Thursday, October 23, 2008

Describing Methods of Manipulation

Some of the same concerns that I express about the True Woman Conference are also discussed in this video about manipulation, though the techniques discussed concern a different type of subject matter.

My concerns about the True Woman Manifesto center around “informed consent” and a lack of truthfulness about the absent fine print in the document. The conference culminated in the signing of this vague document yet did not speak to many aspects of the document or the specific definition of terms used in the document, magnifying my concerns. If you didn’t know how those terms were used elsewhere (by CBMW and other speakers), you would not suspect any problems. But by not giving you true and clear information about the details, you’re not really given a true option of choice.

The video also speaks about the perception that people carry away from messages delivered at the True Woman Conference: that the information presented represents the what is reflected in the Bible, something not really open to a free choice to reject what has been presented if one believes in the Authority of Scripture.

The subject of abuse is mentioned in this following video. If you read October 12th comments under the the True Woman Blog's "Historic Day" thread, you will note a post by an abused woman who states that because she didn't return from the conference with enough of a new, angelic persona, her husband welcomed her home with abuse. I’m concerned with the primary message of “submit, surrender and suffer” conveyed at the True Woman Conference, the victim-oriented person would not appropriately put those messages into perspective in a healthy way. Note that this video also mentions those dynamics within the cultic system discussed. Read more about this statement in the comments following THIS BLOG POST at Suzanne's Bookshelf. Please say a prayer of deliverance for this sister and "True Woman" in Christ who suffers under abuse in her marriage.

Please watch the following video, but I would ask that you pay more attention to the dynamics of the group that the presenter describes rather than the specifics about the Bible-based group itself or your understanding of the doctrinal issues of the group being discussed. Please try to focus on the “how” manipulation takes place rather than the “who” under discussion. My point: Manipulation, be it cultic or Christian or related to sales techniques, is basically all the same.

~ Summary Points ~
Interview with Lee Marsh, T.A.S., BA
Ex-Jehovah's Witness, Abuse Survivor, Registered Therapist

Process of Manipulation:
Note references to [Robert Lifton’s] eight thought reform critera/techniques to limit and control a person’s free will.

Have you given consent and are you able to exercise free will? Are all the rules fully disclosed initially, or are things concealed until after one has agreed.

Speaking for God:
If all information has been presented as coming from God, and presuming that you want to serve and honor God, this means that you are not really free to disagree with the information. (This is what has been defined elsewhere by other authors and psychologists as “bounded choice.”) If you do not control your own spirituality, then someone else does, either by way of a mediator or by way of authority or the perception that the leader is somehow closer to God than you are. This effectively destroys spirituality.

Covert Manipulation:
Groups will claim that they are not manipulative because they’re not coercive. They allow people the freedom Thought reform does not require someone to follow a person around to monitor behavior. People actually monitor themselves and keep their own behavior and thoughts in check, assuming that compliance is required for acceptability with God as was subtly suggested to them.

The only way to alleviate your own guilt for failing to comply or submit to the rules that have been put forth as having come from God comes through confession. Your membership then becomes removed from loving God but shifts over into a system of keeping the rules. What naturally happens through this process is that one loses individuality, but one also loose their ability to think – their discernment.

Dynamics and Familiarity:
Certain types of people with unhealed wounds of the past or unresolved personal issues tend to gravitate towards these systems (but everyone is vulnerable to this type of manipulation because every human being has some sense of shame that can be accessed and manipulated). The dynamics of abusive relationships and the dynamics of manipulative groups are related and bear many similar qualities. There tends to be a false hope of attaining perfection that is never realized, like a carrot dangled before a horse.

Appearances and Abuse:
Outward appearance is paramount. When there is abuse, there is no one to whom you can report that abuse. Organizations will want to downplay that abuse because of the unfavorable quality cast upon the group. There is also a double standard for the abuser and for the abused, depending on their standing and political power within the group. Victims are often blamed and made scapegoats for the improprieties and poor behavior of others.