The thesis of this essay is that “mind control” exists not in exotic gimmicks, but rather in the most mundane aspects of human experience. If this is true, it implies that people can learn to resist untoward influences, which are defined here as influences in which intentions are hidden and the subtle constraints of individual behavior are profound.
When information is systematically hidden, withheld, or distorted, people may end up making biased decisions, even though they believe that they are freely “choosing” to act. These contexts may thus involve “mind control.”
Although resisting cleverly crafted social influences in not easy, it is argued here that it is possible to reduce susceptibility to unwanted interpersonal controls by increasing vigilance and by utilizing certain basic strategies of analysis. In this paper, resistance strategies are presented which are broadly applicable to a wide array of mind-manipulation contexts. Relevant social psychological research, manuals for police interrogators, and interviews with one-time cult members form the basis for the present arguments, which blend pragmatic advice with a conceptual analysis of the basic issues on which vulnerability to persuasion rests.
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