The following resolution was approved by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion during its November 1990 meeting. It was printed in the December 1990 copy of the SSSR Newsletter.
In response to problems in legal and scientific contexts, the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion has been asked to address the issue of our scientific community's evalution of processes, variously described as brainwashing, mind control, thought reform and coercive persuasion, which have sometimes been applied to participation in new religious groups. Rather than continue to respond to these debates on a case-by-case basis, the SSSR makes the following resolution.
This association considers that there is insufficient research to permit informed, responsible scholars to reach consensus on the nature and effects of nonphysical coercion and control. It further asserts that one should not automatically equate the techniques involved in the process of physical coercion and control with those of nonphysical coercion and control. In addition to critical review of existing knowledge, further appropriately designed research is necessary to enable scholarly concensus about this issue.
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