by Neil Brick
Please use caution while reading this article. It may be heavy for survivors.
After seeing a variety of articles and letters on and off the web that I believed either knowingly or unknowingly used propaganda and/or mind control techniques, I thought it would be a good idea to print an article about this, so that survivors would be able to recognize these techniques and protect themselves against them or avoid them.
Please note: I haven’t listed all techniques below. Please refer to the articles listed following the article for additional techniques.
This can include being called negative names (used inappropriately) like liar, psychotic, paranoid, crazy, communist, etc. The purpose, intentional or unintentional, of the usage of these names is to discredit the person they are being used on, without discussing the facts of the debate or topic. Sometimes names are used to shock the listener, which may put the listener into a more susceptible mind state and not critically think about the topic but simply accept the negative name or opinion subliminally.
Democracy, capitalism or other ideas are often discussed in these terms. These terms may be described positively without a critical analysis of all sides of the issue. The important thing is to look at the ideas behind the terms and analyze them critically. A group may also only discuss the positives of the organization, ignoring any negative criticism about the group. The important thing is to check out any group or organization as completely as possible before joining. But I believe it is also important to trust people when they are safe, so that we can recover by sharing and connecting.
A user of propaganda may use terms like “many,” “a lot,” “numerous,” or “a few” without backing up these numbers or statistics. The usage of these words may make a person or organization look better or worse without data or substantial proof.
Sometimes it is important to look at the argument(s) with as little emotion as possible, and try to see the facts only.
From an old site no longer on the web: http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propaganda/fear.htm, “…there are four elements to a successful fear appeal: 1) a threat, 2) a specific recommendation about how the audience should behave, 3) audience perception that the recommendation will be effective in addressing the threat, and 4) audience perception that they are capable of performing the recommended behavior.” Groups may also use these techniques on their members. They may say, “If you don’t do this, then the world will end, we will close our doors, etc.” For members that are very needy or attached to the organization or person making the statement, this threat may be very difficult to ignore.
In E-mail, this may be caused by the use of numerous brackets in bold or the use of capital letters. The writer may say things like, “apples are always red,” and then, “apples are always blue,” to cause confusion in the reader and make them more susceptible to the ideas in the Email. While the mind is trying to figure out which statement is true, the reader’s mind may become more susceptible to the suggestion or idea.
Sutphen in his article talks about “Shock and Confusion,” how people go into a meditative state when scared and are more likely to be compliant to the second suggestion. If people are made to feel guilty that they were given something, they are more likely to follow the next command, like give money, etc.
For survivors, I think the important thing is to realize when these techniques are being used on us. To fight the second suggestion and not follow it blindly. This may entail leaving the area immediately and going to a safe spot. Online this may mean reading certain E-mails with support people present. And to avoid those that may use these suggestions on us whenever possible. Learning how to develop safe support systems and safe resources can help with this. I believe it is dangerous to believe that we can’t be MC’ed.
Guilt may also be used as a technique, especially on survivors. Making people feel like they haven’t done enough for a particular group or organization, asking people to do things without considering all sides of the issue or their own needs.
Neediness can also be used. Survivors may be looking for approval, acceptance and a place to discuss their feelings. So they may not be able to critically decide what support systems may be the safest for them. Groups will first be very nice or overly nice to them (love bombing), but this will often disappear later and emotional manipulation and threats or guilt may be used to try to cause the desired behavior. Abusers will often apologize after their behavior, but I believe a sincere apology would be to try and change the behavior.
The techniques used to create subliminal commands can vary. I believe they usually create a meditative state in the individual. I have heard that TV can cause these states. “Glassy eyed stares” or “being spaced out” are often used to describe this state. Shock or fear or other extreme emotional states may also be used to create meditative states. These commands may help the writer bypass the reader’s conscious mind.
Specific triggers may be used on survivors. These may sound like the ideas of those that do not believe in the existence of recovered memory or ritual abuse. These can include calling a person paranoid, psychotic or crazy (see “name calling”) and allude to the fact that a person’s paranoia is connected to a psychotic disorder, which, I believe, usually isn’t the case. This can be used to try and get the survivor to doubt their own reality and the reality of their memories. (See SMART issue #27 for the low rate (less than 5 percent) of “false” memories.) http://ritualabuse.us/2008/10/issue-27-july-1999/
Subliminal triggers may also be used intentionally or unintentionally to remind a survivor of a specific ritual or past program. Repeated use (or the one time use) of the terms, “ass*ss*n*tion” or “c*t thr*at” in terms of describing another’s actions may qualify as triggers. The writer may be using these terms to scare or trigger the reader.
A colleague of mine wrote me and told me that she uses three criterion to determine online if a person may be a perpetrator of MC.
1) If the person uses guilt.
2) If the person tells them to “f_ off.” (Could be considered a technique to shock the reader.)
3) Using lots of triggers to control their actions.
I think the one thing that all 3 above have in common is they entail some sort of emotional manipulation and/or trigger.
