A cry for help
Date: March 13, 2006 10:09AM
To all whom care for their loved ones. My story in the works is cut and pasted below.
Homer and Ruby,
This letter is about facts not truths. It is about reality.
My hope with this letter is to help Cherie, Robbie and Hailey.
I did not know whom to alert with this information. Dave and Nanny, Rex and Suzie I feared would be overwhelmed. I know you both care for the kids and for Cherie. Cherie told me that many times you questioned her decision to leave the kids and not have a stable home, hence why I call on you. I can’t say anything about her in that regard that I can’t say about me. You’ll understand shortly why I say this.
My relationship with Cherie was one that did neither of us many favors in the long run. I am in hope that what I share with you may be of service to all, especially her and the kids.
Enclosed are handwritten instructions that I took from Cherie whilst she and I lived in Mena Ark. You will understand the reason I send you these documents once you’ve read this letter. Fortunately I journaled most of the entire time she and I were together; this as much as any saved my life and maybe will help her and the kids to reunite.
The second week in January 2006 I arrived back in Paxton. I was here once again to say my last goodbyes to friends and family. As crazy as this sounds my state of mind was so distorted from my foray into hell with Cherie and the new age beliefs we followed that the ending of my life in service to her and what she had done for me seemed a welcome relief. I had been in this state off and on for the better part of 2005. (I told this to Dave more than once)
Each time I was instructed by Cherie that her source connection said that we had to be apart or that I was harming her by being near her or others (not me personally she said but my “old man” (biblical reference) ego) a self destruct program was triggered. This phenomenon was completely irrational but nevertheless worked especially as my mind continued to deteriorate. As I have learned, intentional or unintentional on her part, this control she elicited using mystical manipulation and doctrine over person fits the framework of thought reform, mind control to a tee.
She repeatedly told me that I (and Homer) and others like he and I represented the darkness and she represented the light or the divine feminine—that we were the takers and she the giver; an us them mentality. Then in the same breath she would say that it wasn’t personal, that she adored me and loved all; build up and tear down. This and many other strange and bizarre manifestations of a paranoid, sometimes schizophrenic, borderline personality behavior were common of her. I asked during her episodes about her state of mind and she justified it as Ascension symptoms. I believed her and, even if I didn’t completely buy in at the time, I loved her and vowed to stick by her even as screwed up as I was becoming. She saw people that weren’t there, professed to send spirits on to the light and regularly saw fairies and ghosts. In Arkansas she even believed that she altered the weather wherever she resided and caused other people to be raised up in vibration and awareness just by being in her presence. Again I bought it all hook line and sinker. I was a guilty as she though. I could find evidence in the material we read (new age books) and all over the internet. (see sites listed below)
This new age belief is called the clearing process. The “clearer” one gets the greater the awareness and consciousness one has and the more one can “experience” the higher realms. She worked with many other people (many of whom were Homer’s clients) on this principle. Yet unlike her, I could never get clear enough to experience my own source connection. I was still too much human and as her source put it, my new vehicle (term for new body) had not arrived. If I received any “information” it was deemed by her to be egoic and therefore I had more work to do. Everyone else she encountered had the same issue. No one was as clear as she. At least not that she’d encountered as of yet. Givers were closer to God/ Source but they still had many fears to overcome. These were the end of times, the shift of the ages and she and I were among a few that supposedly led the masses by “doing the work.” The work was to rid me and others of our ego as she strived to build one for her.
My family, my ex-wife Debbie and Chris my best friend (the pharmacist you met last year with Cherie and I) had been very concerned throughout the 2005 year for our health, mental and physical. Cherie had counseled Debbie on and off the entire time Cherie and I were together. As well she tried to indoctrinate Chris from day one. For this she elicited my help. She and I were to act and speak as we “normally” did when we were together alone. It wasn’t until Chris witnessed first hand some of her delusions and picked up on her interest in him and Debbie was told by Cherie that until she was celibate for at least two years and made up with her father that her soul mate wouldn’t arrive (but if she were to go out with a man that she had to make him wait at least six times before sleeping with him), that the real warning flags went off.
Add to this, any time I came back to Paxton I professed Cherie and her source connection to be the greatest gift I’d ever received and that I could not be around anyone because I would harm them or raise their awareness up too fast. Each time I traveled to Paxton, she was invited, most times she refused on the grounds that led me to believe that I had caused them somehow to dislike her. When I came to Paxton after being pushed away she would poke fun at me. If I stayed with friends or family I was a wimp for not staying alone in a tent or a motel outside of town. I was taking from them and that I had them under my control…This is Milieu control, isolation from others. My family and friends knew I was being brainwashed but did not know what to do. I was asked if I were in a cult. (I told Dave of this as well)
When I mentioned the cult question to Cherie I was told by her that no one was able to understand her or I because of the work we’d done together and the path we chose; Again, an us them mentality. As much as all this sounds as though I point a finger of blame at Cherie, I now know that she is mentally unstable and the new age beliefs that we shared only exacerbated her condition and subsequently mine.
My family, Deb and Chris took action this time however. An exit counselor was flown in from Tennessee. Within a day she had started to unlock my mind by showing me the falseness of the new age beliefs and of Cherie and her source connection and of her/our supposed psychic powers/connection. Needless to say as my mental faculties started to reemerge I was appalled. I came to realize that all of my logic and critical thinking had been blown out by the beliefs and by the constant up and down love bombing/degradation from Cherie. To have your mind/ego stripped (Cherie first called what she did “for” me help with clearing then it become stripping my ego) and then to have it return is a nightmare beyond comprehension.
I then went to Wellspring retreat (www.Wellspringretreat.org) in Albany Ohio. It is the only inpatient treatment center in the world for cult and cultic relationship survivors. The process of unlocking continued as I spent two weeks in the company of other survivors and was counseled by the staff.
