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Notes on Meeting No.3 of Safeguard Group


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Notes on Meeting No.3., Tuesday 7th January, 1969


Discussion on Stress

Theological College  Considerable stress occurs inevitably.  Some Principals deliberately induced stress ("we must break this man").  This practice disappearing.

Communities.  One Anglican community run on artificial stress lines 15 years ago but not now.

Ordinand Selection.  Stressful but not deliberately. As much stress on selectors!

Businessmen.  One ordained member of Safeguard Group thought he was quite unstressed because his income was secure whereas three business acquaintances were stressed by the uncertainty of their future.  Creation of stress can produce better business results.

Effect  One member of Safeguard Group emerged elated from a traumatic experience (4 days from 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. with Marxists followed by 2-hour "grilling").

Thought  Reform in China

From "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism" by R.J. Lifton (Pelican).  Why thought reform rather than purges?  Probably due to Confucian teaching of improving oneself, making oneself more sincere.  Communism plus Confucian tradition = Thought Reform.

Reform Prisons.  Reform through group pressures.  Preconditioning.  Effect of cellmates.  Cell study programme.

Father Luca:  "I had heard that the Communists made people confess to all kinds of fantastic charges. But I was then determined not to admit to anything that wasn't true". . .The judge heatedly insisted . . . . . . "You are not being honest and sincere". Father Luca bridled at this impugning of his integrity, angrily insisting that he was being sincere and was telling the entire truth.  The judge's immediate response was to order chains with 20lbs weights place around Father Luca's ankles . . . . his cellmates alternating in their "night duty", pinching, slapping and poking him to make sure he did not sleep . . . "why didn't they say what they want me to say?" . . . . . proceeding to inflict on him a series of painful injuries . . . then a young Chinese entered the room and began to speak with him softly, in a kind voice and in Italian - the first time he had heard his own language since his arrest . . . Luca was affected by this human approach and he now gave a relatively accurate version of all these events, quite different from his previous confession . . . The cell study programme put great stress on a critical study of the Church's activities in China . . . A short tine later he was told by cellmates "You are nervous, full of fear . . . You must have some more things to say".

This penetration by the psychological forces of the environment into the inner emotions of the individual person is perhaps the outstanding psychiatric fact of thought reform.  The milieu brings to bear on the prisoner a series of overwhelming pressures.  All of these steps revolve about two policies and two demands: the fluctuation between assault and leniency and the requirements of confession and re-education.

General Pattern (from study of 25)  Assault on identity.  Establishment of guilt.  Self-betrayal.  Breaking point. Leniency and opportunity.  Compulsion to confess.  Channelling of guilt.  Re-education (logical dishonouring).  Progress and harmony.  Final confession; summing up.  Rebirth.

"Towards the end of his imprisonment, he (Father Luca) was more and more recognised as a priest with the right to hold his religious views, even if the officials would not go so far as to allow him to practice his religion - an enemy ideology - in the prison.  Simultaneously, he reached a stage of maximum participation in the Communist movement, working on a Chinese Catholic Priest to bring him to confession.

Reform University  Mr. Hu, a young intellectual in conflict with Communist authorities, sent to a Reform University.  Became leader of group of 10.  Honeymoon period was relaxed, happy, free.  Then thought mobilisation course started.  Asked to report twice daily on each individual in his group.  Came to conclusion cadre more interested in obtaining information on individuals than imparting it.  Asked to be less neutral.  When Hu realised this, he became increasingly uncomfortable - aware that he was being informed on, but never quite sure just when and by whom . . . They would go on to tell him that they considered him a man of great promise, the type needed by the Party, one who would go far in the organisation . . . He felt his inner opposition steadily mounting . . . students tried to outdo each other in the frankness, completeness and luridness of their individual confessions . . . Cadres were no longer gentle and therapeutic in their approach to him . . . tried to make a better reform showing . . .         the cadre's threats of public exposure were never carried out . . . when the job assignment did come through, however, it was for a political worker in the obscure North China military area.

Discussion on Thought Reform

1984.  Quite alien to Western practice.  On the contrary only an exaggeration of what happens to us all the time.  Is confirmation of a group of adults thought reform?  A priest is essentially planting new concepts.  Parishioner may be isolated from other influences and subjected to church thought.  "He whose service is perfect freedom" seems to be the aim of both Christians and Communists.  Free will? Not coercion if a man can withdraw.  With Chinese Thought Reform, he is forced to submit.

