“Let me learn you something big,”1 a great quote, from a great movie. In all my life experiences perhaps the best advice I have is for those who are being controlled. Conversational control is a very powerful element that is often found in group modalities and hive-mind constructs. This is a utility that takes away one’s personal sovereignty, in favor of enforced thought patterns. It is insidious as it is so technique so close to the skin it often goes unseen. One must always look at the conversations engaged in (whether they are online or in person) and be mindful of any such attacks.
It is an attack, an attack on the individual concept. I’ve seen cult leaders use techniques like this and I’ve been instructed in techniques like this. A reader may recognize some of these techniques under different names. I’m going to describe them in the way I see and understand them. If you feel there are better descriptions, please feel free to post a comment.
The Shut Down
Mockery is often used to shut another person down. Recently in American politics, it seems this is a very rampant attempt at controlling a conversation. I’ve seen this used in a variety of ways. Typically this is not employed face to face and is found more commonly through social communication online. However, sometimes a cult leader, guru, teacher or master will utilize such techniques to shut someone down, so that they can take control.
For the Shut Down technique to work there must be an established authority figure. This could be a teacher at a school, an author that is respected, a leader of an organization, a religious figure, a guru or master. If you offer no authority to this individual they have no power over you. That’s key right there. Never give up your sovereignty.
Ways the Authority Figure is Created
Most of us have people we admire in our lives. We may not know them. They might be authors or lecturers, but these people hold ideals that we greatly respect. When in their presence, some will choose to obey to such an extent that they give up their own ideals in favor of the author. In this case, we create the authority figure as a social construct.
An authority figure can rise out of the gravity of group worship. One random individual somewhere is probably not an authority figure. However, if the individual has a following, that following gives a sense of validity to them, creating the authority figure persona. This is a long range plan. The authority figure starts off with a small following, builds it up into large followings and becomes recognized as the authority over time.
While some authority figures will pretend to melt into the crowd, most will rise up to distinguish themselves as the Leader. Perhaps this is more in the realm of cults, yet I’ve seen this in YouTube personalities that present controversial conspiracy views. The more controversial the views, the more one has to suspend “reality” to form an agreement with the speaker. This, in itself, allows one to be controlled. This is why figures who present Newtonian Physics as a conspiracy, or the World Trade center attack as a conspiracy, hold such sway over their audience.
An example of conversational control, in my opinion, would be that of Ken Wheeler (aka Theoria Apophasis).2 Ken has extreme views on science, calling all modern science as fake or conspiracy ridden, in favor of science from the 18th century (including the belief in Ether). If you watch his videos you’ll see many of the points below… anger to the audience, hostility to those that don’t agree, mockery to science, steamrolling the audience with a word salad of confusion and more.
In this scenario a person makes a comment, or post’s an idea. They might put a lot of themselves into the post. The more of themselves they offer up to the audience, the more power this has over them.
When the authority figure responds to the comment with some mockery, “ha! fan fiction is fun,” “what are you smoking,” they are mentally destabilizing the poster. As long as the poster respects and reveres the authority figure, this will cut them down rapidly.
I usually see this used on people who either push the boundaries of belief set by the authority figure, or it’s attempted on people who may have found some new idea they never conceived. Authority figures like this often have shallow egos. If a member has made a discovery, they will often bully the individual into submission and then in time take their discovery as their own.
Examples of Mockery
There was a time I interacted with a group led by a self-identified guru. He had taught us about certain sounds or tones we could mentally tune into when in meditative thought. In one recorded lecture, he was explaining this technique to his students and staff. As the authority figure, he spoke with confidence how the meditator could find more than one tone and tune into each one in sequence.
A student is heard in the recording asking the question, “is the space between the tones important? I fell like there’s something there that is important.”
Regardless if there is something important or not, is not the question, in this context the response of the authority figure is what to notice. In this recording he responds with derision. He verbally chastised the student, making comments about how everyone wants to “try and improve his teachings.” His word choice was demeaning, his tone was hostile. The student, in front of everyone, is being laid bare. The questioner becomes silent, taking the verbal onslaught.
Several years later, I hear the same guru instructing some “advanced techniques” of the same practice, and he mentions how it’s vital and important to listen to the space between the tones.
Try and not get caught int he weeds here. The point is not the meditation practice or what these internal sounds are, the point is in the control mechanism. The instructor used his authority to humiliate someone into silence. As time passed, that same instructor repurposed that student’s idea, as their own invention.
It’s common to see this play out online. I’m associated with several Facebook groups and I tend to lurk in on conversations. Every now and then I’ll be in a philosophical group that has a strong leadership body. Someone will make a comment or opinion that differs from the group’s ideals. When this happens I’ve noticed various staff will respond with mockery.
In one case I saw a person post to a spiritually focused philosophical society. In the question they qualified their question as a “theistic LHP perspective.” Without getting into the weeds of what that means, I’ll briefly describe it as a Theistic approach to Left-Hand (Set, Satan, Lucifer) spirituality. Quite often these groups are atheist in intent, so the poster was trying to qualify this as a question for those who are theists upon this path.
