Observable Behaviors & Tools Used By Cult Leaders, Cultists, and Cults
Why Critical Thinking?
Why Critical Thinking?
"Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or down-right prejudiced. Yet the quality of our life and that of what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
Critical thinking is that mode of thinking - about any subject, content, or problem - in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.
A well cultivated critical thinker raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely; gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards; thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.
Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism."
(Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)
Sociopath (Antisocial personality disorder)
Antisocial personality disorder is a type of chronic mental condition in which a person's ways of thinking, perceiving situations and relating to others are dysfunctional — and destructive. People with antisocial personality disorder typically have no regard for right and wrong and often disregard the rights, wishes and feelings of others.
Those with antisocial personality disorder (L Ron Hubbard & David Miscavige) tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others either harshly or with callous indifference. They may often violate the law, landing in frequent trouble, yet they show no guilt or remorse. They may lie, behave violently or impulsively, and have problems with drug and alcohol use. These characteristics typically make people with antisocial personality disorder unable to fulfill responsibilities related to family, work or school.
- Disregard for right and wrong
- Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
- Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or for sheer personal pleasure
- Intense egocentrism, sense of superiority and exhibitionism
- Recurring difficulties with the law
- Repeatedly violating the rights of others by the use of intimidation, dishonesty and misrepresentation
- Child abuse or neglect
- Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, impulsiveness, aggression or violence
- Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
- Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behaviors
- Poor or abusive relationships
- Irresponsible work behavior
- Failure to learn from the negative consequences of behavior
A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.
Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.
- An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
- Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
- A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
- Difficulty with empathy
- Problems distinguishing the self from others (see narcissism and boundaries)
- Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults (see criticism and narcissists, narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury)
- Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
- Haughty body language
- Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them (narcissistic supply)
- Detesting those who do not admire them (narcissistic abuse)
- Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
- Pretending to be more important than they really are
- Bragging (subtly but persistently) and exaggerating their achievements
- Claiming to be an "expert" at many things
- Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
- Denial of remorse and gratitude
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
(Click link for full article)
Coercive Mind Control Tactics
PDF Download http://www.psychologicalharassment...._mind_control_tactics_letter_1200_Jan2009.pdf
PDF Download http://www.psychologicalharassment...._mind_control_tactics_letter_1200_Jan2009.pdf
"Today Mind control or brainwashing in academia is commonly referred to as coercive persuasion, coercive psychological systems or coercive influence. The short description below comes from Dr. Margaret Singer professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley the acknowledged leading authority in the world on mind control and cults.
A short overview:
Coercion is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as:
1. To force to act or think in a certain manner
2. To dominate, restrain, or control by force
3. To bring about by force.
Coercive psychological systems are behavioral change programs which use psychological force in a coercive way to cause the learning and adoption of an ideology or designated set of beliefs, ideas, attitudes, or behaviors. The essential strategy used by the operators of these programs is to systematically select, sequence and coordinate many different types of coercive influence, anxiety and stress-producing tactics over continuous periods of time. In such a program the subject is forced to adapt in a series of tiny "invisible" steps. Each tiny step is designed to be sufficiently small so the subjects will not notice the changes in themselves or identify the coercive nature of the processes being used. The subjects of these tactics do not become aware of the hidden organizational purpose of the coercive psychological program until much later, if ever. These tactics are usually applied in a group setting by well intentioned but deceived "friends and allies" of the victim. This keeps the victim from putting up the ego defenses we normally maintain in known adversarial situations. The coercive psychological influence of these programs aim to overcome the individual's critical thinking abilities and free will - apart from any appeal to informed judgment. Victims gradually lose their ability to make independent decisions and exercise informed consent. Their critical thinking, defenses, cognitive processes, values, ideas, attitudes, conduct and ability to reason are undermined by a technological process rather than by meaningful free choice, rationality, or the inherent merit or value of the ideas or propositions being presented. How Do They Work?
The tactics used to create undue psychological and social influence, often by means involving anxiety and stress, fall into seven main categories.
