After resigning from a high demand group that I was born into and remained a member of for 45 years, I sought to find out what was and wasn’t healthy in any group, whether it be religious, social, political, theological, social media, etc. I started realizing that the group I was involved with had significant problems with its truth claims about eight years before I left, but it took me eight years to realize it also was not healthy for me and to pull myself out. The main sources on unethical persuasion techniques I learned came from Steven Hassans’s, “Freedom of Mind,” and the BITE model, as well as Janja Lalich and Madliene Tobias,’s, “Take Back Your Life, “Bounded Choice model. These cult experts were featured on the program seduced.
What I learned from this constant study in the three months following my exit from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was that there were basic forms of unethical persuasion that had completely permeated all aspects of my life. As I read every book I could find on the subject, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because many of my children were still in the group and anything I said contrary to the group’s beliefs could or would be considered “anti-Mormon.” My experience in counseling and what the top high demand group exit books recommended I do to heal involved three main areas. First, research and learn everything about high demand groups and what they have in common, how they attract and keep members, and what types of persuasion they use to keep members from leaving so that I would not be tempted to go back. Second, share my story with friends and family (which was what most therapists said was the number one thing I could do to heal.) Unfortunately, in the group I was in, sharing my story could be considered apostate or anti-Mormon and I did not want to come across that way to others that I respected and loved. Third, survivors share how helping others leave similar situations helped them process their feelings of guilt, anger, and resentment toward the leadership of their group.
I wanted my children to learn the primary, repetitious principles that were common in ALL unhealthy groups according to the experts and their decades of research and findings. My reading and research took a great deal of time during step one of my recovery and I could not find any child/teen books written on this topic. As part of the third step in my recovery process I made a book with my children. I let them help illustrate it and copied it for each child still living at home. I felt that even if some of them decided to stay in the group, which has unhealthy group dynamics, at least they would know what was and wasn’t healthy if they began to experience what I had experienced. The concepts also lend themselves to today’s topics and issues in group politics, group social media, racism, sexism, and all other sorts of “isms” in our culture and education. I hope that knowing these top ten unethical persuasion methods will give everyone the information and knowledge to critically assess any group they choose to associate with now and in the future. The information contained in this book can also be used to change unhealthy group dynamics from inside a group or for an individual to know when the group is unhealthy enough that they need to leave. All ten of these unethical persuasion methods were used in the NXIVM cult.
This Children’s book is entitled, “Protecting Children Against Unethical Persuasion.” It was written to empower your children with ten ways to stop group manipulation and unethical group persuasion in politics, social media, religion, philosophy, etc. Once children/teens learn how groups use unethical persuasion to get them to believe/behave in a certain way, they will be less likely to fall victim to these tactics.
Each page of this children’s book begins with “You might be in an unhealthy group if…” and then it describes an unethical persuasion method. The opposite page says “If a group teaches/allows etc. (describes healthy group dynamic) …it is a sign of a health group.”
The book “Protecting Children From Unethical Persuasion,” by Gretchen Day, can be found on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P5PJ2TJ
Or on my website: www.gretchenday.com