What is 'Sensitivity Training?'©
Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson
Copyright 18 July 1999
What is sensitivity training? An example  comes from a young naval officer who was subjected to it during its initial implementation in the U.S. military during the mid-1970s, after the Navy had experienced race riots on many of its ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk toward the end of the Vietnam War. The young naval aviator was ordered to attend a training session at the Naval Air Test Center at Patuxent River, MD along with about a dozen other naval officers.
The two ‘facilitators’ who led this small-group encounter session were a young Hispanic enlisted woman and a black chief petty officer (CPO). Their goal was to apprise the all-white naval officer attendees of their insensitivity to the plight of disadvantaged minorities in the U.S. Navy – and to examine their attitudes and ‘behavior’ toward minorities and women and change them if warranted.
After a short introduction, the CPO exclaimed ‘All of you are racists!’ The astounded attendees were draped in a silence that was deafening. After looking at each other in disbelief, someone overcame his shock to ask, ‘Why?' The CPO shot back, ‘Because you are white!' All of the attendees, save one, looked at the ceiling, or at the floor, or at each other in embarrassment and/or forced-guilt resulting from this unexpected, outlandish frontal assault. The one stood and in a steady, firm voice said, ’Excuse me, but I object to being called a racist. I do not and have never discriminated against anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sex. In fact, my ancestors are from the North and several of them fought in the Union Army during the Civil War to free the slaves.’
Instead of retreating at this rational and forthright reply, the CPO told the young Lieutenant that he was not cooperating, was being disruptive of the class, and should immediately leave the room. The officer asked the CPO to come out into the hallway. Once there, the LT reminded the CPO that he was an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy and in his Navy enlisted men did not give orders to officers nor treat them with disrespect. The CPO insisted that he was bound by the ‘sensitivity training’ syllabus to conduct the class as he had and that under this set of orders was required to remove the recalcitrant naval officer from the class. At this standoff, the young LT decided to leave rather than cause further disruption of a ‘required’ training session.
Welcome to the world of behavior modification via a technique that has been perfected over the past 30 years – 'sensitivity training.' It is being used to overcome resistance to the lowering of standards in naval aviation to enable females to join the air combat arms of our military, including the manning of combat ships at sea. It is a technique developed steadily over the past fifty years that has proven successful in changing a person’s world view, that is, his or her values, fundamental beliefs, and even religious convictions.
Sensitivity training has been successfully employed by behavioral scientists in the service of the Federal Government over the past thirty years to implement radical curriculum changes in K-12 education via influencing public school teachers, administrators, and school boards. The current fad of outcome based education in our public schools has resulted from the implementation of the relativism of ‘values clarification’ via methods developed by these behavioral scientists. Our universities train and certify public school teachers in the methods of teaching this ‘dumbed down’ curriculum.
In addition, sensitivity training has been used for years in America’s business community to implement Equal Opportunity goals and guidelines (read quotas) generated by Federal Government overseers.
Sensitivity training is based on research on human behavior that came out of efforts during World War II to ascertain whether or not an enemy’s core beliefs and behavior could be modified by the application of certain psychological techniques. These techniques have been gradually perfected over the years by efforts of business and industry leaders to persuade people to buy products, including the radio and television industry to ascertain how an audience might be habituated to certain types of programming.
Kurt Lewin is credited with being the 'father' of sensitivity training in the United States. Although not an official member of the Frankfurt School , Lewin was a close friend of one of its founders, a Comintern agent and leading member of the German Communist Party named Karl Korsch. Lewin was trained in Wundtian theory at the Psychology Institute Berlin University, and in the 1920s began collaborating with Soviet psychologists, in particular the infamous Alexander R. Luria, who would later develop a process called ‘Artificial Disorganization of Behavior’ aimed at creating mass social chaos. Luria wrote about the work of Lewin in his 1932 book, The Nature of Human Conflicts: A Study of the Experimental Disorganization and Control of Human Behavior. Luria described the specific method of inducing an ‘artificial disruption’ of the psyche: 
“K. Lewin, in our opinion, has been one of the most prominent
psychologists to elucidate this question of ... the experimental
disorganization of behavior. The method of his procedure – the
introduction of an emotional setting into the experience of a human
... helped him to obtain an artificial disruption of the psyche of
considerable strength ... Here the fundamental conception of Lewin
is very close to ours.”