Increase suggestibility and "soften up" the individual through specific hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as: Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills, Excessive exact repetition of routine activities, Sleep restriction and/or Nutritional restriction.
Establish control over the person's social environment, time and sources of social support by a system of often-excessive rewards and punishments. 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.
Prohibit disconfirming information and non supporting opinions in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An "in-group" language is usually constructed.
Make the person 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. The subject is guided to reinterpret his or her life's history and adopt a new version of causality.
Create a sense of powerlessness by subjecting the person to intense and frequent actions and situations which undermine the person's confidence in himself and his judgment.
Create strong aversive emotional arousals in the subject by use of nonphysical punishments such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques.
Intimidate the person with the force of group-sanctioned secular psychological threats. For example, it may be suggested or implied that failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequences such as 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.
These tactics of psychological force are applied to such a severe degree that the individual's capacity to make informed or free choices becomes inhibited. The victims become unable to make the normal, wise or balanced decisions which they most likely or normally would have made, had they not been unknowingly manipulated by these coordinated technical processes. The cumulative effect of these processes can be an even more effective form of undue influence than pain, torture, drugs or the use of physical force and physical and legal threats.
How does Coercive Psychological Persuasion Differ from Other Kinds of Influence? Coercive psychological systems are distinguished from benign social learning or peaceful persuasion by the specific conditions under which they are conducted. These conditions include the type and number of coercive psychological tactics used, the severity of environmental and interpersonal manipulation, and the amount of psychological force employed to suppress particular unwanted behaviors and to train desired behaviors.
Coercive force is traditionally visualized in physical terms. In this form it is easily definable, clear-cut and unambiguous. Coercive psychological force unfortunately has not been so easy to see and define. The law has been ahead of the physical sciences in that it has allowed that coercion need not involve physical force. It has recognized that an individual can be threatened and coerced psychologically by what he or she perceives to be dangerous, not necessarily by that which is dangerous.
Law has recognized that even the threatened action need not be physical. Threats of economic loss, social ostracism and ridicule, among other things, are all recognized by law, in varying contexts, as coercive psychological forces.
Why are Coercive Psychological Systems Harmful? Coercive psychological systems violate our most fundamental concepts of basic human rights. They violate rights of individuals that are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and affirmed by many declarations of principle worldwide.
By confusing, intimidating and silencing their victims, those who profit from these systems evade exposure and prosecution for actions recognized as harmful and which are illegal in most countries such as: fraud, false imprisonment, undue influence, involuntary servitude, intentional infliction of emotional distress, outrageous conduct and other tortuous acts."
Margaret Thaler Singer, Ph.D
"Some Excerpts From Political Ponerology:"
"Reverse Blockade: emphatically insisting upon something which is the opposite of the truth blocks the average person's mind from perceiving the truth. In accordance with the dictates of healthy common sense, he starts searching for meaning in the "golden mean" between truth and its opposite, winding up with some satisfactory counterfeit. People who think like this do not realize that this effect is precisely the intent of the person who subjects them to this method. "
Page 104, Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski
"In their paper, "Construct Validity of Psychopathy in a Community Sample... Salekin, Trobst, and Krioukova write "Psychopathy as originally conceived by Cleckley (1941) is not limited to engagement in illegal activities, but rather encompasses such personality characteristics as manipulativeness, insincerity, egocentricity , and lack of guilt - characteristics clearly present in criminals but also in spouses, parents, bosses, attorneys and politicians, and CEOs, to name but a few. (bursten. 1973; Stewart, 1991)...As such. psychopathy may be characterized...as involving a tendency towards dominance and coldness. Wiggens (1995) in summarizing numerous previous findings..indicates such persons are prone to anger and irritation and are willing to exploit others. They are arrogant, manipulative, cynical, exhibitionistic, sensation-seeking, Machiavellian, vindictive and out for their own gain. With respect to their patterns of social exchange (Foa & Foa, 1974), they attribute love and status to themselves, seeing themselves as highly worthy and important, but prescribe neither love nor status to others, seeing them as unworthy and insignificant. " Page 89, Political Ponerology, footnote
"Defamatory suggestions are used particularly often by individuals who are not entirely normal, whose behavior tends to be a projection onto other people of one's own self-critical associations. A normal person strikes a sociopath as a naive, smart-alecky believer in barely comprehensible theories; calling him "crazy" is not that far away" page 180
Steven Alan Hassan's BITE Model of Cult Mind Control
Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.