The long story short of it is that you were right to be concerned long ago that Cherie had “stolen” me as a client. I do not believe that she had any malicious intent nor do I now believe she was qualified or used any sound judgment or ethics. She was recruiting though. I was only one of many men that she “worked with” that came through your business. I witnessed many of her sessions for two plus years and watched her develop her style and I know what she charged a few of them, $300 per hour. As far as I know, she also worked with many of the clients for free. At least that is what she said.
I also knew that it was a bad deal when at one point she entertained the idea of turning over part of her duties to Tabitha (Robbies girlfriend). I remember telling you of the gift Cherie was to you and your business because I saw the amount of stress it took to deal with your clients and she was good at it. I knew that no young girl or even the best psychotherapist in the world could do what she did. (But where was her head at to even consider such a ludicrous idea?)
I did not realize, even though from time to time I would ask her about it, that she was ego stroking herself by manipulating the men she “worked with.” Her job was a major power trip for her.
I saw her as she wanted me to see her, infallible and flawless.
You be the judge of the documents I send. You tell me. Please see this information as education not blame. If it looks as though I put Cherie down, I truly believe she is delusional. I know that I became so and know this mental state well.
Cherie and I were on a path that leads only to apathy and early demise as all the meditation, fasting (mainly she fasted, for whatever reason I was usually hungry though the longer our “relationship continued the less hungry I was. By November of 2005 I’d lost almost 40lbs ) and skewed beliefs led us to abandon all responsibility, even our children. New Age and even some religious beliefs systems taut shutting the mind off. The mind is Maya. The mind and thought is not Christ like or God. It is the silence, the space in between, wherein all that is resides. In addition, new age material and some distorted biblical truth point to each soul having its own path and interference is not allowed; the inference: allow our children the latitude of their own experience. This is why we could leave them behind and make others out to be unlike her and I. The end justifies the means.
But then confusion for me ensued when I questioned her or myself as to what she/we was doing. She gave me rules. We “helped” others. Did this not run contrary to the teachings? If no one is to interfere with another then what are we doing? Her explanation that followed was a scripture twist, one in which I bought into as well.
In her eyes she was like Moses. Moses could look upon the face of God as he was clearer than the rest. He then could communicate to his people that were harming each other. She told me this via a text message which I still have stored on my phone. She truly thought herself to be like Moses. She also shared this with Linda Atwell, the lady that owns Harmony Healthcare in Porter Texas where I took massage class. Almost at this same time she told me and Linda separately that she had been/was a sex researcher. This explained why she had been sexually intimate with sixteen men in her lifetime. I do not make any of this up. This is what she said.
She also told me when I first came to Texas to stay with her that it was no issue to get any one of six or seven men over to sleep with her. According to her she’d always been harmed and that I was the only one that ever listened or understood her. The hook and I bit and took on the role of protector which later labeled me the predator. (Again it wasn’t me perse, that this was just an element of me, my old ego) And I didn’t see the discrepancy? I’d already completely bought into her by this time and given up my power. Up and down I went on this crazy rollercoaster of control.
No matter what belief one follows, having material possessions, working, being responsible, looking toward the future, setting goals, raising our children and THINKING is a part of physical life and we are physical beings. Fasting, deep mediation that produces altered states makes us very suggestible. Once indoctrinated this way a controller easily entraps our logic and critical thinking. The process is then to isolate self and any followers and make the outside world scary or dangerous or in my case uniformed or not as aware. The steps one gets taken in by were researched by Robert Lifton (See Attached). His book, Thought reform and the psychology of totalism is an extraordinary resource into mind control.
Under the guise of Ascension, path to Christ consciousness or the like, Illness or problems of any kind are viewed as a failure of self. Medication usage or help of any kind is weakness and again failure in some way as one has not stayed the razors edge path to be Christ like or source connected. (See www.whatsuponplanetearth latest alerts) This site follows what I witnessed of Cherie to the letter. Cherie’s site www.choosingthelight.com was her way of gathering and supporting the collective as she called it; Recruitment for followers.
Many, many sites and so called gurus are out there. These leaders are deluded into believing that they have an exclusive connection of one kind or the other. A hallmark of this narcissism is that the followers do not, and that the leader is infallible and unquestionable. I know this of Cherie well. I could question her but her answers were not to be challenged. The longer we were together the more bizarre it got and the more inflated and self righteous she became. Her Source knew all, not always for everyone but for what she espoused there was no question. If I posed a question for which she had no answer I was told to get my own information. When I did “get” my information, she would point out that it was ego and I would crumble and grown even more dependent.
Another unfortunate trait of a controller is that like Cherie, she viewed most all people, especially the men as persons that harmed her or could. If it wasn’t a person she feared it was a place or thing. Bad energy surrounded many people, places and things. You were out to control her as well. The last face to face meeting she had with you, when she brought Hailey to San Antonio, she said you ganged up on her, that you tried to tear her down. Maybe you did. I don’t know. She never took responsibility for her part in a relationship past or present. They were always trying to control her or own her or were too dependent on her. It was always that they came looking for her and she only tried to help as they took advantage of her. I can believe this to a point but in reality it takes two to tango. No leader shows their weakness or admits responsibility, especially a controlling leader. Rare was it that she humanized herself and admitted to her part. If she did, it was very quickly foreshadowed by more victimization against her or what she deemed another weaker person. This was another conundrum for me. I saw her as strong and independent and then she would switch instantly to victim. She agreed she was strong and resilient. Then she would say, “but I’m still human.” Nothing made sense. Double binds were the norm. She would say something to me like, “You know that you are free to go." She “gave” me permission to be free. Another well worn directive from her was, “be spontaneous”. Again a directive of freedom??? Our minds do not know how to process this perversion when in an altered state.
