I’m going to give you a list of names. Maybe you have heard of them all, or maybe only a few. In any case read on to see why I chose these people for examples in this blog.
Alexander the Great
These people are not remembered for their kindness and love toward others. That is because we are looking at their names as part of history. Sometimes history has a way of exposing truth, a truth people once refused to see.
Here is a list of traits. Many of these traits are shared by the above- mentioned men. I’m sure after reading them you will think of a few others to add to the list.
This list is from a post on Psychology Today by Joe Navarro, M.A. titled Dangerous Cult Leaders - Dangerous Traits of Cult Leaders
Here are the typical traits of the pathological cult leader (from Dangerous Personalities) you should watch for and which shout caution, get away, run, or avoid if possible:
If you read each of these I’m sure many bells are going off in your head. Now I’m quite sure you have more names to add to my list. In fact, many of these traits do make a certain world leader come to mind. Maybe several.
Okay, you are probably thinking this is nothing new, you have heard these comparisons before. And you would be right. There are many of us who have been making the comparison for a long time. Feels like centuries, doesn’t it?
We are going to return to the subject of history once again. Because I am quite sure I am not the only one who has wondered how the people/victims of these men let it happen?
What analogy can I use to describe it? I think I will use the frog in the frypan. If you were to take a frog and drop him onto a hot frypan he would likely jump and run at the very first sizzle. But if you take the frog and sit him in the cool pan, and very slowly turn on the head, raising the temperature only a little at a time, the frog would likely not even realize he was on the menu before it was too late.
That is how it happened with the people who followed these dangerous leaders. Add to it that in some cases the followers were going through difficult times. In the case of Hitler, the German people were suffering greatly after losing WWI. They desperately needed someone to lift them out of their despair. Hitler may have even been giving speeches where he said, “Let’s make Germany great again.”
For others who have joined cults they were not needy in the ways of the German people, but rather needy for utopia or paradise, a place where they felt part of something special.
These are not weak-minded people. No, in their case like the frog and the frypan, the feeling was good at first, then slowly ever so slowly things changed. Many never realized that their moral code was also slowly changing. And for others still, it wouldn’t have mattered, they couldn’t have gotten out if they tried.
Looking at the situation this way helps explain why the current political climate is so tense. (That’s a mild word for it).
I have had heated discussions on social media over some of the differences in my left/liberal views versus the right/conservative views of others. I have even had to unfriend, actual friends for some of the nasty things they have said. All the while I kept wondering how they could be so taken in.
I have family members who are on the red side of things. We either agree to disagree and continue to act as family, or we part ways.
All the while, I’m still thinking how they could fall for the lies.
Then I realized, those same people may be thinking the very same thing about me.
As I looked deeper into why otherwise loving and kind people could suddenly seem so angry and filled with distrust and even hatred, I began to see a pattern. It was a pattern I understood. One I had seen used before.
It is called Groupthink.
Kendra Cherry in her article titled Understanding Groupthink - How to Recognize and Avoid It, explains groupthink as the following:
"Groupthink is a term first used in 1972 by social psychologist Irving L. Janis that refers to a psychological phenomenon in which people strive for consensus within a group. In many cases, people will set aside their own personal beliefs or adopt the opinion of the rest of the group.
People who are opposed to the decisions or overriding opinion of the group as a whole frequently remain quiet, preferring to keep the peace rather than disrupt the uniformity of the crowd."
There are many cases in history, including my earlier examples, where groupthink had something to do with why something happened. Upon closer examination of the 1961 Bay of Pigs incident it was determined that the poor decisions made by JFK and his close advisors were due to what is now called groupthink. However, in 1962 groupthink had much to do with a positive conclusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Groupthink takes only a charismatic leader with a somewhat successful track record, and a message people want to hear. “I love you and will care for you.”; “Want to have the most fun you have ever had in your life?”; “We need to overthrow Fidel Castro!” or “Let’s Make Germany Great Again.”
Groupthink gets easier and easier as the following grows. If that many people believe it, it has to be right. So, I believe it too.
And the heat slowly rises.
In an article written by the Mind Tool Content Group there are proven ways to avoid groupthink.
Tools That Help You Avoid Groupthink
Helps ideas flow freely without criticism.
Modified Borda Count
Allows each group member to contribute individually, so mitigating the risk that stronger and more persuasive group members dominate the decision making process.
Six Thinking Hats
Helps the team look at a problem from many different perspectives, allowing people to play "Devil's Advocate".
The Delphi Technique
Allows team members to contribute individually, with no knowledge of a group view, and with little penalty for disagreement.
While these suggestions work well in smaller groups, it might not have worked in Hitler’s Germany where an entire country was taken in. However, by understanding how the process works one begins to realize they do have the power to disagree and the power to change the results of negative groupthink.
It is in our vote. Until that happens we are doomed.
So, I ask you today, are you waiting for history to decide how our lives end up in the next few years, or are you going to do something to change the direction of things?
posted by Pam Garlick