Mind control ranges from somewhat benign attempts to influence a group, such as a sports coach trying to convince the team they can win the championship, to the creation of systematic support in a populace for outrageous crimes against humanity, such as in Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia, the murder of millions of people. Somewhere in-between these two extremes are the slightly more subtle forms of mind control, such as advertising that creates an American society fixated on consumerism to an excessive degree.
What is Mind Control?
Mind control is a systematic attempt to change beliefs, reduce or remove the ability for independent thinking, and enforce group norms on all individuals to control their minds.
Mind control is also called brainwashing when it is more severe and is forced on a person. An American journalist named Edward Hunter published articles and books about the Chinese methods of obtaining a massive brainwashed public and first used the brainwashing term in print in 1950. The word is a direct translation of the Chinese word “hsi-nao.” To wash is the word in Chinese, “hsi.” The word for the brain in Chinese is “nao.”
The Chinese used mind control techniques to “wash brains” to train officials. Then they used them on adversaries like the American prisoners of war at Chinese prison camps during the Korean War in the early 1950s.
Brainwashing Used to Create Crimes Against Humanity
Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China was rampant with the use of mind control technology to indoctrinate the populace with his ideas. Part of the Chinese brainwashing campaign included that Mao’s pictures or drawings of him were everywhere. Everyone had to have a copy of Mao’s “Little Red Book” and be able to recite the propaganda it contained from memory. Mao’s goal was to create a single-minded populace that followed his supposed “correct thinking.” Those who opposed this process were either killed or sent to prison, industrial labor camps, and agricultural work farms until they were “re-educated.”
Mind control stories from China during this period included the removal of intellectuals from society, burning banned books, and convincing children to turn against their parents and tell authorities of any subversive activities so authorities could punish them. Hitler and Stalin are other examples of brainwashing a society on massive levels. Hitler killed about six million people, and Stalin about twenty-five million. Mao, Hitler, and Stalin all used brainwashing techniques to get the populace to participate in a horrific system to kill so many people. Mao had his re-education camps, Hitler his concentration camps, and Stalin his gulags.
Many are surprised when they think about these massive crimes against humanity that any society would allow to happen. Stalin was delighted to sign thousands of death warrants before going to bed each night. The way each of these leaders achieved the ability to do these things was by massive societal brainwashing.
Through his propaganda machine run by Goebbels, Hitler convinced the German people they were a superior race and Jews were inferior sub-humans. Stalin got everyone to spy on his or her neighbors and corrupt party officials to accept his iron rule. Mao convinced the Chinese people to abandon their heritage using thought control and thought reform techniques. He killed people who did not agree with him.
All three cases, Mao, Hitler, and Stalin, are examples of a “personality cult” where a single man leads everyone. It takes an enormous amount of brainwashing to achieve this. The evil things of a personality cult are only possible when leaders know how to control their minds. Anyone who thinks this scourge of personality cults and the methods used to create them is a thing of the past need only read the recent United Nations report on the human rights violations in North Korea. The same brainwashing techniques create the personality cult of the “Supreme” Leader, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
Nothing is “supreme” about any leadership that allows people to starve to death to build a massive military. Brainwashing techniques exist in Korea on a massive scale. Hundreds of thousands disappeared in prison or were executed. Millions died from famine. Unlike Mao, Hitler, and Stalin, a personality cult’s “supreme” leader had nuclear weapons this time. The United Nations has clearly warned the world.
American CIA Search for a Mind Control Drug or Techniques
Brainwashing is not always as blatant and public as shown in personality cults. American-based CIA programs of mind control experimented with the pharmaceutical LSD and electro-shock therapy to see if it was possible to control subjects’ minds.
These experiments were top secret and conducted without the subject’s permission or knowledge of what was happening. Unsuspecting public members were drugged, interrogated, and their behavior observed. Military members took drugs without informed consent. Horrendous electro-shock therapy was used on patients in mental hospitals. The Telegraph reports that top scientists, including Frank Olson, were drugged with LSD, without their knowledge, to see if they could be coerced to reveal top-secret information. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, proof of these programs and the efforts of the American CIA in mind control experiments are well documented.
