Yes people come and go in our life and they also influence us in one way or another. My constant prayer as a parent is for my child to meet friends who will be of “good” influence to her. I grew up in a traditional manner, raised by strict grandmother and parents, choosing good friends is important.
A motto that marked indelibly in my heart is this saying;
Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.
There are many versions of this quote but they all mean the same thing. In Social Psychology, this influence is being recognized and scientifically proven. Your closest associates (sometimes called – reference group) can determine much of your success in life. Our friends influence us subtly yet powerfully, and that can either be good or bad.
Research shows we do not have as much control over our thoughts and behavior as we think. We take cues from our environment, especially other people, on how to act.
– Psychology Today
Another powerful quote by Jim Rohn – “You are the average of the 5 people you hang around with.” The first quotation stayed with me since highschool. And recently, studying Psychology out of interest helps me gain more insight in relationships and human behavior.
You can’t choose your family, but you have the power to decide who to be close with. You also have the power to avoid certain people – toxic ones, for they will definitely shape who you are.
From my notes in Managing Emotions (Social Emotional Learning SEL) by Yale University – Humans are social creatures, we are influencing each other’s feelings whether we realize it or not.
Surrounding yourself with good people is not a strategy, it is a necessity. Having family and friends who motivate and help you become better (or best) version of yourself is a blessing.
Brainwashing is defined in the Psychology Dictionary as that which “manipulates and modifies a person’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.” It reduces a person’s ability to mentally defend themselves and makes it easier for another person to control them.
Brainwashing (also known as mind control, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and forced re-education) is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques.
The term brainwashing was first coined in the 1950s when journalist Edward Hunter in his article in Miami Daily News entitled – “Brain-washing Tactics Force Chinese Into Ranks of Communist Party.” He described how Mao’s Red Army used ancient techniques to manipulate the masses. He called this hypnotic process – brainwashing, the process to change the mind drastically (Smithsonian Magazine).
It is a theory that a person’s core beliefs, ideas, affiliations and values can be replaced, so much so that they have no autonomy over themselves and cannot think critically or independently.
In 1956, Albert Biderman studied how prisoner of war camp personnel got U.S. prisoners of the Korean War to give them tactical information, collaborate with propaganda, and agree with false confessions. Biderman stated that inflicting physical pain was not necessary to “induce compliance,” but psychological manipulations were extremely effective for that purpose. His report included what has come to be known as “Biderman’s Chart of Coercion.”
In Biderman’s chart, he summarized the tactics in brainwashing;
Monopolization of perception (fixes attention on immediate predicament; eliminates “undesirable” stimuli)
Induced debilitation; exhaustion
Occasional indulgences (provides motivation for compliance; hinders adjustment to deprivation)
Enforcing trivial demands
Not all eight elements need to be present in order for brainwashing to occur. Each element can have some power to distort reality, interfere with perception, reduce a person’s self-confidence, and gain compliance.
How are you brainwashed?
Based on the mechanisms from Biderman’s chart, you can somehow notice that this person is trying to control you. But first, this person who will try to brainwash you will want to know everything about you in order to manipulate your beliefs. Everything – find out what your strengths are, your weaknesses, who you trust, who is important to you and who you listen to for advice.
They will begin with isolation, it may come in a form of not allowing an access for family or friends. The brainwasher must have a complete control of the target.
In the process, brainwasher will attack the victim’s self esteem, making them vulnerable and easier to control. This can be done through physical or verbal abuse, threats, etc.
you are not who you think you are.
– how stuff works
The abuser denies everything that makes the target who he is: “You are not a soldier.” “You are not a man.” “You are not defending freedom.” The target is under constant attack for days, weeks or months, to the point that he becomes exhausted, confused and disoriented. In this state, his beliefs seem less solid (exhaustion).
Most psychologists believe that brainwashing is possible in the right conditions and settings. Plan must be systematic and relentless making it tiresome for the victim.
While the identity crisis is setting in, the brainwasher is simultaneously creating an overwhelming sense of guilt in the target. He/she repeatedly and mercilessly attacks the subject for any “sin” the target has committed, large or small. The victim now feels a general sense of shame that everything he/she does is wrong.
