This afternoon, I overheard this intelligent and useful approach when dealing with people who have been brainwashed and may be unable to admit it, but would benefit from your kindness and skill, so that they can leave the past in the past.
“There is something very powerful about being part of a group that taps into core elements of your identity and especially elements of your identity that you feel have been maligned. So one of the things that we are wrestling with in the space of mis- and disinformation and conspiracy theories is that the information is almost besides the point. So trying to present factual information, empirically, demonstrably factual evidence is not going to move many of these people, because of those core identity elements that are tapped into by being members of this group. And Trump, a very long time ago, figured out that there were people in our society who felt that they were being maligned, because of racial animus, cultural animus and class related animus, and he has very effectively given them a home and made them feel respected and made them feel loved, and those of us in academia, in journalism … look at this and we recognize that much of this is turning them into pawns, but that is not the experience of the individuals who have placed themselves in these groups. For them, it is comforting, it has become part of who they are.
First, this is so frustrating, and it is crazy making to even have to do this, and let’s be frank, you don’t have to do this, you can decide that some of these relationships are so toxic that you want to let them go. But I don’t know that it is the right thing to do, to turn our backs on some of these people. Many of us have loved ones who have sort of become, like, conspiracy-curious and they are not fully on board yet, but they are moving in that direction, and because these beliefs are not actually rooted in facts, they can not be approached with facts, they have to be approached with emotion, they have to be approached lovingly, and so I talk about the need to create emotional welcome mats for these people to remind them of emotional, trusting, loving relationships, that you either have had in the past or that you want to cultivate in the present, so that they feel heard and respected. And, yes, we do not want to have to do this, but if emotions are what are driving these beliefs, then emotions and connection is what we need to use in order to reach back out to bring these people back into the reality-based community where we want them to live.”
Dr. Donna Young,
University of Delaware, Prof. Communication and Political Science
#healing #reorientation #constructivecommunication #cultmembers