Lifton, a psychiatrist and distinguished professor at the City University of New York, has studied the psychology of extremism for decades. Rather they are impelled by a special kind of mystique which not only justifies such manipulations, but makes them mandatory. Confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal, and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself. There is manipulation of experiences that appear spontaneous but in fact were planned and orchestrated by the group or its leaders in order to demonstrate divine authority or spiritual advancement or some sp… And in addition to their function as interpretive shortcuts, these cliches become what Richard Weaver has called "ultimate terms" : either "god terms," representative of ultimate good; or "devil terms," representative of ultimate evil. DOCTRINE OVER PERSON every issue in one's life can be reduced to a single set of principles that have an inner coherence to the point that one can claim the experience of truth and feel it the pattern of doctrine over person occurs when there is a conflict between what one feels oneself experiencing and what the doctrine or ideology says one should experience if one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intense. Each has a totalistic quality; each depend upon an equally absolute philosophical assumption; and each mobilizes certain individual emotional tendencies, mostly of a polarizing nature. As in other aspects of totalism, this loading may provide an initial sense of insight and security, eventually followed by uneasiness.

Third, it is a means of maintaining an ethos of total exposure - a policy of making public (or at least known to the Organization) everything possible about the life experiences, thoughts, and passions of each individual, and especially those elements which might be regarded as derogatory. Consequently, past historical events are retrospectively altered, wholly rewritten, or ignored, to make them consistent with the doctrinal logic. At the center of this self-justification is their assumption of omniscience, their conviction that reality is their exclusive possession. In the thought reform milieu, as in all situations of ideological totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. Initiated from above, it seeks to provoke specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that these will appear to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment.

The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication.

Potential convert is convinced of the higher purpose within

The individual then responds to the manipulations through developing what I shall call the psychology of the pawn. Behind ideological totalism lies the ever-present human quest for the omnipotent guide - for the supernatural force, political party, philosophical ideas, great leader, or precise science - that will bring ultimate solidarity to all men and eliminate the terror of death and nothingness. Mass revolutions require an historical myth as part of their black and white morality, and this is the ideological myth of one of the great revolutions of world history.

resources about cults, cultic groups, abusive relationships, movements, religions, political organizations and related topics. Moreover, the sense of guilt and the sense of shame become highly-valued: they are preferred forms of communication, objects of public competition, and the basis for eventual bonds between the individual and his totalist accusers. of non-thought. It is first a vehicle for the kind of personal purification which we have just discussed, a means of maintaining a perpetual inner emptying or psychological purge of impurity; this purging milieu enhances the totalists' hold upon existential guilt.

For they look upon milieu control as a just and necessary policy, one which need not be kept secret: thought reform participants may be in doubt as to who is telling what to whom, but the fact that extensive information about everyone is being conveyed to the authorities is always known. This manipulation assumes a no-holds-barred character, and uses every possible device at the milieu's command, no matter how bizarre or painful. not conform with the group's rules be confessed. ROBERT J. LIFTON'S CRITERIA FOR THOUGHT REFORM THOUGHT REFORM: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TOTALISM CHAPTER 22 Chapel Hill, 1989.

University of North Carolina Press Eglise Evangelique Missionnaire et Salaûn, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, Liberation Army Revolutionary Group Organization, Mandate and Order of Saint Michael Archangel, Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute, Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, Movement for the Spiritual Integration in Absolute, Prasanna Jyoti Buddhist School and Meditation Centre, Ramtha's School of Enlightenment (RSE. assists group members and their families make the sometimes difficult transition from coercion to renewed individual choice. This primacy of doctrine over person is evident in the continual shift between experience itself and the highly abstract interpretation of such experience - between genuine feelings and spurious cataloguing of feelings. Closely related to the demand for absolute purity is an obsession with personal confession. outside world. Each person is made vulnerable through his profound inner sensitivities to his own limitations and to his unfulfilled potential; in other words, each is made vulnerable through his existential guilt. It creates an atmosphere uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984; but with one important difference. Similarly, any thought or action which questions the higher purpose is considered to be stimulated by a lower purpose, to be backward, selfish, and petty in the face of the great, overriding mission.

These questions raise the most crucial and the most difficult of human problems.

And in this manner, the totalists, as Camus phrases it, "put an abstract idea above human life, even if they call it history, to which they themselves have submitted in advance and to which they will decide arbitrarily, to submit everyone else as well.". And even for those to whom it seems totally appealing, the exuberant sense of well-being it temporarily affords may be more a "delusion of wholeness" than an expression of true and lasting inner harmony. to help families and friends understand and effectively respond to the complexity of a loved one's cult involvement. Under favorable circumstances (that is, when family and culture encourage individuation) these requirements can be replaced by more flexible and moderate tendencies; but they never entirely disappear. ; W. W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1963. Any ideology -- that is, any set of emotionally-charged convictions about men and his relationship to the natural or supernatural world -- may be carried by its adherents in a totalistic direction.

LOADING THE LANGUAGE the language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliche (thought-stoppers) repetitiously centered on all-encompassing jargon "the language of non-thought" words are given new meanings -- the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way -- it becomes a "group" word or phrase, 7. In this manner, the universal psychological tendency toward "projection" is nourished and institutionalized, leading to mass hatreds, purges of heretics, and to political and religious holy wars. Then, too, some environments come perilously close to totalism but at the same time keep alternative paths open; this combination can offer unusual opportunities for achieving intellectual and emotional depth.

Orwell, as a Westerner, envisioned milieu control accomplished by a mechanical device, the two-way "telescreen." This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition. The group has an elitist world view — a sharp line is drawn %���� . human understanding. of imperialism" (defined as "the landlord class, the

Criteria for Thought Reform Excerpted from Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism by Robert Jay Lifton, Chapter 22: Ideological Totalism 1. See search results for this author. In this way, the philosopher kings of modern ideological totalism reinforce their authority by claiming to share in the rich and respected heritage of natural science. }!��0&�����͂eBj�5uo�H���%���� Tр��B�a�Y|���X {`�t�%~iQ�� ����3�R%��j�5�:�:\�χ�?#�.