]] Brainwashing (also known as mind control, mind break, menticide, coercive persuasion, thought control, thought reform, and re-education) is a non-scientific concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. Brainwashing is said to reduce its subject’s ability to think critically or independently,Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Religion, Volume 2, Gyan Publishing House, 2005 to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into the subject’s mind,Campbell's Psychiatric Dictionary, Robert Jean Campbell, Oxford University Press, USA, 2004, page 403 as well as to change their attitudes, values, and beliefs.The Dictionary of Psychology, Raymond J. Corsini, Psychology Press, 2002, page 127Kowal, D. M. (2000). Brainwashing. In A. E. LOVE (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology, vol. 1 (pp. 463-464). American Psychological Association. The concept of brainwashing was originally developed during the Korean War to explain how Chinese captors appeared to make American prisoners of war cooperate with them. Advocates of the concept also looked at Nazi Germany and at some criminal cases in the United States. The concept of mind control was later expanded and modified by psychologists including Margaret Singer and Philip Zimbardo to explain conversions to some new religious movements (NRMs). This resulted in scientific and legal debate; with Eileen Barker, James Richardson, and other scholars, as well as legal experts, rejecting at least the popular understanding of the concept. Other views have been expressed by scholars including: Dick Anthony, Robert Cialdini, Stanley A. Deetz, Michael J. Freeman, Robert Jay Lifton, Joost Meerloo, Daniel Romanovsky, Kathleen Taylor, Louis Jolyon West, and Benjamin Zablocki. The concept of brainwashing 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 most scholars, it is not accepted as scientific fact.
The Korean War and brainwashingThe Chinese term xǐnăo (洗脑，literally "wash brain") was originally used to describe the coercive persuasion used under the Maoist government in China, which aimed to transform "reactionary" people into "right-thinking" members of the new Chinese social system. The term punned on the Taoist custom of "cleansing/washing the heart/mind" (xǐxīn，洗心) before conducting ceremonies or entering holy places.Note: xīn can mean "heart", "mind" or "centre" depending on context. For example, means Cardiovascular disease, but means psychologist, and means Central business district. The Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest known English-language usage of the word "brainwashing" in an article by newspaperman Edward Hunter, in Miami News, published on 24 September 1950. Hunter was an outspoken anticommunist and was said to be a CIA agent working undercover as a journalist. Hunter and others used the Chinese term to explain why, during the Korean War (1950-1953), some American prisoners of war cooperated with their Chinese captors, even in a few cases defected to their side. British radio operator Robert W. Ford and British army Colonel James Carne also claimed that the Chinese subjected them to brainwashing techniques during their war-era imprisonment.New York Times: "Red Germ Charges Cite 2 U.S. Marines," 23 February 1954, accessed 16 February 2012. The U.S. military and government laid charges of brainwashing in an effort to undermine confessions made by POWs to war crimes, including biological warfare.Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets From the Early Cold War (Indiana University Press, 1998) After Chinese radio broadcasts claimed to quote Frank Schwable, Chief of Staff of the First Marine Air Wing admitting to participating in germ warfare, United Nations commander Gen. Mark W. Clark asserted:New York Times: "Clark Denounces Germ War Charges", 24 February 1953, accessed 16 February 2012. Whether these statements ever passed the lips of these unfortunate men is doubtful. If they did, however, too familiar are the mind-annihilating methods of these Communists in extorting whatever words they want .... The men themselves are not to blame, and they have my deepest sympathy for having been used in this abominable way. Beginning in 1953, Robert Jay Lifton interviewed American servicemen who had been POWs during the Korean War as well as priests, students, and teachers who had been held in prison in China after 1951. In addition to interviews with 25 Americans and Europeans, Lifton interviewed 15 Chinese citizens who had fled after having been subjected to indoctrination in Chinese universities. (Lifton's 1961 book , was based on this research.)A. L. Wilkes Knowledge in Minds, p. 323, Psychology Press, 1997 Lifton found that when the POWs returned to the United States their thinking soon returned to normal, contrary to the popular image of "brainwashing." In 1956, after reexamining the concept of brainwashing following the Korean War, the U.S. Army published a report entitled Communist Interrogation, Indoctrination, and Exploitation of Prisoners of War which called brainwashing a "popular misconception". The report states "exhaustive research of several government agencies failed to reveal even one conclusively documented case of 'brainwashing' of an American prisoner of war in Korea."
