Six Conversion Techniques
Cults and human-potential organizations are always looking for new converts. To attain them, they must also create a brain-phase. And they often need to do it within a short space of time, a weekend, or maybe even a day. The following are the six primary techniques used to generate the conversion.
The meeting or training takes place in an area where participants are cut off from the outside world. This may be any place: a private home, a remote or rural setting, or even a hotel ballroom where the participants are allowed only limited bathroom usage.
In human-potential trainings, the controllers will give a lengthy talk about the importance of “keeping agreements” in life. The participants are told that if they don’t keep agreements, their life will never work. It’s a good idea to keep agreements, but the controllers are subverting a positive human value for selfish purposes. The participants vow to themselves and their trainer that they will keep their agreements. Anyone who does not will be intimidated into agreement or forced to leave. The next step is to agree to complete training, thus assuring a high percentage of conversions for the organizations. They will USUALLY have to agree not to take drugs, smoke, and sometimes not to eat or they are given such short meal breaks that it creates tension. The real reason for the agreements is to alter internal chemistry, which generates anxiety and hopefully causes at least a slight malfunction of the nervous system, which in turn increases the conversion potential.
Before the gathering is complete, the agreements will be used to ensure that the new converts go out and find new participants. They are intimidated into agreeing to do so before they leave. Since the importance of keeping agreements is so high on their priority list, the converts will twist the arms of everyone they know, attempting to talk them into attending a free introductory session offered at a future date by the organization. The new converts are zealots. In fact, the inside term for merchandising the largest and most successful human- potential training is, “sell it by zealot!”
At least a million people are graduates and a good percentage have been left with a mental activation button that assures their future loyalty and assistance if the guru figure or organization calls. Think about the potential political implications of hundreds of thousands of zealots programmed to campaign for their guru.
Be wary of an organization of this type that offers follow-up sessions after the seminar. Follow-up sessions might be weekly meetings or inexpensive seminars given on a regular basis which the organization will attempt to talk you into taking or any regularly scheduled event used to maintain control. As the early Christian revivalists found, long-term control is dependent upon a good follow-up system.
Alright. Now, let’s look at the second tip-off that indicates conversion tactics are being used. A schedule is maintained that causes physical and mental fatigue. This is primarily accomplished by long hours in which the participants are given no opportunity for relaxation or reflection.
The third tip-off: techniques used to increase the tension in the room or environment.
Number four: Uncertainty. I could spend hours relating various techniques to increase tension and generate uncertainty. Basically, the participants are concerned about being “put on the spot” or encountered by the trainers, guilt feelings are played upon, participants are tempted to verbally relate their innermost secrets to the other participants or forced to take part in activities that emphasize removing their masks. One of the most successful human-potential seminars forces the participants to stand on a stage in front of the entire audience while being verbally attacked by the trainers. A public opinion poll, conducted a few years ago, showed that the number one most-fearful situation an individual could encounter is to speak to an audience. It ranked above window washing outside the 85th floor of an office building. So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates within the participants. Many faint, but most cope with the stress by mentally going away. They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are. And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.
The fifth clue that conversion tactics are being used is the introduction of jargon, new terms that have meaning only to the “insiders” who participate. Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make participants uncomfortable.
The final tip-off is that there is no humor in the communications at least until the participants are converted. Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly “found.”
I’m not saying that good does not result from participation in such gatherings. It can and does. But I contend it is important for people to know what has happened and to be aware that continual involvement may not be in their best interest.
Over the years, I’ve conducted professional seminars to teach people to be hypnotists, trainers, and counselors. I’ve had many of those who conduct trainings and rallies come to me and say, “I’m here because I know that what I’m doing works, but I don’t know why.” After showing them how and why, many have gotten out of the business or have decided to approach it differently or in a much more loving and supportive manner.
Many of these trainers have become personal friends, and it scares us all to have experienced the power of one person with a microphone and a room full of people. Add a little charisma and you can count on a high percentage of conversions. The sad truth is that a high percentage of people want to give away their power, they are true “believers”!
Cult gatherings or human-potential trainings are an ideal environment to observe first-hand what is technically called the “Stockholm Syndrome.” This is a situation in which those who are intimidated, controlled, or made to suffer, begin to love, admire, and even sometimes sexually desire their controllers or captors.
But let me inject a word of warning here: If you think you can attend such gatherings and not be affected, you are probably wrong. A perfect example is the case of a woman who went to Haiti on a Guggenheim Fellowship to study Haitian Voodoo. In her report, she related how the music eventually induced uncontrollable bodily movement and an altered state of consciousness. Although she understood the process and thought herself above it, when she began to feel herself become vulnerable to the music, she attempted to fight it and turned away. Anger or resistance almost always assures conversion. A few moments later she was possessed by the music and began dancing in a trance around the Voodoo meeting house. A brain phase had been induced by the music and excitement, and she awoke feeling reborn. The only hope of attending such gatherings without being affected is to be a Buddha and allow no positive or negative emotions to surface. Few people are capable of such detachment.
