Mind Control via “Soft Trauma Bonding”
I am certainly not an expert in mind control, although as an employee, some years back, of a ministry that counseled ex-cultists, I participated in the research on the groups and on the formation of cults in general as part of the information gathering and dissemination parts of the ministry. This included an examination of the characteristics of cults, trauma bonding being one of them. Here, I add the modifier, “soft” for reasons that I will explain.
Suffice it so say, in that research project, I learned a LOT.
I also learned a lot MORE about the religious system in which I grew up, its teachings reinforced daily at home, at Church, and at school.
For example, regarding the cults, I learned about the aforementioned “trauma bonding” . And I slowly realized that that is one of the forces that had kept me from leaving Roman Catholicism. Even when I “came out of the church,” it was still a potent source of cognitive dissonance, a mind control effect, treated in earlier posts, and certainly religious angst as I struggled (for six years) with untangling the mass of RC dogma in its various and sundry iterations through the centuries.
But this time I had the far more powerful comparison guide of the Bible, its text and context, for support. And the force of that Word continues, still, its length, depth, breadth, and width of meaning, spiritually, historically, linguistically, anthropologically, and culturally expanding day by day, year by year.
(I sometimes think of God’s Word as a seven level chess game that Jesus won, for us, so that we can “win,” in Him.)
Growing up, of course, as Roman Catholics, we were not permitted to think we could read, understand, and especially interpret anything in the Bible (even the Catholic Bible) without the specific guidance of a priest, its words carefully bound up with the “liturgy” of the Mass and wrapped tightly with RC add-ons through the millennia.
So, especially for a “cradle Catholic,” there was/is a lot there to untangle from not only one’s mind but also one’s heart and spirit.
However, God is faithful.
Soft Trauma Bonding?
According to Sharie Stines, Psy. D, in her article, “What is (regular) Trauma Bonding?” “Trauma bonding is loyalty to a person who is destructive. While the idea of bonding tends to bring up connotations of something good and beneficial, trauma bonds are unhealthy”.
“Other types of relationships involving trauma bonds,” she continues, “include cult-like religious organizations.”
So, what happens in these situations for victims of this kind of mind (body/emotion) control?
Stines explains, “The environment necessary to create a trauma bond involves intensity, complexity, inconsistency, and a promise. Victims stay because they are holding on to that elusive ‘promise’ or hope. There is always manipulation involved. Victims are prey to the manipulation because they are willing to tolerate anything for the payoff, which is that elusive promise and ever present hope for fulfillment of some deeply personal need within the victim.” (Emphasis, hers.)
For a little kid in the Roman Catholic religious system, the promise, carefully reinforced through the teachings noted above and referenced in the Catholic literature, is BIG: do this, little Susie or Bobby is taught, in the exact proscribed manner, and you will avoid Hell’s eternal fires, and possibly even at least some of the unknown amount of Purgatory fire you will have accrued because of your sins—whatever might be left of your “penance” and payment for your sins that you didn’t take care of while on earth.
And that Jesus did not take care of on the cross. As it were. As was the logical conclusion of the teachings. If one was free enough mentally to draw conclusions.
I don’t know how this is presented to adults learning the system, but the same old mandates are still in the fine print.
Even if the mandates are couched in more “religiously (like politically) correct” terminology, these days, dealing with a much more informed populace (for instance, many are now aware of NLP and black ops mind control techniques originating with the Jesuits, see footnote 1, part 1), the mandates remain on some level, and still hold their potency.
Don’t think so?
Just think of the power of many suggestions and incidents, good and bad, that occurred to us in our formative years and their potency, still. Consider the power of such mind control at any age by cruel, controlling people, though their presentation be slick, their words, “softened,” their gestures seemingly benign. We pick up stuff in our psyches even though we might not be able to define it or untangle it. (That is, in part, how NLP works.)
Another thing I learned back then by studying the cults and their power over anybody, was that mind control ever morphs to stay a step ahead of the victim. Ask those who assist people who have managed to leave abusive relationships, let alone abusive religious systems.
The control can be as blatant as imprisonment, or a “certain look” from an abuser, well-honed—and well-understood by the victim, though no one else–over time.
The subtle forms of mind control—and people control—are every bit as strong as the blatant forms.
Remember the story of the elephant on a chain who learned to walk in only the area confined by the length of the chain and when it was removed, the animal still stayed in that confine?
(Now, back to the confessional and what one must needs do, there, to get it right.)
Besides keeping that log of your sins, complete and detailed, don’t forget to confess those to the appropriate authority (priest).
For the “elusive promise or hope” part of this kind of trauma bond, the young or new penitent learns that by doing all of these things carefully, thoroughly and just so, one can stay out of the fires of Purgatory and/or Hell, itself.
All of that said, the Holy Mother Church, however, has not left the Catholic without a least a little hope.
IF one is fortunate, one learns soon enough about the plethora of ways one can “purchase” time off at least the Purgatory fires still remaining (time off purchased, literally, by having a loved one “make a donation for” a Mass to be “said” for you after you have died, or by performing certain rites and rituals yourself, while alive).
(Yes, Virginia, one of the major teachings upon which the entire Protestant Reformation was based, indulgences, is still taught in the Catholic religious system .
