by Jon Atack
In personal relationships, predatory people will entrap a partner with thought reform. In all circumstances, thought reform increases dependency by eroding self-confidence and self-reliance.
Changing Beliefs with Thought Reform
“Thought Reform” was Robert Jay Lifton’s term for the systematic change of people’s beliefs and attitudes by the Chinese Communist government. “Brainwashing” is the popular term for this program.
In “Cults in Our Midst” Singer and Lalich wrote:
“The tactics of a thought-reform program are organized to:
- Destabilize a person’s sense of self.
- Get the person to drastically reinterpret his or her life’s history and radically alter his or her worldview and accept a new version of reality and causality.
- Develop in the person a dependence on the organization, and thereby turn the person into a deployable agent of the organization.”
Thought reform has a deliberate and hidden agenda to remold a person’s identity. It differs from education or rehabilitation, because the person undergoing thought reform is not told the real aims of the program, nor warned of the potential dangers.
Education and rehabilitation encourage personal development and independent decision-making, where thought reform reduces personal authority to bring about obedient compliance.
Even ethical military and religious training can verge on thought reform, but pseudo-religious cults, terrorist groups and criminal gangs have no hesitation in using techniques that result in unthinking obedience.