To ready a person for radical change, his reality must first be shaken up. His indoctrinators must disorient him. His frames of reference for understanding himself and his surroundings must be challenged and broken down. Upsetting his view of reality disarms his natural defenses against concepts that challenge his reality.” – Steven Hassan

First, with unfreezing, there are several methods that can be used; and the more controlled the environment, the stronger the shakeup will be. Unfreezing involves causing psychological disorientation; shaking up a person’s world view or sense of reality. It can include physical elements to the process of psychological disorientation, such as: sleep deprivation and major changes in eating habits (change of eating schedule, under-eating, extreme change in diet).

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There is is something very unsettling about finding yourself and your internet space the subject of relentless criticism and attack by other people with apparently nothing better to do with their time. It happens so much with certain political/religious group rivals that it begs the question of whether people are being recruited and paid to run trolling campaigns against rivals and competitors.

In the unfreezing stage, the person’s natural defense mechanisms are side-stepped; one method involves deliberately confusing the person in order to induce a trance state. Information is transmitted rapidly, including a number of statements that are contradictory. Attempting to understand several contradictory statements coming in at the same time usually results in a temporary state of confusion. This results in a suspension of critical judgement and taking ones cues from others nearby; victims doubt themselves and defer to collective group judgment (see Solomon Asch).

Hassan provides the following statement as an example of what is meant by contradictory, disorientating information: “The more you try to understand what I am saying, the less you will never be able to understand it. Do you understand?” If you were being bombarded by others all saying similarly confusing things to you, at the same time and in such a way that you are unable to make sense of it, you will stop trying, and start looking to those around you for clues.

Another very similar method (and one that could be used at the same time) is sensory overload; the intent is the same, to disrupt a person’s cognitive processes and make him open to suggestion. A person is overwhelmed with emotionally triggering information at a rate of speed too fast to keep up with or process. The brain goes into “neutral” and incoming information is passively received without any critical evaluation. The person usually assumes they are mentally slower than everyone else, and does not realize the whole encounter is orchestrated deliberately.

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Are you puzzling over whether taxification is a real word? According to my spell checker, it’s not. While we puzzle that out, are we questioning the statement about taxation being theft? No? That’s the suggestion part. Taxes are not theft by the way. You live in a city and enjoy city services like fire rescue, police, schools, hospitals, electricity, water, sewer services, etc. You could be your own road paver, doctor, teacher, police officer, firefighter, paramedic, water treatment, sewer treatment, garbage collector, and electrician. But running all of those facilities on your own would be expensive wouldn’t it?

Another technique for inducing a hypnotic trance effect is the double bind; this method unfreezes a person’s sense of reality by making infallible arguments and an illusion of choice. Examples of double binds are: “For those people who are having doubts about what I am telling you, you should know that I am the one putting those doubts inside your mind so that you will see the truth that I am the true teacher.” Believe, doubt, it doesn’t matter because both fit the narrative.

Another example of the double bind that may be much more familiar because we see it a lot in sales and marketing is this one, “If you admit there are things  in your life that aren’t working, then by not taking the seminar, you are giving those things power to control your life.” Basically, whatever the problem is, by refusing to buy into the program, you are agreeing to give the problem control over you, until you decide to buy into the program. It is like you are sick until you decide to do what you’re told in order to prove you want to be well.

Other methods of unfreezing are usually conducted as group activities and include guided meditation, prayer and confession sessions, rigorous exercise, and group singing. Activities start out relatively harmless but gradually become more intense over time. By keeping individuals focused and active together in a group means that the group leaders can deprive individuals of privacy; keep them from having time to be alone to think about what is going on with the group.

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Lack of adequate sleep especially in the long term results in poor cognitive processing, bad decision-making, increases in accident related injuries, stress, and illnesses.  It’s probably the fastest way to gain control of another person; prevent them from being able to think so they are forced to rely on others to think for them while they spend their remaining energy just trying to stay upright.

As individuals begin to weaken as a result of unfreezing methods, dangerous groups will start breaking them down by convincing them they are deeply “flawed”. Individuals might be “incompetent”, “mentally ill”, “and spiritually fallen”; problems such as not doing well in school, being overweight, job or relationship issues are used against the individual to prove they are failure. Individuals are often attacked over their failings in front of the rest of the group.

Once a person is broken down, they are ready for the next stage in the three-step process.

