Posted in Alienation

Debunking the Alienators Expert Witness and Therapist


by Linda Gottlieb

Debunking the Alienators expert witness and therapist by Linda Gottlieb.docx

The “expert” witness and the therapist that the alienator hires is generally a psychologist, who not have expertise in family dynamics unless specialized training above and beyond the Ph.D training is obtained. To disqualify the “expert,” the following questions could be asked at trial:

In your professional opinion, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, what is the influence of parents on children prior to adolescence? (this should be a high #, and if not, the expert/therapist should be asked to justify a low # eg. who has the great influences.)

And after adolescence? (this should be a relatively high # at least)

Do you believe that parental conflict generally has an adverse effect on children and/or causes the child to react negatively in response? Please rate that effect on a scale of 1-10. (this should be a high #, as even the lay person would acknowledge the impact of parental hostility on children. If the expert doesn’t give a high #, he/she should be asked to justify the answer.)

So you would (or would not—depending on prior answers) agree with Christopher Barden, PhD., JD., who has received 2 national research awards in psychology and a law degree with honors from Harvard Law school, when he stated, “There can be no credible controversy about the power of parents to influence children.” (The International Handbook of Parental Alienation Syndrome, p. 420)?

Would you also agree with Barden when he stated that custody cases require “the critical obligation to carefully review the influence of parents, therapists or other adults on the attitudes, beliefs and memories of children.” (pp. 419-432)?

Could you describe what some of these effects are?

Can you give some examples as to how children get caught up in their parents’conflicts.

You have just confirmed that you recognize the great influence of parents on children as well as the detrimental affects on children due to being exposed to the parental conflict. Yet I did not hear you express how you acquired your expertise in family dynamics. In fact, is it true that you are not licensed in your state of X as a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Can you state what training in family dynamics you had in your education for your psychology degree? (I can confirm that they had no more than family therapy 101, IF they had that at all. The LMFT degree, in virtually all states, requires 60 credits, including 2 internships in the provision of family therapy services.)

Are you aware of your X State’s criteria for obtaining this expertise and being qualified as a specialist for the licensing of a marriage and family therapist. How much of that criteria do you meet?

So could you please state how you are qualified as an expert in assessing family dynamics as well as the adverse effects on children resulting from the dysfunctional parental dyad?

What has been your experience in the treatment of families?

What is the difference between individual therapy and family therapy?

What % do you practice in family therapy and in individual therapy?

How many families have you treated?

How do you justify individual treatment of the child outside of assessing the influence of the parental conflicts on the child?

Have you published books and/or articles on family therapy?

Are the X children being reared in a family?

Could the behaviors and reactions of the children in this case be indicative of being triangled into the parental conflicts?

What causes the symptoms for which you are treating the X children? (Individual therapists will be unable to account for the causes of a child symptoms because there is no empirical evidence for the existence of intra-psychic or biochemical disorders. A family therapist, on the other hand, has much empirical evidence as a family’s therapist can see how the child negatively reacts to the parents’ arguing when observing the family in the session.)

What is your empirical evidence for the causes you have just expressed?

Could you describe any parental interactions which have affected the children in this case?

Do you know how the discipline of family therapy labels the family interactional pattern which puts children in the middle of the parental disputes?

(It is called triangulation. Child psychiatrist, Murray Bowen, labeled it the “pathological triangle. ” Indeed, Bowen and was so convinced about the family’s role in creating and maintaining the child’s symptoms, that when he hospitalized the child, he also hospitalized the entire nuclear family.)

Are you aware, Dr. X, that the psychiatrist, Murray Bowen, was so convinced that the parents’ conflict and this triangulation was at the root of the child’s symptoms so that when he hospitalized a child, he simultaneously hospitalized the entire nuclear family?

Have you heard of child psychiatrist, Salvador Minuchin? (In 2007, he was rated by a research study of therapists as being one of the 10 most influential therapists in the history of psychotherapy. He has written more than 11 books on family therapy. There would not be even a single person trained in family therapy or child psychiatry who has not heard of him.)

Do you know what Dr. Minuchin stated about the adverse effects of triangulation on children? (He asserted that it is the basis of virtually all dysfunctional family relationships adversely affecting children, and the concept of triangulation can be readily found in his book entitled, Family Therapy Techniques, 1981. Dr. M actually labeled this triangulation as a cross-generational alliance between the child and a parent who is in conflict with the other parent. This is the key interactional pattern in the PAS family.)

So as you confirmed that the X children are being reared in a family, on what basis do you claim your expertise to justify making recommendations for the X children regarding their relationship with their targeted/alienated parent?

You really don’t have any expertise in family dynamics, do you, to make any assessments and recommendations for the X children and their parental relationships?

You testified that the children in this case have reservations about, fear of, and hatred for their targeted/alienated parent. Can say with any certainty that they were not influenced by their other parent?

How does the pathological triangle or family dynamics in this case influence what the children say and do?

Do you believe that children the age of the X children are cognitively competent and emotionally mature enough to make decisions in their own best interests?

What does Piaget state about the cognitive development of a child the age of: (give age of each child). ——Until the age of adolescence, children do not have the ability to think for themselves, and abstract thinking only begins at age 13. (Piaget wrote the bible on the development of epistemology in children as follows:

0-2 sensorimotor

2-7 preoperational

7-12 concrete operational

13-adulthood formal operational = abstract thinking.

