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Mind Control and the Adult Child | Pt. 3

Continuing my series on Mind Control and the Adult Child, and our discussion of Hassan's BITE model..."B" here.

A dult children from deeply conservative, homeschooling families are probably familiar with the degree of "child sheltering" often taught at conferences, in homeschool groups, and shared among like-minded families. I'm sure we'd all agree that it's important to protect children from inappropriate messages, images, behavior, and other things that could bring spiritual, emotional, psychological, or physical harm. I'm sure, also, that many of us are thankful our parents cared enough to understand their responsibility to us.
     Mind control within the Christian family is, understandably, a difficult topic to read about or address, especially when our heart's desire is to love and honor those who raised us. Sometimes this forces silence and hiding ~ but silence and hiding are not helpful to our walk with God or to ourselves. As previously stated, addressing issues that have arisen in our lives does not mean we don't love, appreciate, or honor our parents. Jesus was sent to heal the brokenhearted and to bind up wounds. Acknowledging that we have wounds admits that we need Jesus.

The Quiverfull Family
     One challenge that full-quiver parents sometimes face is how to shelter each child properly with regards to their individual maturity. While this is a broad application, what is relevant to seventeen-year-old Mark won't be appropriate for four-year-old Jane, but to keep Mark at Jane's level won't be conducive to his growth. It's a fine balance, one that requires wisdom and the Holy Spirit for parents to navigate successfully. As adults, sometimes we need to examine some of the roots in our lives that, established in childhood, bear unwanted fruit as we mature. It is my prayer that as we look over this information and seek wisdom and truth for our inward parts, God will give us understanding of our infirmities, compassion for others, and show us the way to freedom.
     While it's likely that not all of these elements will be present in your history, review the ways information is controlled within destructive or high-demand groups. How did your experience differ? How was it the same? If you were exposed to certain things at a later time, how did you feel / what did you think after absorbing the material?

II. Information Control
by Steve Hassan
1. Use of deception
    a. Deliberately holding back information
    b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
    c. Outright lying
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
    a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
    b. Critical information
    c. Former members
    d. Keep members so busy they don't have time to think
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
    a. Information is not freely accessible
    b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
    c. Leadership decides who "needs to know" what
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
    a. Pairing up with "buddy" system to monitor and control
    b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
    a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
    b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
    a. Information about "sins" used to abolish identity boundaries
    b. Past "sins" used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
Thoughts for Discussion

     A sheltered upbringing is a point of delicate concern for those on both sides of this spectrum. Please share your experience, whether you believe it was positive or negative. Some who were extremely over-controlled report a sense of betrayal when realizing that all was not as portrayed to them. How has this impacted you? Your faith? Your trust, of God and others? Please share whatever comes to mind as you reflect on these issues.
The BITE Model
From chapter two of Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves
© 2000 by Steven Hassan; published by Freedom of Mind Press, Somerville MA


  1. I think that people who homeschool figure out there is something not quite right at the churches and introvert even more..then the stuff passed around among the homeschoolers 'seems right' because it's led by the Law. So the pastors begin the course by teaching the Law to live by instead of faith..people become accustomed to the Law and begin judging the psator as not holding to it, then they want to hold to it more..thinking it's 'right'. But the end thereof are the ways of death. If living by te Law was 'right' then jesus would not have needed to come. So I can see why this swing into fundamentalism homeschool QF Law abiding concept is so mezmorizing..it's candy coated. It's high time it get exposed. I'm not against many children, homeschooling, or havig healthy boundaries, but it definitely gets abused. I like that yu used the word 'propaganda'

  2. So sorry about my typos. I really DO know how to spell. :P

  3. I'm extremely street smart.

    The sheltering I experienced was relational.

    My social interaction with others was usually criticized and enough bad happened to justify the judgement. I was bullied, used and manipulated by others. But the real problem lied in the lack of relational skills, which both I and my parents were deficient in due to social isolation both chosen and due to negligence. They withdrew from people or attacked them, both confrontationally or passive aggressively.

