From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Concept.png Brainwashing 
(Mind control,  propaganda)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Interest ofHuman Ecology Fund

Brainwashing or coercive persuasion is a slow, repeated, covert process of undue influence. Mind control has similar goals, i.e. intercepting the target's rational thinking but in contrast, the coercion and violence is more overt in mind control, often plainly visible.

When the process is hidden from the target's consciousness, however, it may have little capacity to resist.[citation needed]

The term brainwashing has been abused by the CIA to cover up biological warfare in the Korean war by equating it with torture based mind control some POW's have been subjected to on both sides of the conflict.

Full article: “Korean_War/CIA_brainwashing_spin”

The psyop backfired as the neologism "brainwashing" became a synonym in popular culture for what the US government themselves were doing, namely lying, deceiving, surveilling and controlling their own citizens with questionable motives in what might be called the greatest streisand effect in history.


Brainwashing is an umbrella term and may be approached by the formula: extreme harassment + attacks on identity + isolation, thus:

  • gaining control of the victim's time, activities, and mental life;
  • placing the victim in a position of powerlessness; and
  • suppressing the victim's former identity (Ventegodt, Zerin).

The distinguishing factor from other forms of coercive environments is, that the process is designed to remain hidden from the target's consciousness, mainly by inducing stress by covert means: psychological or "white" torture. It is a slow process with often seemingly innocent beginnings, slowly rising "in temperature".

Common features of include:

  • isolation,
  • humiliation (shame induction),
  • accusation (guilt induction),
  • threats, and
  • unpredictable attacks.

The abusive environment produces real and anticipated fear, which contributes to the brainwashee's belief that his situation is hopeless and that he must depend on his abuser, who takes on the role of a parental punishing figure in his mind. He develops coping strategies to deal with his oppressive environment, but eventually exhibits symptoms of "battering fatigue", eventually mental breakdown, transmarginal inhibition (Pawlov), a mental blank state, or "zero state", or deconstructed state where new information is absorbed like in a sponge. (Lesly Tamarin Mega)

Dimensions of psychological coercion


Techniques for coercive education, stressing obedience are known for centuries. In ancient times religious rites such as animal and human sacrifice, as well as initiation rites may have contributed to the knowledge of the effects of shock and stress - i.e. increased suggestibility - on the attendant's psyche.

Second generation programs

Full article: Stub class article Coordinated programs of coercive influence

Cults, schools, large group awareness trainings, [[assessment center}}s, foster homes, psychiatric wards[citation needed], campuses, or POW camps may become coercive, even totalitarian, institutions and mold behavioral outcomes. Operative procedures may be mapped on several dimensions, from benign to destructive: [1]

  1. confined/physically assaultive <--> nonassaultive/nonconfined/verbally assaultive setting
  2. individuals, societal groups (e.g., intellectuals) <--> entire populations
  3. group processes: single, small group <--> organization/institutional
  4. perpetrator's goals: conformity,psychopathic self-aggrandizement, forced confession <--> re-education, destruction (sadism) or programming

All programs share the utilization of coercive persuasion's key effective-influence mechanisms: a focused attack on the stability of a person's sense of self; reliance on peer group interaction; the development of interpersonal bonds between targets and their controllers and peers; and an ability to control communication among participants.

Assault on identity

Typical targets are: 1) gender identity and sexual humiliation 2) self-worth and degradation 3) work and professional competencies 4) spiritual/religious identification 5) core values and convictions 6) political orientation 7) vulnerabilities such as phobias or naivité.