Given the immature level of these children’s cognitive abilities, how do you distinguish the alienating parent’s influence on them their own ideas and feelings?

Can you rule out with any certainty that the alienating parent is not influencing them adversely against their targeted/alienated parent?

Have you observed the interactions between the children and their targeted/alienated parent?

How can you diagnose for a relationship you have never or virtually never observed?

Would a doctor recommend heart bypass surgery without having examined the heart?

Should a child decide whether to go to school? To medical appointments?

Would you say that deciding whether to have a relationship with a parent is as at least a significant decision as attending school or medical appointments?

Then why should they decide on whether to visit a parent or to have a relationship with a parent?

What specific examples did the child cite to justify the adverse opinions about and refusal to have a relationship with the targeted/alienated parent? (Generally these (experts) do not follow-up with questions for specific information. If they do, they an answer like “She/he lies. She/he is annoying, etc.” The expert should be questioned about her/his willingness to accept such frivolous rationalizations.)

How reliable is client self reporting? (It is not at all, and we accept that as truth in the mental health profession.)

Would it not be logical to conclude that the immature emotional and cognitive development of a child would make their reporting even less reliable?

Do you know any research on the effects on children if a parent is not meaningfully involved in their lives?

When a parent is significantly minimized and excluded from a child’s life, what do you think children fill that emotional vacuum with?

(Educate the “expert” about such research by using the statistics from Fatherneed and the SPARC statistics. A summary is in the PAS help file which I previously sent to anyone who had requested it.)

Would you not then conclude that having a parent eradicated from a child’s life leads to emotional distress and behavioral difficulties for the child?

And if such eradication was facilitated, either consciously or unconsciously, by the other parent, would you not consider that to be emotional child abuse?

Are you aware of any tactics the alienating parent/residential parent employed to interfere with the visits and/or relationship with the child and the targeted parent? (This is a case specific question and should be supported by documentation from the particular case by citing examples of the alienating behaviors.)

You made reference to the alienator’s many allegations against the other parent. Do you have no independent verification of those allegations? You really don’t, do you?

Why would you accept such allegations carte blanche without independent verification?

In your professional opinion, what would be the justification or motivations of the residential parent for not encouraging the relationship between the child and the other parent?

Do you believe that children are generally healthier if 2 parents remained meaningfully in their lives?

You have recommended that contact between the child and the nonresidential parent the only gradually reinstated? What is the research that supports this gradual reunification? (There is none! The propensity for the judicial system to only gradually reinstate visits is not supported by any research whatsoever.)

How do you explain that children of military families and who never met their deployed parent, excitedly run to, hug, smile at their deployed parent when that parent returns home from deployment?

Is it not true that it is because the caretaking parent talks up the deployed parent and enthusiastically encourages the child to greet the deployed parent explains it?

Is it not also true that the psychological and instinctual need and desire to have a relationship with a parent is so overwhelmingly strong that children will easily accept meaningful involvement from a parent from whom they have been estranged?

I have no more questions of this witness.

Posted in Alienation

expert witness claiming expertise in Parental alienation syndrome


Child psychologist and educational psychologist assessments are available in family law, childcare and school matters. Our care experts work with lawyers, CAFCASS, children’s services and the courts (in care proceedings, contact and residence cases). We produce high quality reports covering: parenting capacity assessments, parental alienation syndrome (PAS), family assessments and risk assessments and child abuse. Our medical experts provide excellent expert witness reports within seven days.


Ahimsa (Safer Families) Ltd is an independent agency providing expert assessments and specialist treatment and safety planning programmes for parents where domestic violence or child abuse is the primary child protection concern. Based near Plymouth, we operate primarily throughout the south and south west of England.



We regularly provide expert witness reports for solicitors covering a wide range of family issues from parental assessments, child assessments in custody cases and have provided reports in some of the highest profile family cases including London High Court leading law firms in the UK


Posted in Alienation

Surviving the Borderline Father:

Growing up with one or more parents affected with BPD causes significant damage to the child’s sense of self. Relief can only be achieved by stopping the abuse. This is done by installing consistent boundaries that do not allow for this type of abuse. Once this is achieved, healing of the self can occur by recognizing the damage done by the abuse and recasting the relationship in more realistic terms.

The nub of the problem is that if you have been raised by a Borderline mother or father, these behavioral scenes are your normal. First you need to step outside the abusive relationship sufficiently to realize what’s been done to you. After all, children don’t ask for abuse from the people they love the most in this world. Then, psychotherapy can help with objectifying what’s going on, setting good limits, and being the best son or daughter that you choose to be under the circumstances.

It’s a fight that’s worth the effort.

Posted in Alienation

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

Diagnostic Checklist for Pathogenic Parenting

C.A. Childress, Psy.D. (2015)

Click here to access the document:-

Posted in Alienation

Parental alienation and shared delusional disorders

By: ALISON M. HERU, M.D. APRIL 28, 2015

Disturbances in family emotional involvement are best understood at the extremes. At one end, there is extreme cutoff in the controversial diagnosis of parental alienation. At the other end is the extreme enmeshment in shared delusional disorders. What are the mechanisms that allow these conditions to develop? Helping families understand these mechanisms can help them change the trajectory of the family, by moving toward the middle, toward appropriate family emotional involvement.

How does enmeshment begin?

