During the Undue Influence Press Conference in London on August 22, I had the pleasure of introducing six formidable experts who spoke about the growing danger of “undue influence.”
One of the experts who attended that conference, Masoud Banisadr, calls it “mind manipulation.”
In fact, Masoud’s presentation was so impressive that it attracted the attention of a free-lance writer who later interviewed Masoud and wrote an article titled, A Former MEK Member Speaks About the ‘Cult’ of Extremism.
While I recommend that you read the attached link, this is how the story begins:
“In 1979, Masoud Banisadr was a young postgraduate math student at Newcastle University, watching political upheaval in his homeland of Iran on the nightly news. After the fall of the Western-backed Shah, wanting to play his part in a new society he joined Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), an Islamic Marxist revolutionary organisation.
“But a couple of years after the revolution, the MeK began to clash with Ayatollah Khomeini’s theocratic regime and were soon deemed an enemy of the new Iran. MeK suicide bombings and assassinations followed. In 1981, thousands of MeK members went into exile, and by 1986 had established a tight-knit paramilitary organisation in Iraq led by husband-and-wife team Masoud and Maryam Rajavi.
“Banisadr became the MeK’s PR man, moving between Camp Ashraf, their headquarters in Iraq, Geneva and Washington DC, trying to win over Western politicians. He finally left the group in 1996, went into hiding and now lives back in England.”
If you read the full story, you will be amazed by the similarity of the methods of control used by the MeK and the Watchtower. I recognized five:
- The black-and-white world view imposed on members; you are either with us or against us
- Cutting members off from non-believing family members and friends
- Fixated on setting and monitoring sexual dos and don’ts for its members
- A focus on the injustices in the world to attract new members
- Isolating members away from mainstream society and critical thinking
While Watchtower has much in common with MeK, how can one begin to undo what Masoud calls mind manipulation for members in these kinds of cult-like groups? Masoud’s response to the following question should help: What would you say to British parents who have children fighting in Syria or Iraq?
“It’s very difficult, very delicate. If a parent says anything critical against a radical preacher, or about an organisation like Islamic State, that’s when a person’s mind becomes defensive. It is difficult to argue rationally. So if a parent has contact, they should not try to talk about politics or religion. They should show only kindness and love. This is the member’s weakness. Feelings do not die away, even if the personality has changed. So the parent has to let them know they will be there, waiting. There has to be a pathway back to a life where family love is there, something that has nothing do with ideological thinking. Unconditional love unlocks the mind manipulation that has taken place.”
This advice also works for ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses cut off from family members. While it could be a slow process, it’s only through unconditional love that we can unlock the mind manipulation/undue influence that rob members of destructive cults and pseudo-religious groups of their authentic identities.
On a continuum or scale from high to low of imminent threats to a free society and happy families, undue influence rates low for most people. But such an oversight can be very costly! In the manipulative hands of charismatic cult leaders, highly controlling bible-based groups masquerading as benevolent religions, human traffickers, multi-level marketers, terrorists and violent extremist groups like ISIS, political action groups, human potential hucksters and abusive spouses and parents, undue influence is a significant problem in today’s world — and it is getting worse.
Now is the time for the public to become acutely aware of the clear and present danger of undue influence/mind manipulation. Some experts rank this issue slightly ahead of global warming as a serious threat to the stability of the planet and humankind. Universities and high schools need to better educate students so they can identify undue influence and inoculate themselves from its harmful effects. Federal funds should be allocated for research and treatment of victims. Reforms within public education systems must be initiated to teach people how to think for themselves and to make independent decisions. Therapists must be trained to help victims assimilate back into society.
And one more thing…
Governments need to end tax breaks to groups that use methods of undue influence to manipulate the minds of their members.
(To Be Continued)