During our stay in Arkansas Cherie and I experienced outbreaks on our body. At first, Cherie said they were spider bites and that this was a metaphysical representation of what was going on in the universe. I later found out that the outbreaks were boils and told her of this and she said that this made more sense as biblically in the “last days” we were to expel poisons from our bodies as we vibrated higher and higher reaching Christ consciousness and our divine connection to source.
New age is monotheistic in that we are all part of everything. All of us part of one energy that vibrates at different frequencies to produce matter. Guess what? The boils were due to stress. The stress triggered virulent behavior in the body and manifested as boils. The pus from the boils was infection. No magic here but very dangerous. All of us being part of the one, everyone omnipotent, omnicious and omnipresent yet most of us unaware of this and therefore not consciously evolving, unlike she and I, as a belief in and of itself matters not. It sounds a bit narcissistic though doesn’t it?
In Arkansas, I was so disassociated and dependent that if she’d told me to take my own life or anyone else’s I’d have carried out her orders and never even realized I’d done so.
To make mattes worse I find out that the Christadelphians, the belief system Cherie endured as a child and into adulthood, are far more cultish than even many other dogmatic beliefs. If you read the attached criteria for mind control by Mr Lifton the Christadelphians follow many of the same lines and are actually listed as a cult in many places that monitor these groups. As with other controlling groups, the Christadelphians believe and enforce if you do not comply with their Dogma you are excommunicated. Does this not reek of control? For them, others beliefs systems are misguided and not in error. Their doctrine was put together not unlike many other teachings by some misguided fool in the early 1800’s that too thought he had divine guidance.
The lady that worked with me initially has a book on the market called Twisted Scriptures. Her name is MaryAlice Crapo (Chronalager). If you’re interested please get a copy. Maybe it’s not too late to help Cherie and the kids.
Along with my healing I now face the reality of what happened and what is. I gave away and sold all I had. I filed bankruptcy. I supported a woman that is mentally ill and if I had stuck to my thinking I may have been able to get her help. We both abandoned our children for a more righteous cause and lost a couple of vital years with our loved ones. And I nearly gave up my life. It is sick beyond words.
To recap the profile of Cherie and fill in the details so that you and maybe a mental health care professional may help her:
These are the private things Cherie told me. She told me that I was the only one she’d ever shared any of this information with. I do not know if this is the truth or not. I do know however that this is what she said to me verbatim. If she spoke the truth it gives a profile of a woman that has suffered tremendously and does everything she can to keep it hid. It is a cry for help.
At 8 to 10 years old Cherie witnessed a man masturbating in his car near where her and Suzie were playing. This event was very disturbing for her for a long time.
At 12 or 13 years old, she and a female cousin that was around her age were raped by the girls older brother. She guessed him to be around 16 or 17 at the time. If she told me their names, I do not remember them. According to her, he had them disrobe and lay down in the dining room of his house and he penetrated them both.
At 15 or 16 years of age she started becoming sexually active. Before she was married she had sex with ten men. This includes Calvin before he went into the service.
During the time she was married to Calvin, he was sexually abusive and promiscuous and by the end of the first year of marriage, she knew she had screwed up.
Since Calvin she had sex with four men. This includes me.
All men tried to own her and she had only initiated contact with one man. She knew him in highschool.
She had left all the men, none had dumped her save for Rick and she had got him to leave her just as she had got Calvin to Divorce her.
She rented videos to learn how to perform certain sexual acts that the men she was with praised her for.
She was born with compassion and no ego and that my divine role in her life was to help her with boundaries.
That she had always been a loner, spent time in nature and with animals, that people always sought her out, not the other way around.
A man named Stan from the Christadelphian church in which she grew up, was a nemesis of hers. She alluded to a physical connection he had with her but never said directly. If I were to guess he may have had his way with her as well or at least tried to do so.
She went through ten years of depression while married to Calvin and never told anyone of his misdoings. She played the devoted wife and mother.
She never wanted children.
When Hailey came along she was so distressed it took months before she could bond with her.
Robbie was so out of control when he was young that it nearly killed her. She had a paddle with his name on it that she used for discipline and that Calvin only yelled at the kids. She had to keep them hid from his rage and protected.
As a teenager her family had labeled her heartbreaker. This hurt her very much but was accurate. Again it was the boys not her.
She never understood why she knew things that other people didn’t. According to her, she could see the dark and the light side of people and could never judge anyone for they know not what they do. She only knew compassion.
That she wanted out of the faith she been born into but was yet to be excommunicated because Dave was an elder.
The last meeting I had with Cherie was a camp outing in Oklahoma with her and Robbie. During this meeting she shared with me that source had told her to change her name which she did and that she was soon to disappear. She asked me not to share this information.
The first day of camping and hiking was wonderful. The second day was another foray into hell. We talked and walked and she tried to again get me to feel what I had done to her. When I asked about this she shut down again as she was so used to doing with me and told me that my ego was flaring up. She also said that I was free now. Before this I was restricted to be in Texas or to be within five hundred miles of each other and that we could not communicate for a minimum of thirty days. I was also forbidden to communicate with anyone we knew in Texas. This included Dave and Nanny, Suzy and Rex, you or any of the friends or acquaintances we’d made. She told me that she was staying with Rick, her ex, and was working with him as he now was ready to receive. In addition she said that he had fixed up a room in his house for her and decorated it with antique furnishings. This was his Karma, to make right by her what he had done to her in the past.
I could not communicate with her family as she said they were only soft wired at this point. She requested after our camp outing for me to stay away from Texas for now and I agreed to do so. I spent a night or two in a motel in Mena and then thought that this was all too bizarre for words and went to stay with Suzie and help Dave at Granny’s. She found this out after I had been working with Dave a few days and went berserk.
