Saturday, May 2, 2015


In TFI we were required to report our statistics at the end of each month. This meant filling in a 2 page report form that included places for total number of pieces of literature distributed, "souls saved" (meaning the number of people who prayed with us to receive Jesus, no matter how shallow or insincere this was), and in the heyday of Flirty Fishing, girls had to fill out the number of men they had sex with and the number of times. 

Simple psychology dictates that such reporting would breed a sense of competition and a tendency to want to inflate the numbers reported to "look good." Of course, that was commonplace.  

This reporting also added a sense of pressure to life, knowing that we would have to report how we did that month. Add to that the financial pressure - we also had to report our total income, our tithe amount, and the breakdown of where our additional financial gifts were to go each month.

All the while, we were not to take "System" jobs, but to remain "God's dropped out children," put simply, beggars and prostitutes.

The constant struggle for survival, especially in the Third World countries in which we were instructed to live, created a sense of scarcity.

Insight into the psychological effects of this struggle can be found in Cara Feinberg's summary of recent research on scarcity, the depletion of willpower, and the practical use of nudges in creating desirable behavior. When life is made up of a scramble for survival, mental processes are affected. "Scarcity steals mental capacity wherever it occurs—from the hungry, to the lonely, to the time-strapped, to the poor."

So much "mental bandwidth" is used battling for survival - raising funds, meeting all sorts of proselytizing quotas, sticking to the daily schedule - that the mind is compromised. To quote from the article linked above, 

"If the mind is focused on one thing, other abilities and skills—attention, self-control, and long-term planning—often suffer. Like a computer running multiple programs, Mullainathan and Shafir explain, our mental processors begin to slow down. We don’t lose any inherent capacities, just the ability to access the full complement ordinarily available for use."

As I wrote before (Neural Atrophy), people who live in a state of chronic subordination experience a decrease in new brain cell growth. It is as if our minds were attacked from all sides: the struggle for survival, constant subordination to capricious leaders, and the ever-present readings of the Mo Letters. 

I am beginning to see why the idea of leaving the group took so long to appear.

No comments:

Post a Comment