On the Delphi server, the controlled environment was the server itself, the forums, the chat rooms; control of a member’s individual physical environment was not attempted. This meant controlling group members’ diets did not happen. Sleep deprivation however could be common as members who held jobs would often have to play catch up with chat room sessions that would run day and night; and message board posts in multiple forums.

Psychological shakeups and hypnotic effects on the other hand were especially well suited to an online controlled environment like Delphi. Message board “flame” posts were often so full of contradictory statements that members were rendered temporarily confused multiple times while trying to figure out what the authors of the posts were trying to say. It was common for receivers of such messages to accuse the senders of “phishing for information”.

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Flame wars are like phone calls; the phone rings, we are conditioned to answer it. Most of us do, until we realize that we don’t actually HAVE to do so. We can let it ring, let voice mail get it, ignore it. There is no punishment for this. But it can take time for people to realize this about phone calls. It can take them even longer to realize this about flame wars; especially if the flame war is directed at them.

Senders of such posts would attack receivers for failing to respond, failing to respond to specific points or questions, failing to be detailed enough in their responses, and failing to be concise enough in their responses. This tactic would often extend the sense of confusion for the recipient of such posts. Usually, a recipient would get several posts with contradictory statements from multiple senders at the same time, so would spend several hours responding to posts, the post ratio could be 2/1 or 20/1 tying up a recipient for days never mind hours.

This was an effective combination of using confusion to induce a trance state with the sensory overload method and could be done on the message boards with flame war posts (especially when one fight would involve more than one forum and 2-5 threads per involved forum) or in chat rooms where one person could be coerced into a hostile interrogation with anywhere between two and twenty other people, all typing questions or statements of accusation at them.

Even without using contradictory statements, individuals could easily be overwhelmed by the amount of text-based information they would be forced to read causing them to slip into a neutral mental state where they simply had no time to process the incoming messages. At this point self-doubt creeps in, the individual begins to defer to the attackers; the attackers don’t seem to be the least bit confused, and they all seem to agree the individual did something “wrong”.

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This is in example of a “Truth” doctrine that is “infallible” but can be hotly contested (and has) on several points; Is God real or no? What is reality? What is unreality? Does this mean God is not responsible for creating people with anxiety disorder, depression disorder, schizophrenia? That certainly gives a whole new context to “blaming the victim”.

Basically, it amounts to group bullying of someone until they accept responsibility for whatever “wrong” they have been accused of committing by the group. It doesn’t matter if the individual did or did not commit the “wrong”; once responsibility has been accepted and apologies made, it becomes a matter of group public record. The accused party gets no chance to think, much less provide a logical or rational argument in their own defense. Chat logs and posts become proof.

There is a way to effectively block this tactic in an online environment but it takes some pre-planning or forethought. What worked for me was to pick one attacker to focus on, and completely ignore the rest. Don’t read their comments or questions in a chat (put them on ignore if you have the option), don’t read or respond to their posts or comments. Better yet, don’t respond to any of them at all; who says you owe them an explanation anyway?

The truly insidious way in which these methods worked was in the indoctrination process; “The Delphi Game”. Though it could include hostile accusations and bullying, it could also include being persuaded, coaxed, and cajoled by “friends”. “The Delphi History Lessons”, and “this is how we do things in Delphi”, including use of contradictory statements to induce a trance state and sensory overload also made for an incredibly effective means of “unfreezing” in the Delphi environment.

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Why do we find ourselves engulfed in arguments about antisocial behaviors, emotions, and thinking, being excused under a plethora of sanitized terms? Because it disorients us; unfreezes us, and conditions us for progressively worsening change.

A popular way of using the double bind method in Delphi was to basically punish forum owners who insisted on running their forums by their own rules rather than the “Dark Forums Community” rules. Instead of challenging unknown or suspected “alias” profiles, allowing them access to the forum unhindered; instead of insisting on posted introductions, allowing them to be voluntary. Instead of adhering to “community” member bans, allowing everyone access regardless of faction membership or faction rivalry status.

The double bind was perpetrated by enlisting loyal individuals and arranging for them to run alias profiles into such forums to spy, instigate fights between individuals or entire factions, and troll the chats. The result was the forum owner being forced to constantly deal with forum member complaints of harassment on the message boards and chats and threats of quitting the forum altogether, or the forum owner would have to adopt “community” forum practices.

