CCChat-Magazine Cults-Coercion - Flipbook - Page 25
hristian Szurko been helping emerging members and exmembers of totalist groups since 1973. He founded DialogCentre
UK, (a charity since 2000) in 1984. It works to undo harm caused
by destructive belief systems and aims to educate the public
about manipulative influence.
M: Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I always enjoy talking to you, I learn so
much. Here is my first question: Is there a difference between indoctrination, coercion and
C: What a great question. I'll start by saying undue influence is primarily a legal term from
contract law. It's long been recognised that it is possible to influence someone in such a way,
that they make a contract to their own disadvantage, not because they wish to disadvantage
themselves but because they've been persuaded by unusual circumstances.
The classic example would be if a carer was looking after an elderly person, talked them into
disinheriting their family and giving all their money to the carer, that would not be a normal
situation unless the family was really dysfunctional and the carer was this amazing person,
which of course is the impression that's always intended. In most cases what you're looking at
is undue influence. I'm going to put that to one side for a moment. I might get back to it and I
might not, that leaves us with coercive control versus indoctrination and I suppose the
distinction that has to be made is that indoctrination usually refers to bringing somebody into a
school of thought, or a body of thought, so that they are being confronted with an authority from
outside of the relationship. You go to your Rabbi or you go to your priest, your Imam or some
New Age guru or whatever and although your relationship is with them, they are representing
an authority beyond themselves, or they claim to be and on the basis of that, your obedience to
them is required of you.
Indoctrination can be as innocent as teaching someone how something works, in the grander
scheme of things. When you join the armed forces, in a sense you're indoctrinated, you go to
higher education and in a sense you're indoctrinated because you learn within that framework.
You are learning certain disciplines and skills which will enable you to understand what you're
doing and those skills may not be suitable outside of that particular school so whether it's
psychology or chemistry or biology or physics or mathematics or whatever it is, you're learning
a system of knowledge which is peculiar to that system, to your body of thought and you're
learning to think in those terms.
Making The Invisible Visible