Desensitization By Repetition And Exposure: “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (Ephesians 4:18-19, NIV)
Christians are generally sensitive to good and evil. They will readily leap to the opportunity to do good. Helping and bringing joy to others exemplify the character of a Christian. However, deeds unlike the characteristics of a Christian will most likely be recoiled with terror. A Christian because of instilled barriers naturally rejects opportunities of evildoing. A Christian’s boundaries prevent him from crossing over to participate in activities contrary to his beliefs.
Most Christians raised in a Christian home and taught Christian values usually avoid drinking, smoking, profanity, immoral sex and a gamut of other sinful behavior. Christians recoiling from things that are not right for them is like the sensitivity of a person who has mishandled a hot pot. Immediately they withdraw from the heat and seek comfort. Unfortunately, after repeated mishandles of the hot pot the sensitivity to the heat is reduced each time. As so the mental sensitivity of a Christian repeated exposure to sin and evil. This is called desensitization (Philip, 015, p.10)
Johnson C. Philip explains in his book Analysis of Mind Manipulation 015, that, “The company of friends, society with loose moral values, hostels, and TV programmes are some channels that desensitize people” (p. 10). Of course, having direct contact on a regular basis of lewdness and open exposure of various evils such as, sexual-related conversations, drunkenness, stealing and lying will lead to malevolent behavior. Often, I tell new converts to be very careful of the company they keep, for they are more likely to be reverted back to their old ways or worst by the negative exposure.
Mature Christians receive the same advice, because repeated exposure of anything becomes habitual or habit forming. For example smoking, most people who smoke today were introduced to smoking by someone else years ago. When I was a child, my mother smoked all the time; I despised it. I would drive her crazy hiding her cigarettes or destroying them. Eventually after receiving salvation she quit smoking. However, one of my older brothers picked up the habit and continued to do so. It took years before he was able to kick the habit. It was pure curiosity that aroused my brother’s interest. Initially, I am certain smoking was foreign and un-enjoyable to him. But after having a few hits and the release of those endorphins, a bad habit was formed. The same applies with any habitual drug or repeated exposure of sinful activities. Once the sensitivity is gone there is nothing to recoil from. The very thing that used to be outside the boundaries has become a part of the boundaries and considered acceptable.
The sequence of this desensitization according to Philip begins with the first exposure. The first exposure immediately causes recoil and revulsion. When exposure is repeated in small doses, the initial shock is removed and the process of desensitization starts. After a while the repeatedly exposed individual becomes so desensitized that they over look the evil, then develop a tolerance of the evil. It does not take long before they are condoning the evil, then liking the evil and eventually desiring it. The evil is now being justified and indulged on a regular basis. “The secret of desensitization is continuous exposure in SMALL doses. Like a slow poison, a small amount of evil often fools people into thinking that nothing is amiss. It gives them a false confidence that they can jump out of it any time they want, without ever realizing that each occasion of exposure is making them insensitive to yet more evil. Finally a critical stage is reached where their insensitivity makes them to even love evil” (p. 10).
King David, a man after God’s own heart, became overpowered by his sinful desires, displaying ungodly behavior. This mighty king seduced a married woman named Bathsheba in 2nd Samuel 11. Taking advantage of his authority, David committed adultery with this beautiful woman. The Bible does not specify how many times they were intimate, but one could probably imagine that it was more than once since the husband was away at battle. As a result of this adulterous affair, Bathsheba became impregnated and the plot of evil thickened. Dedicated Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband was called home from battle so that he may have relations with his wife to cover up the sin between David and Bathsheba. Uriah refused all comforts of home while his comrades continue to fight, so he did not lay with his wife. David then plotted the faithful soldier’s death by sending him into the heat of battle while the other soldiers withdrew. Uriah was left alone and killed. Still in pursuit to cover up his sin from the people, David married Bathsheba after Uriah’s death.
The Scriptures indicate that David noticed Bathsheba while she was bathing as he looked on from his rooftop. It is quite possible that David may have watched her bathe time’s prior and finally decided to give into his desires. There is also the possibility that Bathsheba knew that David could see her and sought to seduce the king. Either way, seeing her for the first time naked or being exposed continuously, peeked this king’s interest to the point of adultery and eventually murder. Both were well aware that there actions were contrary to the written commandments, but they proceeded. It is apparent that after David’s initial sin, each sin thereafter became easier and more atrocious. This is exactly how desensitization occurs, there is always an initial exposure, with repeated exposure causing indulgence and justification.
Mike’s Law is a principle that expresses the results of desensitization. “According to law, continuous indulgence in forbidden activities increases one’s desire and boldness while it diminishes the thrill. This in turn motivates the person to greater thrill, to increased carelessness” (Philip, 015, p.11). Desensitization decreases the shock, thrill or excitement after repeated exposure to sin. A person’s initial response when about to engage in a sinful act is approached with fear and trembling. But after being exposed to it several times, the individual is no longer sensitive to the deed. Like with most things, the first time is always the toughest, because we are uncertain of the outcome. But after participating in it repeatedly, it becomes old hat and we become willing to go to the next level.
Propaganda combined with mind manipulation (seduction) techniques can be quite perilous. There is one technique in particular that assist in desensitization and that is “Mind Manipulation by Repeated Exposure to Propaganda.” The human mind has a built in resistance that prevents a person from doing things that are shocking or repulsive. In addition, it has an inhibition-center that also inhibits a person from indulging in shameful activities.
Alcohol and other addictive chemicals can suppress the inhibition-center causing a person to become out of control. When restraints disappear that person becomes abusive, vulgar and unruly. But, once the person’s liver burns up the alcohol, they return back to normal. Unlike the immediate effects of the alcohol, mind-alterations are much more powerful because the effects last longer. Unfortunately there is no corresponding recovery of the human mind after it falls into degenerate activities according to Philip. He states that “This is because once the mind dege
nerates, it effectively blocks the spiritual process that could restore that person” (Johnson C. Philip, (014) pp. 8-9).
Repeated exposure is a sure way to defeat the built-in resistance that causes a person to abhorred wrongful activities. Repetition alters the mind by a similar sequence discussed above:
First Exposure–>Shock and Recoil
Repeated Exposure–>Reduction of Shock–>Permitting Further Exposure–>Desensitization–>Complete Elimination of Shock–>Tolerance (because shock is gone) Condoning–>Endorsing–>Longing® Doing It!
Following through on the first two or three steps will accelerate the degeneration.
Repetitious exposure is one of the ways many advertisers are enabled to invade the minds of their audience. They introduce innovative immoral ideas, corruptive behavioral patterns and sins made desirable. In the world of advertisements, the abnormal is considered as normal and what we know to be normal is considered dull, lifeless and passé. The real hook is “once a person is occupied with, and derives pleasure from, the abnormal and the sinful, the initial thrill and charm gradually decreases” (Philip, 014, p.9). Almost addictively, increasing levels of deviation are needed to satisfy the lust for the deviant behavior. Unfortunately, Philip states and I agree that this is why sex and crime has increased on television, on the movie screens, in video games, and in other medias. It amazes me to know that even the children’s video games are rated.