The following article was
written by the editor of S.M.A.R.T. Please use caution while reading this
article. It may be heavy for survivors.
After seeing a variety of
articles and letters on and off the web that I believed either knowingly or
unknowingly used propaganda and/or mind control techniques, I thought it would
be a good idea to print an article about this, so that survivors would be able
to recognize these techniques and protect themselves against them or avoid
Please note: I haven’t listed
all techniques below. Please refer to the articles listed following the article
for additional techniques.
This can include being called
negative names (used inappropriately) like liar, psychotic, paranoid, crazy,
communist, etc. The purpose, intentional or unintentional, of the usage of
these names is to discredit the person they are being used on, without discussing
the facts of the debate or topic. Sometimes names are used to shock the
listener, which may put the listener into a more susceptible mind state and not
critically think about the topic but simply accept the negative name or opinion
Democracy, capitalism or other
ideas are often discussed in these terms. These terms may be described
positively without a critical analysis of all sides of the issue. The important
thing is to look at the ideas behind the terms and analyze them critically. A
group may also only discuss the positives of the organization, ignoring any
negative criticism about the group. The important thing is to check out any
group or organization as completely as possible before joining. But I believe it
is also important to trust people when they are safe, so that we can recover by
sharing and connecting.
A user of propaganda may use
terms like “many,” “a lot,” “numerous,” or “a few” without backing up these
numbers or statistics. The usage of these words may make a person or
organization look better or worse without data or substantial proof.
Sometimes it is important to
look at the argument(s) with as little emotion as possible, and try to see the
From an old site no longer on
the web: http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propaganda/fear.htm,
“…there are four elements to a successful fear appeal:
1) a threat,
2) a specific
recommendation about how the audience should behave,
perception that the recommendation will be effective in addressing the threat,
perception that they are capable of performing the recommended behavior.”
Groups may also use these techniques on their members. They may say, “If you
don’t do this, then the world will end, we will close our doors, etc.” For
members that are very needy or attached to the organization or person making
the statement, this threat may be very difficult to ignore.
In E-mail, this may be caused
by the use of numerous brackets in bold or the use of capital letters. The
writer may say things like, “apples are always red,” and then, “apples are
always blue,” to cause confusion in the reader and make them more susceptible
to the ideas in the Email. While the mind is trying to figure out which
statement is true, the reader’s mind may become more susceptible to the
suggestion or idea.
Sutphen in his article talks
about “Shock and Confusion,” how people go into a meditative state when scared
and are more likely to be compliant to the second suggestion. If people are
made to feel guilty that they were given something, they are more likely to
follow the next command, like give money, etc.
For survivors, I think the
important thing is to realize when these techniques are being used on us. To
fight the second suggestion and not follow it blindly. This may entail leaving
the area immediately and going to a safe spot. Online this may mean reading
certain E-mails with support people present. And to avoid those that may use these
suggestions on us whenever possible. Learning how to develop safe support
systems and safe resources can help with this. I believe it is dangerous to
believe that we can’t be MC’ed.
Guilt may also be used as a
technique, especially on survivors. Making people feel like they haven’t done
enough for a particular group or organization, asking people to do things
without considering all sides of the issue or their own needs.
Neediness can also be used.
Survivors may be looking for approval, acceptance and a place to discuss their
feelings. So they may not be able to critically decide what support systems may
be the safest for them. Groups will first be very nice or overly nice to them
(love bombing), but this will often disappear later and emotional manipulation
and threats or guilt may be used to try to cause the desired behavior. Abusers
will often apologize after their behavior, but I believe a sincere apology
would be to try and change the behavior.
The techniques used to create
subliminal commands can vary. I believe they usually create a meditative state
in the individual. I have heard that TV can cause these states. “Glassy eyed
stares” or “being spaced out” are often used to describe this state. Shock or
fear or other extreme emotional states may also be used to create meditative
states. These commands may help the writer bypass the reader’s conscious mind.
Specific triggers may be used
on survivors. These may sound like the ideas of those that do not believe in
the existence of recovered memory or ritual abuse. These can include calling a
person paranoid, psychotic or crazy (see “name calling”) and allude to the fact
that a person’s paranoia is connected to a psychotic disorder, which, I
believe, usually isn’t the case. This can be used to try and get the survivor
to doubt their own reality and the reality of their memories. (See SMART issue
#27 for the low rate (less than 5 percent) of “false” memories.)
Subliminal triggers may also
be used intentionally or unintentionally to remind a survivor of a specific
ritual or past program. Repeated use (or the one time use) of the terms,
“ass*ss*n*tion” or “c*t thr*at” in terms of describing another’s actions may
qualify as triggers. The writer may be using these terms to scare or trigger
A colleague of mine wrote me
and told me that she uses three criterion to determine online if a person may
be a perpetrator of MC.
1) If the person uses guilt.
2) If the person tells them to “f_ off.” (Could be considered a technique to
shock the reader.)
3) Using lots of triggers to control their actions.
