A few months ago, we discussed psychological manipulation in interpersonal relationships, defined the difference between manipulator and influencer, mentioned some risk factors or emotional hot buttons that make you more susceptible to manipulation, as well as some signs and symptoms that you are in emotionally abusive relationship. Today we are going to discuss some real mind control techniques that were traditionally used not just by ordinary people in interpersonal relationships but also in groups.
Physical isolation can be very powerful, but even when physical isolation is impossible or not practical, manipulators will typically attempt to isolate you mentally. This may be achieved in a number of ways from one week seminars in the country to criticizing your family and circle of friends. Limiting any other influence by controlling information flow is the ultimate goal.
Criticism may be used as an isolation tool. The manipulators will usually speak in “us against them” terms, criticize the outside world and claim their own superiority. According to them, you must feel lucky to be associated with them.
Social proof and peer pressure
Those who attempt to manipulate large groups of people will typically use social proof and peer pressure to brainwash newcomers. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where (some) people assume that the actions and beliefs of others are appropriate and, because “everyone does that”, must be justified. This works especially well when an individual isn’t sure what to think, how to behave, or what to do. A lot of people in such situations will simply look at what others do and do the same.
Fear of alienation
Newcomers to manipulative groups will usually receive a warm welcome and will form a number of new friendships that seem to be much deeper and more meaningful than anything they have ever experienced. Later on, if any doubts arise, these relationships will become a powerful tool to hold them in the group. Even if they aren’t completely convinced, the life in the outside world may seem very lonely.
Constant repetition is another powerful persuasion tool. Although it may seem too simplistic to be effective, but repeating same message over and over again makes it familiar and easier to remember. When repetition is combined with social proof, it delivers the message without a fail.
Existence of affirmations (as self-improvement technique) is another proof that repetition works. If you can persuade yourself through repetition, chances are someone may attempt to use repetition to manipulate you into thinking and behaving in a certain way.