My life there and afterwards

Archive for June, 2014

BITE model examples, Physical Reality

Steven Hassan’s BITE model.

Behavior Control

1. Regulate individual’s physical reality.

The leaders had a tight hold on how all aspects of our life was to be lived. The basis of their teaching was bringing the Gospel of Jesus into everyday life. From this start, they addressed every detail of daily living, from how to fold towels properly, to whom you should marry.

The women in the Community of Jesus had sessions with the leaders, for example, where they would show us how to fold towels with their ends perfectly matching and they had to be in thirds so no edges showed. From this teaching, if the house “parents”, the ones in charge of each house, found your towels folded otherwise, you were “corrected” for being rebellious, and not caring enough to bring glory to God. Gardens had to be kept up, flowers dead-headed regularly, kids toys picked up. One of the leaders ran the guest house, Bethany. It was a bed and breakfast before CJ started, and she had a flair for fashion, loved to have beautiful and expensive things around, loved antiques, and demanded that everything be orderly, clean and in place at all times. She instructed us how to do housework, and we had to dust everything every week even if it didn’t need it. She said that if there was no dust visible, then we were polishing the furniture. She was a stickler for routine. These are fine values if they are kept in balance with the rest of your life. There was no balance. It encouraged competition and a drive for status. It taught us that obedience was the highest virtue.

I will talk more about being told who to marry under number 3: When, how and with whom the member has sex.

This is just a small everyday example of the detailed control they exercised. They presented this control as a teaching about how to live your daily life for God. But instead of giving a general teaching, and allowing each of us to find our own ways of applying it, they set up the ways in which we were to glorify God in everything.
The scrutiny and control was applied to more than towel folding of course. It included how we did everything, how we related to each other, our worship/spiritual life, our work lives. We were told who would work within the Community grounds and offices, and who needed to have a job in the “outside” community. We were told where we would work, what department, what job. This usually did not take into account what your skills were.

I worked in the audio/visual department for many years. I learned how to record and mix the audio, splicing tapes before it went digital. It started out by recording all of the teaching sessions. I would love to get my hands on those old recordings and take a fresh look at the original teachings. They have been transcribed, but I highly doubt that they would let me read them. Even a non-member would probably not get to see them until they had been sanitized. Then I was the video editor when we expanded into cameras and video productions. For a year I was the supervisor of the shipping department at Paraclete Press, run by CJ. Then I worked for several years in their business office, called the Scribe’s Office. I managed the community calendar and the membership database. Then I was unexpectedly moved over to the financial office, called the Bursar’s Office. After a year there, I was pulled out and put into the IT department. I had done a terrific job in finances, cleaning up a long standing mess with the A/P, and this move was totally to yank me around, keep me out of control. The leader said it “…was for my healing” !!!

This is a brief glimpse into how we were moved around in our jobs, our talents were not considered, and there was no place where we could develop our skills or contribute in a responsible way. Any suggestions I had over the years for job improvement were ignored or put down.

Steve Hasson’s BITE Model of Cult Mind Control

For this post I am copying what Steve Hassan has written about mind control. This is a preliminary, educational posting that you can read, scan or ignore, but I wanted to give this first, and then my next post will start giving examples of how each of his points was played out at the Community of Jesus as I experienced it in my life.

“Many people think of mind control as an ambiguous, mystical process that cannot be defined in concrete terms. In reality, mind control refers to a specific set of methods and techniques, such as hypnosis or thought- stopping, that influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Like many bodies of knowledge, it is not inherently good or evil. If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. For example, benevolent mind control can be used to help people quit smoking without affecting any other behavior. Mind control becomes destructive when the locus of control is external and it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.

As employed by the most destructive cults, mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity and reconstruct it in the image of the cult leader. I developed the BITE model to help people determine whether or not a group is practicing destructive mind control. The BITE model helps people understand how cults suppress individual member’s uniqueness and creativity. BITE stands for the cult’s control of an individual’s Behavior, Intellect, Thoughts, and Emotions.

It is important to understand that destructive mind control can be determined when the overall effect of these four components promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause. It is not necessary for every single item on the list to be present. Mindcontrolled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.

Behavior Control

1. Regulate individual’s physical reality
2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
3. When, how and with whom the member has sex
4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles
5. Regulate diet – food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence
8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet
10. Permission required for major decisions
11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
14. Impose rigid rules and regulations
15. Instill dependency and obedience

Information Control

1. Deception:
a. Deliberately withhold information
b. Distort information to make it more acceptable
c. Systematically lie to the cult member
2. Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
a. Internet, TV, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
b.Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
e. Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking
3. Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Ensure that information is not freely accessible
b.Control information at different levels and missions within group
c. Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
4. Encourage spying on other members
a. Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member
b.Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership
c. Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by group
5. Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies and other media
b.Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
b. Withholding forgiveness or absolution
c. Manipulation of memory, possible false memories

Thought Control

1. Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
a. Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
b. Instill black and white thinking
c. Decide between good vs. evil
d. Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
2.Change person’s name and identity
3. Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words
4. Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
5. Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member
6. Memories are manipulated and false memories are created
7. Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
b. Chanting
c. Meditating
d. Praying
e. Speaking in tongues
f. Singing or humming
8. Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
9. Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed
10. Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful

Emotional Control

1. Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish
2. Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of homesickness, anger, doubt
3. Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
4. Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt
5. Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
c. Enemies
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner
7. Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
8. Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll
e. Threats of harm to ex-member and family” (Steve Hassan,
Freedom of Mind)

An Apology to animals

“Lots of people talk to animals.” said Pooh. “Maybe, but…” “Not very many listen, though,” he said. “That’s the problem.” he added.

