I was just looking at classroom activities on conformity. One of them outlines the behaviour of gang members. The suggestion is that one of the explanations for high levels of conformity could be to do with initiation ceremonies. For instance to join one Latino gang in LA you need to be beaten up by three other members for 13 seconds! Similarly aggressive initiation ceremonies from a Royal Marine commando base have been in the news not long ago. A bit like the behaviour you might see in the film Jarhead.
On a more positive note, I was interested to see Dr Hilary from GMTV recently talking about overcoming depression to life coach Lyn Blades. One tip was to initiate yourself into a new happier life by ‘baptising’ yourself in some big body of water. Rather than being an issue of conformity this could just be a private commitment but it was also said that surrounding yourself with happy people was a good idea too. So perhaps there are some parallels here. Whether it’s initiation into a gang or into a happy life the rite of initiation as well as others around you appear important in starting the adventure.