Creffield and Loading the Language

On Groucho Marx's show, You Bet Your Life, if you said the magic word a duck descended from the Heavens and you won $50. In a cult, if you say the magic words, God will descend from the Heavens and all of life's complicated problems will be solved--or so a successful cult leader will have his followers believe. This is what Dr. Lifton refers to as "loading the language."

Creffield in the Salvation Army"The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought terminating cliché," Lifton writes. "The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive sounding phrases easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. . . . For an individual person, the effect of the language of ideological totalism can be summed up in one word: constriction. He is, so to speak, linguistically deprived; and since language is so central to all human experience, his capacities for thinking and feeling are immensely narrowed. . . [his] uneasiness may result in a retreat into a rigid orthodoxy in which an individual shouts the ideological jargon all the louder in order to demonstrate his conformity, hide his own dilemma and his despair, and protect himself from the fear and guilt he would feel should he attempt to use words and phrases other than the correct ones."

In Creffield's world the phrases that seemed to have been most often repeated were, "Be ye holy!" and, "It is either holiness or Hell!" If you chant these for a few hours and God speaks to you and/or all of your problems are solved, please e-mail us mail


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