Dangerous Persuaders: Right and Left Brain Thinking

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searcher

exiting BK

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Dangerous Persuaders: Right and Left Brain Thinking

Post23 Mar 2010


Aside from the mediumistic aspect behind the BKs, which has been raised in many posts, I hope this post offers some clarity to many of us who are still asking how we got drawn in; and why it is sometimes so difficult to walk away or shake off some of those BK beliefs which, in the cold light of day, look so fantastical.

Louise Samways, an Australian psychologist who counsels many people who have been involved in cults, discusses how beliefs are manipulated in her book, Dangerous Persuaders: An expose of gurus, personal development courses and cults, and how they operate in Australia (1994). The topic of hypnosis has been raised and discussed in other posts. Her discussion explains it in a way which may offer some additional clarity for those with a desire for rational explanations. I’ll attempt to summarise.

She begins with a discussion of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, the left being the side which thinks logically and sequentially, is self-centred, critical, analytical, and sees the worlds in terms of component parts. The right brain is explained as being more co-operative, thinks in patterns, is more creative and looks at the overall picture, taking information and looking at it in new and different ways.

The right brain has more access to our unconscious processes and emotions, taking in information provided by our senses and trying to make sense of it by creating meaningful patterns. This pattern is then presented to the left brain for critical review to see how it checks out with previous experiences and information. If it is not consistent with that information and experiences then the left, critical brain becomes more cautious and demands more information or an adaptation of the right brain’s pattern.

In other words, the left brain makes sure new beliefs will work with existing beliefs, rules and responsibilities. This is so we can build on past knowledge instead of having to relearn from scratch with every experience. (In children, she notes, the full critical powers of the left brain don’t develop until much later in life so they are far more vulnerable to manipulation of beliefs).

Hypnosis can generally be described as a process by which the activity of the left brain is dampened down in order to give greater access to the right brain where your unconscious processes can be manipulated in order to change your perceptions and beliefs. Hypnosis doesn’t necessarily mean someone is in a sleepwalking state.

(My note: The state of meditation is the same kind of state where the left brain is quietened. Indeed, when we meditate that is our conscious intention, to quieten our logical brain. Hypnotic states encountered outside of the hypnotherapist’s room can be unwittingly entered into.)

In a hypnotic state there are not just psychological changes but also physical ones. There is a chemical change in the body in which natural “opiates” are released which give people a euphoric buzz or high, a feel of being really alive. The author notes, ‘Cults, groups and gurus are quick to claim credit for these feelings, saying it is their particular technique, magic or personal energy that is giving the participants these wonderful, powerful feelings.

In fact, under similar psychological and physical conditions one could recite nursery rhymes or nonsense and still attain the high feeling at the end of the session. Sessions are deliberately designed to induce high levels of arousal because this makes it easier to manipulate beliefs.’

She notes that this high can last many days or weeks followed by withdrawal symptoms such as depression, a flat feeling, maybe even headaches, nausea and joint pains. In order to feel better people seek out more of the same experience and can quickly become addicted. She notes that, ‘such a physical addiction is probably one of the reasons people trying to leave cults find it so hard and tend to return to them, even when they are very unhappy.’

It is emphasised that before someone can inhibit your ability to evaluate information, behaviour and activities critically, it is necessary for them to change your level of arousal so there is greater access to your right brain. She notes that altered states of arousal can occur with focusing on an idea, a symbolic sound or object (points of light, photos of BB…). The author then notes that people don’t just revert to their original beliefs when they leave a cult or seminar: ‘…in order to change beliefs it is necessary to replicate the psycho-physiological state in which they were first developed.’ (In other words, the same state of arousal and trance state.)

It is also noted that the parent/child approach where people are encouraged to be like children, when combined with other techniques, can recreate the states that occurred when beliefs were acquired in childhood. In other words, the participant is being put into a ‘childlike’ state where their fundamental beliefs can be changed.

Before all the BK supporters start protesting that their serene Dadis and dadas would never be capable of such intentional gross exploitation, I will agree. It is highly unlikely that in the BKs it is so deliberate, that is why pigeonholing them as a classic cult doesn’t really work – and probably how some of us let our natural guards down a little too easily and too soon. Much of what they do has grown out of their previous religious practices and rituals. They are not that bright or educated to have thought up all this, it just happened and happens to work that way.

Intentional or by choice, the results are the same. When you meditate and then have class you are still in a hypnotically suggestible state (even when you nod off during class), and that is how those beliefs slip in there so subtly.

It is also how one can look back and ask oneself in wonderment, “Just how did I get fooled into believing all that?”
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Mr Green

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Re: Right and Left Brain Thinking

Post23 Mar 2010

So to break the brain washing we have to develop a safe sort of meditation process, focusing on healthy and realistic things?
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littlelamb

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Re: Right and Left Brain Thinking

Post23 Mar 2010

searcher wrote:in order to change beliefs it is necessary to replicate the psycho-physiological state in which they were first developed.’ (In other words, the same state of arousal and trance state.)
Mr Green wrote:so to break the brain washing we have to develop a safe sort of meditation process, focusing on healthy and realistic things?

Nice idea. Personally, just the word 'meditation' reawakens all the BK programming :sad:.
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alanna

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Re: Dangerous Persuaders: Right and Left Brain Thinking

Post24 Mar 2010

This is really helpful, thank you.

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