In 2007, I started a phase of research writing that required me to process deeply my multiple experiences of spiritual abuse. Half a dozen situations with malgnant people and toxic organizations had eaten up nearly 20 years of my then 35 years in churches and ministries.
As I detailed what I’d experienced and began analyzing them, I started seeing that some of these situations did not fit what seemed to be the usual pattern. In fact, some had more in common with global societies and intense subjects I had been studying, some of them since the 1980s. The footprint of some abusive systems I’d experienced was more control by compliance to rules and regulations (like the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc). Some exerted control by chaos where nothing was predictable (like the Chinese Cultural Revolution). Some had especially charismatic leaders who could convince you of just about anything (like Jim Jones with The Peoples Temple). And some functioned off of competition among leaders and/or members (like how Hitler treated the top leaders in his regime).
I started seeing other patterns, and also pathways that led from small-scale situations and organizations all the way to large-scale “industrial complexes” and totalitarian societies. So it wasn’t just all about individual bullies. Some had more elements of institutions. Still others had elements of ideology (like Apartheid, and racism in America). All of this, combined with my work and volunteer experiences with non-profits regularly since the early 1970s, forged in me a systems perspective on forms of abuse and societal oppression.
Now that the first Field Guide in my “Do Good Plus Do No Harm” training series is due to be released this summer, I thought I would introduce the material by boiling down key points into an “Essentials” series of tutorials. To keep it as short as possible, I worked in PowerPoint instead of in Word and limited myself to about 10 slides per tutorial. I found this process forced me to focus on what is most important.
See what you think of this experiment — I’d appreciate your feedback! There are 20 slides total in Essentials #1 and #2, plus a Review/Preview slide at the end. I’ve numbered the slides for easier reference, in case you have comments on particular topics or certain slides.
And for those who prefer “long form” reads, I give links to some articles most relevant to Essentials #1 and #2 at the bottom of this post.
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Tentative Tutorials in Series 1:
- Essentials #1 Three core individual freedoms, drawn from global sources.
- Essentials #2 The road to institutionalization via reversing of our freedoms.
- Essentials #3 Increasingly restrictive individual conditioning.
- Essentials #4 Increasingly restrictive institutional control.
- Essentials #5 What this looks like in a “totalist psychology” social control by ideological conformity, including four variations on total control organizations/societies.
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