I'd like to take a look at Steven Hassan's BITE model for assessing if a group is practicing destructive mind control. BITE is an acronym for Behavior Control, Information Control, Thought Control, and Emotional Control--the four basic components of mind control.
This is important to know regarding ANY group that you might be getting involved in--not just a religious group. When this kind of control and manipulation makes people "dependent and obedient" on the group and its leaders, then there is a problem.
For the sake of space, I'm only going to quote some of the details for each component. To get the full picture, you'll definitely want to get more information on Steven Hassan's website, or in his book, Releasing the Bonds (Freedom of Mind Press, 2000) where it's on pages 42-55.
Behavior Controlincludes such things as:
*Where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates
*What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
*What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
*How much sleep the person is able to have
*Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations
*Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
*Need to ask permission for major decisions
*Individualism discouraged; "group think" prevails
*Rigid rules and regulations
Information Controlincludes such things as:
*Deliberately holding back information
*Distorting information to make it more "acceptable"
*Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
*Information is not freely accessible
*Information varies at different levels
*Spying on other members is encouraged
*Extensive use of cult generated information propaganda
*Unethical use of confession
Thought Controlincludes such things as:
*Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
*Use of "loaded" language ("cliches, doublespeak, and coded jargon")
*Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged
*Use of thought-stopping techniques, which shut down "reality testing"
*Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
*No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
Emotional Controlincludes such things as:
*Make the person feel that if there are ever any problems, it is always his fault, never the leader's or the group's.
*Excessive use of guilt
*Excessive use of fear
*Extremes of emotional highs and lows
*Ritual and often public confession of sins.
*Phobia indoctrination. The person cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
*Terrible consequences will take place if you leave.
*Shunning of leave takers; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
After studying this, I thought of my own family's experience, and I'll tell you... I was dismayed by how many similarities I saw. But you can decide for yourself--think about your experience with the WMSCOG and whether you see any parallels with the BITE model of mind control.
Click here to go on to Part 3.