The double bind shows up in any number of other places on the internet and has for years though it is difficult to determine for sure if it has been orchestrated by more than just hobbyist troll groups like 4Chan for instance. Many of the blogging communities like LiveJournal and the vlogging platforms like YouTube have attracted unusually high numbers of dedicated and persistent harassers; especially over political content. The harassment is almost formulaic; “trolls” show up and start baiting the host and followers.

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I am pretty sure I haven’t been less real in the past, but the world seems to be getting pretty damned unreal these days.

These “trolls” (or apparently bots) will nitpick the site host, blogger or vlogger, find fault with the content, blow the argument out of proportion, attempt to discredit, and basically manipulate them into losing their temper and blocking them. Once a troll is blocked, either another takes its place and accuses the host of “censorship” and tries to demand U.S. Constitutional protections under the First Amendment. The host gets to “choose” whether to allow the harassment or continue to be considered “unAmerican”.

Trolls will either not bother to provide source support for their political arguments or will provide support from sites that are sources of misinformation and propaganda. They will attempt to discredit legitimate sources of credible information by attacking academic or scientific institutions, claiming political “indoctrination” or they will attack anyone with an education for being “elitist”. The effect is to silence their opposition while peppering them with the misinformation and propaganda.

In this way the internet itself becomes the vehicle, the tool, and the environment for mass unfreezing. Rinse, recycle, reuse, repeat.

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God may not be limited by the facts but YOU most certainly ARE. Choose faith in matters of religion; choose facts on planet Earth. Where you live, enjoy the fruits of Science all around you, and should have learned by now how to share things and play well with others.

Incidentally, the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment primarily applies to the U.S. Government; the Government does not own the internet, Delphi, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. What is allowable in terms of Free Speech should be governed by the owners of the sites first; then the individuals who pay for platforms on those sites, like Delphi’s forums, WordPress’s blogs; YouTube’s channels.

Other people did not have a “First Amendment Right” to post harassment on my forum message boards (or the blog) in Delphi, in comments on my social media sites, or on any of my previous or current blogs. I have a First Amendment Right that protects me from Government reprisal if I criticize the Government, but not if I encourage or incite rebellion, insurrection, or civil war.

I do not have to respect your right to get up on a chair and spout lies, misinformation, discriminatory hate speech, threats in my living room; or on my front lawn. I don’t have to respect your right to use my Delphi forum, the comment section of any of my social media profiles, or this WordPress blog to exercise your “Free Speech” rights. *I* am not the Government. I CAN censor you; the sites CAN censor you too if you violate TOS.

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Normal never has been an accurate measurement for mental stability. As controlling influences continue to increase, and groups continue to manipulate individuals into giving up control of themselves and their lives, their thinking, feeling and behaviors, what is the overall cumulative effect on mental health?

You have to sign TOS agreements before you can play on those sites. They have every right to enforce the TOS agreements. They also have a responsibility to their customers to protect information, restrict how it is used, and by whom; that includes from the Government.  This does not mean the customers can break the law and use these sites to incite rebellion, insurrection or civil war.

The customers also don’t have a right to aid foreign governments in their attempts to incite rebellion, insurrection or civil war. That is not Free Speech, that’s a genuine threat to National Security.

To ready a person for radical change, his reality must first be shaken up. His indoctrinators must disorient him. His frames of reference for understanding himself and his surroundings must be challenged and broken down. Upsetting his view of reality disarms his natural defenses against concepts that challenge his reality.” – Steven Hassan

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This certainly seems to be the general consensus.

We have all seen a lot of radical change since 2016. Our reality has most certainly been shaken up. Many of us have been disoriented on a societal scale and our frames of reference for understanding ourselves and our surroundings within this nation are being challenged and broken down. We have already experienced unfreezing on an unprecedented scale in this country. But not unprecedented in other countries.

Next up, the second of Lewin’s Three-Step Process: Changing. Thanks for reading.

 

***This is part 17 of a series of posts on cults and cult indoctrination online. It will focus on the book that played such an integral role in ending the indoctrination process on the Delphi Forums server; Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan. This series will be heavily revised and updated; the purpose is to show that Delphi is not unique.

The same process occurs elsewhere on the internet; Al-Qaeda and Islamic State did not invent it; they did not even innovate it. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, none of these sites were first to find themselves the vehicles of fake news, propaganda, or truth decay. There are much bigger cults out in the world; awareness is key to stopping the cycles.