Terminology note: Today Mind control or brainwashing in academia is
commonly referred to as coercive persuasion, coercive psychological systems or coercive
influence. The short description below comes from Dr. Margaret Singer professor emeritus at the
University of California at Berkeley the acknowledged leading authority in the
world on mind control and cults.
Coercion is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as:
1. To force to act
or think in a certain manner
2. To dominate,
restrain, or control by force
3. To bring about
Coercive psychological systems are behavioral change programs which use
psychological force in a coercive way to cause the learning and adoption of an
ideology or designated set of beliefs, ideas, attitudes, or behaviors. The
essential strategy used by the operators of these programs is to systematically
select, sequence and coordinate many different types of coercive influence,
anxiety and stress-producing tactics over continuous periods of time.
In such a program the subject is forced to adapt in a series of tiny
“invisible” steps. Each tiny step is designed to be sufficiently
small so the subjects will not notice the changes in themselves or identify the
coercive nature of the processes being used. The subjects of these tactics do
not become aware of the hidden organizational purpose of the coercive
psychological program until much later, if ever. These tactics are usually
applied in a group setting by well intentioned but deceived “friends and
allies” of the victim. This keeps the victim from putting up the ego
defenses we normally maintain in known adversarial situations.
The coercive psychological influence of these programs aim to overcome the
individual’s critical thinking abilities and free will – apart from any appeal
to informed judgment. Victims gradually lose their ability to make independent
decisions and exercise informed consent. Their critical thinking, defenses,
cognitive processes, values, ideas, attitudes, conduct and ability to reason
are undermined by a technological process rather than by meaningful free
choice, rationality, or the inherent merit or value of the ideas or
propositions being presented.
How Do They Work?
The tactics used to create undue psychological and social influence, often
by means involving anxiety and stress, fall into seven main categories.
Increase suggestibility and “soften up” the individual through specific hypnotic or
other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as:Extended audio, visual,
verbal, or tactile fixation drills, Excessive exact repetition of routine
activities, Sleep restriction and/or Nutritional restriction.
Establish control over the
person’s social environment, time and sources of social support by a system of often-excessive rewards and punishments. Social
isolation is promoted. Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is
contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes. Economic and
other dependence on the group is fostered.
information and non supporting
opinions in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to
discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An
“in-group” language is usually constructed
Make the person re-evaluate
the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to
destabilize and undermine the subject’s basic consciousness, reality awareness,
world view, emotional control and defense mechanisms. The subject is guided to
reinterpret his or her life’s history and adopt a new version of causality.
Create a sense of
powerlessness by subjecting the person
to intense and frequent actions and situations which undermine the person’s
confidence in himself and his judgment.
Create strong aversive
emotional arousals in the subject by use of nonphysical punishments such as
intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status
changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques.
person with the force of group-sanctioned secular psychological threats.
For example, it may be suggested or implied that failure to adopt the approved
attitude, belief or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire
consequences such as physical or mental illness, the reappearance of a prior
physical illness, drug dependence, economic collapse, social failure, divorce,
disintegration, failure to find a mate, etc.
These tactics of psychological force are applied to
such a severe degree that the individual’s capacity to make informed or free
choices becomes inhibited. The victims become unable to make the normal, wise
or balanced decisions which they most likely or normally would have made, had
they not been unknowingly manipulated by these coordinated technical processes.
The cumulative effect of these processes can be an even more effective form of
undue influence than pain, torture, drugs or the use of physical force and
physical and legal threats.
How does Coercive
Psychological Persuasion Differ from Other Kinds of Influence?
Coercive psychological systems
are distinguished from benign social learning or peaceful persuasion by the
specific conditions under which they are conducted. These conditions include
the type and number of coercive psychological tactics used, the severity of
environmental and interpersonal manipulation, and the amount of psychological
force employed to suppress particular unwanted behaviors and to train desired
Coercive force is
traditionally visualized in physical terms. In this form it is easily
definable, clear-cut and unambiguous. Coercive psychological force
unfortunately has not been so easy to see and define. The law has been ahead of
the physical sciences in that it has allowed that coercion need not involve
physical force. It has recognized that an individual can be threatened and
coerced psychologically by what he or she perceives to be dangerous, not
necessarily by that which is dangerous.
Law has recognized that even
the threatened action need not be physical. Threats of economic loss, social
ostracism and ridicule, among other things, are all recognized by law, in
varying contexts, as coercive psychological forces.
Why are Coercive Psychological
Coercive psychological systems
violate our most fundamental concepts of basic human rights. They violate
rights of individuals that are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United
States Constitution and affirmed by many declarations of principle worldwide.
confusing, intimidating and silencing their victims, those who profit from
these systems evade exposure and prosecution for actions recognized as harmful
and which are illegal in most countries such as: fraud, false imprisonment,
undue influence, involuntary servitude, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, outrageous conduct and other tortuous acts.