In Reply to: Brainwashing posted by Yvonne on July 28, 2005 at 04:48:46:
"The problem with the concept of brainwashing is that the literature on it in countries like Korea and Communist China suggest that many who were not born into those countries, but were taken involuntarily into the thought reform programmes, only paid lip service to the party line until they could 'escape'."
-Have you read "Wild Swans" by Jung Chang? OR watched Madame Butterfly? If you have, then it is easy to see that many of both generations were avoidant or swept up into the government sanctioned horror of the Cultural Revolution and that one could easily be on the upside one day and the downside the next. Some people dedicated to the first generation revolution, faced many of the same quandaries of those in First generation COG. That government started with a fervor drawing people in for honorable and decent causes and then turned into a beast.
The humiliations and breakings, familial divisions etc are quite similar too.
"There also had to be percieved to be a real physical threat to their lives for any form of 'brainwashing'to work. See Schien or Lifton's work for example."
-There WAS a threat to my life. It started in earliest COG with a prayer that God would kill me if I ever left the gates(of the COG). It was an unwritten oath that was taken by many as a sign of dedication and devotion and connected to a very real belief that God could strike me dead. Also the lectures on Annanias and Saffira made the point on how a literal God that I believed in could strike me dead for holding anything back.
Purging sessions reinforced this.
Also, testimonials were often used to engender fear. Testimonials about people that left and died or left and someone close to them, someone they left for or with died.
I realize I lost my faith sometime before I actually left the Family. (THIS IS NOT A JOURNEY's POST) I lost it due to having had way too many breakings and humiliations so that I felt like living dead.
"Now, I can understand and go along with this; but I haven't yet come across any research which talks about a threat to ones existance [spiritual]and if one is in a religious cult, quite often this is either an explict or implict threat."
- I am not sure I understand you here. What is your point? That there has to be a study to confirm whether a real or implied threat existed before real life experience has meaning? Or am I just not understanding you here?
"So then, does free will only apply when you are not in a cult, with cults negating a fundamental plank of your belief system? Thus, it wasn't my fault as they made me do it - but my religion teaches me that I am responsible for my actions as I fundamentally exercise free will - isn't this a paradox?"
The religion I was in (COG/FOL) taught that I was responsible for my actions within the framework of the COG/FOL. Within that framework, free will was of the devil if it did not match teachings/directives of leadership. IT is an altogether different ballgame.
In order to get out, a number of things had to happen first. It was not like I was some sort of separate entity with reasoning skills and free will within that setting.
As has been said before "I always have a choice. If a gun is put to my head I can choose to DIE or do what I am told or try and fight which would be suicidal if the person is much stronger than me.
Emotional pressure and spiritual abuse are just as effective as a gun."
I would go further and say they are more effective because it is easier to look for a chink in the security system and make an escape than it is to be a mental prisoner. Breaking those bonds is much harder and takes longer.