The response he got from a leader in the group was the following snide comment:
“theistic LHP perspective” feels like one of those terms from the online discourse cargo-cult. Who actually uses that term as a self-description and are they worth paying attention to?
This is insidious as it actually proposes to infect the questioner’s mind to come to a specific conclusion, “are such people worth paying attention to?” By dismissing the concept as an online cargo-cult, the questioner is shamed. Then, the questioner is mocked with “who even uses that term?” Finally, they are rhetorically instructed on how to think, by stating, “are such people worth paying attention to?”
The only power this responding individual has, is in their title and authority. As they are a leader in a philosophical group (oddly correlating to a Theistic LHP tradition believe it or not), they can control who gets in, who stays and so on. This authority takes the sovereignty from the one who posed the question.
Had this fellow held no such authority, one could easily say, “well this is a proper qualifier, what exactly is your problem? Do you even lift? :P” I say that tongue in cheek, but really such person attempting to shame, they themselves deserve to be shamed.
This type of control, through public response, is designed to manipulate others. Some people don’t even know they do it. It’s so natural to them, this is how they’ve controlled conversations their entire lives.
This type of control usually comes down to these bullet points:
- Destabilizing the victim (public embarrassment)
- Holding authority over them (as an expert, an instructor, a master)
- Diminishing and mocking their ideas
- Asserting a different view to accept
Verbal Abuse Methodology
Similar to all of the above, in this case the critic is even more demonstrative. In such a case they result to name calling, pointing out something as “stupid,” and becoming openly hostile.
In this setup the responding authority figure is indignant, threatens to stop talking, tells the other person asking questions they are too simple, stupid or lack the means to understand their wisdom.
Example of the Abuse Methodology
I’ve seen this pulled off first hand by a friend of mine. Many hears ago I was working in a for a major corporation. One of my co-workers was always looking to move on to bigger things.
One day he allowed me to see how he handled an interview. This was a phone interview, which he aced. Certainly he didn’t know what he was talking about, and often he was in over his head, but he knew how to control people.
On this phone interview (which he put on speaker), he was asked some technical questions. Some of these he didn’t know the answer to. Instead of being humbled, he responded with indignation:
“Do you know who I am? Do you know my salary? You dare ask me something so stupid? I’m not even going to answer. Are we going to talk money or am I hanging up?”
To my surprise, they took the bait. He most likely saturated the audience early on. By seeding a resume to them (with false data) he was able to state he was an authority. His attitude and control of the call worked out because they allowed his dominance.
This is a technique of religions, spiritual groups and cults. Whenever a leader wants to assert dominance, they can use this technique on those they’ve been cultivating. This doesn’t work straight on. They have to maintain an audience into submission. By working an audience so it gives up the individual will to the speaker, this technique can be used to take control. Some will walk out in anger, but those that remain, those are the ones that are a layer deeper in the control funnel. By getting such people to make financial investments, one assures even greater control over the audience. It’s harder for someone to leave, if they’ve invested substantial time and/or money into a group or program.
Appealing to an Audience
At times I’ve seen control passed into the hands of an audience. When you have a “celebrity” in the group (this can be anyone, but someone who has a title or rarified status), they can take a criticism to the group and ask the group to handle it for them.
This is often done with a program of fake feelings. The authority figure pretends they are “under attack,” and show the signs of a wounded animal. Often members will immediately rise to their defense and attack whatever criticism is being asserted. Even if the “criticism,” is simply asking a question, the leader may chose to use such a mechanism to control both the questioner (with the sheer force of the hive mind) as well as those rising to their defense.
Milton Erickson created various hypnotic inductions.3 His inductions were unique as they utilized no visualized object or gimmick. Instead he used his voice alone to try and manipulate a person’s mood.
One of his more interesting techniques was called the Confusion Induction4 . Without getting into the weeds of how this works, and by what level of induction one is pulled into, let’s just say that this is a method of control by steamrolling the listener into a state of acceptance.
When I’m traveling through the byways of the enteral now and I start to meet the me that wasn’t but is coming into being, this is the time post where by I am introduced to something new. This … this… this changing state of mind is where we start to affiliate with a new paradigm of ultra state consciousness. You know what that means, I know, as simply you agree as you’re listening to the words I’m saying. By now you no doubt have questions, but they are being amplified by the knowledge and wisdom inherent in your own inner enlightenment. Changes this fast, are like switching lanes on a highway, on a road that only hosts one traveler – YOU and that YOU is not the YOU of what was, but what is to come.
The above example I wrote out as a type of verbal manipulation that can be done to an audience or individuals. Obviously the audience must be primed into agreement with the context. Here the context is something psychological or spiritual. By addressing a harmonious audience and steamrolling them with a varied of terminology… a “word salad,” as some have said, the audience (which wants to know what is being said) is open to try and understand it. But it’s not actually anything understandable!
People will find they follow along in a haze, in a daze and just forget some of what was said. The control aspect is when the speaker connects something true to a statement, “You know what that means, I know, as simply you agree as you’re listening to the worlds I’m saying.” Well they’re listening to the words being said, and if induced they will start to agree with whatever it is they think you’re saying… that’s when in Eriksonian hypnosis the command is implanted.
