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What can Business Psychology learn from Donald Trump and the dark arts of coercive control?
Speaker: Steven Hassan, Mental Health Professional and visiting professor, Harvard Medical School
The science of mind control by Lifton – how Lifton’s 10 factors apply to individuals and organisations today.
Our attention is currently directed to the Dark Side of Politics, the rise of so called Populism and the US elections and Donald Trump. Behind this is the practice of the psychology of groups, the elastic nature of the relationship between leaders and groups, and how insecurity can lead to the rise of Authoritarian Leadership. This dark art involves leaders who are skilled entrepreneurs of identity, how they identify groups, and build group “cooperation” into a sense of strong values which ultimately becomes a social process resulting in a shift in the balance of power. Increasingly large wedges between groups result in increased intolerance and polarisation: debate is not overtly stifled, but those who contest are increasingly subjected to ridicule and a process of intimidation, resulting in cementing of entrenched views in the groups which develop a myopic monoculture. In business and politics this can become an extreme version of “Group Think”, where more benign Class divisions give way to intolerant authoritarian structures headed by leaders more interested in manipulation rather than organisational inclusivity and effectiveness. .
With the disappearance of checks and balances, the Dark Side can then flourish and ambitious and ruthless individuals can wield power with increasing impunity. The situation can only be reversed by widespread changes of attitudes to and within these groups, and, ultimately a change in the power structure. In organisations, we, as business psychologists, have a role to identify and control the cancer, but how should this be approached?
Steven Hassan is a mental-health professional, author and blogger who has been helping individuals and organisatoions shed light on the otherwise dark arts of coercive control. He is based in Boston, MA and is a visiting fellow at Harvard Medical School and sought after counsellor and executive coach. His work supports leaders to shape their style and the culture of their organisations. He has just published a book “The Cult Of Trump”.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo, of the Stanford Prison experiment fame, recently described Hassan’s work as an “engaging exploration of the coercive control techniques that President Donald Trump uses daily to influence his followers”.
Come to this talk to find out how psychological manipulation may have unduly influenced you!
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