Good parents want to instill good morals, values, and behaviors in their children. Good parents want to teach their children to be good citizens, have good manners, and to treat others with respect. However, sometimes parents desire something more from their children; they want their children to continue a family business, be part of their religious organization, or to be “just like us.” Parental influence is easier when communities are isolated. When shared family beliefs are pervasive and impede the individuation of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, these families are considered enmeshed and undifferentiated. Enmeshed families are more susceptible to indoctrination. Indoctrination is easier when there is a high level of emotional involvement, meaning that children are kept close, and differentiation and individuation are discouraged.
Using a child for one’s own needs is exploitative;however, many parents might not understand how their own unconscious psychological needs affect their children. This is seen clearly when children are rejected because they are “different.” For example, some parents have stated that a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sexual orientation is “against their religion,” and demand that their child conform to the family beliefs and norms. In these cases, the adolescent or young adult has to decide whether to leave the family, conform to its beliefs, or hide his or her identity.

Emotional overinvolvement in undifferentiated enmeshed families is central to the diagnosis of shared delusional disorder. One example of a shared delusion is delusional parasitosis. This is a rare delusional disorder where the patient is convinced of being infested with worms, insects, parasites, or bacteria while no objective evidence exists to support this belief. Somatic delusions are shared with one or more members of a family in 5%-15% of cases (J. Behav. Health 2014;3:200-2).
Salvador Minuchin, Ph.D., and his colleagues outlined the impact of enmeshment in families where a child has an eating disorder. They described children so overprotected that there was a virtual moat around the family system, blocking out the world. Interpersonal differentiation in an enmeshed family system was poor, with identity fusion between parent and child. In this dynamic, the child is unable to establish a clear identity apart from the parent. Orthorexia, a term coined in 1997 by Dr. Steven Bratman, is defined as an obsession with “healthy or righteous eating.” The obsession with healthy foods can be structured within family habits. When enmeshment and family isolation are present, orthorexia can show up as a folie à famille (Heru, personal experience).
More exotic examples are known by the French terms folie à deux and folie à famille. Dr. Ernest-Charles Lasegue (Ann. Med. Psychol. 1877;18:321) was the first person to describe folie à deux. He stated that the inducer created the delusions from his/her psychosis and imposed them upon a “passive” individual; the induced subject was not truly psychotic but instead “absurdly credulous.” Several varieties are described. Folie imposée is the one we typically think of, where the naive individual has a resolution of symptoms when removed from the dominant person. Folie simultanée is where simultaneous and identical psychoses occur in two predisposed people who have had a long and intimate association with each other. There is usually no dominant partner, and separation does not alleviate the symptomatology. Folie communiquée involves the transfer of psychotic delusions after a long period of resistance by the passive partner. The recipient of the delusions subsequently develops his own delusions, independent of the primary subject’s, and these persist following separation.
Folie induite, a variant of folie communiquée, is diagnosed when new delusions are added to old ones under the influence of another deluded patient. The secondary person enriches the newly acquired delusions. Another method of classification is based on the number of individuals involved: folie à trois (three), folie à quatre (four), folie à cinq (five), and, as mentioned earlier, folie àfamille.

What is the mechanism for enmeshment? Several predisposing factors can occur: social isolation, the presence of a naive or “absurdly credulous” person, and in the case of relatives, a shared genetic predisposition. It is most common for the dominant person to drive the belief that is then accepted by dependent family members. In the case of children, there is also identification with a parent and a lack of drive for separation.

Role of alienation
At the opposite end of the spectrum is alienation, most publicly described in the disputed diagnosis of parental alienation syndrome (PAS) (The Parental Alienation Syndrome, 2nd ed., Cresskill, N.J.:Creative Therapeutics Inc., 1998). PAS sometimes arises in the context of child-custody disputes. The primary manifestation is the child’s unjustified denigration of one parent. According to Dr. William Bernet and Amy J.L. Baker, Ph.D., PAS features “abnormal, maladaptive behavior (refusal to have a relationship with a loving parent) that is driven by an abnormal mental state (the false belief that the rejected parent is evil, dangerous, or unworthy of love)” (J. Am. Acad. Psychiatry Law 2013;41:98-104). There is considered to be brainwashing of the child by one parent against the other parent in order to gain leverage in a court of law.
What is the mechanism in alienation? Enmeshment and overidentification of the child with the favored custodial parent is common. The child depends on this adult for his survival. The process of divorce can increase enmeshment with the custodial parent. The parent might reinforce the enmeshment by instilling fear of the “other” parent. The belief that the “other parent” is “bad” is transmitted through conscious and unconscious mechanisms.
The conscious mechanism is direct expression of anger toward the alienated parent. The anger might be motivated by rejection or as revenge for rejection with a desire to punish. The unconscious mechanisms include projective identification. In this situation, anger is seen as being embodied within the “other.” The projecting parent who continues to “hate” keeps the children tied to her out of projected fear of the “other.” The parent who uses projection is likely to have a primitive character structure. The child of the narcissistic custodial parent then acts out the shame and rage at the failure of the marriage.
These domestic tragedies have been around since the beginning of time. In Greek mythology, Medea, having been abandoned by Jason, took her revenge by murdering her two children. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is a paraphrase from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride (1697).