As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member's uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult's control of an individual's Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions.
It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.
Destructive mind control is not just used by cults. Click here for our Human Trafficking BITE Model.
The BITE Model
I. Behavior Control
II. Information Control
III. Thought Control
IV. Emotional Control
1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
5. Regulate diet - food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
10. Permission required for major decisions
11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
15. Instill dependency and obedience
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
4. Encourage spying on other members
a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
b.Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories
1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group's ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
2.Change person’s name and identity
3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
e. Speaking in tongues
f. Singing or humming
8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful
1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt
5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family
The Scientological Onion
(Excerpted from the Addendum section of L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman?, 2nd and 3rd editions. This is the shortened version that appears in Brainwashing Manual Parallels in Scientology)
Scientology could be described as a "layers of the onion" operation.
The outermost layer of the "Scientological Onion" is not identifiable with Scientology at all, being composed of front groups that conceal their connection to -and control by - the Scientology organization. Front groups might be said to constitute Layer Zero: a place where the tentacles of Scientology can grope incognito.
The first layer of the Scientological Onion is meant to be very visible...
Layer One includes Scientology's pampered clique of celebrities, and various public relations ploys. It reverberates with noble sounding sentiments about creating a better world. Scientology seeks to equate itself, and its founder, with anything broadly viewed as desirable or good. A little further along, this layer would include introductory courses with the stated aim of "knowing oneself" and "being free."
Here exist the potentially beneficial aspects of the many masked Scientology operation. The tragedy of Scientology is that the "positives" are used as "window dressing" and "bait on the hook," when they should have been the core and foundation. Thus the Scientology organization reeks of hypocrisy.
Also, at this much publicized layer, L. Ron Hubbard is presented as an engineer, war hero, nuclear physicist, and the "greatest humanitarian of all time," and the author of "22 best sellers with more to come."
The "first layer" is what Scientology wishes the outside world to know as Scientology. And it is essentially what new converts to the "movement" believe.
It includes most of what is good in the subject: The dream of peace on Earth, the desire to help, practical wisdom, civilized communication, and some potentially beneficial counseling procedures. The word freedom is used a great deal at this layer, and a heart felt desire for greater personal freedom, and freedom for all Mankind, is not unusual to new recruits to Scientology.
(Any inconsistencies or contradictions between the publicly stated aims of the movement, and actual practices or facts, become irrelevant as the individual becomes subject to the Dark Side of Scientology. And the deeper one descends into the "onion" the darker it gets.)
Descending into the "onion" it is necessary to become a Scientologist. This means thinking like a Scientologist. This is the Second Layer where deception eases into "soft" forms of mind-manipulation. Love of Mankind is modified that the awareness that human beings are mere hapless "Wogs"... The desire to help becomes the desire to recruit. The ideal of practical wisdom, based on logic and science, is superseded by the belief in the unfathomable mystery of the "tech." Indeed one is expected to be in a state of awe regarding the "tech," much in the same manner that a peasant woman might regard piece of bone, said to have belonged to a Saint from centuries past.
The publicly promoted "policy" of honesty is modified by an awareness that deception is OK, as long as it serves to achieve the desired Scientological end. And the ideals of civility and democracy become a joke - just something that "panty-waists" and wimps fixate on.
One is slowly being "hatted" as a Scientologist.
(At this point an - unlucky - new Scientologist may be subjected to heavy handed "hard sell" tactics by a sales person or "registrar." Life savings have been lost, inheritances gobbled up, and lines of credit drained, all in a single arduous evening of "hard sell." This is really a premature taste of Layer Four.)
The Third Layer down is composed of never ending, expensive, highly advertised, but confidential "upper levels." These go on and on - and on. Scientology has been selling the promise of "Total Freedom" since before most of its current membership were born. It remains the ever elusive "dangling carrot."
