Biderman’s Chart of Coercion

Take a look at this chart and compare the progression with what we have experienced on a worldwide scale with COVID.


A tool designed to demonstrate and explain the coercive methods of stress manipulation used to torture prisoners of war. It has been applied to explain the coercive techniques used by perpetrators of domestic abuse.

This list directly reflects the original chart, it has not been changed to fit the domestic abuse context.

METHOD EFFECT AND PURPOSE VARIANTS
Isolation
  • Deprives victim of all social support of their ability to resist.
  • Develops an intense concern with self (this could be home environment)
  • Makes victim dependent.
  • Complete solitary confinement
  • Complete or partial isolation
  • Group Isolation
Monopolisation of Perception
  • Fixes attention upon immediate predicament.
  • Eliminates information not in compliance with demands.
  • Punishes independence and /or resistance.
  • Physical isolation
  • Darkness or Bright light
  • Restricted movement
  • Monotonous Food
Humiliation and Degradation
  • Makes resistance more ‘costly’ than compliance.
  • ‘Animal Level’ concerns.
  • Personal hygiene prevented
  • Demeaning Punishments
  • Insults and taunts
  • Denial of Privacy
Exhaustion
  • Weakens mental and physical ability to resist.
  • Semi-Starvation
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Prolonged interrogation
  • Overexertion
Threats
  • Creates anxiety and despair
  • Outlines cost of non-compliance
  • Threats to kill
  • Threats of abandonment/non-return
  • Threats against family
  • Vague Threats
  • Mysterious changes of treatment.
Occasional indulgences
  • Positive motivation for compliance.
  • Hinders adjustment to deprivation
  • Occasional favours
  • Rewards for partial compliance Promises
Demonstrating Omnipotence
  • Suggests futility of resistance
  • Confrontation
  • Showing complete control over victims face
Forcing trivial demands
  • Develops habit of compliance
  • Enforcement of ‘rules’

Amnesty International (1994)

Source: Biderman’s Chart PDF, opens new window (opens new window) »

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