Brainwashing(also known as mind control, brain sweeping, etc) is a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, especially through the use of torture, drugs, or psychological-stress techniques. In simple words brainwashing is a practice that is done in order to control someone’s mind through various means,
Origin of the concept
The term brainwashing was first popularized by journalist Edward Hunter. During the Korean War, Hunter, an outspoken anticommunist and said to be a CIA agent working undercover as a journalist, wrote a series of books and articles on the theme of Chinese brainwashing, and the word brainwashing quickly became a stock phrase in Cold War headlines. In China it is known as xinao which means washing brain. It was used by the Maoist government of China to cleanse the mind of the people there so that they can unify the population of China under their ideology.
Facts about brainwashing
" Forgetting oneself can only be done through pain"
Although the science and history about brainwashing is still in debate people have found various facts on brain washing.
Firstly, Brainwash is a form of torture. In order to brain wash someone their beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc must be changed and achieving a big radical change like that in one’s brain is not easy. It was found out that one has to break their mind in order to reshape it. But breaking down someone’s mind is not a cup of tea. In order to break someone’s mind one must be inhumanely tortured so that the mind starts to accept outside ideology on a fundamental level.
Robert Jay Lifton who was one of the first scientists to study brainwashing wrote the book “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism” which has explained about brainwashing. He also found out that the brain can be easily washed by using 10 simple steps.
When do you call a person Brainwashed?
Even though there are many ways to change someone’s mind through various means not all of them are considered brain washing. One can manipulate someone by hypnosis or use of drugs it is not considered brain washing. Since we can’t change one’s fundamental core values using these methods so we can’t consider it brainwashed. Nowadays there are many articles, videos, etc online about how one can brainwash oneself from bad habits it is not considered brainwashing cause you are the one driving the change. Since, brainwashing is a extreme form of social conditioning that small change in thought or behavior cant be considered brainwashing.
Brainwashing and today
So far till date many people haven’t encountered brain washing and it looks as many people won’t encounter it in the future. There is still debate going about the brain washing and its effects. So far there are only few well documented cases of brain washing recorded.
In 1974, Patty Hearst a 19-year-old student living in Berkeley, California was abducted by the Symbionese liberation army. She was constantly kept in isolation and psychologically tortured until she became the cause. She helped them in a bank robbery but was arrested. But her brain wash caused a big controversy due to which her sentence was commuted by President Jim Crater and in 2001 President Bill Clinton gave her a full pardon.
Although various debates were raised about brain washing and what to do for it victims many things are still unclear till date.