However, this type of mental steamrolling doesn’t have to implant commands. The control can also be found in the demands of the speaker. After stating a bunch of nonsense, the speaker might then appear angry and state, “are you EVEN LISTENING? Do you know what I’m TELLING YOU? Am I WASTING MY TIME?!” Eager listeners become scared of failure so they pretend they understand. In this way the audience gives up their sovereignty to the speaker. This, in my opinion, is very common today in many spiritual groups, where there’s a central authority. The master or teacher, or pastor, can use such a method to control those who are listening. Jim Jones did stuff like this and I’m sure you can spot it in many other teachers.
I was once in a religion that instructed me on how to manipulate others through a form of mirroring. We’ll call it “mirroring” as their naming conventions are most likely trademarked.
By watching someone’s emotional state, body mannerism, and attitude, a person can easily mirror the same states back. This isn’t done in some taunting type of way. It can’t be too obvious. It is often insidious, and very subtle.
This is the technique of a very effective sales person. They listen to your conversations, they listen to your emotional state and they will utilize your same gestures. All of this will establish a rapport with the target.
Most people I know have laughed at this as a workable technique, but it works and I can say I’ve used it to get out of a tricky situation. Many years ago I worked for a fellow who had a vile temper. He was quick to rage and prone to terminating people on the spot. As I was a temporary employee, my job was always on the line and always a victim of his daily mood swings.
I decided to take the advantage so I did my research on the manager. I discovered his hobbies, his personal issues and studied his daily attitude. What I learned was that he was an asthmatic who smoked cigarettes, played World of Warcraft and he was angry most days.
Being an asthmatic myself gave me an advantage. I bought a pack of cigarettes and placed my inhaler on top of it… I left this in plain site on my desk. I knew he’d see it once he walked in.
When he came in the door I saw his visible anger and I adjusted accordingly. I pretended to be stressed out and frustrated… not at the boss of course (that will surely fail), but I pretended to be frustrated with another team… a team he didn’t trust.
He walked up to my desk and bellowed out, “WHAT’s YOUR STATUS!”
“I’m so ANGRY with the [other team], they’ve promised delivery every day… I don’t know what to do. I keep going over there and checking in on them but they keep pushing me off. It’s so frustrating….” My emotional state was entirely faked. I pretended I was frustrated and showed signs of being visibly upset. Using his own mannerisms I pulled it off.
For the first time he stopped me and said, “Dude, you need to relax. It’s going to be ok.” That’s when he noticed the cigarette pack and my inhaler… “You smoke,” he laughed, “me too! I also have asthma!”
Within a few minutes I took the month of abuse I was getting and flipped it around. He became my greatest advocate and renewed my contract for an entire year – something never before done at that company.
That’s the power of mirroring. While I can tell you this story with some pride, it’s a terrible way to manipulate people. I did it out of a need to survive. It has been done to me as well.
You’ll want to watch for this, and the only way I know to watch for it, is to be mindful of your mental state, your gestures and what comes out of your mouth as information. Controlling your social media data is also paramount. People like this could easily look a person up online and see they go to some church, or are affiliated with some group… and use that to invoke a false comrnodery to gain control.
Combating the Control
NEVER give up your sovereignty. That’s the first rule of retaining control. That means you must confront and question everything. It doesn’t mean you’re a dick. It doesn’t mean you piss off everyone you talk to. What it means is you must remain vigilant and aware of every conversation. Do not let fear of conversation guide you. Watch your emotions. If you start to fall into fear, worry, anxiety, that’s a sign you’re entering into this.
In some cases you can’t confront. It’s not proper to confront a boss attempting to control his employees. After all you need to stay employed. It’s not proper to confront the teacher at school to the point of failing you. You must retain sovereignty and this can be done by acknowledging what’s going on.
If you can acknowledge the method of communication as control based, you can pretend to agree with it, just to get through the situation (for those situations that are required for your livelihood.).
Control the data you put online. Use handles, different names and don’t reveal too much.
If in a spiritual group, and you begin to see signs of control being exerted, you must decided quickly if you want to be controlled or if you should leave. One’s spirituality is very delicate. This is (in my view) our truest sense of self. Any manipulation at this level, can lead to a total level of control over who we are.
All spiritual groups will require some sovereignty to be given them. This makes them especially dangerous from the start. However, the control can perhaps be managed as long as you can stay true to your ideals.
When someone starts using mockery, public shaming, angry outbursts at your ideas and questions, stand up for yourself. If this is a relationship worth leaving, leave it. If not, stay in and pretend you’re conditioning, but remain ever vigilant of the attempted inroads.
- Star Wars Episode 8
- Ken Wheeler’s YouTube Channel
- Wikipedia Link
- “A confused person has their conscious mind busy and occupied, and is very much inclined to draw upon unconscious learnings to make sense of things. A confused person is in a trance of their own making – and therefore goes readily into that trance without resistance.”