In curing and correcting Falun Gong practitioners, we often meet some obsessed followers who would not listen or accept persuasion. The author believes that this is due to the so-called “selective contact” which occurs after practitioners are brainwashed by Falun Gong’s values and organizational norms for a long time. That is to say, they only focus on Falun Gong-related content or conform to the Falun Gong rules while avoiding our teaching and persuasion. In this way, correction and cure cannot be carried out in depth. The author’s view is as follows:
Ⅰ The definition of “selective contact”
The theory of selective contact stems from communication theory. Selective contact means that receivers can discriminate between media and content during the mass communication activities, but they are more inclined to contact media or content in conformity with or similar to their own positions, opinions or attitudes. They intentionally or unintentionally avoid the media or content that goes against themselves.
Communication studies show that receivers’ background or social context is an important factor in determining their attitudes and actions. The background is divided into two types. One is the group of demographic significance, including gender, age, place of origin, nationality, occupation and education, and the other, group of social relation significance, such as family, company, political, economic and cultural class, and religious group. As the individual nature of receivers varies, receivers vary greatly in the era, social environment, social conditions, social status, values and beliefs, views and opinions, psychological characteristics, cultural background, and needs for information. Contact methods and reactions also vary.
Ⅱ The emergence of “selective contact” among obsessed practitioners
Studies have shown that in addition to interests and hobbies, the group values and norms play an important role in "selective contact". The reason why Falun Gong obsessed practitioners show "selective contact" is that they limit their own knowledge, horizons and ideas within the framework of Falun Gong’s values and norms. They only respond to the language and behavior norms of Falun Gong.
First of all, the role of Falun Gong values. Under the long-term influence of the knowledge, ideas and ways of thinking of Falun Gong, the internal practitioners of Falun Gong will form unified values, i.e., the values of the Falun Gong cult which will directly affect the believers' thinking and behavior. Li Hongzhi advocates “focusing on practicing”, “eliminating mental evils”, “developing mental health”, “adopting the only method”, etc. He has required his followers to concentrate on repeated study of Falun Gong scriptures, recordings and videos. The strengthened learning process, in fact, is the process of instilling organizational values to followers. At the same time, questions from followers are not allowed to be analyzed and explored. When disagreement occurs, Li forces his followers to “insight inward” (to determine why they have misunderstood his teachings). The obvious loopholes and flaws in the cult are disguised under so-called "Dafa’s harmony". Then, he has threatened followers to maintain loyal by using confusing terms such as “the body of law” can supervise and “law wheel” can transform. In this way, the mindsets of followers are completely restricted within the values of Falun Gong. For instance, followers usually ignore you when you are communicating with them using daily words. Instead, if you use the words from their text, “Turing the Law Wheel”, they will argue with you. Ignorance on the details will cause basic communication to be adversely affected and correction, impeded.
Secondly, the role of the Falun Gong organization’s norms. Falun Gong's norms consist of a series of rules, regulations and scriptures, such as the Requirements for Falun Dafa Teaching Stations, The Teaching Rules for the Followers of Falun Gong, and Notifications for Falun Dafa Practitioners. Through the norms, Falun Gong restricts the behaviors of followers so as to realize the purpose of developing and controlling them. Falun Gong requires followers to act in strict accordance with those norms and transform the regulations into the code of conduct. When followers interact with people outside, they usually will show a repellent and rejective attitude so as to show their loyalty to the regulations of the organization. For example, the organization does not allow followers to listen to outside comments. Therefore, some obsessed followers will experience sweating, body convulsions and other symptoms after they are forced to listen to outside comments. The reason is that they think they have been punished for listening to bad words said against Falun Gong and violated organizational norms. However, these are physical reactions entirely aroused by psychological effects.
Ⅲ The solutions to “selective contact”
Ms. Cheng is a female of Han ethnicity. She is now 63 years old and lives in Cha Village of Beisong Town at Lijin County, Dongying City. She only received a junior high school education. In 1997, she started to learn Falun Gong. Affected by the evil thought of “adopting the only method”, she paid no attention to the outside world and only concentrated on reading “Turning the Law Wheel”. Affected by her closed mind, she refrains from normal social life and has developed a mindset different from ordinary people. Due to having read “Turning the Law Wheel” thousands of times, she was sensitive to the words of Falun Gong and rejected any information from the outside. Based on her situation, the following measures have been adopted and very good results have been achieved.
The first solution is to take advantage of Falun Gong’s words and unify our "language". As she has been affected long term by the values and norms of Falun Gong, the phenomenon of "selective contact" has appeared. She completely ignores the words of volunteers or even volunteers themselves. Therefore, to communicate with her requires volunteers to master the relevant content of Falun Gong, to understand the thinking and communication of Falun Gong practitioners, and then to use Falun Gong "jargon" which she is more sensitive to so as to mobilize her to communicate. Based on her situation, a volunteer who is more familiar with the content of "Falun Dafa" is selected to communicate with her based on the mindset of Falun Gong practitioners to maintain an intimate relationship with her.
The second solution is to focus on the key points and use “law to break the law". The method is to use Falun Gong's "jargon" to mobilize Cheng to communicate. Different content was used to communicate with her with in different stages. First of all, the volunteer led Cheng to talk more so as to fully know how much she learnt about the content and the scope of her knowledge about Falun Gong and the reasons behind her entering the cult. Then, the volunteer pandered to her words. If necessary, the volunteer expressed understanding of her views of Falun Gong. In this way, her mental defense was relieved, so she felt comfortable talking with the volunteer and was willing to share more in-depth understandings. Finally, the volunteer “attacked Cheng’s words by exploiting her weaknesses”. Through finding gaps in her words, the volunteer guided her to realize the contradictions of Falun Gong, and then destroyed her wrong beliefs in Falun Gong. This is the so-called “breaking her original mindset”. Through gradual guidance, she learnt about the deception behind Falun Gong’s “truthfulness, benevolence and compassion”, “not participating in politics”, “removing illness, improving health and developing good mentality”.
The third solution is to guide her to freedom from the control of Falun Gong. Due to Falun Gong’s long term control over her, Cheng lost her ability to learn actively and independently. After guiding Cheng to realize the evil nature of Falun Gong, she has obtained access to standard knowledge and thinking methods. Volunteers’ careful guidance is still needed. Only in this way, can she establish normal values, learn to think independently and view social phenomena dialectically, properly face setbacks in life, and completely get rid of the control of Falun Gong. After seeing the nature of Falun Gong and returning to normal social life, the volunteer often cares about and talks with her to know about her life difficulties and ideological changes. Finally, she has returned to society.