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Thought stopping


Techniques > Conversion > Thought stopping

Undesirable thoughts | Preventing thoughts | See also


The principle of 'thought stopping' is first to stop people thinking about those things which will distract or dissuade them from what they are supposed to be thinking.

Undesirable thoughts


Undesirable thinking can come in two forms. First, the person may be distracted by innocuous thoughts when they should be concentrating on a particular area. When I am reading or meditating, for example, someone talking nearby would be a distraction and cause my mind to wander onto the subjects about which they are talking. Distraction is thus just a block to conversion, slowing it down.

People may also be taught thought-stopping methods as ways of blocking out dissuasive arguments when they meet them. Just as a child puts their hands over their ears and makes 'da-da-da' noises to block out what they do not want to hear, so a group member may distract their conscious, for example by reciting some form of litany to themselves or otherwise avoiding having to experience the tension of contradictory arguments.


The second form of unwanted thoughts are when the person is thinking about something that will dissuade them and persuade otherwise from the thoughts that they should be having. This is far more serious that distraction as it can cause a reversal in the process of conversion, rather than a temporary pause.

Dissuasion may occur accidentally or deliberately. Accidental dissuasion occurs, when the person reads, hears or sees something that is not targeted directly at them, but causes them to think the wrong thoughts.

Preventing thoughts


Isolation from distractions is commonly used at least at two levels. First, when practices such as meditation and prayer are used, then individual isolation removes immediate distractions. At the second level, individuals and groups may be isolated from the world, either to avoid any dissuasion of individuals or to remove distractions.


Another simple way of limiting undesirable thoughts is to keep people busy with all kinds of physical and mental activities that gives them little time for any action, talk or reflection that may lead to wrong thoughts.

Carrot and stick

Operant Conditioning says that rewards causes behavior to be repeated, whilst punishment leads to extinction of behavior. Reward of right thinking and punishment of wrong thinking may thus be used to persuade and dissuade.

See also

Isolation, Keeping busy


Conversion Books

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