As I now reflect on the first few hours of conversation Cherie and I ever had, this was during and then after I’d worked with Homer, after she gave me her personal phone number, it is very apparent that she was already into a realm I had yet to encounter. Though she walked with me through my divorce from Deb, the day of my divorce we talked as I entered the courthouse and on the way out, I saw her only as educated support and an extraordinary friend. Yet I had given her all the dirt on me and my wife as well as my family. This is the cult of confession. Little did I know that she would log this information and then twist it to use against me, almost from day one as the hierarchy was established. She then could rewrite our history and facilitate false memories if possible when needed. Last I knew she still had the original emails I’d sent to Homer. During the course of our time together, she would occasionally mention that she would show me some day the progress I’d made using the original emails I’d sent as a point of reference.
My first visit to her in September of 2003, months after we started to talk on a personal level, left me sickened at her physical condition. I remember well being scared to death. I thought to myself, “I am watching a woman close to my age die.” The months we spoke before meeting it was nothing for us to spend six or seven hours a day on the phone together. We talked about everything except her illness. She spoke of chronic fatigue and was tired but still functional as far I could tell over the phone. We bonded and shared intimate secrets, longings and desires. But she remained the one I looked up to for advice and she never relinquished this stance. Until I learned of mind control I had taken complete responsibility for the demise of our relationship. I now see otherwise. The first step in controlling another person is an unequal balance of power and an agenda unknown by both parties. As I said before, conscious or unconscious, this agenda set forth by the controller, dictates how the relationship evolves.
By Madeleine L. Tobias and Janja Lalich
Chapter one excerpts - The Cultic Relationship.
Cults may be large or small. What defines them is not their size but their behavior. In addition to the larger, more publicized cults, there are small cults of less than a dozen members who follow a particular "guru"; "family cults," where the head of the family uses deceptive and excessive persuasion and control techniques; and probably the least acknowledged, the one-on-one cult.
The one-on-one cult is a deliberately manipulative and exploitative intimate relationship between two persons, often involving physical abuse of the subordinate partner. In the one-on-one cult, which we call a cultic relationship, there is a significant power imbalance between the two participants. The stronger uses his (or her) influence to control, manipulate, abuse, and exploit the other. In essence the cultic relationship is a one-on-one version of the larger group. It may even be more intense than participation in a group cult since all the attention and abuse is focused on one person, often with more damaging consequences.
Many marriages or domestic partnerships where there is spousal abuse may be characterized and explained in this way. Other one-on-one cults may be found in boss/employee situations, in pastor/worshipper milieus, in therapist/client relationships, in jailor/prisoner or interrogator/suspect situations, and in teacher/student environments (including academic, artistic, and spiritual situations - for example, a school professor, a yoga master, a martial arts instructor, or an art mentor). It is our hope that those who have suffered such individualized abuse will find much in this book to identify with and use in healing their pain.
Since the upsurge of both public and professional interest in the issue of domestic violence, there has been some recognition to the link between mind control and battering. Men or women who batter their partners sometimes use manipulative techniques similar to those found in cults. The most common include "isolation and the provocation of fear; alternating kindness and threat to produce disequilibrium; the induction of guilt, self-blame, dependency, and learned helplessness." The degree to which these features are present in a relationship affects the intensity of control and allows the relationship to be labeled cultic.
The similarities between cultic devotion and the traumatic bonding that occurs between battered individuals and their abusers are striking. An abused partner is generally made to submit to the following types of behaviors:
• early verbal and/or physical dominance,
• fear arousal and maintenance
• guilt induction
• contingent expressions of "love"
• enforced loyalty to the aggressor and self-denunciation
• promotion of powerlessness and helplessness
• pathological expressions of jealousy
• hope-instilling behaviors
• required secrecy (13)
When psychological coercion and manipulative exploitation have been used in a one-on-one cultic relationship, the person leaving such a relationship faces issues similar to those encountered by someone leaving a cultic group.
Her illness she told me was Lupus. She had been to the medical community and they had failed to help her condition—she’d continued to worsen. Finally a lady named Brenda Whalen, and Iridologist, in Coldspring Texas diagnosed her with Lupus and started her on a regimen of natural supplements. She was taking at lest twenty different minerals and vitamins and colloidal minerals multiple times a day when I arrived. What is interesting to note however is that the first thing Brenda told her after diagnosing her with Lupus was that she needed to immediately eat some fried chicken. (PROTEIN).
Why does this important to understand now? Cherie had admittedly been fasting and using deep meditation along with functioning primarily on a vegetarian diet before we ever met face to face. How long she did this, prior to us meeting I do not know. But it tells me that her body and mind was deteriorating due to a lack of proper nutrition. A body in a fasting state, starved of protein is one way to enter the dissociative state that deep meditation produces, without the meditation. And she was doing both and who knows what else.
My first order of business was to feed her and feed her and make sure she drank lots of water. Amazingly enough, within a few days she was markedly better. Her skin had lost most of its elasticity; her ears drove her crazy with Candida supposedly so we candled them daily. She was sun and sun block allergic and her hair was like straw but had at least stopped falling out she said. The first week I spent with her feeding, watering and massaging her she could be upright and lucid for only an hour or so at best at a time. As we talked of her condition she told me that the Lupus had been brought on by her life and all the stress of the people that had harmed her. And I believed this until just very recently when the true picture has started to emerge. On top of the Lupus my second visit to her within the month
of September that year found her deteriorating again rapidly. So fast so that I thought I would lose her. It wasn’t until the horses started to sway and swagger in the pasture, so much so in fact that she thought Nib would die any day and we took them to the vet who diagnosed west nile, that it clicked. Cherie too may have been bitten by a mosquito carrying the same virus. Again, I cooked and mowed and cleaned and massaged and we bonded and bonded and bonded. It was during this second visit that we became sexually intimate, which later she told me that I had predatored her in her weakened state. She told me this premise sometime within the first year we spent together, that I had bulldozed my way in and took advantage of her. I nearly died when she told me this. She quickly added but I am so glad you did. The two afore written sentences were spoke to me more than any other love bomb/deflation she used with me. She praised me for helping to save her life even though she was OK with dying. And I worshipped her for helping me—I too attested to her saving my life. It was a marriage made in gratitude and fear. I just couldn’t see the control issue. I am not sure she did either.
