UPDATE: I've recently written a book entitled Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control. The new website, at Recovering Agency contains all of these articles, some of them updated, plus new resources. This older site is not being maintained, but will remain online as an archive.
"Brainwashing...is an invisible social adaptation. When you are the subject of it, you are not aware of the intent of the influence processes that are going on, and especially, you are not aware of the changes taking place within you." Cults in Our Midst, Margaret Thaler Singer, p 61
"And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." Mosiah 5:2
Methods of Thought ReformThis is a thorough list of thought reform methods as extracted from multiple books, papers, and web resources. If a detailed description is available, the bullet point will be listed as a link. These descriptions include a summary of the method plus examples from both Mormonism and other groups, where appropriate. More descriptions are forthcoming.
Many of these techniques are interlocked and dependent upon one another. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where one method ends and another begins. The categoration of these methods should be used only as a rough guide for understanding the more complicated dynamics involved.
Not every cultic group uses all of these methods. Additionally, the degree to which these methods are used can vary from group to group. For instance, one organization may create high levels of physical dependency in its members, while another may only create emotional and spiritual dependency. One group may induce heavy and frequent trance states through the use of meditation, chanting, and hypnosis, while another group may only experience low-level trances on par with those experienced while watching TV or driving.
It should also be pointed out that even within the Mormon experience, the extent and effectiveness of these methods can vary from stake to stake, ward to ward, and family to family. Indeed, the reinforcement or dismissal of doctrines and behaviors on the family level is a huge factor in the Mormon group dynamic. The addition of abuse in a Mormon family can greatly compound the situation, turning what would be a mild cultic experience into a full-blown cult employing every mind control method at high levels.
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Confirmation Bias
- Love Bombing
- Targeting Destabilized People for Recruitment
- Social Pressure
- Belief Follows Behavior
- Loading the Language
- Creating Dependency
- Demand for Purity (Perpetual Inadequacy)
- Dispensing of Existence
- Black and White Thinking
- Doctrine Over Self
- Indirect Directives
- Induced Phobias
- Us-Vs-Them Thinking
- Suppression of Awareness
- Influence through Identification and Example
- Influence through Emotion, Not Intellect
- Thought Terminating Cliches (TTCs)
- Public Commitment
- Double-Bind (Loyalty/Betrayal Funnel)
- Blame the Victim
- Sacred Science (Closed System of Logic)
- Mystical Manipulation
- Milieu Control
- Trance-Inducement/Dissociative States/Trance Logic