Changing the Topic
Rather than deal with the specific topic, a group or person may try to change the topic, or discredit the other side, rather than deal with the criticisms or arguments in the debate. A variety of propaganda techniques may be used to try and do this. This technique has occasionally been used by politicians and others.
One way of remembering something is to constantly repeat it. This is one way we learn to remember new words and songs. Rather than debating the points of the debate, a debater may simply continue calling a person a liar or crazy or a traitor, etc. (see “name calling”) without backing up their statements. How often is an idea in an argument presented without a source or logical backing. This is one place in a debate or argument where a debater may show their “true colors.”
Are they interested in debating the points of the argument or are they using propaganda and mind control techniques?
Individuals that are not qualified to discuss the particulars (the specific facts) of a debate or product may join the debate or ad campaign and make statements that may have little or no logical backing or factual basis. Organizations and companies may use a variety of techniques to encourage such participation.
The user of propaganda may encourage people to join the cause without asking them to think about the facts and other side of the argument. This may include a kind of hero worship, including fancy clothes, high expenditures, claims of a large following, etc. I think the most important thing is to follow your instincts and recovery, not someone else. Other people may have valid and helpful things to say, but I believe our recovery has to be our own.
These will be intentionally used by the user of propaganda to manipulate opinion.
Example: John likes apples.
Hitler liked apples.
John likes Hitler.
This can be used in politics. Equating communism to fascism because one or several communist governments may have been fascist is an example of this. A person may agree with someone on one topic and disagree with the same person on another topic. The user of propaganda may try to lump the two people or a group of people together that disagree with them, suggesting a conspiracy, when it may only be people agreeing on a certain topic.
You might hear that we can’t trust anyone if certain people aren’t safe. This is a logical fallacy and isn’t true. It may take time for the survivor to trust again, but I think we need to keep trying to trust safe people, so we can heal.
This is another logical fallacy. A person receiving a criticism may claim that a critique of themselves or their group may cause divisiveness in society or their movement. (“Love it or leave” is an example of this.) The repetition of this idea may reinforce the idea in the reader’s mind. An alternative way of looking at this is that the same critique could also make the movement stronger, by encouraging people to think about their choices and use caution before making those choices. It may encourage all those in the movement to become healthier, making the movement even stronger.
In all logical fallacies, and in terms of propaganda in general, try to see the other possible conclusions of the argument, not simply those presented by the user of propaganda.
How to Avoid Blindly Accepting Propaganda and Being Mind Controlled
(Please note: these are only suggestions. You may want to analyze each of them to see if they have any value to you and if necessary, add some of your own.)
From FactNet (about Coercive Persuasion listed under sources): “The subjects easiest to influence are usually young, trusting, gullible, and noncritical people from protective backgrounds or people who may be particularly vulnerable because of some recent unsettled transition (my note: survivors may also fit in this category)…the rejects are likely to be individuals who have easy access to accurate, critical, or counterbalancing information. Insolent, selfcentered, streetwise, highly critical or recalcitrant individuals are generally culled out…” Though everyone is susceptible to some degree.
1) Try to find out both sides of the story.
2)Learn about propaganda and mind control techniques and learn how to recognize them.If necessary, learn to avoid those using these techniques (this may be online or offline.) The media and advertisements may be a good place to start either learning about these techniques or avoiding them. At times, advertisements don’t even discuss the product or its attributes at all.
3) When in a potential situation where you can be MC’ed or propagandized, learn how to recognize the feelings of going into a meditative state and learn some of the techniques for getting out of these states.(Details are at “Conference trigger management and safety” http://ritualabuse.us/smart-conference/conf1999/trigger-management-and-conference-safety-presentation/) I believe that avoidance of these situations is usually the best way to keep from being MC’ed or propagandized.
4) The user of propaganda or mind control techniques may exhibit a “lack of morals,” lying and/or disregarding the rules of the debate, list, group or society. This is similar to the “us vs them” or may be justified by “the ends justify the means” arguments organizations may use, see SMART #29 (Cult Information Article. http://ritualabuse.us/2008/10/issue-29-nov-1999/ )
5) Try to use your gut feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, step back or remove yourself from the situation. I believe that a legitimate group or organization will give an individual the time and room to make their own choices (see “Emotional Manipulation” above).
I believe the following statement also applies to being MC’ed and/or fooled by propaganda. From FactNet, “No one “joins a cult.” People recruited into destructive groups think they are doing something else, something beneficial and worthwhile. Anyone can be recruited given the right sales pitch and the right conditions in one’s life. We are all potential victims.” While I believe it is necessary to learn from our mistakes, I think that feeling too much guilt doesn’t help. It may be necessary to make an amends when safe. This may be simply by getting healthy and possibly educating others.
As always, please use your own judgement and try to research everything as fully as possible. Don’t accept anything anyone says simply because they say it or claim to be an expert or whatever. Try to check it out for yourself. I am not an expert, and I am continually learning new things about myself and the above topics.