    - Sarah

  4. I see my family in all these points to a degree, but I can most identify with #2.

    In the younger years, sheltering wasn’t particularly negative. We didn’t have TV/movies and they were careful about what we read. I think this was healthy for small children.

    One area that makes me sad and angry is that they cut us off from all “worldly” associations, including extended family holidays and celebrations, so that we would not be influenced by anything we would see or hear there. I barely know my extended family.

    The major damage happened because my parents continued a high degree of information control even as we grew older. In fact, they became more controlling, not less. This was particularly evident in their approach about more sensitive issues, like sex ed. Apparently we’d be kept “pure” if we did not find out about such matters until a few days before we married. They said later that they did not give us any information about how to resist a rapist because it would compromise our purity. They just “trusted God” to protect us.

    This degree of ignorance resulted in some very socially humiliating moments. My mom was very vocal about our ignorance and thought it was cute when it put us in an embarrassing situation.

    We were very limited in what we were permitted to listen to or read, even into adulthood. Many Christian radio programs were off-limits, as well as any books with romantic themes (even stories of Amish romance). These might make us want to date. Computers, with or without internet, were pretty much considered the devil. In some kind of legalistic attempt to be an “honoring” adult daughter, I read what I liked (and was able to secretly gain access to), unless it was expressly forbidden; then I obeyed. My siblings and I sometimes listened to Christian radio programs on the sly.

    Having no TV or movies was probably the most benign form of information-limiting I experienced. It wasn’t all bad. The most awkward result of having no TV or movies at all is that I now miss a lot of social cues, much like someone from a 3rd world country. I’ve learned how to either cover my ignorance or just laugh it off and say that I was raised without TV. The control was extreme, though. Even as an adult, I was not allowed to babysit or help a housebound elderly person if the TV was on (even sports). The more I remember, the less ambivalent I feel.


  5. Do you realize how these points remind me of both the cultish church we were involved with early in our marriage AND Amway/Quixtar in which we were "in" then quickly "out" again when we realized what a cult that was! At that time we read info at this site: www.freedomofmind.com by Steve Hasssan. Very good info, and eye opening when you look at it side-by-side with your list above.

  6. DUH! I just read your post and saw that it came from a book by Steve Hassan....I need some sleep...lol!

  7. I think what you do here is awesome. I was not home schooled or raised in the whole "Quivering" movement, but I was abused growing up, and going to church all the time makes for a messed up heart. I have experienced much emotional pain at the hands of all those who taught me my values, and to this day it hurts to think of that.

  8. Here is a new twist on the subject...I was brought up to be coerced and feared in to good behavior through fables.
    "Don't pick your belly button it will unwind inside of you"; "You were adopted.";"Don't go into the water until 1/2 hour after eating.";"A water melon or apple tree will grow inside you and bust you open if you swallow any seeds.";"Do NOT splash water on the rim of the tub-if that seal breaks loose you will go clear to China-and I'm not coming to find you."; "The man in the moon sees every thing you do.".."Santa will give you coal if you don't mind-he and his elves watch you all the time." ..."The boogy man WILL get you if you don't go to sleep!" (then I REALLY couldn't sleep,and would lay in a puddle of sweat because I couldn't sleep!)...
    Those are just a few. I would literally lay in a puddle of sweat wondering if I peed myself some nights.
    After a life of this, I was determined to raise my children with Truth. I never lied to, or coerced my children in to good behavior.
    We were involved in the community, 4-H; fairs, saddle club and our door was revolving every weekend with whom ever needed a warm place to feel safe and have fun.
    It is unfortunate, that my goals for my family and their father's goals differed. He decided to end it all. I miss that life :(
    But one thing I have always been thankful for, is that God have me a sense of humor, and now, I can laugh about those idiot tales that kept me in line!


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