Before I go on, let’s go back to the six tip-offs to conversion. I want to mention the United States Government and military boot camp. The Marine Corps talks about breaking men down before “rebuilding” them as new men as marines! Well, that is exactly what they do, the same way a cult breaks its people down and rebuilds them as happy flower sellers on your local street corner. Every one of the six conversion techniques are used in boot camp. Considering the needs of the military, I’m not making a judgement as to whether that is good or bad. IT IS A FACT that the men are effectively brainwashed. Those who won’t submit must be discharged or spend much of their time in the brig.
Once the initial conversion is effected, cults, armed services, and similar groups cannot have cynicism among their members. Members must respond to commands and do as they are told, otherwise they are dangerous to the organizational control. This is normally accomplished in a three step Decognition Process.
Step One is ALERTNESS REDUCTION: The controllers cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality. This can be accomplished in several ways. POOR DIET is one; watch out for Brownies and Koolaid. The sugar throws the nervous system off. More subtle is the “SPIRITUAL DIET” used by many cults. They eat only vegetables and fruits; without the grounding of grains, nuts, seeds, dairy products, fish or meat, an individual becomes mentally “spacey.” INADEQUATE SLEEP is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity. Also, being bombarded with intense and unique experiences achieves the same result.
Step Two is PROGRAMED CONFUSION: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One. This is accomplished with a deluge of new information, lectures, discussion groups, encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions. During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.
Step Three is THOUGHT STOPPING: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go “flat.” These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusing awareness. The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination. The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controllers direct. The takeover is then complete. It is important to be aware that when members or participants are instructed to use “thought-stopping” techniques, they are told that they will benefit by so doing: they will become “better soldiers” or “find enlightenment.”
There are three primary techniques used for thought stopping. The first is MARCHING: the thump, thump, thump beat literally generates self-hypnosis and thus great susceptibility to suggestion.
The second thought stopping technique is MEDITATION. If you spend an hour to an hour and a half a day in meditation, after a few weeks, there is a great probability that you will not return to full beta consciousness. You will remain in a fixed state of alpha for as long as you continue to meditate. I’m not saying this is bad – if you do it yourself. It may be very beneficial. But it is a fact that you are causing your mind to go flat. I’ve worked with meditators on an EEG machine and the results are conclusive: the more you meditate, the flatter your mind becomes until, eventually and especially if used to excess or in combination with decognition, all thought ceases. Some spiritual groups see this as nirvana – which is bullshit. It is simply a predictable physiological result. And if heaven on earth is non- thinking and non-involvement, I really question why we are here.
The third thought-stopping technique is CHANTING, and often chanting in meditation. “Speaking in tongues” could also be included in this category.
All three-stopping techniques produce an altered state of consciousness. This may be very good if YOU are controlling the process, for you also control the input. I personally use at least one self-hypnosis programming session every day and I know how beneficial it is for me. But you need to know if you use these techniques to the degree of remaining continually in alpha that, although you’ll be very mellow, you’ll also be more suggestible.
Before ending this section on conversion, I want to talk about the people who are most susceptible to it and about Mass Movements. I am convinced that at least a third of the population is what Eric Hoffer calls “true believers.” They are joiners and followers . . . people who want to give away their power. They look for answers, meaning, and enlightenment outside themselves.
Hoffer, who wrote THE TRUE BELIEVER, a classic on mass movements, says, “true believers are not intent on bolstering and advancing a cherished self, but are those craving to be rid of unwanted self. They are followers, not because of a desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy their passion for self-renunciation!” Hoffer also says that true believers “are eternally incomplete and eternally insecure”!
I know this from my own experience. In my years of communicating concepts and conducting trainings, I have run into them again and again. All I can do is attempt to show them that the only thing to seek is the True Self within. Their personal answers are to be found there and there alone. I communicate that the basics of spirituality are self-responsibility and self-actualization. But most of the true believers just tell me that I’m not spiritual and go looking for someone who will give them the dogma and structure they desire. Never underestimate the potential danger of these people. They can easily be moulded into fanatics who will gladly work and die for their holy cause. It is a substitute for their lost faith in themselves and offers them as a substitute for individual hope. The Moral Majority is made up of true believers. All cults are composed of true believers. You’ll find them in politics, churches, businesses, and social cause groups. They are the fanatics in these organizations.
Mass Movements will usually have a charismatic leader. The followers want to convert others to their way of living or impose a new way of life if necessary, by legislating laws forcing others to their view, as evidenced by the activities of the Moral Majority. This means enforcement by guns or punishment, for that is the bottomline in law enforcement.
A common hatred, enemy, or devil is essential to the success of a mass movement. The Born-Again Christians have Satan himself, but that isn’t enough they’ve added the occult, the New Age thinkers and, lately, all those who oppose their integration of church and politics, as evidenced in their political re-election campaigns against those who oppose their views. In revolutions, the devil is usually the ruling power or aristocracy. Some human-potential movements are far too clever to ask their graduates to join anything, thus labelling themselves as a cult but, if you look closely, you’ll find that their devil is anyone and everyone who hasn’t taken their training. There are mass movements without devils but they seldom attain major status. The True Believers are mentally unbalanced or insecure people, or those without hope or friends. People don’t look for allies when they love, but they do when they hate or become obsessed with a cause. And those who desire a new life and a new order feel the old ways must be eliminated before the new order can be built.
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