Approaches to Re-education

Coercion - you must change and become what we tell you to become - or else!

Exhortation - you should change, if you are a moral man, and become what we (in the name of a higher authority) tell you to become.

Therapy - you can change - from your sickly state and find relief for your suffering - if you have a genuine urge to become healthy.

Realisation - you can change - in such a fashion that you will be able to express more fully your own potential - if you are willing to confront yourself with ideas and approaches which challenge your present ways of knowing and acting.

Discussion on Approaches to Re-education

Prophetic teaching is a form of coercion.  Wesley revivalist techniques deliberately created uncertainty and this amounted to coercion.  Billy Graham meetings are a form of emotional coercion.  Periods of stress, anxiety, doubt, etc. (e.g. childbirth) have been exploited by the Church in obtaining converts.

The elements coercion, exhortation, therapy and realisation do not exist in isolation.  Any given situation embodies the elements in a given proportion.  Surely, Church practice is mainly exhortation.  The individual is coerced by group effects but he can opt out.  He is not forced but exhorted to take part.

Was not the confession in the thought reform process a useful outcome of coercion?  Perhaps.  It might be confession to imposed values.  Is re-education brainwashing?  This depends on the relationship of the teacher, the views expressed or message and the recipient.  If alternative views are available and there is nothing to stop the student obtaining them, this is not brainwashing.

Have any clergy been asked to include material in their sermons directed at an individual, if so what checks do they make on the motives of the person asking.  Does it matter if the Word of God is being preached?  May be part of group pressure on the individual from several directions, e.g. appeal to religious susceptibilities from one direction, imposition of financial restrictions from another, encouragement by adopting individual's special interests in another, presenting a less favourable alternative from another.

The Christian in Business

How should a Christian react to demands to be a political animal (take part in in-fighting etc.), pull the wool over people's eyes (deceive as distinct from exercising tact)?  Should he get out if he doesn't like it.  Skill in in-fighting the main requirement for business success?

In the jungle it is important to learn to live with an evil conscience.  If it is known a man is a Christian in business he is not involved so much in in-frighting, back stabbing etc.  A Christian should give a little and learn to live with Marxists.

Management Development

From a paper by E. H. Schein in "Readings in Managerial Psychology".

"Some elements which all unfreezing situations have in common are the following;  (1) the physical removal of the influence target from his accustomed routines, sources of information and social relationships;  (2) the undermining and destruction of all social supports;  (3) demeaning and humiliating experience to help the target see his old self as unworthy and thus to become motivated to change;  (4) the consistent linking of reward with willingness to change and punishment with unwillingness to change."  Schein also describes the influence agent saturating the environment with the new message or attitude to be learned.  He points out the similarity to Chinese Thought Reform and the training of a nun.  He suggests the suspension of moral judgements.

Discussion on Management Development

Rather frightening.  American label may be unfair.  H. Leavitt in "Managerial Psychology" points out that manipulative techniques may be applied on a group basis.

Basic manipulative techniques are (1) only partial disclosure cf motive;  (2) development of dependency relationships;  (3) request of sacrifice of principles;  (4) exploitation of dependency;  (5) gradualness;  (6) sophisticated psychological approach.

Manipulation of a group by an individual. Members of the group may be approached separately, perhaps through an intermediary and conditioned to obtain the required group effect.  This may be to train the group as a whole or individuals within it or to control the group or individuals.

Manipulation of an individual by a group.  Totalist approach to management development uses neighbours, professional associates, recreational organisations, etc., as well as work colleagues to induce change.  Stress created, observed and reported back.  Indirect communication used.  The individual's millieu may be controlled to induce the required attitudes.  Danger of subverted use to control or brainwash individual.

Ideological Totalism

Important aspects described by Lifton are millieu control, mystical manipulation, the demand for purity, the cult of confession, the "sacred science", loading the language, doctrine over person, the dispensing of existence.

Present;  Revd. George Austin, Eaton Bray.  Mr. Harold Beck, Consultant - (in the Chair).  Mrs. Ann Cammack, Housewife.  Revd.Kennith David, Harpenden.  Revd. Bob Dray, Luton.  Dr.Ian Morton, Research Chemist.  Rt. Revd. John Trrillo, Bishop of Hertford.

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