From commentary by psychologist Carol Milstone in “Author likens her therapy ordeal to cult-like manipulation”, in relation to Gail Macdonald, Making of an Illness: My Experience with Multiple Personality Disorder (Laurentian University Press, 1999). As published in the National Post, May 10, 1999, p. D2:
Social influence, and cults as a particularly virulent form of social influence, form the meaty substance of most undergraduate courses in social psychology. In their efforts to understand how seemingly normal people’s behaviour can be shaped in bizarre and disturbing ways, social psychologists have identified key factors that, when mixed together, create a mammoth force over human behaviour:
* the power of authority figures (particularly those with charisma);
* the vulnerability of individuals who are highly suggestible and have strong needs to please others;
* the systematic isolation of victims from their friends and families (usually by planting allegations and paranoia about them);
* “brainwashing”, which tampers with the victim’s beliefs and values while under an altered state of consciousness–often through hypnosis, fasting, sleep deprivation or drugs.
But how would you know when you went away…