Some time during that first year together she also commented that she hadn’t soared since before I arrived. She was upset at me at the time she shared this information. I took it on as per my normal and wondered as to what I could do. Nothing to do she said except give her space. So I did the best I could with her request and she was grateful. Now its obvious to me that the soaring she spoke of was an altered state of consciousness brought on by her physical and mental state—poor diet, deep meditation, overly stressed and afraid, it appears that her out was the escape the disasociative high this produces. I know of this state well. Meditation was all it took for me to reach this place and it does produce hallucinatory imagery and visions. All that needs added during these period is someone to suggest anything to the hypnotized person or for the person to try to make sense of reality in this altered state and presto suddenly our gifts have arrived. Charles Manson and many other self proclaimed gurus use this state to extract information from the ethers. It’s very easy for one to see themselves as God or Jesus or even a channeler of the light. Or to be shown that their significant other, controller, is a messiah of sorts. Even when she got space from me or some other desire fulfilled she grew frustrated that this Nirvanic state was more often than not unattainable. So she would sequester herself amid incense and music and bring on this state which at first looks as though she were completely disconnected from reality (and she was) and as she would rise, maybe we would attend a meeting at Unity or otherwise enhance this state by singing, making love or just by trying to keep the mind shut off by going to the lake and staring for hours at the water. It was a rollercoaster though. Dissasociative highs and weeping lows wherein we thought we had accessed the divine, where we did our best work we thought. My experiences were never as hers and now I know why. She had practiced and practiced. Her health was always an issue though. My intervention into her life somewhat normalized her as I loved to eat and play and we could live as humans. But the drug high for her was missing. Too much reality and she yearned for her fix. By the end of my tenure with her I had become like her when we first met. Only my programming by her was always directed at me as I was the anti to everything good and pure. So my meditation consisted of trying simply to escape the pain I’d brought on myself and humanity. The only time I felt beauty and awe and love was when she and I were together and she was loving to me. It just didn’t last. The longer we were together the shorter the time between praise and destruction from her toward me.
Chapter 7 : Psychological Persuasion Techniques
Trance and Hypnosis
When this method is used in a cultic environment, it becomes a form of psychological manipulation and coercion because the cult leader implants suggestions aimed at his own agenda while the person is in a vulnerable state.
A considerable number of different guided-imagery techniques are used by cult leaders and trainers to remove followers from their normal frames of reference.
Cult members often say to their families and friends, "No one orders me around. I choose to do what I do." Getting members to think that way is one of the manipulations mastered by cult leaders who have become skillful at getting acts carried out through indirection and implication. Accomplishing this task is easier when the member is in an altered state, fatigued, or otherwise anxious or under stress.
Peer Pressure and Modeling
We look around and see models, and we comport ourselves to be like them. Most cults train new members either overtly stated policies or by more implicit shaping, to act in ways desired by the group.
Peer pressure is an effective means to get people to fit their behavior to group norms. In cults, this works for new and old members alike, going far beyond what is generally seen in society at large. In an atmosphere that states or implies that there is only one way to be this is it, it is most important to have models around to imitate.
According to Cialdini, the majority of the thousands of different tactics that compliance professionals use fall into six categories, and each category is based on a psychological principle that directs human behavior. These six principles are:
1. Consistency. We try to justify our earlier behavior.
2. Reciprocity. If somebody gives us something, we try to repay in kind.
3. Social Proof. We try to find out what other people think is correct.
4. Authority. We have a deep-seated sense of duty to authority figures.
5. Liking. We obey people we like.
6. Scarcity. If we come to want something, we can be made to fear that if we wait it will be gone. The opportunity to get it may pass. We want to take it now - whatever is being offered, from an object to cosmic consciousness.
We can see how transformations occur when the six principles are skillfully put into play by cult leaders and cultic groups. For example:
1. Consistency. If you have made a commitment to the group and then break it, you can be made to feel guilty.
2. Reciprocity. If you accept the group's food and attention, you feel you should repay them.
3. Social proof. If you look around in the group, you will see people behaving in particular ways. You imitate what you see and assume that such behavior is proper, good, and expected.
4. Authority. If you tend to respect authority, and your cult leader claims superior knowledge, power, and special missions in life, you accept him as an authority.
5. Liking. If you are the object of love bombing and other tactics that surround you, make you feel wanted and loved, and make you like the people in the group, you feel you ought to obey these people.
6. Scarcity. If you are told that without the group you will miss out on living a life without stress; miss out on attaining cosmic awareness and bliss; miss out on changing the world instantly or gaining the ability to travel back in time; or miss out on whatever the group offers that is tailored to seem essential to you, you will feel you must buy in now.
This letter is a work in progress. It is to chronicle the sickness of any ideology that shifts the focus onto self at the expense of those that depend on us most; our children. I can’t attest as Cherie did to not wanting children; I wanted them and asked for the responsibility.
As I aforementioned I solicit you for help. Any questions you may have or if I can be of service please do not hesitate to contact me. Below is Lifton’s criteria for thought reform. If you have never heard of it I ask you to look closely. Cherie is hurting and is dangerous.
