Monday, November 26, 2007

Loading the Language (Lifton 101)

The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand.

Connotation also plays a major role in the loading of language. A most potent means of loading the language comes through accusations such as "gossip", "rebellion", "Jezebel" and the like, as these are modifiers to be avoided at all costs by membership.

Please review these previous posts regarding the nature of the use of connotation, thought-stopping cliché and neologism to manipulate individuals without their awareness of the process:


Another great article on the Battered Sheep website lists more about specific though-stopping terms that are described in “What Language Does Your Church Speak?: The Language of Abusive Churches and Groups” by Bill Newcomer. Read this from their introduction:

This list is a compilation of words and phrases used by abusive churches and religious groups. Please note that this list is not about how these words and phrases may be properly used, but it is about how these words and phrases are misused by abusers to manipulate and control in an un-Biblical manner. How does your church or group use these words and phrases.

Steven Martin's book, "The Heresy of Mind Control," also describes the Loading of the Language. Please visit his site and consider purchasing the e-book that is made available without cost but asks readers to pay an amount conmensurate with a 160 page work. (Steven is brother of Dr. Paul Martin of the Wellspring Center, the only inpatient recovery facility for those who have survived spiritual abuse, cults and manipulative relationships.) Here is his excellent summary of Lifton's Thought Reform Dynamic of "Loading the Language":
The Language of NonThought (Pg 89)
Loading the language involves the manipulation of words and phrases to produce “thought-terminating cliches.” It is thus a tool and extension of the “Sacred Science” — language that is used in order to stifle doubts and criticism, resulting in a narrowing and constriction of thought processes. It involves abstract words that categorize and judge members within the group and people outside the group. Such language is used for manipulating and even stifiling a members thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
The words and phrases have special meaning within the group — a kind of language which, of course, exists to some degree in any organization, and all belief systems depend on it. However, the loading is more extreme in totalist groups since jargon expresses the certitudes of the sacred science serving to stifle and control
one’s thinking.

-Summary and paraphrase of Dr. Lifton on Loading the Language