In order to attack identity an aggressor must know or guess what the identity of the target constitutes. CIA human experimentation to probe targets for individual weaknesses is ongoing (i.e. in Guantanamo[citation needed]). In a hostile environment information control, data collection and surveillance should be recognized as preparatory act for an assault on identity. Hostility, of course, will often be denyied with an outcry of: "[[I'm only Trying to Help You! (ITHY)"[citation needed]

Social control

“If identified as training programs, it is clear that the goals of such programs are to reshape behavior and that they are organized around issues of social control important to the organizations that operate the programs. Their objectives then appear to be behavioral training of the target, which result in an ability to present self, values, aspirations, and past history in a style appropriate to the ideology of the controlling organization; to train an ability to reason in terms of the ideology; and to train a willingness to accept direction from those in authority with minimum apparent resistance.”
Richard J. Ofshe[citation needed]

Harvard human experiments, 1959-62

Among other goals - which likely includes applications for POW torture sought by the CIA - experiments sought to measure individuals' responses to extreme stress (aka MKULTRA). The unwitting undergraduates were submitted to what Murray called "vehement, sweeping and personally abusive" attacks. Specifically-tailored assaults to their egos, cherished ideas and beliefs were used to cause high levels of stress and distress. The subjects were then re-traumatized by viewing recorded footage of their reactions to this verbal abuse repeatedly.

The devastating effects of this assault on identity with inquisitional verbal attacks copied from intelligence on Russia's prison system (Marks), was systematically investigated by Henry Murray, head of the program. The research is largely classified and minimized to this day (2021). Surprisingly subjects were brought to mental breakdown without physical violence, seemingly effortless, by ostracism and group devaluation procedures. Murray, a Army and OSS/CIA psychologist, was convinced that it is advisable to create a "new man" by psycho-technology[citation needed]: step one, breakdown of personality was accomplished by this study, whereas step two, the build-up or re-education phase, never happened.

In radical opposition to this view was 17-year-old Ted Kaczynski, a participant in the torture program who went on to become the Unabomber.

Power dynamics

Brainwashing is based on a power paradigm which is motivating perpetrators. In the beginning this imbalance of power may not be obvious or generally accepted as "normal", - i.e. parent-child-, teacher-pupil-, doctor-patent-, politics(wartime)-people-, boss-employee-relationships) but stealthily as time passes the victim gets in an inferior position making it more and more difficult to defend oneself against coercion and abuse, especially when group dynamics are systematically exploited by perpetrators, bullying and splitting, which is typically the case. (Zapf)

Mind control research

Full article: Mind control/Research

The word "brainwashing" is an example of psychological projection, since the CIA, with other US government agencies, was at that time active in "mind control research", most infamously though Project MK-Ultra. Methods included electroshock and other torture, use of drugs such as LSD and hypnosis; both on adults as well as children. Their claim, widely believed in USA at the time, was that the Chinese were using comparable methods on prisoners to induce them to lie about what they did before being captured.

Their official narrative about that project (not well documented since CIA Director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all paperwork regarding the project[citation needed]) is that it was ultimately unsuccessful.

Ineffective nature?

The spin the CIA puts around the whole subject of torture based mind control is reflected in the repeated claim that it is ineffective. Wikipedia echoes this, citing Lifton:

Lifton found that when the POWs returned to the United States their thinking soon returned to normal, contrary to the popular image of "brainwashing."[2]

This flies in the face of victims. People who were repeatedly brought beyond their breaking point - as described in US Army Field manuals to prepare soldiers for communist POW camps[3] - will almost certainly not return to a normal state of mind after torture ever again. They may abandon "implanted ideas" very soon; but this notion of "functioning" is superficial to say the least. For lasting effects, see mind control. For treatment of survivors, see the books of Collin Ross. [4]

Moreover, behavior change is effective if a certain amount of pressure or stress is kept up, or if programming is re-enforced periodically.