CIA mind control programFor twenty years starting in the early 1950s, the CIA and the Defense Department conducted secret research (notably including Project MKULTRA) in an attempt to develop practical brainwashing techniques; the results are unknown. (See also Sidney Gottlieb.) "MKUltra, began in 1950 and was motivated largely in response to alleged Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean uses of mind-control techniques on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea." CIA experiments using various psychedelic drugs such as LSD and Mescaline drew from Nazi human experimentation.The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control: By John Marks. P 93 (c)1979 by John Marks Published by Times Books
Nazi Germany and the Second World WarRussian historian Daniel Romanovsky, who interviewed survivors and eyewitnesses in the 1970s, reported on what he called " Nazi brainwashing" of the people of Belarus by the occupying Germans during the Second World War, which took place through both mass propaganda and intense re-education, especially in schools. Romanovsky noted that very soon most people had adopted the Nazi view that the Jews were an inferior race and were closely tied to the Soviet government, views that had not been at all common before the Nazi occupation.Nazi Europe and the Final Solution, David Bankier, Israel Gutman, Berghahn Books, 2009, page 282-285.Gray Zones: Ambiguity and Compromise in the Holocaust and its Aftermath, Jonathan Petropoulos, John Roth, Berghahn Books, Jul 15, 2005, page 209The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism, Barbara Epstein, University of California Press, 2008, page 295Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, John-Paul Himka, Joanna Beata Michlic, University of Nebraska Press, Jul 1, 2013, pages 74, 78 Interview*
PopularizationIn George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four the main character is subjected to imprisonment, isolation, and torture in order to bring his thoughts and emotions in line with the wishes of the rulers of Orwell's fictional future totalitarian society. Orwell's vision influenced Hunter and is still reflected in the popular understanding of the concept of brainwashing.Psychiatry and Public Affairs, Leo H. Bartemeier, Aldine Transaction, Aug 1, 2011, page 246Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements, Peter Clarke, Reader in Modern History and Fellow Peter Clarke, Routledge, Mar 1, 2004, page 76 Written during the same time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings also addressed brainwashing, although in a fantasy setting.The Return of Christian Humanism: Chesterton, Eliot, Tolkien, and the Romance of History, Lee Oser, University of Missouri Press, 2007, page 62J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, Michael D. C. Drout editor, Taylor & Francis, 2007, page 251 In the 1950s many American movies were filmed that featured brainwashing of POWs, including The Rack, The Bamboo Prison, Toward the Unknown, and The Fearmakers. Forbidden Area told the story of Soviet secret agents who had been brainwashed (through classical conditioning) by their own government so they wouldn't reveal their true identities. In 1962 The Manchurian Candidate "put brainwashing front and center" by featuring a plot by the Soviet government to take over the United States by use of a brainwashed presidential candidate.Screen Enemies of the American Way: Political Paranoia About Nazis, Communists, Saboteurs, Terrorists and Body Snatching Aliens in Film and Television, Fraser A. Sherman, McFarland, 13 December 2010. The concept of brainwashing became popularly associated with the research of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov; which mostly involved dogs, not humans, as subjects.Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons, Malcolm M. Feeley, Edward L. Rubin, Cambridge University Press, 28 March 2000, page 268. In The Manchurian Candidate the head brainwasher is Dr. Yen Lo, of the Pavlov Institute.Asian Diaspora and East-West Modernity, Sheng-mei Ma, Purdue University Press, 2012, page 129.