Dear Animals,

We share this planet with you, we see you every day; in our homes, our neighborhoods, our parks and alleys, and we mostly ignore you. Yes, if you live with me, I have a bond with just you, but all the others of your kind are in the background. Just because you don’t use your mouth to communicate like we do, we ignore you and think you don’t count. I apologize for all of my kind that we do not listen to you. You have so much to say, and there is so much we can learn from you, that we are hurting ourselves as well as you by not listening. As we evolve, I hope that we will become more mindful of your presence, and your value.

Sincerely,

a human

Leaders are supposed to serve

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 43-45

The leaders said they were serving us – by being the leaders. They said it was a tremendous spiritual burden to seek God’s will for all of us, and that it wore them down to carry the burden of all of our sins. Our role was to support and help them in return. I believed them at face value. Now as I look back on it, I cannot think of any way they served me. The very few times I met with them personally, it was never encouraging or supportive of the development of my life. To the contrary, it was always to castigate me for my sin and to threaten me to shape up and comply or be put onto severe disciplines. In practice they were waited on hand and foot, literally. Some of the sisters even tied their shoes for them, and there were times they did not get up to get their own water or coffee but demanded instant service, their clothes were handmade for them, etc., etc. In short, they did not live as servants of God, they did not serve the rest of us. They lived in palatial apartments, had expensive items all around, and expected the best in food and drink.

Out of shame and guilt I believed I was a burden to them, and therefore owed them service and subservience. They said I was serving God, through the Community, but in reality I was serving them, the egoistic leaders. Once I began to think for myself I started to see this. Now that I am out from under their control, I see it clearly.

PoP; Pathology of Perfection

I think something we should all be aware of, not only with groups of high control, but in our daily lives, is the dividing live between reaching for excellence, and the pathology of perfection.
In the group I was in, I think it is pretty obvious that PoP is overwhelming in the daily life. It is preached, and we were shamed all the time because we did not reach perfection. The perfection was defined by the leaders, and their cooperating subordinates.

Below is a paragraph taken from the following website:
http://drsorotzkin.com/understanding_perfectionism.html

Perfection vs. Excellence
A perfectionist can be defined as someone who is driven by fear of failure to strive compulsively toward goals beyond reach and reason. This can be contrasted with someone who is motivated by the desire for success to strive for excellence (Hamachek, 1978). One of the characteristics that distinguish the pathological form of perfectionism from the nonpathological striving for excellence is how the person reacts to a less-than-perfect performance. Perfectionists not only derive no satisfaction from a less-than-perfect performance, they even experience a sense of humiliating defeat (Sorotzkin, 1985). In contrast, people who strive for excellence take pride in their effort, and derive a sense of pleasure from their superior performance even if it is less than perfect, because they accept both personal and environmental limitations (Pacht, 1984).

I cannot remember one incident where we were encouraged for having done a good job. According to the teaching, that would have encouraged our pride and self-love. We were always “corrected” for where the effort fell short. This was supposed to spur us on to greater effort, and if any praise came our way from outsiders, the credit was given to the leaders for having persevered to push us to the effort, never to us for having given the effort. This was particularly blaring in the Spirit of America Band.

Boundaries

Not all abuse is physical. In its own way, non-physical control and abuse is just as devious and harmful as physical abuse, and it hooks you harder. Very few of us think physical abuse is good or normal, but unfortunately our thinking can get bent by a mixture of good and bad. We put up with a lot of bad if we are told it is for a good end. The ends are supposed to justify the means, and the means at CJ were ones that caused me a tremendous amount of suffering.

One aspect of this suffering was in the area of boundaries, and the violation of them. I didn’t know this concept existed. There were no boundaries at CJ. My personal space (thoughts, emotions, creativity, work) were not considered mine, and were exposed and used at the discretion of the leaders. They supposedly were hearing the voice of God for my life, but I now know that is control, not Christianity.

Any issues (disagreements or emotional reactions) I had that were not in conformity with the desired attitudes and behaviors expected at CJ were used to berate me, isolate me and humiliate me.

I have come to realize, since leaving, that my internal problems do not separate me from others. No matter what I struggle with in my inner space, I’m still a normal person with many good qualities.

If any readers think this is obvious – behold the mindset of a high control victim. These basic human rights truths are revelations to me, and were not part of my everyday life in a supposedly Christian and loving community of believers.

I am able (I believe by the grace of God) to separate my experience at CJ from my belief in God. I do not believe it was God who put that suffering on me. I believe it was the leaders and their particular aberrances. Because of this, I have been able to question my faith in God and come to the place where I believe, and have the freedom to work out for myself what that belief entails.

I am reading CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and also parts of Plato’s “Republic”, and find that I agree with their reasoning.

Cambridge doorways & hidden treasures

Living in Cambridge has been wonderful for me. It has truly been a doorway into a new life.
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I have just moved, this is a new and exciting phase, the next step.
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I am grateful for the time I spent in Cambridge. Many doorways have opened up for me, and I have found many hidden treasures.
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Always look forward, to what the future holds, and what each day brings in the way of opportunity.
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Not every day will bring something special. Some days are just routine, even boring. It is my job to stay alert, awake, alive, and in touch with my aspirations and goals.
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If I am in the moment, in touch with today’s reality, then when an opportunity comes along, through some news, an inner decision, or a friend’s chance comment, I will be ready for it, ready to move forward, to act on it.
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Blessings to you all. May your life blossom.