[i] “… mind control…”
“Mind control (or “brainwashing”) refers to a broad range of psychological tactics able to subvert an individual’s control of his own thinking, behavior, emotions, or decisions. The concept is closely related to hypnosis, but differs in practical approach.
William Sargant connected Pavlov’s findings (the Russian researcher who experimented on stimulus-response mechanism with dogs) to the ways people learned and internalized belief systems. Conditioned behavior patterns could be changed by stimulated stresses beyond a dog’s capacity for response, in essence causing a breakdown. This could also be caused by intense signals, longer than normal waiting periods, rotating positive and negative signals and changing a dog’s physical condition, as through illness. Depending on the dog’s initial personality, this could possibly cause a new belief system to be held tenaciously. Sargant also connected Pavlov’s findings to the mechanisms of brain-washing….
“Though men are not dogs, they should humbly try to remember how much they resemble dogs in their brain functions, and not boast themselves as demigods. They are gifted with religious and social apprehensions, and they are gifted with the power of reason; but all these faculties are physiologically entailed to the brain. Therefore the brain should not be abused by having forced upon it any religious or political mystique that stunts the reason, or any form of crude rationalism that stunts the religious sense.” (p. 274)
Psychologist Margaret Singer describes six conditions which would create an atmosphere in which thought reform is possible. Singer states that these conditions involve no need for physical coercion or violence.
- Keep the victim unaware of what is going on and how he is being changed a step at a time.
- Control the victim’s social and/or physical environment; especially control the victim’s time.
- Systematically create a sense of powerlessness in the victim. This is accomplished by getting victims away from their normal social support group for a period of time and into an environment where the majority of people are already group members.
- The victims serve as models of the attitudes and behaviors of the group and speak an in-group language.
- Strip victims of their main occupation (quit jobs, drop out of school) or source of income or have them turn over their income (or the majority of) to the group.
- Once stripped of your usual support network, your confidence in your own perception erodes.
- As your sense of powerlessness increases, your good judgment and understanding of the world are diminished. (ordinary view of reality is destabilized)
- As group attacks your previous worldview, it causes you distress and inner confusion; yet you are not allowed to speak about this confusion or object to it — leadership suppresses questions and counters resistance.
- This process is sped up if you are kept tired.
- Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments and experiences in such a way as to inhibit behavior that reflects the victim’s former social identity.
- Manipulation of experiences can be accomplished through various methods of trance induction, including leaders using such techniques as paced speaking patterns, guided imagery, chanting, long prayer sessions or lectures, and lengthy meditation sessions.
- Your old beliefs and patterns of behavior are defined as irrelevant or evil. Leadership wants these old patterns eliminated, so the victims must suppress them.
- Victims get positive feedback for conforming to the group’s beliefs and behaviors and negative feedback for old beliefs and behavior.
- Manipulate a system of rewards, punishments, and experiences in order to promote learning the group’s ideology or belief system and group-approved behaviors.
- Good behavior, demonstrating an understanding and acceptance of the group’s beliefs, and compliance are rewarded while questioning, expressing doubts or criticizing are met with disapproval, redress and possible rejection. If one expresses a question, he or she is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to be questioning.
- The only feedback victims get is from the group, they become totally dependent upon the rewards given by those who control the environment.
- Victims must learn varying amounts of new information about the beliefs of the group and the behaviors expected by the group.
- The more complicated and filled with contradictions the new system is and the more difficult it is to learn, the more effective the conversion process will be.
- Esteem and affection from peers is very important to new recruits. Approval comes from having the new victim’s behaviors and thought patterns conform to the models (victims). Victims’ relationship with peers is threatened whenever they fail to learn or display new behaviors. Over time, the easy solution to the insecurity generated by the difficulties of learning the new system is to inhibit any display of doubts — new recruits simply acquiesce, affirm and act as if they do understand and accept the new ideology.
- Put forth a closed system of logic and an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback and refuses to be modified except by leadership approval or executive order.
- The group has a top-down, pyramid structure. The leaders must have verbal ways of never losing.
- Victims are not allowed to question, criticize or complain — if they do, the leaders allege that the victim is defective — not the organization or the beliefs.
- The individual is always wrong — the system, its leaders and its belief are always right.
- Remolding of the individual victim happens in a closed system. As victims learn to modify their behavior in order to be accepted in this closed system, they change — begin to speak the language — which serves to further isolate them from their prior beliefs and behaviors.”
Social psychology tactics
A contemporary view of mind control sees it as an intensified and persistent use of well researched social psychology principles like compliance, conformity, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, framing or emotional manipulation.
One of the most notable proponents of such theories is social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, former president of the American Psychological Association:
“I conceive of mind control as a phenomena encompassing all the ways in which personal, social and institutional forces are exerted to induce compliance, conformity, belief, attitude, and value change in others.
“Mind control is 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. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles.”
In Influence, Science and Practice, 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, and he titles them as follows:
- “Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take…and Take”
- “Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind”
- “Social Proof: Truths Are Us”
- “Liking: The Friendly Thief”
- “Authority: Directed Deference”
- “Scarcity: The Rule of the Few”
Using these six broad categories, he offers specific examples of both mild and extreme mind control (both one on one and in groups), notes the conditions under which each social rule is most easily exploited for false ends, and offers suggestions on how to resist such methods.”