Dr. Robert J. Lifton's Criteria for Thought Reform

Any ideology -- that is, any set of emotionally-charged convictions about men and his relationship to the natural or supernatural world -- may be carried by its adherents in a totalistic direction. But this is most likely to occur with those ideologies which are most sweeping in their content and most ambitious or messianic in their claim, whether a religious or political organization. And where totalism exists, a religion, or a political movement becomes little more than an exclusive cult.

Here you will find a set of criteria, eight psychological themes against which any environment may be judged. In combination, they create an atmosphere which may temporarily energize or exhilarate, but which at the same time pose the gravest of human threats.

(a brief outline)

MILIEU CONTROL

MYSTICAL MANIPULATION (Planned spontaneity)

THE DEMAND FOR PURITY

CONFESSION

SACRED SCIENCE

LOADING THE LANGUAGE

DOCTRINE OVER PERSON

DISPENSING OF EXISTENCE