Well known individuals who become involved in Scientology - becoming "Scientology celebrities" - do not go deeper into the Scientological Onion than this.
They are also spared the abuses that "less valuable" beings may suffer at the hands of Scientology sales people, "Sea Org" recruiters, or "ethics" officers...
At the upper fringes of the next layer down is local "Org staff," and at the bottom of Layer Four can be found "Sea Org" personnel. This layer employs more pervasive and cruder forms of "persuasion" or "mind control." Here is the "slave labor" supplying Rehabilitation Project Force, the Pavlovian "5 Card System," and the grim but repressed awareness that one is mainly a "post" and a "stat," (i.e. statistic.)
The Fifth layer down includes intimidation of the mass media, use of lawsuits purely for purposes of harassment, and applications of policies and programs, such as those discovered as a result of the FBI search warrants of July 1977. These materials were made available for public view by Federal court order in 1979 and consist of organized applications of the Fair game Law, and related confidential policies and "tech," designed to illegally gain access to private files, infiltrate, harass, lie about, "sue, trick, lie to, or destroy" anyone perceived as an enemy. At this layer also would be secret bank accounts and financial irregularities.
Other aspects of this layer would include "blackmail," including threats to publicize personal information obtained during "religious confessionals" (auditing sessions); and the inducement of duress of various kinds - including frivolous lawsuits - to obtain promises of "silence," and to obtain "signed retractions" of earlier statements.
Here also can be found the handful of individuals who constitute the "Scientology hierarchy": the board of directors of the Religious Technology Center, and its chairman David Miscavige or "DM."
Layer Number Six appears to be the core of the Onion. It is a very temperamental and secret place.
Here lie the secrets of L. Ron Hubbard: his bad health, bad habits, undistinguished military service, flunked physics and mathematics classes. Here can be found the actual motivations behind, and sources of, Dianetics and Scientology. Here can be found Mary Sue Hubbard, languishing in prison for crimes committed under her husband's direction, while her husband, in hiding, passes the time writing Science Fiction. Here are all the things you shouldn't know about the founder of the "Science of Knowing How to Know."
L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman?, 2nd edition:
Brainwashing Manual Parallels in Scientology:
Traumatic bonding is “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” (Dutton & Painter, 1981). Several conditions have been identified that must be present for a traumatic bond to occur.
–(1). There must be an imbalance of power, with one person more in control of key aspects of the relationship, such as setting themselves up as the “authority” through such things as controlling the finances, or making most of the relationship decisions, or using threats and intimidations, so the relationship has become lopsided.
–(2). The abusive behavior is sporadic in nature. It is characterized by intermittent reinforcement, which means there is the alternating of highly intense positives (such as intense kindness or affection) and the negatives of the abusive behavior.
–(3). The victim engages in denial of the abuse for emotional self- protection. In severe abuse (this can be psychological or physical), one form of psychological protection strategy is dissociation, where the victim experiences the abuse as if it is not happening to them, but as if they are outside their body watching the scene unfold (like watching a movie). Dissociative states allow the victim to compartmentalize the abusive aspects of the relationship in order to focus on the positive aspects.
The use of denial and distancing oneself from the abuse are forms of what is called cognitive dissonance. In abusive relationships this means that what is happening to the victim is so horrible, so far removed from their thoughts and expectations of the world, that it is “dissonant” or “out of tune” or “at odds” with their pre-existing expectations and reality.
Since the victim feels powerless to change the situation, they rely on emotional strategies to try to make it less dissonant, to try to somehow make it fit. To cope with the contradicting behaviors of the abuser, and to survive the abuse, the person literally has to change how they perceive reality.
Studies also show a person is more loyal and committed to a person or situation that is difficult, uncomfortable, or even humiliating, and the more the victim has invested in the relationship, the more they need to justify their position. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful “self-preservation” mechanism which can completely distort and override the truth, with the victim developing a tolerance for the abuse and “normalizing” the abusers behavior, despite evidence to the contrary.
