attachment disorders, conspiracy theories, Cults, Daubert Standard, Hypnosis, Legal Cases, Manchurian Candidate, mind control, Monica Pignotti, Nancy Thomas, Occam's Razor, Osama Bin Laden, Psychology Myths, Recovered Memories, Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, Steve Hassan, Steven Hassan
Steven Hassan Tweets: “Sirhan after extensive testing appears to be a Manchurian Candidate!”
Cult and “mind control” expert Steven Hassan, proclaimed on his Twitter page on April 29 and also on his website:
Sirhan, after extensive testing appears to be a Manchurian Candidate!
I see a few problems with this pronouncement.
First of all, I was not aware that there was any scientifically reliable or valid test to determine whether someone is a Manchurian Candidate. Sirhan’s lawyer is attempting to bring this to court, but if he does, I have to wonder how such a claim could ever survive Daubert. The Daubert Standard, which has been in effect now in Federal cases for more than a decade now, requires that expert witness testimony be backed by scientific evidence. In the past, when the Frye Standard was in effect and it still is, in many state courts, the standards were much less rigorous. The evidence presented only needs to be generally accepted by the scientific community. That standard more vague and more open to interpretation, although it is doubtful that the fantastic claims about Sirhan being a Manchurian Candidate could even meet that standard. I don’t see how they could meet the Daubert Standard.
What was Steven Hassan’s source for his incredible claim? He links to this Associated Press release on boston.com. As with Hassan’s tweet, the article ominously entitled “Sirhan’s lawyers argue mind control plot,” makes a number of unsubstantiated pronouncements. The evidence?
The documents filed this week in federal court and obtained by The Associated Press detail extensive interviews with Sirhan during the past three years, some done while he was under hypnosis.
For the first time, Sirhan said under hypnosis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode’’ believing he was at a firing range and seeing circles with targets in front of his eyes.
“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actually shooting at any person, let alone Bobby Kennedy,’’ Sirhan was quoted as saying during interviews with Daniel Brown, a Harvard University professor and specialist in trauma memory and hypnosis.
He interviewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and without hypnosis, according to the legal brief.
Sirhan maintained in the hypnotic interviews that the mystery girl touched him or “pinched’’ him on the shoulder just before he fired, then spun him around to see people coming through the pantry door.
“Then I was on the target range … a flashback to the shooting range … I didn’t know that I had a gun,’’ Sirhan said.
Under what Brown called the condition of hypnotic free recall, he said Sirhan remembered seeing the flash of a second gun at the time of the assassination. Without hypnosis, he said, Sirhan could not remember that shot.
Did he and Steven Hassan appear to be missing is that extensive research on memory have shown, after much damage was done to people in s0-called recovered memory therapy, that memories recovered under hypnosis are not considered reliable.
I will be following this case with great interest to see how long it lasts. But really, these kinds of far-fetched conspiracy theories about “mind control” does great harm to the credibility of those of us who have an interest in exposing the actual, many abuses of cults and other charismatic leaders on their members. More ordinary and much more scientifically supported theories of social influence can provide a much more parsimonious (simpler) explanation to fit the facts, so I must go by the principle of Occam’s Razor, that the simplest explanation that fits the facts, is usually the best one. No need to resort to these far-flung claims about “mind control” and Manchurian Candidates which I thought had been discredited in the 1990s.
Hassan has also made some equally troubling pronouncements (similar to the unsupported pronouncements to AT parenting coach Nancy Thomas that I have discussed elsewhere on this blog) to the press about Osama Bin Laden, maintaining that:
“It comes back to the lack of successful organized attachments with the mother,” said Hassan, author of the book, “Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves.”
“Basically, because of a lack of healthy attachment, they have an inability to have empathy…They can’t put themselves in another person’s shoes.”
Figures like Hitler, Manson and Jones need the blind adoration of their followers — their narcissistic supply — a “compensation goes on wanting to feel love,” according to Hassan.
However, there is no actual evidence that attachment to mother has anything to do with why these people are (or were) the way they are. Looks like Mr. Hassan has fallen in with the AT camp’s myths when, in fact, the symptoms of RAD have nothing to do with that sort of behavior. These theories are on the same level as the now-discredited theories of the schizophrenogenic mother causing schizophrenia or the refrigerator mother causing autism. Can we please stop blaming everything on mom and stop perpetuating these myths?