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Which is worse? Being forced to read Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book or being secretly drugged by the American CIA? In both cases, the goals are the same, find methods, drugs, and techniques useful for a small elitist group in power to control the masses.
Mind Control Used by Religion and Religious Cult Leaders
Chairman Mao called religion the “opiate of the masses.” He knew how powerful religious influence could be, which was contrary to his objectives, so he banned religion. Institutionalized religion has always used mind control techniques. The most obvious technique is putting people in large rooms together to repeat the same things repeatedly.
It does not matter if the repetition is those of Buddhist chants, Catholic prayers, Islamic sayings, singing words from the Torah, Scientology’s repetitive processing of “Engrams” (memories), or native American songs to make it rain. These are all mind-control techniques. This does not mean the results are necessarily bad, but it is important to know that brainwashing is happening because the opportunity to abuse power is enormous.
A place when it is clear that religious brainwashing has a negative effect is easily demonstrated by the examples set by Charles Manson’s “Family” in committing murders to start a holy race war or the drinking of cyanide by the congregation of Jim Jones Temple. That is lunatic behavior by any rational standard, yet it is clear those people participated in murder or mass suicide because of brainwashing.
Brainwashing techniques used by cult leaders involve these:
- Convincing followers the leader is divine or divinely inspired
- The agreement must be given to the leader without question
- Claiming the world will end
- Condemnation and guilt
- Condemning the “outside” world
- Confession of sins
- Confusing doctrine and lectures which are inconsistent
- Demanding absolute loyalty and shunning those that leave the group
- Diet change and insufficient nutrition
- Fear and intimidation
- Group games that include strange rules
- Isolation from all others not in the group
- Lack of privacy
- Love bombing, such as group hugs and encouraging childlike responses
- Monitoring of communications
- Neurolinguistic programming – stressing certain spoken words to create a subliminal (unconscious) response
- Peer group pressure to join, participate and conform
- Rejection of old values or moral standards
- Return to old values or moral standards
- Sexual abuse, such as not having the choice of a sexual partner or sexual submission to the leader
- Singing, chanting, and repetition of phrases
- Sleep deprivation
- Strict rules of conduct
- Strict rules of dress
- Surrender of money and property
- Unpredictable rewards or punishment
- Working without pay
Because of the emergence of many religious cults considered negative, a new psychological approach to “de-program” a person developed. There is significant controversy about these techniques because they may be simply using brainwashing to replace brainwashing of another kind. When a person’s exposure to a cult reduces, the cult’s influence also reduces, and the person starts to regain independent thinking.
Advertising is intentional mind control. The object is first to get someone to pay attention and then to get someone to buy things. The commercialization of the Christmas holidays with excessive consumerism can trace its roots back to the invention of the modern American version of Santa Claus by the Coca-Cola Company during the 1920s. Before the creation of the modern Santa Claus icon, the previous person for this role was Saint Nicholas from the 4th century. Saint Nicholas was the Bishop from Myra (part of Turkey now). He did not fly through the air in a big sleigh with the help of reindeer or go down chimneys. He was a real historical person, thin and tall, revered for his kindness and gift-giving.
Convincing children that Santa Claus is fat, jolly, and travels the entire world in a single Christmas night, as the more modern myth is a type of brainwashing and a complete fabrication. Luckily, when most children grow old enough, they figure out this is not true on their own. The Santa Claus character is mostly benevolent, but it makes everyone spend more money on gifts, food, and drink during the holiday, to the delight of the Coca-Cola Company and all other merchants.
Strangely, children are told Santa Claus exists and then learn Santa Claus does not exist, but few know the real Saint Nicholas existed. This is a clear example that brainwashing does not have to be true, just repeated enough until the pseudo-truth becomes the widely accepted standard and the real truth gets lost in the process.
Mind control, whether nefarious or benign, is pervasive in human society across the globe. It is important to notice when and how mind control techniques become effective because everyone gains the opportunity for better choices in how they respond to them. This is especially important when the attempts to influence the populace negatively are deadly serious, like killing millions of people.