Criminal and civil casesIn 1974 Patty Hearst, a member of the wealthy Hearst family, was kidnapped by a left-wing terrorist group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. After several weeks of captivity she agreed to join the group and took part in their illegal, violent activities. In 1975 she was arrested and charged with bank robbery and use of a gun in committing a felony. Her attorney, F. Lee Bailey argued in her trial that she should not be held responsible for her actions since her treatment by her captors was the equivalent of the brainwashing of Korean War POWs. (See: Diminished responsibility.) Hearst was found guilty, but her so-called “brainwashing defense” brought the issue of mind control to renewed public attention in the United States,Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe, James T. Richardson, Springer Science & Business Media, Dec 6, 2012, page 518 as did the 1969 to 1971 case of Charles Manson, who was said to have brainwashed his followers to commit murder and other crimes.Minds on Trial: Great Cases in Law and Psychology, by Charles Patrick Ewing, Joseph T. McCann pp. 34–36Shifting the Blame: How Victimization Became a Criminal Defense, Saundra Davis Westervelt, Rutgers University Press, 1998. page 158 Bailey developed his case in conjunction with psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West and psychologist Margaret Singer. They had both studied the political brainwashing of Korean War POWs. In 1996 Singer published her theories in her best-selling book Cults in Our Midst. Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace , Margaret Thaler Singer, Jossey-Bass, publisher, April 2003, In 2003 the brainwashing defense was used unsuccessfully in the defense of Lee Boyd Malvo, who was charged with murder for his part in the D. C. sniper attacks.Mental Condition Defences and the Criminal Justice System: Perspectives from Law and Medicine, Ben Livings, Alan Reed, Nicola Wake, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Feb 27, 2015, Page 98 Some legal scholars have argued that the brainwashing defense undermines the law’s fundamental premise of free will.Freedom and Criminal Responsibility in American Legal Thought, Thomas Andrew Green, Cambridge University Press, Oct 27, 2014, page 391LaFave's Criminal Law, 5th (Hornbook Series), Wayne LaFave, West Academic, Mar 18, 2010, pages 208-210 In Italy there has been controversy over the concept of plagio, a crime consisting in an absolute psychological—and eventually physical—domination of a person. The effect is said to be the annihilation of the subject's freedom and self-determination and the consequent negation of his or her personality. The crime of plagio has rarely been prosecuted in Italy, and only one person was ever convicted. In 1981, an Italian court found the concept to be imprecise, lacking coherence, and liable to arbitrary application.Alessandro Usai “Profili penali dei condizionamenti mentali, Milano, 1996 . By the twenty-first century, the concept of brainwashing was being applied "with some success" in child custody and child sexual abuse cases. In some cases "one parent is accused of brainwashing the child to reject the other parent, and in child sex abuse cases where one parent is accused of brainwashing the child to make sex abuse accusations against the other parent" (possibly resulting in or causing parental alienation Warshak, R. A. (2010). Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing. New York: Harper Collins.).Richardson, James T. Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004, p. 16, .Oldenburg, Don (2003-11-21). "Stressed to Kill: The Defense of Brainwashing; Sniper Suspect's Claim Triggers More Debate" , Washington Post, reproduced in Defence Brief, issue 269, published by Steven Skurka & Associates In 2016 Israeli anthropologist of religion and fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Adam Klin-Oron said about then-proposed "anti-cult" legislation: In the 1980s there was a wave of ‘brainwashing’ claims, and then parliaments around the world examined the issue, courts around the world examined the issue, and reached a clear ruling: That there is no such thing as cults…that the people making these claims are often not experts on the issue. And in the end courts, including in Israel, rejected expert witnesses who claimed there is "brainwashing." link, Times of Israel''''
New religious movementsIn the 1970s, the anti-cult movement applied the concept of brainwashing to explain seemingly sudden and dramatic religious conversions to various new religious movements (NRMs).Barker, Eileen: New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction. London: Her Majesty's Stationery office, 1989. News media reports tended to support the brainwashing view and social scientists sympathetic to the anti-cult movement, who were usually psychologists, developed more sophisticated models of mind control. While some psychologists were receptive to the concept, sociologists were for the most part skeptical of its ability to explain conversion to NRMs. 