According to clinical psychologist Margaret Singer, there are six conditions under which a person must be subjected, where mind control happens. These are (Singer, 2003):
- Keep the target in the dark, unaware that he/she is being changed. Victims of this type of manipulation are psychologically led to change their behaviors in order to meet the agenda of the leader. The end goal is for the target to do the bidding of the leader. In the case of parental alienation, the end result is to hurt the targeted parent. In other cases, the end goal is to fulfill the leader’s personal needs for power and control and even to fulfill his/her ultimate fantasies.
- Control the person’s physical and social environment. Leaders of mind-control provide ample structure, rules, and assignments to keep targets constantly on task.
- Create a sense of powerlessness in the target. Leaders ensure that the target is away from his/her social support system and puts him/her in an environment with those already entrenched in the group. This helps targets of mind control lose personal autonomy, power, and confidence. This erodes the target’s intuition. As the target’s sense of powerlessness increases, his/her sense of good judgment and understanding of the world decreases (view of reality is destabilized.) As the other members of the group attack the victim’s worldview, cognitive dissonance results. No talking about this is allowed. In the case of parental alienation the empathic or “normal” parent is villianized.
- Incorporate a system of rewards and punishments in the person’s life; ones that promote the manipulator’s agenda, and undermine the target’s autonomy and individuality. Members get positive feedback for conforming to the leader’s beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
- Create a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors. Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded, while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. If one expresses a question, he or she is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them doing so.
- The system is closed, with an authoritarian structure that allows no feedback and refuses input not approved of by leadership approval. The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leader never loses.
Remember this, targets of mind-control are not valued for their individuality; rather, they are mere objects (actors) in the leader’s personal production, where the leader is the director, producer, author, and playwright of his/her own saga.