So far we have five of the eight marks of a mind control cult and/or high control group. It is important to understand that it is not cults that utilize these sorts of techniques to recruit and keep members. Political groups use these techniques also. A person may even find some of these techniques in a religious group that is part of a mainstream religion or denomination. The key to evaluating whether or not you are involved in one of these types of groups will be discussed in this post, and that is getting past the “loaded language” of the group.
However, before I begin with “loaded language” I want to take a few minutes to review our progress thus far. The first mark of a mind control cult is milieu control. This is either a physical or mental control of the member’s environment. The group’s leadership has ultimate control of all interactions the members have with each other and the world outside the group. The second mark is mystical manipulation. This is a technique in which the leadership makes things appear to God ever present in the workings of the organization. They also utilize techniques that amplify members’ emotions and heighten expectations through the use of music, lighting and temperature. The third mark is a demand for purity. This technique depicts the world outside the group in black and white terms with little room for the members to make conscience driven decisions. Often members with a conscientious objection to something the group is doing will receive flak for their stance because their objection hinders the movement of the organization. The fourth mark is cult of confession. This is the public confession of sin which allows the leadership to “whip” the members by knowledge of members’ sins. The fifth mark is “sacred science.” This is when the group’s leadership determines the value and existence of persons by their adherence to the vision of the group. Those outside the group’s ultimate vision are deemed to be the eventual recipients of God’s judgment or incapable of truly fulfilling the vision of the founder.
Now we come to the sixth mark, “loaded language”. I stated at the beginning of this post that this is the key element that needs to broken down in order for any counter-cult worker to begin to have success. The reason is that “loaded language” is terminology that allows a group member to end conversations or thoughts that are controversial to the members. These words are easily memorized and can be readily used by the members. These terms also create a bond of camaraderie within the membership because they are understood only by members of the group and have little or no meaning to outsiders.
These terms are called “the language of non-thought” in that they erect mental barriers that terminate conversations or prohibit any future thought on a controversial topic. The Watchtower uses terms such as “apostate”, “mother organization”, “worldly”, “opposes of the truth” and “Babylon the Great” as thought stoppers. These terms carry with them a judgment on outsiders. These terms also render the ideas of these persons unworthy of any consideration. Any person wishing to communicate with cult members must be able to scale these mental barriers in order to plant seeds of doubt in that member’s organization. This can be done by using another group or religion instead of pointing at that member’s group. This technique will be the topic of a future series.
It is also interesting to point out that politics has a “loaded language”. Today you hear the terms “liberal” and “conservative” tossed around by political pundits in this manner. While the use of these terms is legitimate as descriptions of political views, when they are used as a barrier to end conversations or to discredit the opposition they become a “loaded language.” One term that has increasingly become “loaded” is the term “Nazi”. Its usage has become so prevalent that its usage has become an informal fallacy in logic (Godwin’s law). Other thought stopping words in politics are “socialist,” “neo-con,” “reactionary,” “patriot,” “nativist,” etc. Again, these words have legitimate usage in debate and discussion. There use as conversation or thought-stoppers is what places them into the “loaded language” category.
Lastly, the use of “loaded language” further isolates members from the outside world and establishes further camaraderie with other members that only those “in the know” can be a part. I demonstrated this to my wife one summer. She had a hard time understanding the exclusivity of JWs. One summer weekend we both went to a JW convention in Long Beach. I was able to get JWs to think I was a part of the organization just by my use of terms such as “the truth,” “mother organization,” “spiritual food,” and other terms.
In conclusion, the use of “loaded language” serves two purposes. They stop conversations or thoughts that run counter to current group teaching. This “thought stopping” dismisses the other person in the conversation as being unworthy of future life in the group’s utopian future, and that person’s ideas as being unworthy of any future consideration. The second thing that “loaded language” gives members is a sense of unification because these words are generally meaningless to the world outside the cult.
In order to scale the language barrier, look for third party examples that are not threatening to the member in order to get them to think without these “thought stoppers” popping up in their mind. Only after laying a foundation that has not been prohibited from future consideration can a critical conversation proceed.
Next time – Doctrine over person.