–(4). The victim masks that the abuse is happening, may not have admitted it to anyone, not even themselves.
Trauma bonding makes it easier for a victim to survive within the relationship, but it severely undermines the victims self-structures, undermining their ability to accurately evaluate danger, and impairs their ability to perceive of alternatives to the situation.
Once a trauma bond is established it becomes extremely difficult for the victim to break free of the relationship. The way humans respond to trauma is thought to have a biological basis and reactions to trauma was first described a century ago, with the term “railroad spine” being used. Another term used has been “shell shocked”.
Victims overwhelmed with terror suffer from an overload of their system, and to be able to function they must distort reality. They often shut down emotionally, and sometimes later describe themselves as having felt “robotic”, intellectually knowing what happened, but feeling frozen or numb and unable to take action. A victim must feel safe and out of “survival mode” before they will be able to make cognitive changes.
Many victims feel the compulsion to tell and retell the events of the trauma in an attempt to come to terms with what happened to them and to try to integrate it, reaching out to others for contact, safety, and stability. Other victims react in an opposite manner, withdrawing into a shell of self-imposed isolation. The trauma bond can persist even after the victim leaves the relationship, with it sometimes taking months, or even years, for them to completely break the bond.
Emotional Attachments in Abusive Relationships: A Test of Traumatic Bonding Theory - PDF (Dutton and Painter)
Fear, Obligation, and Guilt (FOG) in Relationships
According to Susan Forward, Ph.D. (Forward and Frazier 1997), emotional blackmail is a “powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten, directly or indirectly, to punish us if we don’t do what they want." The main tool of the trade, Forward says, is FOG: fear, obligation, and guilt.
People with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder may use emotional blackmail because it’s the best or the only way they know to get what they want or need. Unwilling or unable to make a direct request, FOG becomes the lever of choice to those who suffer from low self-esteem and have difficulty setting personal limits and stating what they want. Victims capitulate because they often possess these same qualities. And perpetrators use whatever works again and again. (Full article at link)
Out of the FOG - What is FOG
FOG - Fear, Obligation & Guilt - The acronym FOG, for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail and describes feelings that a person often has when in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder. (Full article at link)
Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics
Covert emotional manipulation tactics are underhanded methods of control. Emotional manipulation methodically wears down your sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-concept and trust in your own perceptions. At its worst, you can lose all sense of self and your personal values.
Positive Reinforcement: Praise, flattery, adoration, attention, affection, gifts, superficial sympathy (crocodile tears), superficial charm, recognition, appreciation, intense sex, and declarations of once-in-a-lifetime love. When all of these are present continually at the beginning of the relationship with no negative behavior in sight, it’s called “love-bombing,” and it’s designed to hook us deeply and bond us tightly to our abuser.
Intermittent positive reinforcement: This is a very effective manipulation tactic, one abusers use to great effect. Intermittent positive reinforcement occurs when your relationship goes from nonstop positive reinforcement to only getting attention, appreciation, praise, adoration, declarations of love, etc. once in a while, on a random basis. This will create a climate of doubt, fear and anxiety. You’ll know he’s withdrawing and you’ll fear you’re losing him, but he’ll deny it. This replays over and over until you’re riding and emotional roller coaster, with no way to stop the ride and get off. S/He is doing this on purpose to increase his power and control over you and to make you even more desperate for his love. You have become the proverbial lab rat frantically pushing the lever for a randomly dispensed treat. The rat thinks of nothing else, and neither will you. The bond can become even stronger during this phase, believe it or not. It’s a well-known psychological phenomenon known as traumatic bonding.
Negative reinforcement: The manipulator stops performing a negative behavior (such as giving you the silent treatment) when you comply with his demands.
Not allowing negative emotion: The victim is typically chastised for emotional behavior. The focus is put on the emotional upset itself, not the cause behind it (which conveniently takes the focus off of him). He refuses to hear what it is she wants to talk about. The only subject is her emotion, which is unacceptable; in fact, it’s an issue she needs to work on, and one he finds unattractive.The silent treatment usually follows, which increases her frustration at not being able to express her thoughts and feelings.
