Defining Spiritual Abuse (Index)

Thank you, David Hayward!
updated 16Feb10; 1Mar19

Click on an item of interest to link to the topic that best meets your needs.  (Don't be alarmed if some links take you to the archive site for easier reading of longer collections of posts.)

For additional lists of topics, see the Tab and Page entitled "Navigating UnderMuchGrace and the Archives."


  • Is Spiritual Abuse Biblical? (Addressing the question with a list of many examples of spiritual abuse and surreptitious manipulation found within Scripture.) 
  • The Elements of Spiritual Abuse   (A series of posts that examine each element of spiritual abuse as defined by Henke and the “Weapons of Influence” defined by Cialdini)
  • Thought Reform and Lifton 101    (An overview of the techniques of manipulation identified by Robert Lifton:  the “gold standard” for the evaluation of manipulative groups.)

Finding Help and Healing

Examples of Manipulative Techniques

  • Bounded Choice    (Describes the term as a forced moral imperative or perception of choice from within a closed system which functionally allows for no viable choices.  Real choices are unthinkable and punished.)
  • Cognitive Dissonance    (Describing how manipulators, social pressures or other types of subtle manipulation can pressure you to change your mind, often without your notice)
  • Describing Methods of Manipulation    (Dissembling and controlling the disclosure of information in order to draw in the unsuspecting – the subtle version of the “bait and switch,”   Examples pulled from the True Woman Conference ’08 and from information from a survivor of a Bible-based religious group.)

    Conformity Studies (Video Documentaries)

    • The Wave    (A video that depicts the disturbingly true story of a classroom experiment in a history class in a California high school.  The teacher sought to demonstrate to the students how German citizens so readily accepted the Third Reich to his class by exposing them to some of the behavioral techniques used.)
    • The Milgram Study    (Study evaluating willingness of subjects to follow instructions given by a perceived authority figure)
    • Asch Conformity Study    (Study evaluating how subjects respond to social influence and popular opinion as a force that powerfully affects perception)
    • The Power of the Situation     (A documentary reviewing conformity studies and the powerful effect that social pressures, authority figures and circumstances pose upon individuals)
    • Be Heroic!   (About Zimbardo’s Hero Project campaign to teach people to be everyday heroes and resist situational influences.)