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Nothing Shocks Me Anymore

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Nothing Shocks Me Anymore:

Many are familiar with the Milgram Experiment, though some people may not know the study by name. During the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram began to measure the willingness of people to obey an authority figure in acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram found that a high percentage of people could be persuaded to cause serious injury or pain to fellow human beings. In one study, participants thought they were administering high voltage to test subjects for each wrong answer. One person administered 450 volt "shocks" to the sound of a screaming actor on the other side of a wall.

The results of the study created an interesting dilemma. Hitler had manipulated Nazi Germany into ignoring their personal conscience for the sake of executing genocide against Jews. Normally compassionate men and women were manipulated into horrific crimes against humanity under the power of a very charismatic Adolf Hitler. Who was to blame? The people executing Hitler's evil plan, or only the central figure of Nazi Germany?

Former members of religious cults are often haunted by the same dilemma. Having been under the control of a manipulative and controlling central figure, they are faced with many of the same questions psychologists were asking about Nazi Germany. Are they to blame for their behavior?

Manipulation of behavior is a fundamental aspect of a destructive cult. It is directly related to manipulation of thought. When a manipulative leader can control the thoughts of their followers, they can also control behavior. From the way cult followers look and dress, to the way they conduct themselves, to speech patterns and response to situations, cult leaders have the ability to alter behavior patterns. Having escaped from behavior manipulation, former cult members are faced with the overwhelming task of separating cult behavior from acceptable behavior.