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Chapter 5: Brainwashing?. RELS 225 Cults and New Religious Movements. Why Brainwashing ?. parents deprogrammers. IS it a real?. if real: public health risk if false: infringement of rights theoretically implausible no longer legally defensible.

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chapter 5 brainwashing

Chapter 5: Brainwashing?

RELS 225

Cults and New Religious Movements

why brainwashing
Why Brainwashing?
  • parents
  • deprogrammers
is it a real
IS it a real?
  • if real: public health risk
  • if false: infringement of rights
  • theoretically implausible
  • no longer legally defensible
supposed phases schein s terminology
Supposed Phases (Schein’s terminology)
  • Unfreezing
    • sensory deprivation and sensory overload
  • changing
    • new routines, activities, and rewards
  • refreezing
    • immersion into a new stable social environment
alleged brainwashing
Alleged Brainwashing

1. social-psychological influence

2. Target recruits

3. Deceptive recruiting

4. Pressure recruits

5. recruits not left alone

6. recruits kept busy, and deprived

7. isolated environments

8. "love-bombed"

9. "confessional" activities

10. sensory deprivation

11. hypnosis

12. Transform identity

case against brainwashing
Case Against Brainwashing

1. Lump cults together

2. ideological bias

3. Would only brainwashed join NRMs?

4. contradictory ideas of psychology and human nature

5. anecdotal evidence

6. no proof NRMs held people against their will

7. sampling bias

8. self-descriptions by “apostates".

9. shortage of information

10. NRM members are not susceptible to brainwashing

11. studies lack safeguards

12. NRMs conversions are not unique

continued appeal to brainwashing
Continued appeal to brainwashing
  • what some groups do to retain members
  • Stephen Kent
  • Benjamin Zablocki
  • high exit costs a cult member must face if he chooses to leave a cult. 
how can we explain behaviour if not brainwashing
How can we explain behaviour, if not brainwashing?
  • Social pressure, hyper encouragement, organized activity, and too much enthusiasm
  • influence and authority to group centered, charismatic teachings
review of brainwashing
Review of Brainwashing
  • How did the idea develop? Explanation for why people would join strange religious movements. Defense for those “rescuing” them.
  • Why is it important? If it does happen, NRMs are dangerous. If it doesn’t, rescue attempts should stop.
  • Phases: Unfreezing, changing , refreezing
  • Accusations of Brainwashing: sophisticated; preying; deceptive; pressuring; bombarding; depriving; isolating; love-bombing; requiring confession; hypnotizing; transforming identity
  • Case Against Brainwashing: generalizing; biased; unscientific; contradictory; anecdotal; unsubstantiated; self-descriptive; uninformed; without controls; unnecessary
  • Continued appeal to brainwashing: what some groups do to retain members (Kent & Zablocki) - high exit costs
  • How can we explain behaviour, if not brainwashing? Social pressure, hyper encouragement, organized activity, and too much enthusiasm