is modeled after the ideology of the group as taught in its literature. People and organizations are pictured as good or evil depending on their relationship to the group
Lofton’s fourth element is the “cult of confession.” Serious sins (as defined by the organization) are to be confessed immediately. Members are to be reported if found behaving contrary
“Sacred science” is the fifth operating characteristic of a “mind control cullt”.
Sixth defining element is called “loading the language.” Functional member vocabulary becomes simplified with the use of thought terminating cliches, expressions or words designed to end the controversy or conversation. They become the language of non-thought since they tend to stop discussion or prevent further consideration. There is always some simple cliche or slogan to answer a complex issue or difficult question
Seventh operating characteristic of mind control is “doctrine over person.” Human experience is subordinated to doctrine, no matter how profound or contradictory such experience seem to be. The history of the cult is altered to fit their doctrine of logic. The person is only valuable in so much as they conform to the role models of the cult. Common sense perceptions are disregarded if they are hostile to the ideology.
Lofton’s eighth element of mind control is the “dispensing of existence.” The organization decides who will perish in the final battle of good over evil. Leaders decide which history books are accurate and which are biased. Families can be cut off and outsiders deceived for they are not fit to exist.
According to Lofton, if any group exercises all eight of these control elements, they are, in fact a destructive mind control cult. It doesn’t matter how kind, credible, or self-righteous the group or its members appear to be. Rationalizing with biblical verses, Hasson would argue, is no excuse for impeding personal choice or violating personal freedom