The Danger of Behavior Control

Updated on October 9, 2019
Jason Capp profile image

I grew up in South Carolina, USA, and I currently live in Tokyo, Japan. I am well versed in religion, various cultures, and world politics.

Behavior Control

Behavior control is a manipulative tactic often found in the workplace or in cult-like religious circles. According to the psychological definition, behavior control is understood as;

the exercise of influence and authority over human behavior. For instance, undesirable behavior can be redirected through psychological manipulation in the form of promises and threats. On the extreme, control can also be established through more intrusive means such as drugs, hypnosis, isolation, and interrogation.

These types of manipulative leaders often dictate how their people are supposed to dress and act. They can even go as extreme as regulating diet and sleep patterns, as well as managing where their victims may live, how they spend their money, and who they are supposed to be with romantically.

Behavior control is clearly a danger, because it prevent independence, freedom, and a genuine ability to make decisions without someone creeping over the shoulder. Unfortunately, we can see this happening everywhere, but the most problematic areas tend to be companies and religious establishments.

It is through behavior control that we depend on others to live our lives, and if it is no longer us making those major life choices, then we are not being true to ourselves and handicapping our ability to gain wisdom through the joy of making our own major decisions.

Independence and Decision-Making

As human beings, we are a very unique animal in the world. While most animals either rely solely on a group or living alone, humans can thrive in both areas. Learning to be both dependent and independent helps us to grow and strengthen our characters.

However, learning to become independent is one of life's most difficult challenges. There is a safety net while existing under the authority of a parent, a mentor, or a boss, and these very individuals help teach us a lot of valuable life lessons that we can carry for the rest of our lives.

But growing in personal confidence and mastering the skill of decision-making can be life-long journeys for many people. It is through our own major decisions that we learn the most about ourselves and gradually become more independent, so that is precisely why certain people want to prevent you from making your own decisions.

The Power of Behavior Control

In most cases of behavior control, there is someone with authority that instructs how you are to behave, and disobedience to these instructions will lead to severe punishment.

There is a culture where even the most minuscule thing requires a request and permission from these leaders. They are tracking where you live, who you interact with, and what you are doing, and they will use their authority to force you to change a behavior that they disapprove, even if it is outside the context of work or religion.

Behavior Control at Work

In the workplace, behavior control can be a dastardly tactic used by authority figures. Some common forms of this are sleep deprivation, prevention/restriction on leisure time and hobbies, and even exploiting their employees financially.

In regards to sleep, bosses who exhibit behavior control will dangle a carrot in front of employees with the promise of grand reward for the person who puts in the most time and energy. This kind of manipulation can drive workaholics into burnout with little-to-nothing to show for it. This is not a motivation technique, but a manipulative one to cause employees to willfully work more than what they are paid for in the hopes they may get a promotion or a raise.

Similarly, these types of bosses will ask employees to come in on their days off as well, preventing them from getting proper rest and leisure time. This causes all kinds of problems for employees who have families and use these days off to connect and play with them.

Another sad reality is that these types of leaders also exploit their employees financially from two different angles. One is the amount of unpaid overtime that they are subject to, and the other is requiring the employees to attend and pay for workshops, training sessions, and other similar things. In the latter case, these types of training programs are often in-house, so the company is just making more money from the very people they are paying.

Behavior Control by Religious Leaders

In religion, behavior control is a serious problem that has caused all kinds of fear and codependency in its followers. Religious leaders can often be found dictating where and with whom their people should live, restrict or control sexuality, and promoting dependence and obedience as positive things to strive towards.

The idea of creating religious circles is one of the key premises of behavior control. If the leaders instill a particular set of rules and behaviors to be followed and obeyed, a religious circle is the perfect place to do this. It is understood over time that the religious circle or establishment is a safe place and the people within it are safe people. Over the years, this type of mentality is what has justified sexual assault and rape culture within religions.

Ironically, these same groups tend to condemn sexual behavior or discussion for the most part. Throughout history, we have seen religious leaders criticize those who express sexual freedom, and then those same religious leaders would be caught in some kind of extramarital affair. The fear of how to handle the topic of sex within religion has become a serious problem, and it has resulted in numerous people struggling with mental issues because of the pressure, manipulation, and pain.

Finally, religion depends strongly on dependence and obedience. Without this foundation, the other behavior controls happening within the religion would be creepier, but if we blindly obey and depend on these religious leaders to guide and dictate how we should live our lives, all of that behavior control and manipulation goes unnoticed and unchecked.

The Danger of Behavior Control

Obviously, at the core of this issue, behavior control prevents us from making our own decisions. The key word here is that victims of behavior control become blind followers, and they unfortunately become blind to the clearly red flags popping up all around them.

The type of leaders who implement behavior control have no real concern for the people they are controlling. They simply want to take advantage of blind loyalty, and they will squeeze out as much dependence as they possibly can in order to gain more finances and power.

If the leaders at your workplace are cutting into your personal life, preventing you from getting proper rest and sleep, or even cutting into your finances "for the sake of the company", please understand that these are all manipulative tactics to control your life and behavior. Quit that job immediately before it does irreparable damage to the relationships that matter most in your life.

If they leaders at your religious establishment are dictating where you should be, who you should be with, or how you should act, know that they are simply trying to create a culture of dependence and expect you to become obedient to their every word. That is not an ideal life, and you need to escape it right away.

Because again, at the core, these people do not want you to be free and independent, and they definitely do not want you to make decisions without them. They want all of the control, and they will trick you however they can in order to gain control of your life.

Behavior control is extremely dangerous, and these manipulators do not sacrifice anything in the process. They depend solely on you sacrificing everything.

Learn to Protect Yourself

In the Netflix animated drama Bojack Horseman, there is a powerful scene in which Bojack's girlfriend comes to a scene-stealing revelation. She says,

"You know, it's funny... when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags."

For many people under the spell of behavior control, rose-colored glasses are simply being worn. Once those glasses are removed, the world and all of the red flags you missed become apparent. As we remove our rose-colored glasses, let us be reminded of the tactics used by behavior controllers.

  • They promote dependence and obedience.
  • They modify behavior with rewards and punishment.
  • They dictate where with with whom you will live.
  • They restrict or control sexuality.
  • They control clothing and hairstyle.
  • They regulate what and how much you eat and drink.
  • They deprive you of a good night's sleep.
  • They exploit you financially.
  • They restrict leisure time and activities.
  • They require you to seek permission for major decisions.

Let us begin to see clearly the very real control that is happening in our lives. We do not need to accept it. We must fight it, because our lives are our own and we are responsible for the decisions we make.

What are you going to do about it?

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