The topic of language gets into deep philosophical territory, and some of the best theorists have humanistic views, so looking at language itself gets pretty self limiting. I think the thought reform idea/model of a person being comprised of three components (thought, emotion and behavior) is more helpful, as our language and thought is affected by our emotion and our behavior, and no one element can be severed apart from the other. Think of how God created the universe: He spoke to initiate creation. If we are made in His likeness, our ability to speak and use language is likely creative in a similar way. We creatively frame out our ideas with the building materials of words, but the words merely represent ideas that are just as connected to emotion and behavior.
Think also of words representing a product – an idea or concept. The spiritual abuser is selling a product which is really an idea that aspires to something higher in this life – something that lifts man out of the mire and into a better place on higher ground. We all desire to find this transcendence, and true, lasting, saving transcendence comes only through the Cross and the Word. But the power of the pull and the enticement rests in the idea of transcending the pain of living. A local sandwich shop in my neighborhood gives out small bags of potato chips with each sandwich, and I opened one the other day to find 2 potato chips. Those chips were not 1 oz each! They were unbroken, and I would have thought that the bag could have held at least a dozen chips, not two! The bag had all the appearances of contaning more, but the vendor and I were both deceived. The words of the spiritual abusers are more like the deceptive packaging, complete with disclaimers that “settling may occur,” but settling does not account for such a low yield of product. This is why sales techniques are so instructive when considering these concepts.
The twisting of language appeals to our emotions and we are drawn away by the desires/lusts of our hearts and enticed somehow, through our desire to transcend something. Now mix that language element in with all the other factors at play in the whole process. That’s why thought reform works: it is a multi-faceted assault, and everything is inter-connected. Language can be austere and analytical, but it is generally “loaded” with both thought and emotion, even outside of the context of spiritual abuse. Spiritual abusers take full advantage of that, creating new packages and new sheepskins with language all the time. It looks like they’re selling words, but they are really selling the ideas in deceptive packaging. Like Karen noted about Mary Kay (during the podcast), they are selling the idea that the product will make you feel like a million bucks, or maybe just 100K. The real proof is in the pudding, not the package, and the pudding is both emotion and thought rich.