What does the DSM-5 say?
Are these disorders and syndromes “real” psychiatric illnesses? The DSM-5 no longer separates delusional disorder from shared delusional disorder. If criteria are met for delusional disorder, that diagnosis is made. If the diagnosis cannot be made but shared beliefs are present, the diagnosis “other specified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder” is used.
Those who advocated for inclusion of PAS cited the benefits that follow from a legitimate diagnosis such as legitimatizing problems that family therapists and psychotherapists encounter, allowing insurance coverage, and stimulating research. However, PAS was rejected as not having a good enough scientific basis.

Managing affective involvement
How does the psychiatrist manage families where emotional involvement is extreme? Psychiatrists first need to decide whether the family is capable of making changes and is willing to work on structural change within the family. If not, we can help patients remove themselves from destructive family situations. If the patient in your office wants to leave the family system or minimize the impact of the family system, individual psychotherapy that identifies the impact of family dysfunction, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be used as a type of deprogramming.

If you think there is capacity for family change, the following strategies are helpful:
1. Education about appropriate differentiation
According to Dr. Murray Bowen, one of the main tasks of individuation is finding the right level of differentiation from parents. At one end of the differentiation spectrum is emotional fusion, and at the other end is emotional cutoff (disconnection between family members or refusal to engage with certain family members) (see “Family Evaluation,” New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1988).
When family enmeshment is present, we can educate the family about individuation. In this way, the family develops a greater intellectual understanding of how they function, compared to their cultural norm. The family may benefit from creating a genogram that clarifies patterns of emotional involvement in their family of origin. Look for intergenerational patterns, and discuss how emotional differentiation occurred in prior generations. Teach the family about the emotional tasks of differentiation.
2. If there is alienation, parse out the reasons
Clarify conscious mechanisms that force the child to reject the other parent. Help the parent understand the consequences for the child in having no access to the other parent. Again, using a genogram helps identify intergenerational patterns, such as emotional cutoffs. Explore the reason for prior family emotional cutoffs. Identify typical patterns in the family for managing anger and conflicts.
In cases of divorce of the custodial parent, look at how anger is managed and stages of grief. Look for the presence of narcissistic injury. Discuss what a good divorce is and the healthiest way for the child to grow up. Help the parent manage and process her own affect without contaminating the child. It is not the role of the child to be the parental caregiver.
Help the child see that there was a loving relationship in the past and that new family goals can be created. The child also might experience anger and grief, and it is important to educate the child about how to manage those feelings appropriately rather than using blame and alienation. Help the child be empowered by positive ideals rather than negative emotions.
Psychiatrists often avoid working with these families, and perceive them as stuck and unable to change. This might be true for some families but certainly not all. Many families find themselves in situations that they do not understand and with problems they need help resolving. Educating and working with families who are stuck and who ask for and want change can change the life trajectory of many people.
Dr. Heru is with the department of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver, Aurora. She is editor of “Working With Families in Medical Settings: A Multidisciplinary Guide for Psychiatrists and Other Health Professionals” (New York: Routledge, 2013).

Cloud 11 (1)




These disorders typically aren’t diagnosed until an individual is a young adult, often not until their 20’s or even 30’s. Most individuals with personality disorders lead pretty normal lives and often only seek psychotherapeutic treatment during times of increased stress or social demands. Most people can relate to some or all of the personality traits listed; the difference is that it does not affect most people’s daily functioning to the same degree it might someone diagnosed with one of these disorders. Personality disorders tend to be an intergral part of a person, and therefore, are difficult to treat or “cure.” Learn more about personality disorders and personality traits

comfort zone

Posted in Brainwashing - Mind Control

Brainwashing Techniques

Robert Lifton has studied the American prisoners of war extensively and he outlines the process this way:

  1. Assault on identity
  2. The Establishment of Guilt
  3. The Self-betrayal
  4. Breaking point: Total Conflict and the Basic Fear
  5. Leniency and Opportunity
  6. The Compulsion to confess
  7. The Channeling of guilt
  8. Re-education: Logical Dishonoring
  9. Progress and harmony
  10. Final confession
  11. Rebirth
  12. Release

Lets look at these steps one by one and consider the brainwashing techniques used at each step. (Remember that these ideas can just as easily be applied to groups of 2 people or groups of thousands.)

Assault on identity
The first thing the manipulator does is challenge the person at the level of identity. The American prisoners were physically abused and tortured while everything they said was contradicted. Fairly quickly, they began to doubt themselves.

The Establishment of Guilt
Clifton’s prisoners reported that a huge guilt complex was imposed upon them. In the end they believed that they deserved their punishment. It no longer had anything to do with the injustice of their captors, but rather that they believed that they should be punished.

One of the important brainwashing techniques here is to make the person feel responsible for their faults and the things that go wrong in their life. If they make a mistake, do something poorly, or if things do not go according to plan, it’s their responsibility and so they feel guilty.

The Self-betrayal
During this stage the prisoners were expected to denounce friends and colleagues. And then their family and their previous standards. Any doubts or ambivalences they have (or had! for example, something minor about the political system of America they did not like or agree with) are played upon by their captors to increase the degree of self betrayal. This has the effect of separating them from the past and further destroying their sense of self.

Breaking point: Total Conflict and the Basic Fear
At some point the prisoners realize that there is no way out from the horror and pain and guilt. They begin to experience one of the most primitive and painful emotions known to man, the fear of total annihilation. In fact, many wished for a quick death. Some even suffered delusions and hallucinations. Obviously their ability to think and reason at this stage was severely compromised.