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 or behavioral outcomes", and he suggests that any human being is susceptible to such manipulation. Another adherent to this view, Jean-Marie Abgrall was heavily criticized by forensic psychologist Dick Anthony for employing a pseudo-scientific approach and lacking any evidence that anyone's worldview was substantially changed by these coercive methods. On the contrary, the concept and the fear surrounding it was used as a tool for the anti-cult movement to rationalize the persecution of minority religious groups. James Richardson observes that if the new religious movements (NRMs) had access to powerful brainwashing techniques, one would expect that NRMs would have high growth rates, yet in fact most have not had notable success in recruitment. Most adherents participate for only a short time, and the success in retaining members is limited. For this and other reasons, sociologists of religion including David Bromley and Anson Shupe consider the idea that "cults" are brainwashing American youth to be "implausible." In addition, Thomas Robbins, Massimo Introvigne, Lorne Dawson, Gordon Melton, Marc Galanter, and Saul Levine, amongst other scholars researching NRMs, have argued and established to the satisfaction of courts, relevant professional associations and scientific communities that there exists no generally accepted scientific theory, based upon methodologically sound research, that supports the concept of brainwashing as advanced by the anti-cult movement.Richardson, James T. 2009. "Religion and The Law" in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion. Peter Clarke. (ed) Oxford Handbooks Online. p. 426 Benjamin Zablocki responds that it is obvious that brainwashing occurs, but that it isn't "a process that is directly observable." The "real sociological issue", he states, is whether "brainwashing occurs frequently enough to be considered an important social problem". According to Zablocki, Richardson misunderstands brainwashing, conceiving of it as a recruiting process, instead of a retaining process. Zablocki adds that the sheer number of former cult leaders and members who attest to brainwashing in interviews (performed in accordance with guidelines of the National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation) is too large to be a result of anything other than a genuine phenomenon. He also points out that in the two most prestigious journals dedicated to the sociology of religion there have been no articles "supporting the brainwashing perspective," while over one hundred such articles have been published in other journals "marginal to the field." Zablocki concludes that the concept of brainwashing has been unfairly blacklisted.Phil Zuckerman. Invitation to the Sociology of Religion. Psychology Press, 24 July 2003 p. 28 Eileen Barker criticizes the concept of mind control because it functions to justify costly interventions such as deprogramming or exit counseling. Review, William Rusher, National Review, 19 December 1986. She has also criticized some mental health professionals, including Singer, for accepting expert witness jobs in court cases involving NRMs. Her 1984 book, Eileen Barker, The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing?, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, United Kingdom, . describes the religious conversion process to the Unification Church (whose members are sometimes informally referred to as " Moonies") which had been one of the best known groups said to practice brainwashing. Moon’s death marks end of an era, Eileen Barker, CNN, 3 September 2012, Although Moon is likely to be remembered for all these things – mass weddings, accusations of brainwashing, political intrigue and enormous wealth – he should also be remembered as creating what was arguably one of the most comprehensive and innovative theologies embraced by a new religion of the period. Barker spent close to seven years studying Unification Church members. She interviewed in depth or gave probing questionnaires to church members, ex-members, "non-joiners," and control groups of uninvolved people from similar backgrounds, as well as parents, spouses, and friends of members. She also attended numerous church workshops and communal facilities. Barker writes that she rejects the "brainwashing" theory, because it explains neither the many people who attended a recruitment meeting and did not become members, nor the voluntary disaffiliation of members. New Religious Movements - Some Problems of Definition George Chryssides, Diskus, 1997. The Market for Martyrs , Laurence Iannaccone, George Mason University, 2006, "One of the most comprehensive and influential studies was The Making of a Moonie: Choice or Brainwashing? by Eileen Barker (1984). Barker could find no evidence that Moonie recruits were ever kidnapped, confined, or coerced. Participants at Moonie retreats were not deprived of sleep; the lectures were not "trance-inducing" and there was not much chanting, no drugs or alcohol, and little that could be termed "frenzy" or "ecstatic" experience. People were free to leave, and leave they did. Barker’s extensive enumerations showed that among the recruits who went so far as to attend two-day retreats (claimed to beMoonie’s most effective means of "brainwashing"), fewer than 25% joined the group for more than a week and only 5% remained full-time members one year later. And, of course, most contacts dropped out before attending a retreat. Of all those who visited a Moonie centre at least once, not one in two-hundred remained in the movement two years later. With failure rates exceeding 99.5%, it comes as no surprise that full-time Moonie membership in the U.S. never exceeded a few thousand. And this was one of the most New Religious Movements of the era!"Oakes, Len "By far the best study of the conversion process is Eileen Barker’s The Making of a Moonie ..." from Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities, 1997, Storr, Anthony Feet of clay: a study of gurus 1996 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."
