The Mission for the Open Minds Foundation
Teach people how to protect themselves from being unduly influenced by and falling prey to predators, and coercive groups and relationships—with a strong focus on young people,aged 5-25, who are especially vulnerable—and creating programs to help people recover from institutionalized undue influence and to share information about healthy personal autonomy (which includes healthy skepticism and intelligent disobedience)
What is undue influence?
Undue Influence happens when a predatory individual or totalist group takes control over a person’s beliefs, interests, thoughts, feelings, legal or medical rights, possessions, finances or behavior without that person’s knowledge and consent, usually under false pretenses. It is a legal term which has been used in courts for centuries, defining the state of control which exists when a person or group wields too much control over someone, thereby cancelling out that person’s free will and autonomy.
How much of a problem is undue influence in our world?
Many millions of people – especially those who experience a significant emotional event – are affected by undue influence; most are oblivious to its effects. Undue influence ranges from being bullied into submission in a personal relationship or the workplace, to failure to report child molestation to the proper authorities to shield an organization or individual; from recruitment into hate groups, such as gangs and terrorist groups, to being cajoled into a high-control religious, political, therapy or commercial group; from uncritically accepting false information, to tragedies in medical care through faith-based medical neglect.
Why is it important that young people learn to recognize when they are being influenced unduly?
To learn and become socially adept, children must be influenced by adults, but this makes them more susceptible to undue influence. This is especially true for adolescents as they naturally rebel against adult influence. Without education, young people are easily seduced into gangs, hate groups, cults and abusive relationships, because they are unaware of the simple, well-proven principles of psychology. Without proper psychological education, young people are particularly vulnerable to manipulation from predators and coercive groups. In part, this is because they are undergoing significant brain development, which hinders their judgement. When they are older, these former adolescents may deeply regret and feel ashamed about decisions they were manipulated into making which damaged their relationships, their mental and physical health, and their future prospects.
How does Open Minds help to protect young people from undue influence?
We teach young people, their parents and their teachers how to recognize the predatory tactics of undue influence and the value of developing critical thinking skills, as well as social intelligence to achieve independence in decision making and emotional autonomy by sensibly interpreting their personal experiences.