Leniency and Opportunity
When the prisoners could literally take no more, all of a sudden there was leniency. A friendly face, a kind voice, an offer of a little luxury, a cigarette or a drink. For the prisoner, suddenly there is hope, a way out.

And of course the opportunity that the captor is offering is to fully denounce the old way and embrace the new way. “Just do as we want and you’ll be okay.” In order to avoid total annihilation, the prisoner becomes motivated to help his captors!

The Compulsion to Confess
The prisoners typically confess to anything at first, saying what they think their captors want to hear and even inventing crimes. They feel they want to remove the evil from inside, the evil that makes their captors punish them. The confessions gather momentum, with the prisoners admitting to more and more. One of the brainwashing techniques used was to get prisoners to ‘encourage’ each other to confess.

The Channeling of Guilt
The prisoners reported that instead of just feeling guilt for their past actions, they began to feel guilt for who they were and for the set of beliefs they had in the past. They realized that their point of view was different from that of their captors and the more they accepted their captors way of thinking, the more they felt guilty for who they were.

Re-education: Logical Dishonoring
The next of the brainwashing techniques was to go beyond feeling guilty to understanding their lives were a series of shameful acts, not only because they did not fit in with communist ideas but also because they were violating their own personal ideals.

The idea is that each of us has a thesis, a personal creed or ethic, as well as it’s antithesis, a weakness which contradicts or works against this ideal. The communists encouraged the antithesis and wore down the thesis of each individual. To some extent the antithesis is that part of us that we normally try to suppress (because we learnt it was socially unacceptable). As this aspect becomes more dominant the true identity becomes more suppressed.

Why is this logical? Lifton says it’s only logical if we look at the bigger picture. The acceptance of this new identity becomes linked to learning the communist doctrine, and they become inseparable, one reinforcing the other. This was the overall aim of the communist captors. Therefore it is logical to cast the previous life in a bad light.

The prisoner’s weaknesses and strengths were known to his captors, and both were used against him to continually educate him in the new doctrine and reinforce the new personality.

Progress and Harmony
As the prisoners continue to progress, the brainwashing techniques changed and they received recognition and acceptance and were treated as human beings again. Compared to earlier treatment the sense of harmony now is enough to motivate them to keep going.

Final confession: The Summing Up
The prisoners confess one last time, for the record, so to speak. There may even be a solemn ceremony or a rite of passage. This time, however, it’s the new identity speaking, and it’s as if the new identity is describing the things in the confession as if they are personal discoveries. It’s as if they are better people now for having overcome the ‘problems’ they had in the past.

This final confession is the prisoners subjective experience of his reformers message, plus the guilty re-evaluation of his past actions. For this reason it can be quite logical and believable.

The man is ‘whole’ again, but his reality is different, thoughts and values have shifted and the prisoner has a different relationship with the world. The brainwashing techniques here involve rewarding ‘good behavior’ and punishing the bad.

Prisoners are allowed back into the world again but they have to deal with people who treat them as they were before, people who question their new ideas and beliefs and even question their new identity. (This was often very traumatic for the ex-prisoners.)

Mind control techniques

As with brainwashing techniques, the idea of mind control is to destroy the old identity and create a new one a pseudo-personality, one that holds the beliefs, values and ideas of the manipulator.

For example, cult members are told that they are weak and defective in some way. They are products of society where society has imposed beliefs and ideas on them making them like everybody else. And society did this when they were very young before they could make their own decisions. Often parents are criticized for being less than perfect and the members come to believe that the parents were doing them harm too.

The members thus begin to question themselves and who they are.

Debilitation is also used in cults and is brought about by sleep deprivation, long working hours, poor diets or high-sugar diets, secretly putting drugs in food. And in some cults, violence is indeed used. (Some cults are very violent with physical and sexual abuse being used to manipulate members. However, the members have typically been led to believe it’s for their own good!)

Guilt and fear are used extensively as part of the overall emotional manipulation of cult members. Emotional manipulation is also used to make the members feel good about what they are doing, as well as to prevent any critical thinking. When we experience very strong emotions, there’s not a lot of reasoning going on.

Differences with brainwashing techniques

Cults will also use the following techniques to manipulate that are not necessarily used in the brainwashing techniques described above:

  • hypnosis
  • deceit – double agendas – the victim thinks they are getting one thing, but the reality is they are getting something else
  • love bombing – showering of new members with love and affection to make them feel special
  • childish games to cause age regression and encourage obedience
  • no questions or criticism of the leadership is allowed
  • new members are usually accompanied by more experienced members and are not given time alone to think
  • cults encourage financial commitment as a way to encourage psychological commitment
  • loaded language – complex ideas are condensed into short sound bites which means the members think less
  • chanting, singing, dancing, body therapies – all reduce critical thinking

More Similarities

Things that are common to both brainwashing techniques and mind control tactics:

  • repetition
  • spying on peers and reporting misdeeds to the leadership
  • creation of dependency by alternating rewards and punishments for the same behavior
  • unpredictable behavior by abusers
  • long boring, convoluted speeches
  • verbal abuse, criticism, insults
  • no criticism of the new doctrine is allowed
  • threats
  • small rewards for desired behaviors, punishments for unwanted behaviors
  • all-powerful leaders who decide everything
  • victims usually ignorant of what happens next


In the sequence of brainwashing techniques above, we see that not until the stage of leniency and opportunity does the victim begin to cooperate with the captor. In mind control (as described above) the victims are willing participants in their own destruction from the word go. They cooperate with the leader from the very start, or at least very shortly thereafter.

