Mind Control – AKA Brainwashing Or Thought Control

Mind control (also known as brainwashing, reeducation, brainsweeping, coercive persuasion, or thought control) is a controversial pseudo-scientific theory that human subjects can be indoctrinated in a way that causes “an impairment of autonomy, an inability to think independently, and a disruption of beliefs and affiliations.

In this context, brainwashing refers to the involuntary reeducation of basic beliefs and values”.

Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to systematically indoctrinate prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques.

These theories were later expanded and modified by psychologists including Margaret Singer and Philip Zimbardo to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to some new religious movements (NRMs).

The concept of mind control is sometimes involved in legal cases, especially regarding child custody; and is also a major theme in both science fiction and in criticism of modern political and corporate culture. However, in the view of scholars, the theory of mind control is not accepted as scientific fact.

KOREAN WAR

The earliest known English-language usage of brainwashing in an article by Edward Hunter, in 1950. Hunter, an outspoken anticommunist, was said to be a CIA agent, working undercover as a journalist.

Hunter and those who picked up the Chinese term used it to explain why, during the Korean War (1950-1953), some American prisoners of war cooperated with their Chinese captors, even in a few cases defecting to the enemy side.

The U.S. military and government laid charges of ‘brainwashing’ in an effort to undermine detailed confessions made by military personnel to war crimes, including biological warfare.

In 1956, after reexamining the concept of brainwashing following the Korean War, the U.S. Army published a report, which called brainwashing a “popular misconception”.

The report states “exhaustive research of several government agencies failed to reveal even one US POW captured by North Korea were brutalized with starvation, beatings, forced death marches, exposure to extremes of temperature, and withholding of medical care”.

When an American soldier was captured by the Chinese, he was given a vigorous handshake and a pat on the back. The enemy ‘introduced’ himself as a friend of the ‘workers’ of America. In many instances the Chinese did not search the American captives, but frequently offered them American cigarettes.

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CIA PROPAGANDA STRATEGY

In 1999, forensic psychologist Dick Anthony concluded that the CIA had invented the concept of ‘brainwashing’ as a propaganda strategy to undercut communist claims that American POWs in Korean communist camps had voluntarily expressed sympathy for communism.

He argued that the books of Edward Hunter pushed the CIA brainwashing theory onto the general public. Succumbing to their own propaganda, for twenty years.

Before the taskforce had submitted its final report, the APA submitted on 10 February 1987 an amicus curiæ brief in an ongoing court case related to brainwashing. Although the amicus curiæ brief written by the APA denies the credibility of the brainwashing theory, the APA submitted the brief under “intense pressure by a consortium of pro-religion scholars (a.k.a. NRM scholars)”.

The brief repudiated Singer’s theories on ‘coercive persuasion’ and suggested that brainwashing theories were without empirical proof.

NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS

In the 1970s, the anti-cult movement applied mind control theories to explain seemingly sudden and dramatic religious conversions to various new religious movements (NRMs).

The media was quick to follow suit, and social scientists sympathetic to the anti-cult movement, who were usually psychologists, developed more sophisticated models

Over the years various theories of conversion and member retention have been proposed that link mind control to some NRMs, particularly those religious movements referred to as “cults” by their critics.

Philip Zimbardo discusses mind control as “the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes”, and he suggests that any human being is susceptible to such manipulation.

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OTHER AREAS AND STUDIES

Joost Meerloo, a Dutch psychiatrist, was an early leading proponent of the concept of brainwashing. His view was influenced by his experiences during the German occupation of his country in the Second World War and his work with the Dutch government and the American military in the interrogation of accused Nazi war criminals.

His best-selling 1956 book, The Rape of the Mind, concludes by saying: “The modern techniques of brainwashing and menticide-those perversions of psychology-can bring almost any man into submission and surrender. Many of the victims of thought control, brainwashing, and menticide that we have talked about were strong men whose minds and wills were broken and degraded”.

In 2003 forensic psychologist Dick Anthony said that “no reasonable person would question that there are situations where people can be influenced against their best interests, but those arguments are evaluated on the basis of fact, not bogus expert testimony”.

In his 2007 book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, social psychologist Robert Cialdini argues that mind control is possible through the covert exploitation of the unconscious rules that underlie and facilitate healthy human social interactions.

He states that common social rules can be used to prey upon the unwary. Using categories, he offers specific examples of both mild and extreme mind control – both one on one and in groups.

POPULAR CULTURE

In the 1950s many American movies were filmed that featured brainwashing of POWs, including The Rack, The Bamboo Prison, and The Fearmakers. Fraser A. Sherman comments: “The possibility that advanced psychological techniques could reprogram people’s minds became a permanent part of pop culture”.

The concept of brainwashing became associated with the research of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov; which mostly involved dogs, not humans, as subjects.

Mind control has proven a popular subject in fiction, featuring in books and films such as The Manchurian Candidate (1959; film adaptation 1962) both stories advancing the premise that controllers could hypnotize a person into murdering on command while retaining no memory of the killing.

As a narrative device, mind control serves as a convenient means of introducing changes in the behaviour of characters, and is used as a device for raising tension and audience uncertainty in the contexts of Cold War and terrorism.

Mind control has often been an important theme in science fiction and fantasy stories. Mind control is such a powerful image that if hypnotism did not exist, then something similar would have to have been invented: the plot device is too useful for any writer to ignore.

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CORPORATION MIND CONTROL

Modern corporations are said to practice mind control to create a work force which shares the same common values and culture. Critics have linked “corporate brainwashing” with globalization, saying that corporations are attempting to create a world-wide monocultural network of producers, consumers, and managers.

In his 1992 book, Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization, Stanley A. Deetz says that modern ‘self awareness’ and the idea of mind control also appears in political rhetoric as an explanation why others hold contrary views.

For example, the conservative blog, Brietbart.com, frequently uses the term liberal brainwashing to criticize a perceived lack of conservative scholars in American universities.

The popular notion of brainwashing has influenced attempts at legislation against various new religious movements. In 1983 the state legislature of Nevada saw several bills were introduced to attempt to limit the influence of a range of new religious groups.

PROJECT MK ULTRA

Project MKUltra was the code name given to an illegal program of experiments on human subjects, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – sometimes referred to as the CIA’s mind control program.

Experiments on humans were intended to identify and develop drugs and procedures to be used in interrogations and torture, in order to weaken the individual to force confessions through mind control. Organized through the Scientific Intelligence Division of the CIA, the project coordinated with the Special Operations Division of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps.

The program began in the early 1950s, was officially sanctioned in 1953, was reduced in scope in 1964, further curtailed in 1967 and officially halted in 1973. The program engaged in many illegal activities, including the use of unwitting U.S. and Canadian citizens as its test subjects, which led to controversy regarding its legitimacy.

MKUltra used numerous methodologies to manipulate people’s mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especially LSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture.

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5 Responses to Mind Control – AKA Brainwashing Or Thought Control

  1. Sascha Weber says:

    I think this is a very important field.
    But where are the information that you want to provide or share?
    Sonnige Grüße
    🙂

  2. Sascha Weber says:

    Hi Christine, thank you for your reply. I’ll read this.
    Have a nice day … weekend is getting closer.

    Sascha

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