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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sophisticated Immune Systems: High Control Groups [Two]

"Cult" is a misleading word.  For many it conjures the image of Jonestown and Heaven's Gate.  For others it is a mere theological distinction: any doctrine other than the one held by a speaker is labeled "cult".  It is more productive to speak of High Control Groups and Thought Reform Environments.

High control groups can be centered around political, economic, educational or therapeutic doctrines and are certainly not limited to supernatural beliefs.  Perhaps the most glaring examples of political cults are North Korea and The Third Reich.  Less obvious (and less comfortable for the US audience to contemplate) is how the political system of the US is high-control in some sectors.  There are economically motivated groups like Amway.  There are even educational approaches which construct thought reform environments, fostering group loyalty and suppressing self-motivated inquiry.

Thought Reform memeplexes are highly integrated with a host's brain, controlling emotions, thoughts, behavior and access to (and processing) of new information and reality testing.  Because of these features, thought-reform memeplexes are able to spread within a population even when they are detrimental to an individual, the host-group or the wider society.

For a more detailed investigation of High Control groups, look at Hassan's BITE Control Model, Margret Singer's work Cults in Our Midst and Robert J. Lifton's The Psychology
of Totalism

This lecture by Steven Hassan addresses verbal Strategic Interaction with Cult Members.  Through understanding how high control groups use language to program a devotee's mind, counselors and loved ones can help the member regain their former identity and leave a destructive group. The general language and thought patterns of specific groups which Hassan addresses at 21:20-23:21 should be of special interest to those studying memes through linguistics.

Continue to Sophisticated Immune Systems: Economic Structures [Three]

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