“Brainwashing” Theories in European Parliamentary and Administrative Reports on “Cults” and “Sects”

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Abstract:

This study examines the recent rash of official reports done by governmental agencies in Western Europe to guide policy development in those societies. Particular attention is given to reports in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and Italy, and to the changes in such reports that have occurred, perhaps because of the influence of scholarly critiques offered for some of the earlier reports. The reports are divided into “Type I” and “Type II” reports, with the former being thorough-going in their anti-cult orientation, and the latter reports being more moderate in tone, with some attention paid to scholarship on new religions. However, the major thesis of the study is supported, as an examination of both types of reports reveals that they incorporate “brainwashing” and “mind control” imagery imported from the United States, even though such theories have been largely discounted within the United States. Use of such theories leads directly to some questionable policy recommendations, as demonstrated in the reports. Reasons for the spread of “brainwashing” ideas to Europe are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0021-8294.00046

Affiliations: 1: Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada, Nevada, 2: Massimo Introvigne is the Managing Director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Italy

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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