The ultimate goal of brainwashing is Blind Obedience. The victim follows orders without question. This is usually achieved by positively rewarding the person when they please the brainwasher and negatively punishing them when they do not (indulgences and punishment).
Brainwashing is real.
Yes, it is not just in fictional books and movies. Brainwashing is real!
However, this mind/psychological control should not be feared, and target/prospect having knowledge makes any tactic less effective. Here are some ways that you can do to avoid being brainwashed;
Don’t believe everything that you read
Don’t buy into fear or scare tactics
Watch for someone’s hidden agenda
Look out for less obvious messages, try to listen for both sides of the story
Just as environment has its toxins and so is humanity.
In the Philippines, Mental health has a negative connotation so I’ll be using emotional and mental health interchangeably.
What is a Toxic Person?
Toxicity is not considered an illness but there could be underlying causes or trauma behind their toxicity. But how will you know if they are toxic? A toxic person is anyone whose behavior gives negativity and upset to your life. They consistently cause you a negative response and you feel uncomfortable around them.
Before I give you the types, here are toxic behaviors you watch out for;
Enjoy Others Suffering
Never Taking Ownership (non-admission of faults)
Refusing to Apologize
Just to be clear, we are all imperfect in one way or another. The difference with toxic people is that they “always” manifest the behaviors mentioned above and has destroyed relationships and brought conflicts.
I’m studying Psychology because I’d like to know how to deal with different kinds of people. As an entrepreneur, I face a myriad of people everyday. Not to pat myself at the back, but I know I’m a good-hearted person so I need to protect myself and set boundaries. I believe that truly toxic ones are not worth my time and I feel like a portion of my life is deducted or shortened as I deal with them.
Believe it or not, there are 10 types of toxic people. Yes! that many. Maintain your peace and emotional health by being aware of their kind.
10 Types of Toxic People
The Gossiper – we have a term here in the Philippines – “Marites” not sure how they derived that name but gossiper a.k.a. Marites is on the top of the list. What’s sad is they derive pleasure from talking about other people and they seem to celebrate with others’ misfortunes.
The Temperamental – they seem to have anger management issues. It’s also difficult to deal with them as they don’t know how to handle their own emotions and can become explosive.
The Victim – they see themselves as victims. Some may shower you with (superfluous) gifts, sort of bribery then they will open up to you. And you empathize with them, kind-hearted ones can easily fall for this trap.
The Self-Absorbed – inconsiderate and a total narcissist. Fact check – they’re only using you for their benefit.
The Envious – self explanatory and I’ve met many. Perfect to pair with “Marites” as they try to bring down one’s reputation.
The Manipulator – they are a pro in manipulating those around them to get what they want. Another overlapping sign is when they excessively give you gifts and make you ask the question – “for what?”
The Seductive, Overly-Dramatic Person – quoted this from Psychology Today. They’re fun to be with, often the life of the party. They are charming, seductive, physically attractive and do things to attract attention. They focus a great deal of time on outward appearance but really insecure deep inside.
The Narcissistic-Aggressive Person – another from Psychology Today. Coming from the word – narcissism, these individuals are abusive, verbally or physically. They are selfish and aggressive, tend to be adventurous and risk-takers.
The Judgemental – have you heard of the saying – “don’t rain on my parade” The judgemental are quick to tell you what’s wrong about your decision. They only see your faults and look down on others. Nothing is ever good enough for them.
The Arrogant – arrogance is false-confidence and always masks insecurities.
Everything begins with awareness.
If you know someone who is toxic and there’s no way to avoid them, don’t fret. You may not be able to physically avoid them but you can set boundaries. First identify them and maintain a safe “emotional” distance. Expect the behavior/s mentioned above so you’ll be well prepared to “rationally” face them. You are now equipped but don’t ever try to engage or mix into the chaos. Call them out if they do something wrong to you.
Always choose peace. Respond and don’t react, I know it’s easier said than done but I’m just being optimistic here. For normal people like you and me, there’s hope and peace.