American Psychological Association rejection on brainwashing conceptIn 1983, the American Psychological Association (APA) asked Singer to chair a taskforce called the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC) to investigate whether brainwashing or coercive persuasion did indeed play a role in recruitment by NRMs. As archived at http://www.cesnur.org/testi/DIMPAC.htm, retrieved 2008-06-23 It came to the following conclusion: Cults and large group awareness trainings have generated considerable controversy because of their widespread use of deceptive and indirect techniques of persuasion and control. These techniques can compromise individual freedom, and their use has resulted in serious harm to thousands of individuals and families. This report reviews the literature on this subject, proposes a new way of conceptualizing influence techniques, explores the ethical ramifications of deceptive and indirect techniques of persuasion and control, and makes recommendations addressing the problems described in the report. On 11 May 1987, the APA's Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology (BSERP) rejected the DIMPAC report because the report "lacks the scientific rigor and evenhanded critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur", and concluded that "after much consideration, BSERP does not believe that we have sufficient information available to guide us in taking a position on this issue."
Other areas and studiesMind control has often been an important theme in science fiction. Terry O'Brien comments: "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. The fear of mind control is equally as powerful an image."Terry O'Brien in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Themes, Works, and Wonders, Volume 1, Gary Westfahl editor, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005. A subgenre is "corporate mind control", in which a future society is run by one or more business corporations which dominate society using advertising and mass media to control the population's thoughts and feelings.Per Schelde, Androids, Humanoids, and Other Science Fiction Monsters: Science and Soul in Science Fiction Films, NYU Press, 1 July 1994, pages 169-175 Scholars have said that modern business corporations practice mind control to create a work force which shares the same common values and culture.Exploring Leadership: Individual, Organizational, and Societal Perspectives, Richard Bolden, Beverley Hawkins, Jonathan Gosling, Scott Taylor, Oxford University Press, 30 June 2011, page 95. Critics have linked "corporate brainwashing" with globalization, saying that corporations are attempting to create a worldwide monocultural network of producers, consumers, and managers.The Rise of the Anti-corporate Movement: Corporations and the People who Hate Them, Evan Osborne, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, page 14 Modern educational systems have also been criticized, by both the left and the right, for contributing to corporate brainwashing.More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap, & Idiots Think They're Right, Laura Penny, McClelland & Stewart, 20 April 2010, page 63. In his 1992 book, Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization, Stanley A. Deetz says that modern " self awareness" and " self improvement" programs provide corporations with even more effective tools to control the minds of employees than traditional brainwashing.Democracy in an Age of Corporate Colonization: Developments in Communication and the Politics of Everyday Life, Stanley Deetz, SUNY Press, 1 January 1992, page 257. In his 2000 book, Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism, Robert Lifton applied his original ideas about thought reform to Aum Shinrikyo and the War on Terrorism, concluding that in this context thought reform was possible without violence or physical coercion. He also pointed out that in their efforts against terrorism Western governments were also using some mind control techniques, including thought-terminating clichés.Destroying the World to Save It: Aum Shinrikyo, Apocalyptic Violence, and the New Global Terrorism, Owl Books, 2000. In her 2004 popular science book, , neuroscientist and physiologist Kathleen Taylor reviewed the history of mind control theories, as well as notable incidents. She suggests that persons under its influence have more rigid neurological pathways, and that can make it more difficult to rethink situations or be able to later reorganize these pathways. Reviewers praised her book for its clear presentation, while some criticized it for oversimplification.
- Dunne, Matthew W. (2013). A Cold War State of Mind: Brainwashing and Postwar American Society. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.
- ; Reprinted, with a new preface: University of North Carolina Press, 1989 ( Online at Internet Archive).
- Pollini, F. Night (formerly banned novel about brainwashing of American POWs in Korea). Olympia Press, Paris, 1960