Personality change is the most common, and possibly easiest, when an individual’s social environment changes. For instance, self-esteem tends to stay relatively stable when one lives in the same social circle, and changes in self-esteem tend to accompany moving to a new home or habitat. People change gradually, but their social circle tends not to notice this, and therefore pressures them to articulate to their normal way of life. This was demonstrated by Colleen who was kidnapped and taken to a new territory. The family members were overwhelmed when they realized that she could not even realize that she was kidnapped. She had been brainwashed by the new environment, and she knew that the Hooker’s family was always right. Indeed, what goes on inside the person is mainly there to serve interpersonal processes (Huss 68). The change of personality is effective when an individual is isolated from the rest of the society. This was revealed when Colleen was isolated from her family members and society, and subjected to coercion.
Consequently, authoritarian trait should exist, in order to enhance effective coercion and brainwashing. When an individual is subjected to excessive force and brutality, one will definitely submit to the authority. The person in authority imposes rules and regulations that should be followed on the latter; therefore, preventing individuals from having an independent mind. An individual or society cannot undertake an activity without getting an informed consent from the person in authority (Weiten 34). Hooker used this criterion to change the personality of Colleen. Colleen was not allowed to undertake any activity without being given consent by Hooker. She was confined and was not able to access the basic facilities without the consent of Hooker. For instance, when she wanted to eat, drink, or sleep, she asked Hooker for permission. Under the authoritarian trait, an individual should obey the decision of his/her superior or else one will be subjected to brutal or harsh conditions (Baumeister & Bushman 102).
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The information provided in the court was clear that Colleen Stan was a willing participant – under the eyes of the public. However, it was proven beyond doubt that she was subjected to coercion and brainwash. The assailant issued threat to Colleen family and was able to hold the captivity for seven years. After the seventh year, he allowed her to visit the family members without any supervision. Colleen perceived that everything was normal and did not reveal to anyone that she had been kidnapped. When an individual is brainwashed, he/she will be willing to undertake any activity that the assailant wants; as such, one will be enslaved. Personalities, like identities, have a distinct stability, which can resist change. Thus, the captor needs to weaken the present individuals’ character trait, in order to allow the new trait to take effect. This is achieved through forceful acts like whipping and physical torture.
In conclusion, brainwashing and coercion have been the methods used by the kidnappers in enhancing that, upon being caught, justice cannot be realized. Brainwashing changes the character of individuals. Where one is subjected to coercion, brainwash for a long period, the personality changes completely, and may perceive that he/she is being treated wisely. Indeed, the courts need to differentiate between compliance of the victim and being brainwashed to ascertain justice.
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