Persuasion Through Isolation


Last year I saw a documentary about the cult leader Jim Jones called “Jonestown: The Life And Death of People’s Temple”.
It is the history of the murder/”suicide” of 913 members of the People’s Temple in Guyana through photos, clips, recordings and interviews of surviving members.

The Reverend Jim Jones was a master at getting people to join his “ministry” because he reached out to people who were disenfranchised and he preached equality. This appealed to a larger community and he expressed caring and was able to eventually use his power to persuade the followers to drink cyanide-laced cherry Flavor Aid.

This is a very disturbing example of evil persuasion through isolation, charismatic authority and all of this in relationship to brainwashing and manipulation.

There are two kinds of isolation–physical and mental. Jim Jones used both.

Physical isolation isn’t always possible for some cults, MLM companies or religions. It’s possible they may employ both kinds of isolation, but normally the mental isolation is enough to keep their members involved. They begin to “divide and conquer” the members by suggesting that anyone who doesn’t support their choice in life of belonging to the group/cult/religion/MLM, is not looking out for their best interest.

When isolation is used by someone who has bad intentions, it is a very dangerous tool.

Isolation can also be used for sales or business on a more reputable level.

Mental isolation is most effective with customers/clients/prospects who you see on a regular basis. Lots of small interactions tend to create more loyalty. Cafes are a good example of this. It’s competitive. People have many choices from chains to locally owned chains to independently owned mom and pop cafes.

Recently I was in a locally owned cafe where the owner sparked up a conversation and suggested their product was not generic, it was high quality and didn’t cost a fortune like the most famous national chain. If you are invested in a home grown, grass roots type of existence, this remark might be preaching to the choir. Alternately, if you’re someone who doesn’t pay much attention to things like that, then it might plant a seed or it might just float right past you.

Some religions use isolation in terms of imposing rules about what is and what is not okay to talk about with non-members or “outsiders”.

I consider myself a very spiritual person and this is in no way a judgment about religion. it’s just a way to illustrate persuasion and how the persuasion of isolation is used to indoctrinate members of a given group.

Creating a shared experience is another way to create a psychological isolation. This can be accomplished in business by having a retreat or conference. It can be used to reward employees. Shared tragedy also has this effect. Think of 9/11 wives/survivors, New Orleans residents who were at the Superdome, Gulf War veterans. All of these groups have incredibly powerful bonds and there is the potential for them to become very committed to each other.

The final strategy in isolation is to ‘predict the future’. Sales people do this all the time in response to the ‘shop around’ objection. “Sure, go ahead. But X shop doesn’t have our selection (return policy, prices, etc.)” Cults use this future predicting by telling new members that their “choice” in joining will be ridiculed by friends and family. The cult leaders offer this as “proof” that the new member’s family and friends obviously don’t care about them as much as the group does. ‘If they really cared about you, wouldn’t they be glad that you found something to make you happy?’

I urge you to use this information with integrity and honesty. Failing to do so will most definitely come back to bite you.

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