Coercive Persuasion Lifton's 8 Point Model of Thought Reform

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Coercive Persuasion Lifton's 8 Point Model of Thought Reform

Post by fluffy bunny » 17 Sep 2008

THE PURPOSES AND TACTICS OF COERCIVE PERSUASION

Coercive persuasion or thought reform as it is sometimes known, is best understood as a coordinated system of graduated coercive influence and behavior control designed to deceptively and surreptitiously manipulate and influence individuals, usually in a group setting, in order for the originators of the program to profit in some way, normally financially or politically.

The essential strategy used by those operating such programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate numerous coercive persuasion tactics over CONTINUOUS PERIODS OF TIME. There are seven main tactic types found in various combinations in a coercive persuasion program. A coercive persuasion program can still be quite effective without the presence of ALL seven of these tactic types.

TACTIC 1. The individual is prepared for thought reform through increased suggestibility and/or "softening up," specifically through hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as: A. Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills; B. Excessive exact repetition of routine activities; C. Decreased sleep; D. Nutritional restriction.

TACTIC 2. Using rewards and punishments, efforts are made to establish considerable control over a person's social environment, time, and sources of social support. Social isolation is promoted. Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes. Economic and other dependence on the group is fostered. (In the forerunner to coercive persuasion, brainwashing, this was rather easy to achieve through simple imprisonment.)

TACTIC 3. Disconfirming information and nonsupporting opinions are prohibited in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An "in-group" language is usually constructed.

TACTIC 4. Frequent and intense attempts are made to cause a person to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject's basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms as well as getting them to reinterpret their life's history, and adopt a new version of causality.

TACTIC 5. Intense and frequent attempts are made to undermine a person's confidence in himself and his judgment, creating a sense of powerlessness.

TACTIC 6. Nonphysical punishments are used such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques for creating strong aversive emotional arousals, etc.

TACTIC 7. Certain secular psychological threats [force] are used or are present: That failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief, or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequence, (e.g. physical or mental illness, the reappearance of a prior physical illness, drug dependence, economic collapse, social failure, divorce, disintegration, failure to find a mate, etc.).

Another set of criteria has to do with defining other common elements of mind control systems. If most of Robert Jay Lifton's eight point model of thought reform is being used in a cultic organization, it is most likely a dangerous and destructive cult. These eight points follow:

Robert Jay Lifton's Eight Point Model of Thought Reform

1. ENVIRONMENT CONTROL. Limitation of many/all forms of communication with those outside the group. Books, magazines, letters and visits with friends and family are taboo. "Come out and be separate!"

2. MYSTICAL MANIPULATION. The potential convert to the group becomes convinced of the higher purpose and special calling of the group through a profound encounter / experience, for example, through an alleged miracle or prophetic word of those in the group.

3. DEMAND FOR PURITY. An explicit goal of the group is to bring about some kind of change, whether it be on a global, social, or personal level. "Perfection is possible if one stays with the group and is committed."

4. CULT OF CONFESSION. The unhealthy practice of self disclosure to members in the group. Often in the context of a public gathering in the group, admitting past sins and imperfections, even doubts about the group and critical thoughts about the integrity of the leaders.

5. SACRED SCIENCE. The group's perspective is absolutely true and completely adequate to explain EVERYTHING. The doctrine is not subject to amendments or question. ABSOLUTE conformity to the doctrine is required.

6. LOADED LANGUAGE. A new vocabulary emerges within the context of the group. Group members "think" within the very abstract and narrow parameters of the group's doctrine. The terminology sufficiently stops members from thinking critically by reinforcing a "black and white" mentality. Loaded terms and clichés prejudice thinking.

7. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON. Pre-group experience and group experience are narrowly and decisively interpreted through the absolute doctrine, even when experience contradicts the doctrine.

8. DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE. Salvation is possible only in the group. Those who leave the group are doomed.

COERCIVE PERSUASION IS NOT PEACEFUL PERSUASION

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Re: Coercive persuasion Lifton's 8 Point Model of Thought Reform

Post by fluffy bunny » 17 Sep 2008

VARIABLES

Not all tactics used in a coercive persuasion type environment will always be coercive. Some tactics of an innocuous or cloaking nature will be mixed in. Not all individuals exposed to coercive persuasion or thought reform programs are effectively coerced into becoming participants.

How individual suggestibility, psychological and physiological strengths, weakness, and differences react with the degree of severity, continuity, and comprehensiveness in which the various tactics and content of a coercive persuasion program are applied, determine the program's effectiveness and/or the degree of severity of damage caused to its victims.

For example, in United States v. Lee 455 U.S. 252, 257-258 (1982), the California Supreme Court found that
  • "when a person is subjected to coercive persuasion without his knowledge or consent ...
    [they may] develop serious and sometimes irreversible physical and psychiatric disorders,
    up to and including schizophrenia, self-mutilation, and suicide."
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA OF A COERCIVE PERSUASION PROGRAM?

A). Determine if the subject individual held enough knowledge and volitional capacity to make the decision to change his or her ideas or beliefs.
B). Determine whether that individual did, in fact, adopt, affirm, or reject those ideas or beliefs on his own.
C). Then, if necessary, all that should be examined is the behavioral processes used, not ideological content. One needs to examine only the behavioral processes used in their "conversion." Each alleged coercive persuasion situation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The characteristics of coercive persuasion programs are severe, well-understood, and they are not accidental.

COERCIVE PERSUASION IS NOT VOLUNTARY, PEACEFUL, RELIGIOUS PRACTICE OR CENTRAL TO ANY BONA FIDE RELIGION.

Coercive persuasion is not a religious practice, it is a control technology. It is not a belief or ideology, it is a technological process.

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Re: Coercive persuasion Lifton's 8 Point Model of Thought Reform

Post by fluffy bunny » 17 Sep 2008

A more length and in depth paper on the start of the art, here; Coercive Persuasion and Attitude Change by Richard J. Ofshe, Ph.D., Encyclopedia of Sociology Volume 1, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York.
Coercive persuasion and thought reform are alternate names for programs of social influence capable of producing substantial behavior and attitude change through the use of coercive tactics, persuasion, and/or interpersonal and group-based influence manipulations (Schein 1961; Lifton 1961).

Initial focus on personal failures, guilt-laden memories, and unfulfilled aspirations shifted to the opportunity to realize infantile desires and idealistic goals, by affiliating with the group and its mission to save the world. The person was encouraged to develop strong affective bonds with current members.

The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:
  • The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual’s sense of self to promote compliance
    The use of an organized peer group
    Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity
    The manipulation of the totality of the person’s social environment to stabilize behavior once modified
The surprising aspect of [thought reform] is that the attitudes that develop are unstable. They tend to change dramatically once the person is removed from an environment that has totalistic ("totalitarian theory and practice") properties and is organized to support the adaptive attitudes.

Once removed from such an environment, the person is able to interact with others who permit and encourage the expression of criticisms and doubts, which were previously stifled because of the normative rules of the reform environment.

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