Indirect aggressive abuse: Name-calling is direct and obvious, but an underhanded way to make it much less obvious is to drop the angry tone of voice that usually accompanies it, and disguise the insult as teaching, helping, giving advice, or offering solutions. It appears to be a sincere attempt to help, but it’s actually an attempt to belittle, control and demean you, and you will sense this.
Manipulators share intimate information about themselves, their lives and families early on to create a false sense of intimacy. You’ll automatically feel obliged or free to respond, and afterward you’ll trust him more and feel closer to him. Later, you’ll find out most of what he disclosed wasn’t true, and that he’ll use everything you told him about yourself to manipulate you or hurt you.
Triangulation: This is a common and effective tactic of a psychopath’s covert emotional manipulation. The manipulator introduces other women into the relationship in any way he can — by talking about a woman at work, talking about his ex girlfriends, flirting with other women in front of you, or comparing you unfavorably to another woman — just to hurt you, knock you off balance and make you jealous. In a normal relationship, a man will go out of his way to prove he’s trustworthy. The manipulator does just the opposite, and he enjoys watching your pain and angst. He is usually grooming his next target, who he conveniently uses to manipulate you devalue you.
Blaming the victim: This tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defense while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the abuser. This usually happens when she questions him about something he wants to hide (such as his involvement with another woman). The victim finds herself put in the defensive mode, and she can’t win. He tells her that her concerns are rooted in her problem with “insecurity” and have nothing to do with his behavior or with reality, and that he finds her insecurity very unattractive. Since this is very unpleasant she learns not to question him, and silently puts up with his bad behavior in the future.
The manipulator will makecarefully chosen insinuating comments to evoke an uncomfortable emotional response or even several responses at once. He knows your weaknesses and your hot-buttons, and he will enjoy dropping a bomb like this and watching the fallout. If someone says something that has multiple negative meanings and causes negative emotions while leaving you flummoxed and without a meaningful response, you’ve experienced it.
Empty words: The abuser can turn on the charm and tell you exactly what you want to hear: “I love you,” “you’re so special to me,” “you’re so important to me,” etc. The problem is they are just words, backed up by nothing. Filling your need for approval, validation, and reassurance with these empty words gives him incredible power over you.
Denying/ Invalidating reality: Invalidating distorts or undermines the victim’s perceptions of their world. Invalidating occurs when the abuser refuses or will not acknowledge reality. For example, if the victim confronts the abuser about an incident of name calling, the abuser may insist, “I never said that,” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” The same as gaslighting, really, a tactic which is explained below.
Minimizing: The manipulator will tell you you’re making a big deal out of nothing or that you’re “exaggerating” when you confront him with something he’s done.
Withholding: Includes refusing to communicate, refusing to listen, and using emotionally withdrawal as punishment. This is commonly called the “silent treatment.”
Lying: It’s often difficult to know when someone’s lying, but psychopaths are pathological liars who will say anything to get what they want. You may notice they lie so much they can’t keep the details straight. If you question them, they revert to denial.
Lies of omission: A more subtle form of lying where a truth is left out if it’s not convenient.
Gaslighting: An especially frustrating manipulation tactic where you know you heard him say something or saw him do something but when you confront him, he simply denies it. It seems obvious enough but if it’s repeated often, victims can begin to question their “version” of reality. We also want to believe whatever it was didn’t happen, so we may let this absurdity slip by. I forget who said “words are more real than reality,” but that sums it up.
Projecting the Blame: Nothing is ever a psychopath’s fault, and he will always find some crafty way to find a scapegoat
Diversion and Evasion: When you ask the psychopath a question, instead of answering it he may use diversion (steering the conversation to another topic) or evasion (giving an irrelevant, vague and often rambling response).
Selective forgetting: The manipulator pretends he forgot something important he once said. If you feel the need to use a tape recorder when speaking with someone, covert emotional manipulation is at play.
Refusing to take responsibility for his behavior, for the relationship or for your reactions to it.