After Lewin came to America in 1933, his work, The Topology of Psychology, launched what became known as the ‘Topology Group,’ a band of leading social psychologists. Under the cover of studying prejudice in children, primarily anti-semitism (which was a hot topic, with World War II in progress), he launched a host of well-funded studies that eventually led to the first American-based high-stress, spirit-breaking, encounter-style, behavior modification facility, the National Training Laboratory (NTL) in Bethel, Maine. The NTL later became formally aligned with the National Education Association (NEA). This and Lewin’s ‘sensitivity training’ changed America’s educational system and civil society forever, as acceptance of ‘encounter’ techniques by supposed bastions of the education establishment like the NEA, the Education Department, and even many churches served as further incentive to produce a new kind of child of the future, in which the rights of the child, as set forth in the famous document by the United Nations, superseded the rights of the parent and other adults. These rights, of course, included sexual and other 'liberation’ that pushed children into adult roles before they were ready and without the maturity or guidance to assume such roles. We may recall from news reports that First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton continued this effort by strongly advocating early sexual training and liberation for children in her speeches to the Women’s Forum in Beijing, China, in 1997 .
Kurt Lewin was a primary figure in the wartime research that was later translated into the techniques used today in 'sensitivity training.' The only comprehensive biography on Lewin available anywhere was written by Alfred Jay Marrow . This book describes Kurt Lewin as the key link in the Frankfurt School/Tavistock migration to America.
Small group encounter methods have been expanded to reach an even higher goal – to influence masses of people through coordinated media techniques of thought control through polls, focus groups, and other propaganda mechanisms. Now, these techniques are being used nationwide to force military personnel, officer and enlisted, to accept the radical notion that women should engage in combat with an enemy as members of our armed forces. On a larger scale, they are being used on the American public to accept, encourage, and support such a notion.
The techniques perfected by behavioral scientists to change our core beliefs aim at sowing confusion in the minds of those who would oppose such change. This confusion is created by presenting logical contradictions as equally plausible, valid, and actionable. Those without a strong belief system, be it empirical, scientific, religious, or logical are especially susceptible to the urgings of those who seek change. Those who have strong enough belief systems that enable them to challenge, refute, and oppose this change are coerced by small-group encounter techniques to conform to the ‘majority’ view as determined and sown by a ‘facilitator’ and supported by the core group of ‘believers’ plus the newly recruited ‘sheep’ who join the ‘majority’ group for fear of confrontation. If the challenger does not conform to the group pressure to adopt the ‘consensus’ view, he is further isolated from the group and/or discarded. He is never allowed to participate fully in the process thereafter. In the U.S. military, he is purged from service via the mechanism of his annual 'efficiency report,' thus blacklisted on his promotion to the next higher rank.
According to Eakman , it was the Tavistock Institute that initiated ‘sensitivity training' in the United Kingdom. Beginning in 1932, a psychiatrist and British military officer by the name of John Rawlings Rees headed England’s famous Tavistock Clinic, an outgrowth of the Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, founded in 1920 and alive and well in London today.
It was primarily Rees (under the influence of Lewin) who shaped the Tavistock organization and developed what is known as the ‘Tavistock Method’ of mass psychological control – the deliberate inducement of neurosis. It was Rees who coined the term ‘psychologically controlled environment’ to refer to the manipulation of a population by the mass media. Rees claimed it was possible to turn an adult population into the emotional equivalent of neurotic children.
World War II provided an excuse to test Rees’ psychological control theories. His staff conducted tests on American and British soldiers to ascertain whether, under conditions of induced and controlled stress, groups could be made to behave erratically. In particular they wanted to know whether people would let go even firmly held beliefs under ‘peer pressure’ to conform to a predetermined set of ‘popular’ beliefs. This Tavistock Method may be familiar to those who remember reading about procedures used in the former Soviet Union’s ‘mental hospitals’ to correct the attitudes of political prisoners; there, it was called ‘re-education.’
