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Hassan's BITE

 

Techniques > Conversion > Hassan's BITE

Behavior Control | Information Control | Thought Control | Emotional Control | See also

 

Steve Hassan is a well-known cult member turned anti-cult proponent. He describes four areas of control that are used to convert and retain people in groups, that has the acronym 'BITE':

  • Behavior Control
  • Information Control
  • Thought Control
  • Emotional Control

What is perhaps scary is that much of this can, at least to some degree, be applied to most organizations!

Behavior Control

Behavior control involves regulation of every part of the life of the target person, from what they wear and eat to what they do each moment of the day. This is typically coerced by repeated punishment of self-willed actions, plus reward of actions that follow given rules.

Information Control

The information that the person has access to is strictly controlled, such that all information supports the group, its beliefs and that which directs the person's action. Outside information is blocked to avoid disconfirming evidence. Information within the group is based on 'need to know' and seniority rules, thus ensuring individuals do not get hold of inappropriate information (whilst also helping to increase the status and desirability of higher positions within the organization). Information made available is massaged to provide 'proof' of group ideals. Individuals are encouraged to report on one another and also on their own innermost thoughts and confess 'sins'.

Thought Control

The thinking of individuals is controlled first by an implicit assumption that the ideas and ideals of the group are correct and unchallengeable. Anything else is framed as a polar opposite and hence to be avoided or destroyed. Words are invented and reinterpreted to have special meaning. Buzz phrases and clich? are used to simplify complex situations into trivial things that can be discounted or adopted without deep thought. 'Thought-stopping' practices such as chanting, meditation and prayer are used to create altered states of suggestibility and lack of challenge.

Emotional Control

Emotions are both controlled and used to persuade. Guilt is regularly used to show a bad past that must be shunned and overcome. Fear is induced about outside threats, losing salvation, punishment within the group and doing anything without approval. Self-sustaining phobias are thus created about anything that may challenge the group's ideals. People who leave are framed as weak or evil. Extreme positions are taken that jerk emotions between excitement and dread.

See also

 

Buy Me

Steven Hassan, Combatting Cult Mind Control, Park Street Press, 1990

   One of the classics on controlling groups from a former high-level Moonie who has since dedicated his life to helping others. Includes good descriptions of how cults operate as well as examples of Hassan's approach to helping people recover from them.

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Buy Me

Steven Hassan, Releasing The Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves, Aitan Publishing Company, 2000

Another solid book from Steve Hassan, who was himself a high-level Moonie. The major focus of this text is, as might be surmised, helping people who have recently left a coercive group. Hassan has developed a 'strategic intervention' approach that is much softer than the older 'deprogramming' methods.

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http://www.shassan.com

 

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