They believe they are making their own decisions and when we believe there is no coercion, we are freely deciding, we are much more committed to those decisions and the decisions last longer.

This means that the whole process of mind control can actually go much more quickly then when there is force and pain and suffering involved. Even after a course of several days in a cultic environment, some people can be further along in the process of developing a new personality then some prisoners after 3 or 4 months of torture.

When people talk about cults and brainwashing techniques evolving with technology, this is what they’re talking about.

Cloud 4 (5)

Posted in Alienation

Mind Control Trick

What is it?

The mind control trick that distinguishes mind control from brainwashing is in how the manipulator is perceived by the ‘victim’. In brainwashing, the manipulator is an obvious enemy. Often physical force is involved. The person may be in a position where their life depends on conforming to the wishes of the manipulator.

The mind control trick is that the victim thinks the manipulator is a friend, or a teacher, someone who has their best interests at heart.

This means the manipulated person is a willing participant, they believe they are being helped and taken care of. They believe they are making their own decisions. This makes it more dangerous than holding a gun to someone’s head!!

We explained here how a psychopath will very rapidly create an intimate bondby assessing their victim’s personality and creating a persona that will be attractive to that personality.

The psychopath gives 4 messages.

  • 1. I like who you are
  • 2. I am just like you
  • 3. Your secrets are safe with me
  • 4. I am the perfect friend, partner, companion, lover… for you!

Let’s have a closer look at how and why these messages deceive the victim into thinking the psychopath is a friend.

I like who you are

We all want to be liked. We want to be noticed and we want to be accepted. We all like compliments. Having someone notice us (when most people are preoccupied with themselves) is flattering in and of itself.

Accepting and reinforcing someone’s persona is an incredibly powerful method to get them to like you. And psychopaths will do it in a verycharming, and disarming, manner! They are experts in this mind control trick.

I am just like you

Based on what the psychopath knows about you, from what you said, but more importantly from his assessment of you, the psychopath begins to share details about his own life. It seems like he’s letting down his guard. However,frequently it’s just lies. Because the things he shares with you are issues that are important to you. This begins to strengthen the bond.

Your secrets are safe with me

Because they are sharing ‘intimate details’ with you, it’s easy for you to let down your guard and to begin to talk about yourself. After all, you feel that you’re in the company of somebody who actually understands you, whounderstands you at a deeper level than most people do. You trust that this person is different and you get further sucked in by this mind control trick.

The psychopath is fulfilling another one of our basic psychophysical needs, safety and security.

I am the perfect friend, partner, companion, lover… for you!

So you think you found somebody who really understands you and accepts you for who you are, ‘warts and all’. The more information you give the psychopath, the more the persona he projects seems to be a good match for you.

He builds a strong reputation of him in your mind, perhaps with similar weaknesses, perhaps with abilities that you would like to have. The relationship is different and special in many ways.

The psychopath has done his work to get to this point, and now your fate is linked to this psychopathic bond.

As mentioned, this can occur in one-to-one relationships with a psychopath or narcissist, or in group settings.

Is this not normal?

So why are these considered basic mind control techniques? Don’t these things occur between husband and wife, for example? Of course they do.

The difference is that the psychopathic relationship is not real. The persona of the psychopath is manufactured. As far as the psychopath is concerned, there is no such relationship. He has simply manufactured it to manipulate you. He has told whatever lies necessary to convince you of one thing, while he is organizing something else.

One psychopath said “(In a relationship…) if you don’t know who is leading,you are being led by the nose.”

That means there was no informed choice on your part. The psychopath chose you deliberately because of the benefits to him. You have no idea what’s actually happening.

It won’t last…

These relationships don’t last, in two ways. As soon as you’re hooked, the psychopath changes and does only the bare minimum to maintain the relationship. All the initial ‘ supposed’ care, attention and love may disappear. For example, if a psychopath builds such a relationship with a man and then marries him, her behavior towards him can change dramatically, to manipulative and abusive.

The second manner in which it does not last is when the psychopath has no further use for the person and discards them. Literally. The person is left bewildered, not understanding what happened, and even wanting the psychopath back!

It’s all about power!

These relationships have a power imbalance, with the power obviously being with the psychopath. This is the objective of this mind control trick – to win and keep the power and control over others.

(The power imbalance means that there is no informed consent in sexual relationships where one party is under mind control. This means it is legally sexual aggression or sexual abuse.)

Most people like to think that there is some good in everyone. Remember how we form first impressions based on our beliefs and values? Most people expect others to be good, respectful and honest in their relationships, and this is what they look for in others.

One of the reasons socialized psychopaths are so successful is that normal people don’t believe that such evil exists. Evil is a common word in the description of psychopaths, because it’s not simply a matter of taking advantage of other people, these are social predators hunting for victims.Like reptiles, they have no conscience!

There are quite happy to use this mind control trick to abuse people psychologically, emotionally, sexually, physically and financially, all without guilt or remorse, or the slightest consideration for their victims!


If you feel that you are in a relationship that is almost perfect, and it has happened very fast, use this as a signal that you need to stop and re-evaluate what is happening. This is an opportunity to stop mind control before you are badly affected.

