When coercion is applied to information or belief, people can tend to react in a set of predictable ways, some with differences, causes and effects that aren’t immediately obvious. I’ve found it useful to categorize them. You might find these categories useful descriptors for those around you as well.
Type 0 – The Indifferent
A person who believes something and has little to no doubts about it because they are generally incurious, underinformed, and unconcerned with the area of information, logic or experience that might lead them to know they are being deceived. As many deceptions one might face are identifiable as a likely deception using only one’s own life and past experience, the type 0 won’t likely be very introspective. No coercion is therefore necessary.
Type 1 – The Unbowed
A person who, when approached with a deception, is readily able to identify it as such, and does not submit to it despite any coercive pressure applied. This person is not deceived. This person also bears the brunt of coercive harm.
Type 2 – The Cowed
When approached with deception that is paired with coercion to acknowledge the deception as true, a type 2 would acknowledge that the deception is true in order to avoid the coercion, but not accept the deception as truth internally due to having the information, awareness or introspectiveness in the deception’s area to identify it as a deception. This can cause stress, as not only does it involve potential damage to one’s self-image due to acknowledgement that one said “uncle”, bowed to authority, or took “the coward’s way out”, but the inner wear and tear of maintaining a lie in the presence of pro-coercion friends, family or co-workers is damaging to one’s psyche. However, the type 2 is only partially correct about having taken a cowardly or dishonorable path, as it actually requires a certain amount of courage to face the facts of what they are doing as opposed to denying it altogether, which leads to
Type 3 – The Enlightened
When approached with deception that is paired with coercion, type 3 might at first resist it as a type 1, but once the application of coercion enters the picture, chooses to accept the deception as truth, having been “convinced”. The convincing occurs not because the information, logic or experience they had that led them to accurately identify the deception has been addressed and overturned, rather, it is a mechanism to defend their ego from the damage to it that would occur in a type 2. By deeming themselves convinced as opposed to coerced, they are not submitting. They are not saying “uncle”. They are not “taking the coward’s way out”. Rather, they are simply more enlightened than before. This inversion of a type 2 is then free to believe that they are courageous for having challenged their preconceived notions and followed “the facts” despite never addressing their prior hesitations. This is, in effect, the religious experience, wherein one walks by faith, not by sight, but so deep in denial where one denies that any faith has been applied at all. It is not uncommon for a type 1 to become a type 2, and then a type 3 as coercion takes its toll.
The type 3 is the one who, at the end of 1984, loved Big Brother. Conversion from a type 2 to a type 3 is a great relief. You are not cowardly, you are brave. You are not cowed, you are enlightened. The belief is sincere, because the mental mechanisms that defend this belief are the strongest in the human psyche: those that defend the ego.
In reality, the type 3 is the most dangerous. Should the coercion lead from submission to active participation in evil acts, all other types have mechanisms by which to stop themselves. Type 0 will likely become less indifferent as horror becomes more and more apparent. Type 1 will never have cooperated in the first place. Type 2 cooperates superficially, but, already bearing the brunt of self-condemnation, will be unlikely to comply with something that will irreparably stain their soul. But type 3 has genuinely, sincerely, handed access to the thoughts and information in their head to an external entity, who can rewrite it as necessary. Checks, stops and conscience can be overwritten, and again, this access cannot be removed without defeating the psychological mechanisms that defend the ego, which, in a type 3, is too fragile to endure being a type 2, and always lacked the courage to be a type 1.
As the type 3 proceeds, a type of sunken cost effect takes hold, further entrenching their position. The longer a type 3 proceeds as a type 3, the more actions they sponsor, take or acquiesce to that they wouldn’t have before, the greater the ego cost of reversion. This is not to say that reversion is impossible. Just that the more entrenched a type 3 is, the more painful a reversion becomes.
Type 3s and type 0s both are likely to repeat nonsensicalities they’ve been told, but type 3s are more likely to become angered at these nonsensicalities being challenged, as these challenges attack their most sensitive spot, the ego defense mechanism. Psychologically, they are fighting for their lives. This rage at information and people that countermand the deceptions they’ve been coerced into then becomes quite useful to the coercers, as it changes the type 3 from a believer to a soldier for the cause.