Does anyone recognize this??
Date: March 05, 2003 07:20AM
..but vulnerability is on a continuum. There's the 'ordinary' vulnerablity that comes from being human, from wishing to be connected, and from the ordinary human desire to avoid a painful emotional experience that social psychologists call 'cognitive dissonance.'* (See footnote below)
Then there are deeper forms of vulnerability that come from lifestyle disruptions and bereavement.
Still other forms of vulnerabilty are caused by a history of personal abuse in an authoritarian family, growing up in a toxic religion or belief system, from which you emerge heavily dependant on the approval of other.
Finally there's a very deep kind of vulnerability that comes up when you are in a place where you wish to tap into the spiritual dimension of life. The problem is, there are spirtual counterfeits out there, and few of us are taught how to distinguish reliable guidance from crooked indoctrination.
Footnote on Cognitive Dissonance. This concept was devised by a social psychologist named Leon Festinger back in the 1950s. (He infiltrated a UFO cult and his account, When Prophecy Fails is a classic in the field of social and cult psychology) 'CD' has been tested in decades of research and is quite useful in predicting how people will respond to specific scenarious. If you read some social psychology textbooks and concentrate on cognitive dissonance, you will learn one of the most important ingredients that go to make a cult.
'CD' is an unpleasant state of mind that we experience when we do something that we know is injurious to our welfare, because this induces a state of inner conflict. With rare exceptions, most people are not willing to consciously experience or examine painful states of mind; we prefer to avoid or repress them and go for states of mind that are neutral or pleasant. The more you become able to tolerate and examine your painful states of mind, the more you can become curious about your painful states of mind, the more empowered you will become--and less vulnerable to manipulation.
A common example of 'CD' occurs when you know the health hazards of smoking cigerettes and continue to smoke. Because its painful to know you're doing something that is slow suicide, you will be strongly tempted to rationalize that smoking isnt as dangerous as the research indicates, or that you have lifestyle factors that protect you. I knew a pathologist who did autopsies on scores of people who died from smoking related lung cancers and heart ailments; Dr F smoked like a chimney. He argued that the research findings on the dangers of cigarette smoking were inconclusive. Dr F was a brilliant man, but he was unwilling to suffer cognitive dissonance. (Years later, he did eventually quit smoking.)
A classic example of cognitive dissonance is to pay a ton of money for an LGAT workshop and then face evidence that you've been screwed. It hurts like hell to know you've paid a lot of money only to be shafted, so to avoid cognitive dissonance you find ways to ignore the many clues that you're being exploited.
One key method in cult recruitment is to get people to make a commitment. Once you have made a commitment, it is painful to know that you are not following through on it...which leads to cognitive dissonance. So you are likely to do the assigned task..which leads you deeper into the cult.
Some time back I read some material about how Mormon missionaries recruit converts and their training manuals (accordng to an ex Mormon) emphasize the importance of persuading a prospective convert to make a commitment to do something, no matter how small that intial commitment is. The Mormons are using a potent tool from social psychology--and so are other groups.
The more commitments you are persuaded to make, the more you risk cognitive dissonance if you eventually come to question the validity of the group and its teachings, because the more of your time, money and presence you invest, the more cognitive dissonance you will experience if you decide 'I gotta get out of here.'
Cognitive dissonance is a valuable concept to keep in mind if you want to understand how a cult operates, because cult trainers exploit our efforts to avoid cognitive dissonance. Again, these folks did not learn their methods at random.
IMOThese LGAT leaders and trainers are EXPERT SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGISTS. Expert but not professional.
And they hvae decades of experience by now. A new group doesnt have to start from scratch; its leader can easily get powerful material from other groups already out there.
To return to my theme: IMO problematic LGATS and their trainers are expert social psychologists who are not professionals, because they are not accountable to any code of ethics, either scientific or spiritual and dont make their methods success rates or casulty counts available for public scrutiny.