Exploitation happens when someone uses a situation to gain an unfair advantage over another person. It is to use another person’s vulnerability for one’s own benefit.
The term is often used to describe the specific type of coercive control where the manipulator uses this unfair advantage to gain material benefit, from a boss intimidating his workers not to file for compensation, to a therapist pressuring her clients to buy the health shake she sells as a sideline. However, exploitation can be used in a much broader perspective, as well.
“Exploitative persuasion” was used by Singer and Addis to precisely define brainwashing, thought reform, coercive persuasion or mind control. Singer and Lalich give six conditions for exploitative persuasion in “Cults in Our Midst“:
- Keep the person unaware that there is an agenda to control or change the person
- Control time and physical environment (contacts, information)
- Create a sense of powerlessness, fear and dependency
- Suppress old behavior and attitudes
- Instill new behavior and attitudes
- Put forth a closed system of logic