Posted in Alienation

Spotting Manipulators, Liars, and Abusers

I’m a strong believer in reading whatever you want to read and watching whatever you want to watch. With that freedom, I’m also a strong believer in the freedom of discourse.

For example, I was hoping to see The Imitation Game this coming weekend, but it turns out I can’t because Fifty Shades of Grey will be taking up every theater for its Valentine’s Day release. So now that I know I’ll be spending the weekend stacking things on my cat, I figured this would be a nice time for some discourse.

I don’t really want to spend this article insulting the franchise. Actually, I do, but a lot of people have already done a much better job of that than I could hope to. So instead, I thought I’d use all of this excitement to try & spread a little bit of awareness about sociopaths, narcissists, and psychopaths. What a surprise!

Did you know that psychopaths make up 4% of the general population, and narcissists come in even higher at6%?

These people are not usually serial killers or genocidal tyrants. They’re much more commonly the people being glorified this Valentine’s Day. Controlling, pity-seeking, manipulative predators—masked as passionate & exciting lovers.

The problem with Fifty Shades of Grey is that it fails to understand the character it’s trying to portray. Okay, so you’ve got your charming sociopath and he’s so sexy. Kinky, wild, exciting. Charming and alluring at first, he focuses all of his attention on you. It’s like there’s no one else in the world.

So far, pretty accurate. It always starts off with idealization.

Then the mask begins to slip. He’s controlling, threatening, and kind of scary. You’re constantly on edge around him and you never know where you stand. Your entire life starts to revolve around him, and slowly but surely, you begin to lose your sense of self.

Yep, still accurate. With sociopaths, the idealization always comes to an end.

Next up, we start digging into the abuser’s past. Turns out he had a tragic childhood, which explains all of the unacceptable behavior mentioned above! Fortunately, our victim has a superpower. She can cure sociopathy!


Yes, that’s right. Sociopaths come from abusive backgrounds but they can be fixed with the right kind of lover who understands them. A steamy, broken sort of romance. Society might say no, but that’s because they’re just so caught up in their conventional ways. They could never understand childhood abuse survivors and their sexual needs.

Annnnnnd fail.

This is not about BDSM. It’s about manipulation, coercion, and abuse. BDSM is a set of sexual practices. Those other words? They’re indicative of a serious, incurable personality disorder. Those qualities are not things you can “fix”. They’re things they use to make you think you can fix them.

Sociopaths love pity. They use it constantly. They use it to justify their abuse, making you feel sorry for them, instead of thinking about your own boundaries & rights. They are pathological liars who will say anything and everything to convince you that their toxic behavior is good for you. Like parasites, their goal is to do whatever it takes to keep you as a source of supply.

This is one of the most common tactics of a psychopathic predator. “You’re the only one who understands me. I’ve never felt this way in my life.” Everyone else has failed them, but you… You are the one. The exception.

This is why I hate Fifty Shades of Grey. Not because of the sex or the kinkiness. But because it perpetuates this bold-faced lie that abusive people can be fixed by the right person. This idea that sociopathic relationships are sexy, when in reality, they will completely destroy every bit of your self-worth.

You cannot fix a sociopath. They do not have a conscience. They cannot grow a conscience. They’re not secretly insecure and tragic. They understand human nature and how to control it. They actively manipulate your own perception so that it becomes a point of pride/vanity to be “the one” who fixes them.

These things may feel good at first, even addictive. And that’s the point. Psychopaths know how to manufacture intense desperation and desire. Like Twilight, which teaches young people that love triangles are hot. But these toxic shortcuts to “love” are not actually love to the abuser. They are ways to ensure power over others.

So this Valentine’s Day, regardless of your sexual fantasies, I’d like to mention some qualities that can be found in any genuine, healthy sort of love:

  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Openness
  • Trust

Find someone who can feel the same things as you, not someone who uses those qualities to exploit you.
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Posted in Alienation

Manipulative People

There are a lot of phenomenal studies on the traits and characteristics of psychopaths. For professional research, check out Cleckley’s criteria or Hare’s psychopathy checklist. A quick Google search ought to do the trick. The red flags in this book are intended to supplement those resources.

So what’s different about this list? Well, for one, it’s specifically about relationships. But it’s also about you. Each point requires introspection and self-awareness. Because if you want to spot toxic people, you cannot focus entirely on their behavior—that’s only half the battle. You must also come to recognize the looming red flags in your own heart. Then, you will be ready for anything.

1. You feel on-edge around this person, but you still want them to like you. You find yourself writing off most of their questionable behavior as accidental or insensitive, because you’re in constant competition with others for their attention and praise. They don’t seem to care when you leave their side—they can just as easily move on to the next source of energy.

2. They withhold attention and undermine your self-esteem. After first hooking you with praise and flattery, they suddenly become reclusive and uninterested. They make you feel desperate & needy, ensuring that you are always the one to initiate contact or physical intimacy.

3. Plasters your Facebook page with compliments, flattery, songs, and poems. They text you dozens, if not hundreds of times per day. You come to rely on this over-communication as a source of confidence.

4. Quickly declares you their soul mate. And for some reason, you don’t find it creepy. They tell you how much they have in common with you. On the first few dates, you do most of the talking and they just can’t believe how perfect you are for them.

5. Compares you to everyone else in their life. Ex-lovers, friends, family members, and your eventual replacement. When idealizing, they make you feel special by telling you how much better you are than these people. When devaluing, they use these comparisons to hurt you.