Attempts to turn the tables and make you look like the abuser: These skilled manipulators have an arsenal of tactics at their disposal, and they will be pushing as many buttons as possible to get you to lose control. They can inflict so much psychological warfare and make you suppress so much emotion that you can be backed into an emotional corner. When this happens, the intense frustration you feel, but can’t express through normal communication, will cause you to react in self-defense. Emotional reactions in self-defense to an abusive situation do not make you an abuser.
Diminishing and belittling your opinions and ideas non-verbally by using eye-rolls, scoffs, smug smiles, etc. There are plenty of variations.
Hypnotism and trance induction: This is the most powerful manipulation tool a psychopath uses with his victim, and is related to charm. The technique of hypnosis comes naturally to the psychopath, and he mesmerizes his victim to gain emotional control. Hypnosis and trance are the “attraction heat, attachment magnet and bonding glue,” according to Sandra L. Brown, M.A., author of “Women Who Love Psychopaths.” (*This tactic applies only to psychopaths; the rest on this list are also used by all types of manipulators as well as psychopaths.)
What is Psychological Manipulation?
Psychological Manipulation is a type of influence that attempts to change the behavior or perception of others through underhanded, deceptive and abusive techniques. This advances the interests of the manipulator, generally at the victim's expense, in methods that may be considered abusive, devious, deceptive, and exploitative.
In order to be successful, the art of manipulation involves two things - concealing aggressive or subversive intentions and behaviors while knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim well enough to know what will be the most effective psychological weapons or tactics to be used against them. This is most often accomplished through covert-aggression or carefully veiled aggression - which may be so subtle that it's not easily detected.
Psychological Manipulators know what they want and fight hard to get it.
The tactics Psychological Manipulators use are very effective methods of power and control, because they're almost impossible to be seen as aggressive on the surface, at the unconscious level, the victim feels backed into the corner. Once a victim is backed into a corner, it is more likely that they'll back down or give into the manipulator's demands.
Why Do People Manipulate?
There are many motivations behind manipulation - as varied as the manipulators themselves. Perhaps the manipulator needs to gain something purposefully or feels that they have to advance their own causes or plans - no matter what the cost to others may be. Maybe they need to feel powerful and in-control of their relationships with others. Maybe feeling powerful over others increases their own self-esteem. Maybe the person does not have the social skills to obtain what is wanted or needed by traditional means. Some Psychological Manipulators are psychopathic, having trouble empathizing with or understanding the feelings of themselves or others, and placing their own desires foremost because of it.
How Do Manipulators Manipulate?
There are many techniques that manipulators can use to gain power and control over their victim. Here is a breakdown of some manipulation techniques.
Brandishing Anger - manipulators use anger and rage to shock their victims into submission, although real anger is not necessarily experienced by the manipulator. The anger is simply a show to get whatever he or she wants by cowing the victim into submission.
Covert Intimidation - The victim is thrown on the defensive by the manipulator using subtle, indirect, or implied threats.
Denial - The manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done anything wrong.
Diversion - Rather than giving a straight answer, the manipulator will often change the subject, often without the change being noticed.
Feigning Confusion - The manipulator plays dumb - pretending she or he has no idea what the victim is talking about, or is confused by the topic at hand.
Feigning Innocence - The manipulator suggests that anything harmful was done unintentionally or that it didn't happen. This makes the victim question their judgement and/or sanity in feeling hurt or betrayed.
Evasion - Providing vague, rambling, incoherent responses to the victim. This often leads to confusion over the matter at hand, as well as making it less likely that the victim will be inclined to pursue further conversations on the topic.
Gaslighting - A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they're losing their minds.
Guilt-Tripping - The manipulator suggests to a conscientious victim that he or she doesn't care enough, is too selfish, or has it easy. The victim generally feels guilt or shame as a result, and is thrown into a submissive, anxious, and self-doubting state.
Lying - By the time the truth is apparent, it may be too late to do anything about it. Many manipulative personality types are experts at lying and may do so in subtle ways that are hard to detect.
