Message Mind Control - Brainwashing:
As we work with people around the world who are taking those first courageous steps towards freedom from the mind control of the "Message" cult, their understanding of what has just happened to them is vastly different from what they understand after deprogramming. Dazed and confused, they feel like their entire world has just been ripped out from under them, and they are suddenly swimming in a shark-infested ocean of fear. But as they work through the issues, and begin to realize just how much indoctrination they experienced in the cult, the first question they ask is, "Were we brainwashed?"
This is a word I tried to use very carefully throughout the past few years of the Seek The Truth blog. Until actually understanding what the group did to the people, my opinion had formed in that direction. But there were elements of brainwashing that I could not find in the group, and the after-effects (though similar) did not fully match.
But over time, I began to realize that the word "brainwashing" has been integrated into the English language in ways that has destroyed its actual meaning. While brainwashing is a strategy that can implant programming into the mind, it is not a long-term strategy that an alter a person's entire being. Brainwashing is a term that was first used after examining the tactics used in the Korean War, and describes coercion of allegiance. In many cases, the victim of brainwashing did not actually change his thought process. It was not done out of conviction, but rather out of self-preservation. Though many could argue that more extremist "Message" churches can fall into this category, the vast majority of them do not.
Mind control is much different than brainwashing. It is a gradual process, one that unravels the very fibers of personality and weaves them back together differently. People who are brainwashed will often rationalize the change, simply because it was such a traumatic event that they can identify the process of change. With the slow process of indoctrination resulting in mind control, most are unaware. After leaving a destructive cult, many try unsuccessfully to determine at which point they began to change and to what extent. They cannot. In both cases, the person altering the victim is skilled at coercion. Brainwashing through immediate and forced acceptance, and Mind Control through deception and manipulation.
People who have left the "Message" cult describe the sermons in their specific church. No two churches in the cult can agree fully on doctrine, and no two churches practice the same style of worship. On the surface, it would appear that they are so vastly different that they could never be lumped together into one group practicing mind control. But when one examines below the surface, there is a common thread that is woven through every single church in every single country. Most ex-members, after deprogramming, fully agree that the sermons were very manipulative. Private confessions made their way into the sermons. Current political events were used to instill fear. Questions were rejected as demonic, advice was rejected as offensive, and all sermons were specifically designed to advertise William Marrion Branham.
But it is the cult structure, designed and architected by William Branham, that has created the perfect setting for mind control. Listening to long recordings of the cult leader is encouraged, and on those recordings one can find several hypnotic stories -- all promoting William Branham. Members are trained to condemn each other for any violation of policy, and some are even trained to report those differences in opinion to pastors. Those same pastors use these issues as sermon topics, completing a never-ending cycle of control. As this cycle spins faster and faster, the unsuspecting victim of mind control begins to slowly conform to the group. Over time, his or her authentic self is suppressed, and the cult identity is created, installed, and matured.
This is a topic that Steven Hassan covers in his book, "Combating Cult Mind Control":
Brainwashing is especially effective in producing compliance to demands, such as signing a false confession or denouncing one's government. People are coerced into specific acts for self-preservation; then, once they have acted, their beliefs change to rationalize what they have done. But these beliefs are usually not well internalized. If and when the prisoner escapes their field of influence (and fear), they are usually able to throw off those beliefs. Mind control is much more subtle and sophisticated. The victim typically regards the controllers as friends or peers, so is much less on guard. They usually unwittingly participate by cooperating with their controllers, and by giving them private information that they do not realize will be used against them. Mind control involves little or no overt physical abuse. Instead, hypnotic processes are combined with group dynamics to create a potent indoctrination effect. The individual is deceived and manipulated— but not directly threatened— into making the prescribed choices. On the whole, the victim responds positively to what is done to them.
Steven Hassan. Combating Cult Mind Control
Stay tuned for more!
Combating Cult Mind Control (Second Edition): http://amzn.to/1NCnN45
Profile of "The Message" on Freedom Of Mind Resource Center: https://freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=883&title=The_Message