And Catholics and Protestants are now canceling the Reformation?
I call the practice of the Catholic examination of conscience “soft trauma bonding” because well, it doesn’t involve kidnapping or torture or imprisonment or other acts of abuse and cruelty we often think is necessary to be “trauma bonded” in the classic sense.
And yet, the young one is hooked into the fear of the fires of Purgatory/Hell which speaks to one of the primal fears of all of humanity: what happens to us after we die?
(A potent fear, as the controllers know so well…who use so well.)
Picture the innocent. Imagine the fear.
But, worse yet, consider how everything else in the Catholic religious system supports this behavior-based acquisition of “grace,” which can still harm the mind, emotions, and spirit. If you have some doubt, continue your own research. There is plenty out there, now, finally.
Think of how, if you are a Catholic, even a former Catholic, this “behavior based” religious system of salvation still can easily force your mind off of the complete and substitutionary sacrifice of the REAL Jesus Christ on the cross, and how much your consciousness of your sin can so easily turn your gaze, once again, on your sinfulness, your faults, your failings, your bad habits, your unworthiness, despite all your “mea culpas”. Despite your best efforts to perform just so, like the little nun in part 2.
Despite the fact that the REAL Jesus did not lie on that cross when He declared, “It is finished.”
Not only that, with so much daily sin consciousness, a Catholic of any age hardly has time to study what the scriptures say on the real definition of grace (unmerited, that is, un-worked-for, favor)!
And, sadly, think of how easily, especially little ones, can come to the conclusion that God is up there counting each and every little flaw and sin in them and then just waiting to make sure they do and say and perform and remember everything just so in order to appease Him.
The little—and older—Catholic hardly has time, with all there is to have to do to gain some meager hope of escaping all the fire later on, to learn about the other Jesus, the One in the Bible, Who truly loves us and did, in fact, die for us, taking all of our sins on that cross, and Who completed the eternal “penance” for them, too.
The Jesus Who thinks it a great, great harm to lead the young astray…
See what I mean about “soft trauma bonding”?
But there is a way to the truth, and a way out of the soft trauma bonds. See part 7, “The Real Good News,” right below.
 On penance: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11618c.htm
 On Indulgences: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07783a.htm
The REAL Good News
I pray that the Holy Spirit will work powerfully in all who read, here, and for Catholics, I pray that miraculous and healing work be done commensurate with the damage wrought you by a religious system that exploits your fears and denies you the Real Jesus. Indeed, I have faith that this will happen for you.
As I started this commentary, so I end it: “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”
Though the reams of highly-intelligent-sounding encyclicals detailing Roman Catholicism’s add-on teachings adopted over time sound impressive; though the art and architecture inspires awe and reverence; though the plethora of rites, rituals, and relics comfort the faithful in some way (and more will likely be created to serve the need du jour), the pure Gospel remains, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
And where do we learn true meaning?
At the feet of the same Savior.
We don’t need a priest, a pope, a prayer book, or a program. We need other believers and commentaries to enhance biblical context, yes, but not to replace it, add to it, or take from it.
We need the Word of God in the text, and the Word of God in the Flesh, Jesus.
In closing, here is a story about another woman, not a nun like the little nun whose story opened my several-part commentary who I realize may be serving Jesus the only way she knows for now, but a story about another woman, a contemporary of Jesus, who chose to serve the real Jesus in a way advised for us, too.
It is also a story about her sister who still labored under what she thought the woman “should” be doing, how she should be “behaving” as per her status in the world, which Jesus addresses for then, and, I believe, for now
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”(Luke 10:38-42).
It all starts here for each of us, too: at Jesus’ feet. Learning and growing.
Healing from trauma bonds, soft or hard; deliverance from abusive and controlling people; deliverance from religious systems more interested in the profits than the Prophets; and, finally, restoration by the love of Jesus Christ Who indeed “finished” what He said He finished for you, is also found here.
Spend some time with Him, today?
I invite you to start with the Gospel of St. John, the last of the four chronicles of Jesus’ earthly ministry, featured in the “New Testament” section of the Bible.
And be very kind and gentle with yourself.
You’ve likely been through a lot, spiritually and mentally.
And, oh yes, about that fear that God is sitting up on His throne keeping track of every jot and tittle of your behavior every second of every hour of every day, week, month, and year? Simply, confess it.
Here’s His Word on it:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
And, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
“Sit at His feet” today, like Mary.
Receive Him as your Savior and Lord while there is yet time.
He can heal and deliver you, too.
And you can rest, assured, in His grace, for eternity.
And, oh, right straight to eternity—no by-passes through Purgatory.
As St. Paul put it, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
PART 1, HERE PART 2, HERE PART 3, HERE PART 4, HERE PART 5, HERE
Thank you for sharing your journey and for offering a glimpse of true Hope. I was not raised Catholic, but each of us has our own temptation to think we can possibly earn God’s love instead of accept it. We want to be the hero of our story instead of recognizing that the hero is Jesus. Thank you.
Thank you, Sylvia, and welcome. I am going to check out your blog :).
It’s so true that there are myriad belief system, religious and secular, that tempt us away from what Jesus did.