A discussion of what is most central in the thought reform environment can lead us to a more general consideration of the psychology of human zealotry. For in identifying, on the basis of this study of thought reform, features common to all expressions of ideological totalism, I wish to suggest a set of criteria against which any environment may be judged - a basis for answering the ever-recurring question: "Isn't this just like 'brainwashing'?"
These criteria consist of eight psychological themes which are predominant within the social field of the thought reform milieu. 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. In combination they create an atmosphere which may temporarily energize or exhilarate, but which at the same time poses the gravest of human threats.
The most basic feature of the thought reform environment, the psychological current upon which all else depends, is the control of human communication. Through this milieu control the totalist environment seeks to establish domain over not only the individual's communication with the outside (all that he sees and hears, reads or writes, experiences, and expresses), but also - in its penetration of his inner life - over what we may speak of as his communication with himself. It creates an atmosphere uncomfortably reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984.
Such milieu control never succeeds in becoming absolute, and its own human apparatus can - when permeated by outside information - become subject to discordant "noise" beyond that of any mechanical apparatus. To totalist administrators, however, such occurrences are no more than evidences of "incorrect" use of the apparatus. 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. At the center of this self-justification is their assumption of omniscience, their conviction that reality is their exclusive possession. Having experienced the impact of what they consider to be an ultimate truth (and having the need to dispel any possible inner doubts of their own), they consider it their duty to create an environment containing no more and no less than this "truth." In order to be the engineers of the human soul, they must first bring it under full observational control.
The inevitable next step after milieu control is extensive personal manipulation. This manipulation assumes a no-holds-barred character, and uses every possible device at the milieu's command, no matter how bizarre or painful. 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, directed as it is by an ostensibly omniscient group, must assume, for the manipulated, a near-mystical quality.
Ideological totalists do not pursue this approach solely for the purpose of maintaining a sense of power over others. Rather they are impelled by a special kind of mystique which not only justifies such manipulations, but makes them mandatory. Included in this mystique is a sense of "higher purpose," of having "directly perceived some imminent law of social development," and of being themselves the vanguard of this development. By thus becoming the instruments of their own mystique, they create a mystical aura around the manipulating institutions - the Party, the Government, the Organization. They are the agents "chosen" (by history, by God, or by some other supernatural force) to carry out the "mystical imperative," the pursuit of which must supersede all considerations of decency or of immediate human welfare. 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. This same mystical imperative produces the apparent extremes of idealism and cynicism which occur in connection with the manipulations of any totalist environment: even those actions which seem cynical in the extreme can be seen as having ultimate relationship to the "higher purpose."
At the level of the individual person, the psychological responses to this manipulative approach revolve about the basic polarity of trust and mistrust. One is asked to accept these manipulations on a basis of ultimate trust (or faith): "like a child in the arms of its mother." He who trusts in this degree can experience the manipulations within the idiom of the mystique behind them: that is, he may welcome their mysteriousness, find pleasure in their pain, and feel them to be necessary for the fulfillment of the "higher purpose" which he endorses as his own. But such elemental trust is difficult to maintain; and even the strongest can be dissipated by constant manipulation.
When trust gives way to mistrust (or when trust has never existed) the higher purpose cannot serve as adequate emotional sustenance. The individual then responds to the manipulations through developing what I shall call the psychology of the pawn. Feeling himself unable to escape from forces more powerful than himself, he subordinates everything to adapting himself to them. He becomes sensitive to all kinds of cues, expert at anticipating environmental pressures, and skillful in riding them in such a way that his psychological energies merge with the tide rather than turn painfully against himself. This requires that he participate actively in the manipulation of others, as well as in the endless round of betrayals and self-betrayals which are required.
But whatever his response - whether he is cheerful in the face of being manipulated, deeply resentful, or feels a combination of both - he has been deprived of the opportunity to exercise his capacities for self-expression and independent action.
The Demand for Purity
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. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All "taints" and "poisons" which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.
The philosophical assumption underlying this demand is that absolute purity is attainable, and that anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral. In actual practice, however, no one is really expected to achieve such perfection. Nor can this paradox be dismissed as merely a means of establishing a high standard to which all can aspire. Thought reform bears witness to its more malignant consequences: for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. 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.
At the level of the relationship between individual and environment, the demand for purity creates what we may term a guilty milieu and a shaming milieu. Since each man's impurities are deemed sinful and potentially harmful to himself and to others, he is, so to speak, expected to expect punishment - which results in a relationship of guilt and his environment. Similarly, when he fails to meet the prevailing standards in casting out such impurities, he is expected to expect humiliation and ostracism - thus establishing a relationship of shame with his milieu. 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. One may attempt to simulate them for a while, but the subterfuge is likely to be detected, and it is safer to experience them genuinely.
People vary greatly in their susceptibilities to guilt and shame, depending upon patterns developed early in life. But since guilt and shame are basic to human existence, this variation can be no more than a matter of degree. 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. Since ideological totalists become the ultimate judges of good and evil within their world, they are able to use these universal tendencies toward guilt and shame as emotional levers for their controlling and manipulative influences. They become the arbiters of existential guilt, authorities without limit in dealing with others' limitations. And their power is nowhere more evident than in their capacity to "forgive."
The individual thus comes to apply the same totalist polarization of good and evil to his judgments of his own character: he tends to imbue certain aspects of himself with excessive virtue, and condemn even more excessively other personal qualities - all according to their ideological standing. He must also look upon his impurities as originating from outside influences - that is, from the ever-threatening world beyond the closed, totalist ken. Therefore, one of his best way to relieve himself of some of his burden of guilt is to denounce, continuously and hostilely, these same outside influences. The more guilty he feels, the greater his hatred, and the more threatening they seem. 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. Moreover, once an individual person has experienced the totalist polarization of good and evil, he has great difficulty in regaining a more balanced inner sensitivity to the complexities of human morality. For these is no emotional bondage greater than that of the man whose entire guilt potential - neurotic and existential - has become the property of ideological totalists.
