Master suppression techniques

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The Master suppression techniques is a framework articulated in 1945 by the Norwegian psychologist and philosopher Ingjald Nissen.[1] These techniques identified by Nissen are ways to indirectly suppress and humiliate opponents. In the late 1970s the framework was popularized by Norwegian social psychologist Berit Ås,[2] who reduced Nissen's original nine means to five. Master suppression techniques are defined as strategies of social manipulation by which a dominant group maintains such a position in a (established or unexposed) hierarchy. They are very prominent in Scandinavian scholarly and public debate, where the expression is also used to refer to types of social manipulation not part of Ås's framework.[3] Master suppression techniques are sometimes called domination techniques.[4]

Five master suppression techniques according to Ås[edit]

Making invisible[edit]

To silence or otherwise marginalize persons in opposition by ignoring them


In a manipulative way to portray the arguments of, or their opponents themselves, in a ridiculing fashion

Withhold information[edit]

To exclude a person from the decision making process, or knowingly not forwarding information so as to make the person less able to make an informed choice

Double bind[edit]

To punish or otherwise belittle the actions of a person, regardless of how they act

Heap blame or put to shame[edit]

To embarrass someone, or to insinuate that they are themselves to blame for their position

Later additions by Ås[edit]

Berit Ås has since added two supplementary master suppression techniques.[5]


To discuss the appearance of one or several persons in a situation where it is irrelevant

Force or threat of force[edit]

To threaten with or use one's physical strength towards one or several persons

Countermeasures against master suppression techniques[edit]

A group of PhD students at Stockholm University[6] has formulated five counter strategies:

  • Take place
  • Questioning
  • The cards on the table
  • Break the pattern
  • Intellectualise

They have also formulated five confirmation techniques:

  • Visualizing
  • Adherence
  • Inform
  • Double reward
  • Confirm reasonable standards

The Centre for Gender Equality in Norway has also published an article about how to combat this phenomenon.[7]


  1. ^ Ingjald Nissen, Psykopatenes diktatur 1945.
  2. ^ Ås, Berit. "Hersketeknikker". Kjerringråd. Oslo (1978:3): 17–21. ISSN 0800-0565.
  3. ^ Andrén, Maria (2008-03-11). "Så hanterar du skitsnacket". Chef. Ledarna. Archived from the original on 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2009-12-19.
  4. ^ "Domination techniques: what they are and how to combat them" (PDF). The Centre for Gender Equality, Norway. April 2001. p. 12. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  5. ^ Ås, Berit (2004). "The Five Master Suppression Techniques". In Evengård, Birgitta. Women In White: The European Outlook. Stockholm: Stockholm City Council. pp. 78–83. ISBN 91-631-5716-0.
  6. ^ ENSU, Empowerment-Nätverket vid Stockholms Universitet (2004) ”Bekräftartekniker och motstrategier - sätt att bemöta maktstrukturer och förändra sociala klimat.”, 2010-07-01
  7. ^ Domination techniques: what they are and how to combat them

External links[edit]