Wednesday, July 29, 2015

More on the Standford Prison Study

The cult has gotten into a lot of well-deserved, but still incommensurate, trouble for its numerous cases of sexual and physical abuse. As abhorrent as that was, a deeper horror was the underlying framework that the group provided for such abuse to be considered "normal" and even, as grotesque as it sounds, "pleasing to God."

Pulling the "God card" out gave license to all manner of licentiousness and harm. (See Moral Licensing, where I wrote about another aspect of this "righteousness.") Girls were pressured into having sex because "God" wanted them to "share" and "fulfill the needs" of their spiritual brothers. They were taught that it was their God-given duty never to refuse a man. That was just one of many serious flaws in the social fabric of the cult (if I may be forgiven for stating the obvious).

We lived in an atmosphere where we were continually reminded that we were "God's called-out elite army." We were special. We deserved for people to provide physically for us, as ours was a "spiritual" work. Our children were, according to COG doctrine, going to run the world during the Millennium with Jesus and his saints. Our treasure was to be in heaven where we were to be rewarded according to our works, so we were to give and give every ounce of strength and every penny we could to the cause.

That whole delusional bubble of unreality, was, in itself, the problem.

The abusive behavior that the COG/TFI cultivated within its ranks was, in most cases, the result of people acting like they thought they were expected to act. We had our own set of mores that were supposedly superior to those of mainstream society, and our own insulated culture where such behavior was "normal."

One lesson that we can draw from the Stanford Prison Study is that people generally conform to what they think they are expected to do, and much more so when that expectation comes from an authority figure. The COG, with its "God card" employed the highest and most absolute authority of all, God.

"The lesson of Stanford isn’t that any random human being is capable of descending into sadism and tyranny. It’s that certain institutions and environments demand those behaviors..."*

*The New Yorker, "The Real Lesson of the Stanford Prison Experiment," by Maria Konnikova, June 12, 2015

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