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Authoritarian Beliefs: How Dangerous Are They?

The dictionary defines authoritarian as unquestioning obedience to authority. The authors of The Guru Papers dig much deeper into the definition and report:

“When the word is used in reference to a political system, it involves using force to control people without there being any recourse. We broaden the meaning to include belief systems that are unchallengeable, and the idea that someone or something other than the individual necessarily knows what’s best, or right, or proper for a given person. So ideologies and belief systems can be intrinsically authoritarian if there is no way to take issue with their basic assumptions.”

The Guru PapersThey go on to add, “Mental or psychological authoritarianism comes from an inner urge to obey someone or something that is viewed as higher, more powerful, morally superior, or more knowledgeable—or to be that for someone else.”

Authoritarianism and authoritarian beliefs are dangerous, and here’s why:

For starters, creativity comes from self-trust, which authoritarian beliefs squelch. “Out of fear, if people are conditioned not to trust themselves, they will give away what power they have to those they think can protect them. The problem is that in doing so, one is no longer protected from one’s protectors. The lesson of history unequivocally show this leads to corrupt, power-driven hierarchies that care little about the well-being of people.”

If you would like to learn more about authoritarianism and authoritarian beliefs and why it is such a threat to progress and healthy personal autonomy, we recommend that you read The Guru Papers – Masks of Authoritarian Power by Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad.

 

 

Building a Life after Leaving a High-Control Religion

Amber Scorah’s “Leaving The Witness”

A good writer can hook and hold you from start to finish with a well-told story, which is definitely how to describe Amber Scorah’s new book, Leaving The Witness. However, it is much more than that, too. Amber’s memoir is both a heart-wrenching recollection and a riveting educational experience about the workings of institutionalized undue influence and the crisis one faces in even thinking about breaking free from a high-control religious group. In her case, this was a group whose eight million members, her friends and family included, hold their beliefs with absolute and exclusive certainty.

Amber articulates her past with generous clarity, and Leaving The Witness offers a smorgasbord of goodies for anyone searching for personal truth. Just a few of the poignant snippets from her transformational experience read as follows:

“It’s not the kind of religion that lets you walk away, because the people in it think that by walking away, you have lost your mind and interventions will bring you to your senses.”

“I was afraid of the book, Crisis of Conscience. To me … an alive thing, that its pages would creep out of the cover and slice me up, then throw me out onto the street, worldly and alone.”

“I had performed mental contortionism to reconcile the irreconcilable so that I could feel comfortable. I had been ‘in the truth’ because I was afraid of the truth.”

“Curiosity is a bad quality for the preacher. You preach because you are sure. You preach to people who don’t need to hear it, because possibly you are the one who needs to be saved.”

Amber Scorah

Amber Scorah

Amber summarizes her successful search for personal autonomy in the last paragraph of her memoir, penning an epiphany that Mark Twain would have championed for its content and style. It is one of those gems you can look forward to reading again and again, a parting gift to readers as the culmination of what will be a cherished account for others who have left similar environments and those who care about them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving the Witness on Amazon

Authoritarian Groups in our Midst

The techniques of the scam artist has been elevated to new heights in destructive, authoritarian or totalist groups, which are also commonly known as cults. The term “totalist” or “totalitarian” refers to dictatorial leadership which allows no disagreement and has “total authority”. Our concern is for any authoritarian group or relationship, wherever it fits on the spectrum between autonomy and totalism.

There is no democracy in an authoritarian group. These groups have proliferated in our society. Experts list as many as three thousand dangerous authoritarian groups in the US alone. Some claim to be religious or philosophical, some are political or offer supposed therapy, others promise revelations leading to wealth or success in relationship, yet others promise eternal life.

There are many more “family” groups that cluster around an abusive individual, who has total authority. The smallest authoritarian group consists of a single follower in an intimate relationship with an authoritarian partner. The dynamics of manipulation or undue influence are broadly the same: all create authoritarian or even totalist relationships.

This definition of a totalist cult – which can be applied to any authoritarian group or relationship – was arrived at by a group of experts under the direction of Professor Louis Jolyon West, MD:

“A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, and employing unethical, manipulative or coercive techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders, to the possible or actual detriment of members, their families or the community.”

 

This post is an excerpt from Jon’s new book, Opening Minds – A Primer on Undue Influence, scheduled for release in the fall of 2019

 

The Dynamics of Authoritarianism

In this new century, the most notorious form of authoritarianism is the terrorist group, but the dynamics of authoritarian behavior are also found in gangs, pedophile rings, among human traffickers and even in some of our most beloved institutions.

The horrifying child abuse scandals that have recently rocked the UK and the US show how authority and unethical influence have often been used to maintain criminal and immoral activities within organizations directed by both the church and state.

This is possible because the same dynamics apply to all human behavior, and, until we are familiar with the dynamics of authoritarian behavior, we will continue to fall prey to them.

(Authoritarian behavior has been described as: “A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing, and employing unethical, manipulative or coercive techniques of persuasion and control designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders, to the possible or actual detriment of members, their families or the community.”)

 

This post is an excerpt from Jon’s new book, Opening Minds – A Primer on Undue Influence, scheduled for release in the fall of 2019

 

 

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