The Cult of Confession
Closely related to the demand for absolute purity is an obsession with personal confession. Confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal, and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself. There is the demand that one confess to crimes one has not committed, to sinfulness that is artificially induced, in the name of a cure that is arbitrarily imposed. Such demands are made possible not only by the ubiquitous human tendencies toward guilt and shame but also by the need to give expression to these tendencies. In totalist hands, confession becomes a means of exploiting, rather than offering solace for, these vulnerabilities.
The totalist confession takes on a number of special meanings. 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. Second, it is an act of symbolic self-surrender, the expression of the merging of individual and environment. 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.
The assumption underlying total exposure (besides those which relate to the demand for purity) is the environment's claim to total ownership of each individual self within it. Private ownership of the mind and its products - of imagination or of memory - becomes highly immoral. The accompanying rationale (or rationalization) is familiar, the milieu has attained such a perfect state of enlightenment that any individual retention of ideas or emotions has become anachronistic.
The cult of confession can offer the individual person meaningful psychological satisfactions in the continuing opportunity for emotional catharsis and for relief of suppressed guilt feelings, especially insofar as these are associated with self-punitive tendencies to get pleasure from personal degradation. More than this, the sharing of confession enthusiasms can create an orgiastic sense of "oneness," of the most intense intimacy with fellow confessors and of the dissolution of self into the great flow of the Movement. And there is also, at least initially, the possibility of genuine self-revelation and of self-betterment through the recognition that "the thing that has been exposed is what I am."
But as totalist pressures turn confession into recurrent command performances, the element of histrionic public display takes precedence over genuine inner experience. Each man becomes concerned with the effectiveness of his personal performance, and this performance sometimes comes to serve the function of evading the very emotions and ideas about which one feels most guilty - confirming the statement by one of Camus' characters that "authors of confessions write especially to avoid confessing, to tell nothing of what they know." The difficulty, of course, lies in the inevitable confusion which takes place between the actor's method and his separate personal reality, between the performer and the "real me."
In this sense, the cult of confession has effects quite the reverse of its ideal of total exposure: rather than eliminating personal secrets, it increases and intensifies them. In any situation the personal secret has two important elements: first, guilty and shameful ideas which one wishes to suppress in order to prevent their becoming known by others or their becoming too prominent in one's own awareness; and second, representations of parts of oneself too precious to be expressed except when alone or when involved in special loving relationships formed around this shared secret world. Personal secrets are always maintained in opposition to inner pressures toward self-exposure. The totalist milieu makes contact with these inner pressures through its own obsession with the expose and the unmasking process. As a result old secrets are revived and new ones proliferate; the latter frequently consist of resentments toward or doubts about the Movement, or else are related to aspects of identity still existing outside of the prescribed ideological sphere. Each person becomes caught up in a continuous conflict over which secrets to preserve and which to surrender, over ways to reveal lesser secrets in order to protect more important ones; his own boundaries between the secret and the known, between the public and the private, become blurred. And around one secret, or a complex of secrets, there may revolve an ultimate inner struggle between resistance and self-surrender.
Finally, the cult of confession makes it virtually impossible to attain a reasonable balance between worth and humility. The enthusiastic and aggressive confessor becomes like Camus' character whose perpetual confession is his means of judging others: "…practice the profession of penitent to be able to end up as a judge…the more I accuse myself, the more I have a right to judge you." The identity of the "judge-penitent" thus becomes a vehicle for taking on some of the environment's arrogance and sense of omnipotence. Yet even this shared omnipotence cannot protect him from the opposite (but not unrelated) feelings of humiliation and weakness, feelings especially prevalent among those who remain more the enforced penitent than the all-powerful judge.
The "Sacred Science"
The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic dogma, holding it out as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence. This sacredness is evident in the prohibition (whether or not explicit) against the questioning of basic assumptions, and in the reverence which is demanded for the originators of the Word, the present bearers of the Word, and the Word itself. While thus transcending ordinary concerns of logic, however, the milieu at the same time makes an exaggerated claim of airtight logic, of absolute "scientific" precision. Thus the ultimate moral vision becomes an ultimate science; and the man who dares to criticize it, or to harbor even unspoken alternative ideas, becomes not only immoral and irreverent, but also "unscientific." 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.
The assumption here is not so much that man can be God, but rather that man's ideas can be God: that an absolute science of ideas (and implicitly, an absolute science of man) exists, or is at least very close to being attained; that this science can be combined with an equally absolute body of moral principles; and that the resulting doctrine is true for all men at all times. Although no ideology goes quite this far in overt statement, such assumptions are implicit in totalist practice.
At the level of the individual, the totalist sacred science can offer much comfort and security. Its appeal lies in its seeming unification of the mystical and the logical modes of experience (in psychoanalytic terms, of the primary and secondary thought processes). For within the framework of the sacred science, and sweeping, non-rational "insights." Since the distinction between the logical and the mystical is, to begin with, artificial and man-made, an opportunity for transcending it can create an extremely intense feeling of truth. But the posture of unquestioning faith - both rationally and non-rationally derived - is not easy to sustain, especially if one discovers that the world of experience is not nearly as absolute as the sacred science claims it to be.
