Chapter 7 : Psychological Persuasion Techniques
Trance and Hypnosis
When this method is used in a cultic environment, it becomes a form of psychological manipulation and coercion because the cult leader implants suggestions aimed at his own agenda while the person is in a vulnerable state.
A considerable number of different guided-imagery techniques are used by cult leaders and trainers to remove followers from their normal frames of reference.
Cult members often say to their families and friends, "No one orders me around. I choose to do what I do." Getting members to think that way is one of the manipulations mastered by cult leaders who have become skillful at getting acts carried out through indirection and implication. Accomplishing this task is easier when the member is in an altered state, fatigued, or otherwise anxious or under stress.
Peer Pressure and Modeling
We look around and see models, and we comport ourselves to be like them. Most cults train new members either overtly stated policies or by more implicit shaping, to act in ways desired by the group.
Peer pressure is an effective means to get people to fit their behavior to group norms. In cults, this works for new and old members alike, going far beyond what is generally seen in society at large. In an atmosphere that states or implies that there is only one way to be this is it, it is most important to have models around to imitate.
According to Cialdini, the majority of the thousands of different tactics that compliance professionals use fall into six categories, and each category is based on a psychological principle that directs human behavior. These six principles are:
We can see how transformations occur when the six principles are skillfully put into play by cult leaders and cultic groups. For example: