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The vulnerable persona


Techniques > Conversion > The vulnerable persona

A weak sense of identity | Conditioning | Converting the vulnerable | See also


There are some people who are more susceptible to conversion than others. Often this is due to problems in their past. Groups seeking new members often prey on such people, as they are easy to convert and easy to retain.

A weak sense of identity

A most common problem that many people face is that they have a weak sense of identity, such that they seek support for this from others. This makes them vulnerable, both to attack and also to using support as a lure.

Low self-esteem

When people are not sure of who they are, they will often feel inferior to other people. They look at others and consider them superior. They look in the mirror and see a child. In transactional terms, they see themselves as a child and others as parents.

A need for certainty

Another factor that affects vulnerability is the person's need for certainty and a sense of control that seeks certainty, predictability and completion. When a person finds ambiguity frightening, then they are susceptible to methods that place them in uncertain and ambiguous positions.

A need for reassurance

In this low identity position, they feel their sense of self leaking away, of literally becoming 'nobody'. This fear of annihilation can be very debilitating. In order to shore up this position, they will often seek succor from others in the form of praise and other forms of attention. Even annoyed attention is better than none, and they can easily fall into such as the 'recognize me' game.


Parental conditioning

Parents are not taught how to be good parents, and although most do their best, they, too have been damaged by their own upbringing, and tend to repeat the patterns that they received. Dysfunction can thus echo down through generations of people.

Psychologist Eric Ericson showed in his Developmental Stage Theory how easy it is for well-meaning parents to damage their children's trust, self-esteem and confidence.

 Social conditioning

Children are also affected by their social environment, particularly in their teens when they take their values from their peers. Teachers also echo the role of parents and an early offhand criticism can deeply wound the child for many years.

Institutional conditioning

People can also be conditioned into vulnerable states by institutions such as the army, where much of their environment is controlled and they have been taught to obey orders without question. Leaving such a secure and predictable environment can be highly unsettling and leaves many ex-soldiers in a highly vulnerable state.

The vulnerable conversion

The vulnerable person is affected in two ways when faced with conversion attempts on them.

Easy attraction

Vulnerable people are easily identified, often from their body language alone. They will easily seek attention and hence methods that offer them attention, such as the Love Bomb, are highly effective.

An easy conversion

A weak sense of identity makes for an easy conversion. First, the identity is attacked and destroyed through various identity-destruction and confusion techniques. Next, the new group identity is imprinted. This gives the vulnerable person an ideal way of leaving behind their past weakness, and they may emerge with a much stronger 'new' identity.

Easy retention

Groups do not let their members become harmful to the group itself, so maintain the person's sense of identity in a weakened state. Thus the threat of expulsion is very scary for many people in whatever groups they belong. The vulnerable person is thus constantly reminded of such punishment and, as they regularly think about such things themselves, is consequently easy to control.

However, although controlled retention is easy, regular maintenance is required. if the person is left to their own devices their conversion will become extinct more easily. This is why some groups have very high levels of activity with their members, many of whom are basically vulnerable.

See also

Vulnerability and Values, Games, Erikson's Developmental Stage Theory, The Love Bomb, Conditioning


Conversion Books

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