A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies


reader comments: cults

7 Jul 1999
It's funny, but the definition you use for a cult, and especially the indoctrination techniques, fits very well with Basic Training for the military. The military/civilian distinction fits the "us vs. them" mentality, and as far as a charismatic leader goes, well we had a Drill Instructor that was pretty high and mighty. (It was more fear and respect than love and admiration though!) As far as the seven techniques of indoctrination go:

1) Subjection to stress and fatigue -NEVER enough sleep or time to do what we were supposed to. 2) Social disruption, isolation and pressure- Isolation from everything and everyone nonmilitary. 3) Self criticism and humiliation- If only you had heard what the Drill Instructor would say to us! 4) Fear, anxiety and paranoia- There was always someone watching and waiting for you to screw up. 5) Control of information- No news, censored mail. 6) Escalating commitment- Well after all, they want you to die for God, country, and the guy next to you. 7) Use of auto-hypnosis to induce 'peak' experiences-Physical training and mindless, repetitive tasks (although I don't remember ever "peaking".)

Perhaps it's not an exact analogue, but it is a very similar model of behavior modification to the ones practiced by cults. Thankfully, however, Basic Training actually ends, unlike cult practices. Most people snap out of the basic training mode when they get back into a more normal routine. (I think the ones who don't go on to become Drill Instructors themselves.)

Chuck Hansen

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