"Korean War/CIA brainwashing spin"

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Concept.png "Korean War/CIA brainwashing spin" 
(Mind control,  propaganda,  hoax)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
A word coined by the CIA in an effort to cover-up the US Army's use of biological weapons in the Korean War.

"Brainwashing" is a word coined by the CIA in an effort to cover-up the US Army's use of biological weapons in the Korean War.[1] Its origins as of 2020 remain not widely known.

It has become commonly used to reflect the deliberate instillation of a particular perspective or worldview, by means of undue influence [2] , deception and abuse of soft power techniques in a coercive manner.


US soldiers were publicly confessing to involvement in projects to use bioweapons. The response was to deny the validity of this testimony, arguing that these were programmed confessions brought on by communist "brainwashing" in an effort to spin and profit from POWs experiences.

Robert Lifton, a psychologist with a high security clearance used an euphemism, coercive persuasion to describe torture based mind control techniques used on American POWs, who "converted" to communist ideas after being subjected to torture, both physical and psycholocical, in his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China. [3]

He minimized the effects of torture based mind control on the human psyche, focusing on and concluding that some effects were not lasting afters soldiers' return. It seems some nuances of torture based mind control techniques were not known to the CIA before the return of American POWs from Korea in 1951-4 and "resurfaced" in Guantanamo. Older CIA training manuals used for School of the Americas type programs were more crude, brutal and neglected psychological (so called "white") techniques.

First mention

Probably the first mention of the word "Brainwashing" was in Miami News, on 24 September 1950 by Edward Hunter, an avowedly anti-communist CIA officer cum journalist.[4]

Counter culture

Fritz Perls and discordians popularized the term mind fucking to describe the behavior of people and systems who want to impose their thinking onto others. The concept of mind fucking or deliberate messing with someones mind oppose and makes fun of brainwashing by calling to attention its deceptive nature with artistic means. See also: culture jamming.


The concept of "brainwashing" was later applied by Margaret Singer, Philip Zimbardo and some others to help explain the way people integrate into some cult like new religious movements.

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:

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: Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China, was based on this research). Lifton found that when the POWs returned to the United States their thinking soon returned to normal, contrary to the popular image of "brainwashing."[5]

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[citation needed] - 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. [6]

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  1. http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/102761
  2. Hassan, Steven. Combating cult mind control. Vol. 90. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1990. http://pncds72.free.fr/120_manipulation_mentale/120_21_emprise_sectes.pdf (slides in french)
  3. Jay, Robert. Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. Uncpress.
  4. http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/LSD/marks.htm
  5. http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/110/10/732
  6. Collin A. Ross (2000) Bluebird. Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality by Psychiatrists. Richardson Tx., Manitou Communications