Tavistock-style centers soon started cropping up in America; at Stanford’s Research Institute’s Center for the Behavioral Sciences, at the Sloan School at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the various National Training Laboratories (NTLs), where concepts popularly known as ‘T-Groups’ (therapy groups) and ‘sensitivity training’ were developed. It was ‘brainwashing,’ utilizing the small-group approach.
Eakman  describes the way it works. “A controlled stress situation is created by a group leader (‘facilitator’) with the ostensible goal of achieving a consensus or agreement which has, in reality, been predetermined. By using peer pressure in gradually increasing increments, up to and including yelling at, cursing at, and isolating the holdouts, weaker individuals are intimidated into caving in. They emerge, facilitators hope, with a new value structure in place, and the goal is achieved. The method was refined and later popularized by other schools of behavioral science, such as Ensalen Institute, the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Sciences, and the Western Training Laboratories in Group Development.”
A version of the Tavistock Method, called the Delphi Technique was developed by Rand Corporation in the late fifties, initially as a method of forecasting trends so that managers could make product-production decisions. It evolved into a process of separating supporters from detractors in small-group situations so that a predetermined consensus could be manipulated by the 'facilitator.'
Research stemming from the U.S.Government’s overt psychological warfare program has taught us a clear lesson. This lesson is best expressed in a book financed by the Carnegie Corporation, The Proper Study of Mankind by Stuart Chase (a self-confirmed American Marxist), who wrote ,
“Theoretically a society could be completely made over in something
like 15 years, the time it takes to inculcate a new culture into a rising
crop of youngsters ... Prepare now for a surprising universe.”
Change agents (i.e. 'facilitators) are trained in the Delphi Technique for use in small-group consensus-building. These 'sensitivity trainers' are, today, trained and credentialed by over 30 various tax-exempt foundations and/or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as well as at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida for the U.S. military.
A change agent serves as a lightning rod in a small group to draw out the objections (and more important, the objectors) so that the target group can be manipulated toward the predetermined affirmative outcome. This is why the change agent must be an 'advocate-organizer-agitator.' His credo is 'Have the courage to change.'
Let us see how a 'change agent' crafts his art on an unsuspecting public. Eakman  explains that, as an advocate, the 'change agent' gets the target group to trust him, by making the group believe that he is on their side, a 'good guy,' someone who really cares what each individual in the group thinks. The 'change agent' goes through the motions, as an 'organizer,' of getting each person in the target group to voice concerns about the policy, project, or program in question. He listens attentively, breaks the larger group into smaller discussion groups, urges everyone to make lists, and so on. As he listens and watches, members of the group express their opinions and concerns, "The 'change agent' all the while is learning something about each member of the target group." He is evaluating each participant, learning who the 'leaders' are, who the loudmouths are, which persons seem weak or noncommittal, which ones frequently change sides in an argument. The weaker opponents of the plan or program in question become primary targets.
The facilitator's real 'change agent' self begins to emerge as he points out possible objections to an 'undesirable' position. He may warn that those who hold certain views might be perceived as too extreme by members of the larger group, or by the leaders in the community. Of course he claims his only 'concern' is that the group succeed. The 'change agent' is still everybody's buddy.
Suddenly, the 'change agent' becomes devil's advocate. He dons a professional agitator hat and pits one sub-group against the other. He knows exactly what he is doing, who to pit against whom. If the 'change agent' has done his homework, he has everybody's number, as the saying goes. The 'change agent' begins to question the position of opposition leaders, plays on the fears of individuals with weaker convictions, and finally drives a wedge between the 'pro' group and the 'con' forces by helping to make the latter seem ridiculous, or ignorant, or dogmatic, or inarticulate -- whatever works. The 'change agent' wants certain members of the group to get mad; and thus forces tensions 'to escalate,' as per the Havelock training text, always with the 'good of the group' in mind. The 'change agent' is well-trained in psychological techniques and can fairly well predict everyone's hot buttons. Dissension breaks out. Goals become muddled. Either the group will break up completely or, more likely, the individuals against the policy or program will be shut out. The desired outcome will be achieved.