Yet so strong a hold can the sacred science achieve over his mental processes that if one begins to feel himself attracted to ideas which either contradict or ignore it, he may become guilty and afraid. His quest for knowledge is consequently hampered, since in the name of science he is prevented from engaging in the receptive search for truth which characterizes the genuinely scientific approach. And his position is made more difficult by the absence, in a totalist environment, of any distinction between the sacred and the profane: there is no thought or action which cannot be related to the sacred science. To be sure, one can usually find areas of experience outside its immediate authority; but during periods of maximum totalist activity (like thought reform) any such areas are cut off, and there is virtually no escape from the milieu's ever-pressing edicts and demands. Whatever combination of continued adherence, inner resistance, or compromise co-existence the individual person adopts toward this blend of counterfeit science and back-door religion, it represents another continuous pressure toward personal closure, toward avoiding, rather than grappling with, the kinds of knowledge and experience necessary for genuine self-expression and for creative development.
Loading the Language
The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, for instance, the phrase "bourgeois mentality" is used to encompass and critically dismiss ordinarily troublesome concerns like the quest for individual expression, the exploration of alternative ideas, and the search for perspective and balance in political judgments. 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. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, "progress," "progressive," "liberation," "proletarian standpoints" and "the dialectic of history" fall into the former category; "capitalist," "imperialist," "exploiting classes," and "bourgeois" (mentality, liberalism, morality, superstition, greed) of course fall into the latter. Totalist language then, is repetitiously centered on all-encompassing jargon, prematurely abstract, highly categorical, relentlessly judging, and to anyone but its most devoted advocate, deadly dull: in Lionel Trilling's phrase, "the language of nonthought."
To be sure, this kind of language exists to some degree within any cultural or organizational group, and all systems of belief depend upon it. It is in part an expression of unity and exclusiveness: as Edward Sapir put it, "'He talks like us' is equivalent to saying 'He is one of us.'" The loading is much more extreme in ideological totalism, however, since the jargon expresses the claimed certitudes of the sacred science. Also involved is an underlying assumption that language - like all other human products - can be owned and operated by the Movement. No compunctions are felt about manipulating or loading it in any fashion; the only consideration is its usefulness to the cause.
For an individual person, the effect of the language of ideological totalism can be summed up in one word: constriction. He is, so to speak, linguistically deprived; and since language is so central to all human experience, his capacities for thinking and feeling are immensely narrowed. This is what Hu meant when he said, "using the same pattern of words for so long…you feel chained." Actually, not everyone exposed feels chained, but in effect everyone is profoundly confined by these verbal fetters. As in other aspects of totalism, this loading may provide an initial sense of insight and security, eventually followed by uneasiness. This uneasiness may result in a retreat into a rigid orthodoxy in which an individual shouts the ideological jargon all the louder in order to demonstrate his conformity, hide his own dilemma and his despair, and protect himself from the fear and guilt he would feel should he attempt to use words and phrases other than the correct ones. Or else he may adapt a complex pattern of inner division, and dutifully produce the expected cliché's in public performances while in his private moments he searches for more meaningful avenues of expression. Either way, his imagination becomes increasingly dissociated from his actual life experiences and may tend to atrophy from disuse.
Doctrine Over Person
This sterile language reflects characteristic feature of ideological totalism: the subordination of human experience to the claims of doctrine. 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. It has much to do with the peculiar aura of half-reality which totalist environment seems, at least to the outsider, to possess.
The inspiriting force of such myths cannot be denied; nor can one ignore their capacity for mischief. For when the myth becomes fused with the totalist sacred science, the resulting "logic" can be so compelling and coercive that it simply replaces the realities of individual experience. Consequently, past historical events are retrospectively altered, wholly rewritten, or ignored, to make them consistent with the doctrinal logic. This alteration becomes especially malignant when its distortions are imposed upon individual memory as occurred in the false confession extracted during thought reform.
The same doctrinal primacy prevails in the totalist approach to changing people: the demand that character and identity be reshaped, not in accordance with one's special nature or potentialities, but rather to fit the rigid contours of the doctrinal mold. The human is thus subjected to the ahuman. 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."
The underlying assumption is that the doctrine - including its mythological elements - is ultimately more valid, true, and real than is any aspect of actual human character or human experience. Thus, even when circumstances require that a totalist movement follow a course of action in conflict with or outside of the doctrine, there exists what Benjamin Schwartz described as a "will to orthodoxy" which requires an elaborate facade of new rationalizations designed to demonstrate the unerring consistency of the doctrine and the unfailing foresight which it provides. But its greater importance lies in more hidden manifestations, particularly the totalists' pattern of imposing their doctrine-dominated remolding upon people in order to seek confirmation of (and again, dispel their own doubts about) this same doctrine. Rather than modify the myth in accordance with experience, the will to orthodoxy requires instead that men be modified in order to reaffirm the myth.
The individual person who finds himself under such doctrine-dominated pressure to change is thrust into an intense struggle with his own sense of integrity, a struggle which takes place in relation to polarized feelings of sincerity and insincerity. In a totalist environment, absolute "sincerity" is demanded; and the major criterion for sincerity is likely to be one's degree of doctrinal compliance - both in regard to belief and to direction of personal change. Yet there is always the possibility of retaining an alternative version of sincerity (and of reality), the capacity to imagine a different kind of existence and another form of sincere commitment. These alternative visions depend upon such things as the strength of previous identity, the penetration of the milieu by outside ideas, and the retained capacity for eventual individual renewal. The totalist environment, however, counters such "deviant" tendencies with the accusation that they stem entirely from personal "problems" ("thought problems" or "ideological problems") derived from untoward earlier influences. The outcome will depend largely upon how much genuine relevance the doctrine has for the individual emotional predicament. 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.
The Dispensing of Existence
The totalist environment draws a sharp line between those whose right to existence can be recognized, and those who possess no such right.
Are not men presumtuous to appoint themselves the dispensers o