I think the one thing that all
3 above have in common is they entail some sort of emotional manipulation
Changing the Topic
Rather than deal with the
specific topic, a group or person may try to change the topic, or discredit the
other side, rather than deal with the criticisms or arguments in the debate. A
variety of propaganda techniques may be used to try and do this. This technique
has occasionally been used by politicians and others.
One way of remembering
something is to constantly repeat it. This is one way we learn to remember new
words and songs. Rather than debating the points of the debate, a debater may
simply continue calling a person a liar or crazy or a traitor, etc. (see “name
calling”) without backing up their statements. How often is an idea in an
argument presented without a source or logical backing. This is one place in a
debate or argument where a debater may show their “true colors.”
Are they interested in debating the points of the argument or are they using
propaganda and mind control techniques?
Individuals that are not
qualified to discuss the particulars (the specific facts) of a debate or
product may join the debate or ad campaign and make statements that may have
little or no logical backing or factual basis. Organizations and companies may
use a variety of techniques to encourage such participation.
The user of propaganda may
encourage people to join the cause without asking them to think about the facts
and other side of the argument. This may include a kind of hero worship,
including fancy clothes, high expenditures, claims of a large following, etc. I
think the most important thing is to follow your instincts and recovery, not
someone else. Other people may have valid and helpful things to say, but I
believe our recovery has to be our own.
These will be intentionally
used by the user of propaganda to manipulate opinion.
Example: John likes apples.
Hitler liked apples.
John likes Hitler.
This can be used in politics.
Equating communism to fascism because one or several communist governments may
have been fascist is an example of this. A person may agree with someone on one
topic and disagree with the same person on another topic. The user of
propaganda may try to lump the two people or a group of people together that
disagree with them, suggesting a conspiracy, when it may only be people
agreeing on a certain topic.
You might hear that we can’t
trust anyone if certain people aren’t safe. This is a logical fallacy and isn’t
true. It may take time for the survivor to trust again, but I think we need to
keep trying to trust safe people, so we can heal.
This is another logical
fallacy. A person receiving a criticism may claim that a critique of themselves
or their group may cause divisiveness in society or their movement. (“Love it
or leave” is an example of this.) The repetition of this idea may reinforce the
idea in the reader’s mind. An alternative way of looking at this is that the
same critique could also make the movement stronger, by encouraging people to
think about their choices and use caution before making those choices. It may
encourage all those in the movement to become healthier, making the movement
In all logical fallacies, and
in terms of propaganda in general, try to see the other possible conclusions of
the argument, not simply those presented by the user of propaganda.
How to Avoid Blindly Accepting
Propaganda and Being Mind Controlled
(Please note: these are only
suggestions. You may want to analyze each of them to see if they have any value
to you and if necessary, add some of your own.)
From FactNet (about Coercive
Persuasion listed under sources): “The subjects easiest to influence are
usually young, trusting, gullible, and noncritical people from protective
backgrounds or people who may be particularly vulnerable because of some recent
unsettled transition (my note: survivors may
also fit in this category)…the rejects are likely to be individuals who have
easy access to accurate, critical, or counterbalancing information. Insolent,
selfcentered, streetwise, highly critical or recalcitrant individuals are
generally culled out…” Though everyone is susceptible to some degree.
1) Try to find out both sides
of the story.
2)Learn about propaganda and
mind control techniques and learn how to recognize them. If necessary, learn to
avoid those using these techniques (this may be online or offline.) The media
and advertisements may be a good place to start either learning about these
techniques or avoiding them. At times, advertisements don’t even discuss the
product or its attributes at all.
3) When in a potential
situation where you can be MC’ed or propagandized, learn how to recognize the
feelings of going into a meditative state and learn some of the techniques for
getting out of these states. (Details are at “Conference trigger management and
I believe that avoidance of these situations is usually the best way to keep
from being MC’ed or propagandized.
4) The user of propaganda or
mind control techniques may exhibit a “lack of morals,” lying and/or
disregarding the rules of the debate, list, group or society. This is similar
to the “us vs them” or may be justified by “the ends justify the means”
arguments organizations may use, see SMART #29 (Cult Information Article.
5) Try to use your gut
feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, step back or remove yourself from
the situation. I believe that a legitimate group or organization will give an
individual the time and room to make their own choices (see “Emotional
I believe the following
statement also applies to being MC’ed and/or fooled by propaganda. From
FactNet, “No one “joins a cult.” People recruited into destructive groups think
they are doing something else, something beneficial and worthwhile. Anyone can
be recruited given the right sales pitch and the right conditions in one’s
life. We are all potential victims.” While I believe it is necessary to learn
from our mistakes, I think that feeling too much guilt doesn’t help. It may be
necessary to make an amends when safe. This may be simply by getting healthy
and possibly educating others.
As always, please use your own
judgement and try to research everything as fully as possible. Don’t accept
anything anyone says simply because they say it or claim to be an expert or
whatever. Try to check it out for yourself. I am not an expert, and I am
continually learning new things about myself and the above topics.