6. Lies & excuses. There is always an excuse for everything, even things that don’t require excusing. They make up lies faster than you can question them. They will always blame others—it is never their fault. They spend more time rationalizing their behavior than improving it.

7. No startle response. Total absence of anxiety, fear, and worry where there otherwise should be. They are also very easily bored by the familiar. You write this off as calm and cool, often feeling inferior and over-sensitive because you have normal human emotions.

8. Insults you with a condescending, joking sort of attitude. Smirks when you try to express yourself. Teasing becomes the primary mode of communication in your relationship. They subtly belittle your intelligence and achievements. If you point this out, they call you hypersensitive and crazy.

9. Uses social networking to provoke jealousy and rivalries while maintaining their cover of innocence. They once focused all of their attention on you, but now they post ambiguous videos and statuses to make you doubt your place in their heart. They bait previously denounced exes with old songs and inside jokes. They attend to new activity and ignores yours.

10. You find yourself playing detective. It’s never happened in any other relationship, but suddenly you’re scrolling back years on their Facebook page and albums. Same with their ex. You’re seeking answers to a feeling you can’t quite explain.

11. Surrounds themselves with former lovers and potential mates. Brags that their exes still want to sleep with him/her, but assures you there is nothing to worry about. These people make you feel jealous and give off the perception that your partner is in high-demand.

12. Hyperbolizes emotions while displaying none of them. They make passionate statements like “I’ve never felt so happy in my life” in a completely robotic voice. It sounds like an alien trying to explain how they imagine human emotions might feel.

13. You are the only one who sees their true colors. Others will think they’re the nicest person in the world, even though they are used for money, resources, and attention. They won’t care because he/she strategically distracts them with shallow praise (often done over social networking). Psychopaths are able to maintain superficial friendships far longer than their relationships.

14. Accuses you of emotions that they are intentionally provoking. They will call you jealous after blatantly flirting with their ex over social networking for the world to see. They will call you needy after intentionally ignoring you for three days straight.

15. Cannot put themselves in your shoes, or anyone else’s for that matter. You find yourself desperately trying to explain how they might feel if you were treating them this way, and they just stare at you blankly.

16. You are engaged in constant conversations about their ex. You know them by name, and you know everything about their relationship—at least, your partner’s version of events. The ex becomes one of the most frequent topics of discussion in your relationship.

17. You find yourself explaining the basic elements of human respect to a full-grown man/woman. Normal people understand the fundamental concepts of honesty and kindness. No adult should need to be told how they are making other people feel.

18. Focuses on your mistakes and ignores their own. If they’re two hours late, don’t forget that you were once five minutes late to your first date. If you point out their mistakes, they will always be quick to turn the conversation back on you.

19. Suddenly and completely bored by you. Gives you the silent treatment and becomes very annoyed that you seem to be interested in continuing the passionate relationship that they created. You are now a chore to them.

20. The ultimate hypocrite. They have extremely high expectations for fidelity, respect, and adoration. After the idealization phase, they will give none of this back to you. They will cheat, lie, insult, and degrade. But you are expected to remain perfect.

21. Sometimes it seems as though they’ve forgotten who they’re supposed to be around you. They adopt different personas for different people—transforming their entire personality to match various audiences. It’s always very eerie when they slip and accidentally use the wrong mask for you. You will start to feel that their personality just doesn’t seem to add up.

22. An unusual amount of “crazy” people in their past. Any ex-partner or friend who did not come crawling back to them will likely be labeled jealous, bipolar, an alcoholic, or some other nasty smear. They will speak about you the same way to their next target.

23. Flatters your deepest insecurities. If you’re self-conscious about your looks, they’ll call you the sexiest person in the world. If you’ve got a need to entertain, they’ll say you’re the funniest person they’ve ever known. They will also mirror your greatest fantasies, playing whatever role is necessary to win your heart.

24. Frequently comments about what you’re wearing and how you look. They try to arrange you. You become obsessed with your appearance, noticing flaws that likely don’t even exist. During and after the relationship, you will spend significantly more time in front of the mirror. (Thank you to our member, ckwanderlust, for these valuable insights).

25. You fear that any fight could be your last. Normal couples argue to resolve issues, but psychopaths make it clear that negative conversations will jeopardize the relationship, especially ones regarding their behavior. You apologize and forgive quickly, otherwise you know they’ll lose interest in you.

26. Obsessed with humiliating successful, kind & cheerful people. Delighted by the idea of breaking up friendships and marriages. If you work hard to maintain interpersonal peace in your life, they will make it their mission to uproot all of it.

27. Gaslighting. Blatantly denies their own manipulative behavior and ignores evidence when confronted with it. They will become angry if you attempt to disprove their delusions with facts.

28. They expect you to read their mind. If they stop communicating with you for several days, it’s your fault for not knowing about the plans they never told you about. There will always be a self-victimizing excuse to go along with this.

29. Selfishness and a crippling thirst for attention. They drain the energy from you and consume your entire life. Their demand for adoration is insatiable. You thought you were the only one who could make them happy, but now you feel that anyone with a beating pulse could fit the role. However, the truth is: no one can fill the void of a psychopath’s soul.

30. Your feelings. After a run-in with a psychopath, you will feel insane, exhausted, drained, shocked, suicidal, and empty. You will tear apart your entire life—spending money, ending friendships, and searching for some sort of reason behind it all.