A specialized application of this 'change agent' technique, applied specifically to teachers, is called the Alinsky Method. It is a staple of the National Education Association (NEA). Saul Alinsky penned Rules for Radicals in 1971, in which he asserted that "any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the masses of people."  The radical organizer, he said, must be 'dedicated to changing the life of a particular community.' To accomplish this, the organizer must:
"Fan the resentments of the people of a community; fan the latent
hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression
--he must search out controversy and issues ... An organizer must
stir up dissatisfaction and discontentment [sic] ... He knows
that values are relative ..truth to him is relative and changing."
Ronald G. and Mary C. Havelock (at the University of Michigan during the 1970s), in their Training for Change Agents: A Guide to the Design of Training Programs in Education and Other Fields, describe that social architects and political 'change agents' are charged with the task of 'finding out the values, beliefs ... of [group] members.' This reads like a page right out of ISR-Moscow's Social Psychology and Propaganda text. In fact, Eakman  informs us that the book credits for Havelock's text includes a mention that the ISR (a.k.a. Frankfurt School) affiliate at the University of Michigan provided financial support and contributed to the writing of the text. So it is hardly surprising that this training text sounds like its Moscow counterpart. Indeed, Training for Change Agents is the single most damning hard evidence that Marxist-Leninist, Soviet-style manipulative tactics have been part and parcel of America's educational 'restructuring' effort, just as it provides proof that educational restructuring is, at its root, an attempt to re-mold American society.
Make no mistake. The Tavistock-Delphi-Alinsky approach to 'consensus-building' works. Each is a further refinement upon the last. It works with adults, including teachers, and school children. It works with students in college classrooms, community leaders, and even church groups. It works in 'leadership and ethics' programs at our nation's premier military academies. 'Change agents' walk in with a smile, a pleasant demeanor and a handshake. The targets rarely, if ever, know they are being manipulated. This is now becoming a reality in the nation's military -- the last institution to come under the spell of the 'cultural Marxist' social engineers.
In particular, this approach is apparently becoming entrenched in the 'Leadership and Ethics' Department at the U.S. Naval Academy. The psychology professors who are in charge of this program are trained in the specific skills of the change agent, the provocateur, the 'sensitivity trainer.' They are professionals who are simply implementing at the U.S. Naval Academy, the same program that they have implemented in K-12 public school education over the past 30 years -- bit by bit, step by devious step, as they slowly 'march through the institutions' of the United States of America. While the Academy administrators and alumni sleep! While America sleeps!
1) Atkinson, Gerald L., "From Trust to Terror: Radical Feminism is Destroying the U.S. Navy," pp. 69, Atkinson Associates Press, 1997.
2) The Frankfurt School (or Institute of Social Research) was a group of German Marxist intellectuals who migrated to the U.S. in 1933 when Hitler came to power. They transformed Marx from economics to culture by coalescing the philosophies of Freud and Marx -- to produce a 'cultural Marxism.' These individuals fanned out over the U.S. to our major universities and became the driving force behind the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s. See Jay, Martin, "The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research," University of California Press, 1973.
3) Ibid, Eakman, B.K., pp. 192.
4) Atkinson, Gerald L., "The New Totalitarians: Bosnia as a Mirror of America's Future,"
pp. 86, Atkinson Associates Press, 1996.
5) Marrow, Alfred Jay, "The Practical Theorist: The Life and Work of Kurt Lewin," Teachers College Press, New York, 1977.
6) Eakman, B.K., "Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education," pp. 193, Huntington House, 1998.
7) Ibid, Eakman, B.K., pp. 194.
8) Ibid, Eakman, B.K., pp. 197.
9) Ibid, Eakman, B.K., pp. 147.
10) Recall the slogan, "Have the courage to change," endlessly repeated by then-Presidential candidate Clinton in 1992.
11) Ibid, Eakman, B.K., pp. 249.
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