Related Quotations

Vanessa Beeley“The gargantuan apparatus of mind bending and controlling is being put into hyper drive by the ruling elite. We are inundated with propaganda that challenges our sense of reality but only after being “tenderized” by the fear factor. Fear of “terror”, fear of war, fear of financial insecurity, fear of gun violence, fear of our own shadow. Once we are suitably quaking in our boots, in comes the rendition of reality that relieves our anxiety. If we challenge this version of events we are labelled a conspiracy theorist, a threat to security. We are hounded, discredited, slandered and ridiculed. We are isolated and threatened.”Vanessa Beeley
George Carlin“Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It's as simple as that. The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people, or they depopulate the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos, Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime, and firefighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?”George Carlin
Human sacrifice“While documentation of the widespread existence of Satanic human sacrifice cults is lacking, evidence of other forms of systematic human sacrifice is available. Two examples in modern history are the Catholic Inquisition, a human sacrifice cult of a religious-theological nature, and the Third Reich, a human sacrifice cult of a military-political nature. (In calling the Inquisition and the Third Reich cults, I am using the word in a broad, informal, and unscholarly sense, to mean an organized group driven by a well-elaborated theological doctrine, which for the Nazis was Aryan racial mysticism.) The fact that the Catholic Inquisition and the Third Reich were both run by middle-class, Caucasian, educated individuals from Judaeo-Christian cultures suggests that it is psychologically possible for ordinary middle-class citizens to be perpetrating such crimes in North America today, especially given the high level of violence in contemporary Western societies.”Colin Ross1995
Mind control“The goal and end of Mind Control is to control and bondage the victim or survivor both during abuse and ritual and during 'normal life'”Ritualistic Abuse Consultancy
Sydney .
Mind control“When torture is covertly practiced but officially and legally repudiated, there is still hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail. When torture is pseudo-legal and those responsible deny that it is torture, what dies is what Hannah Arendt called "the juridical person in man".”Naomi Klein2005
Mind control“The aims of the concentration camp as an institution are to break the prisoners as individuals, to spread terror among the rest of the population, and to provide the Gestapo with a training ground and an experimental laboratory. [...] The typical initial reactions are feelings of detachment: 'this can't be true … things like this just don't happen'.

The first few weeks are the worst; persons who manage to live through the transportation to camp and the first three months thereafter, have a fair chance of surviving. If the tortures become too intense, indifference takes the place of anxiety. Prisoners are particularly sensitive to punishments resembling those a parent might inflict upon a child. Prisoners' dreams rarely deal with situations of extreme torture but instead with comparatively smaller maltreatment. Group formation, especially around a hero or martyr, is very effectively prohibited by means of group punishments. For only a short time do the new prisoners direct their hostility primarily against their real enemy; in many cases it is soon turned against former friends or members of the family by whom the prisoners feel deserted. Old prisoners come to direct their hostility mostly against themselves. Gradually a regression to infantile levels take place, turning many prisoners into willing tools in the hands of the Gestapo.

In the phase of 'final adjustment', the strangest phenomenon of all could be observed: the prisoners' identification with the guards. Certain prisoners even tried to imitate the guards' uniforms, became cruel to their fellow-prisoners, partly accepted Nazi ideology. The author's conclusion is: What thus happens in an extreme fashion to the prisoners in concentration camps, happens also, in a somewhat less exaggerated form, to the inhabitants of the great concentration camp called 'Greater Germany'.”
Mind control“Mind Control is a system of influences which break the identity of an individual (his/her beliefs, behavior, thoughts and feelings) and replace it with a new identity”Steve Hassan1993


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:A Massacre is Not a Massacrepoem3 June 2010Ghassan Hage
Document:Discernment: Why information statecraft mattersstrategy document26 December 2018Integrity Initiative
Chris Donnelly
Musings on how to keep media dominance and control young minds
Document:My contributionself-assessment26 December 2018Chris HernonA self assessment by Chris Hernon of how he can help the the Integrity Initiative
File:Jeff Schmidt - Disciplined Minds A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-battering System That Shapes Their Lives.pdfbookJeff Schmidt
File:The Rape of the Mind by Joost A. M. Meerloo.pdfbookJoost A. M. Meerloo
File:US Army Field Manual 21-78.pdfbook1981US/ArmyField Manual 21-78 is an (declassified) introduction to "honorable survival", i.e. how to resist brainwashing
Many thanks to our Patrons who cover ~2/3 of our hosting bill. Please join them if you can.


  1. Richard J. Ofshe, Ph.D. Coercive Persuasion and Attitude Change, Encyclopedia of Sociology Volume 1, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York
  3. see File:US Army Field Manual 21-78.pdf and similar Army Field manuals for POW resistance
  4. Collin A. Ross (2000) Bluebird. Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality by Psychiatrists. Richardson Tx., Manitou Communications