Lies of Omission - This is lying by withholding a part of the truth, usually with the intention of making something seem innocuous, or less harmful than it really was.
Minimization - The manipulator asserts that his or her behavior is not as harmful as is suggested.
Projecting the Blame - Scapegoating in subtle ways, blaming the victim or other people for the negative actions or consequences of their actions. This helps to portray the manipulator in a more positive light, and can actively harm the victim's relationships with other people, who may not even have been involved.
Rationalization - An excuse from the manipulator for inappropriate behavior. Rationalization involves giving reasons as to why their behavior was justified and appropriate. When coupled with Guilt-Trips or Scapegoating, the manipulator will often wind up looking like a victim, evoking sympathy from the real victim.
Seduction - Using charm, praise, or flattery to lower the defenses of the victim so that the manipulator gains trust and loyalty.
Shaming - Sarcasm and insults can be used by the manipulator to increase self-doubt and fear in the victim, to make the victim feel unworthy. This may be accomplished by anything from a very subtle fierce look or unpleasant tone of voice to a rhetorical comment. This may make the victim feel badly for daring to challenge them, which also fosters a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
Vilifying the Victim - A powerful method of putting the victim on the defensive while masking aggressive intention.
Vulnerabilities Exploited By Manipulators:
The following are a list of vulnerabilities that may exist in the victims of manipulators. By no means comprehensive, these traits tend to be common in people who are often victimized by Psychological Manipulators.
- A desire to please and earn the approval and acceptance of others.
- Naivete - the victim doesn't want to believe that anyone is cunning or ruthless and may be in denial of own victimhood.
- A fear of negative emotions.
- Over-internationalization - believing what the manipulator says to be true, which can result in self-doubt or shame.
- Excessive empathy - the victim tries really hard to understand the point of view of the manipulator and believes the manipulator has a justifiable reason to be hurtful.
- Over-conscientiousness - victim is too willing to give the manipulator the benefit of the doubt.
- Low Self-Confidence - victim lacks the ability to say no, doubts themselves, lacks confidence.
- Emotional Dependency - the victim has a dependent or submissive personality. The more submissive or dependent, the more vulnerable the victim is to exploitation.
- Low emotional skills - when the victim does not understand his or her emotional self well, they misinterpret feelings
In an article by Fiona McColl about manipulation, she identifies several methods of spotting manipulation. If you think you are being vicitmized, these are common signs to look for.
1. Bullshit apologies are often noticable. If your inner gut is telling you that an apology is bullshit, it probably is. Further if you are honest with an emotional manipulator about your feelings, he or she may turn their angst and stress upon you, until YOU wind up comforting THEM.
2. I'll do you a favor, I guess is an example of a common manipulation tactic. A manipulator will propose or agree to assist you with a task, and follow the acceptance up with sighs and subtle behavior to let you know they do not want to follow-through on the agreement.
3. Manipulators are awesome at turning a phrase, by which I mean that they may say one thing, then later deny that they did not say anything at all! Also common is the telling of the truth in such a way as to mean something other than what, on the surface, has been said.
4. Guilt is a common tool for manipulators. Because manipulators often do not directly express their needs and wants, they use tactics, such as guilt, to get someone to act the way they want them to act. Typically this is manifested in terms of the victim needing to care for the manipulator's needs, at the expense of your own.
5. Fighting dirty is not uncommon because manipulators do not like direct confrontation. Often they are passive-aggressive and let you subtly know that they are not happy.
6. Being upstaged by the manipulator's pain - you have a headache, he has a migraine. Calling them on this behavior often results in someone becoming defensive and combative.
How To Combat Manipulation:
1. Hold them accountable! Manipulators often are not held accountable and thus have poor boundaries with others. They do what it takes to get their way. If you tell someone how they hurt your feelings and then that person turns that around to be about them and their suffering, bring the conversation back to the original point- that your feelings are hurt.
2. Take notes! Take notes about conversations and important points, so that you can refer back to those notes later when a manipulator claims a conversation went a different way or never happened.
3. Walk away! Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just walk away. Revisit the situation later, and don't get sucked in to the drama.