Obedience to Authority

“Be quiet! Write this down.

How often have you heard this, or something like it? We hear or come across commands, instructions, directions and orders everyday. What is it that makes us obey (or disobey) them?

Millions of people were killed in Nazi Germany in concentration camps but Hitler couldn’t have killed them all, nor could a handful of people. What made all those people follow the orders they were given? Were they afraid, or was there something in their personality that made them like that? In order to obey authority, the obeying person has to accept that it is legitimate (i.e. rightful, legal) for the command to be made of them.

Obedience is a form of social influence where an individual acts in response to a direct order from another individual, who is usually an authority figure. It is assumed that without such an order the person would not have acted in this way.
Obedience occurs when you are told to do something (authority), whereas conformity happens through social pressure (the norms of the majority). Obedience involves a hierarchy of power / status. Therefore, the person giving the order has a higher status than the person receiving the order.

Real Life Example of Obedience

Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann was executed in 1962 for his part in organizing the Holocaust, in which six million Jewish people, as well as gypsies, communists and trade unionists were transported to death camps and murdered in Nazi Germany and surrounding countries under Nazi control.

Eichmann was a logistical genius whose part in the Holocaust was the planning of the efficient collection, transportation and extermination of those to be killed. At his trial in 1961, Eichmann expressed surprise at being hated by Jewish people, saying that he had merely obeyed orders, and surely obeying orders could only be a good thing. In his jail diary Eichmann wrote ‘The orders were, for me, the highest thing in my life and I had to obey them without question’ (extract quoted in The Guardian, 12 August, 1999, p. 13).

Eichmann was declared sane by six psychiatrists, he had a normal family life and observers at his trial described him as very average. Given that there appears to be nothing particularly unusual about Eichmann, we must face the uncomfortable possibility that his behavior was the product of the social situation in which he found himself, and that under the right circumstances we may all be capable of monstrous acts.

Following the Second World War – and in particular the Holocaust – psychologists set out to investigate the phenomenon of human obedience. Early attempts to explain the Holocaust had focused on the idea that there was something distinctive about German culture that had allowed the Holocaust to take place.

Stanley Milgram set out to test the research question ‘are Germans different?’, but he quickly found that we are all surprisingly obedient to people in authority. In one of the most famous series of experiments in psychology Milgram (1963-74) demonstrated that most participants would give a helpless victim fatal electric shocks when ordered to. Milgram later ran a number of variations to the basic study, to find out more about the particular factors which might influence obedience.

Obedience to Authority
by By Saul McLeod published 2007


Authoritarian Abuse.

The following are general signs and symptoms/common characteristics of authoritarianism.

1. No accountability.

2. Paranoia and insecurity by the leaders, which can evolve into total and unquestioned obedience to the leadership or outright rebellion.

3. Self-aggrandizement by the leaders.

4. Public “image” is of the utmost importance. Image over substance.

5. Theological/political incompetence/ from the leadership. Hermeneutics/Bible/constitutional exegesis/ not employed in the formulation of doctrine/law. Twisting and bastardization of Scripture/constitutional law/ to provide proof-texts for unorthodox/invented doctrines/legal interpretations.

6. Constant prophetic/Constitutional/ missteps.

7. Devaluation of the members/citizens.

8. Incidences of financial, marital, moral, and psychological instability within the ministry/political body.

In the book “SNAKES IN SUITS” When Psychopaths Go to Work, by Paul Babiak, and Robert D. Hare, we learn how psychopaths work in the corporate environment, how they function day by day and how they apply their instinctive manipulation techniques.

Assessing potential targets.

Controlling influential victims.

Abandoning those no longer useful.

A common trait of these abusers is their desire to be in a position of power and control. Their position, whether a politician or minister, even the top dog position of CEO can and does consume those men of lowly character. Some of these dangerous psychopathic master manipulators want to control what their people say, what they do, even who they are friends with on Facebook.
According to Forbes Magazine,

The top ten jobs that psychopaths can be found in:

1. CEO
2. Lawyer
3. Media (Television/Radio)
4. Salesperson
5. Surgeon
6. Journalist
7. Police officer
8. Clergy person
9. Chef
10. Civil servant

Least likely professions for psychopaths:

1. Care aide
2. Nurse
3. Therapist
4. Craftsperson
5. Beautician/Stylist
6. Charity worker
7. Teacher
8. Creative artist
9. Doctor
10. Accountant

So why do you still put your trust in men who pillage your finances and place you into bondage?

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