Mind control

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Mind control is a general term for a number of controversial theories proposing that an individual's thinking, behavior, emotions or decisions can, to a greater or lesser extent, be manipulated arbitrarily by outside sources.


  • Dr. David Wheeler: ...easiest thing in the world, being a teenager: you get up, you go to school, you come home, and you do your homework. How do you mess that up? Yet all of you did, in one way or another ― and now I have to clean up that mess!
Batman: He's been going on like this for hours, telling them how worthless they are, and how only he can help them. Won't even let 'em go to the bathroom!
Bruce Wayne: Sleep deprivation, endless harangues; it's classic brainwashing. Some cults do it. It's also occassionally used on prisoners of war.
Batman: And Wheeler's doing it to kids.
  • Can we get control of an individual to the point where he will do our bidding against his will and even against fundamental laws of nature, such as self preservation?
  • Brainwashing is a system of befogging the brain so a person can be seduced into acceptance of what otherwise would be abhorrent to him. He loses touch with reality. Facts and fancy whirl round and change places … However, in order to prevent people from recognizing the inherent evils in brainwashing, the Reds pretend that it is only another name for something already very familiar and of unquestioned respect, such as education or reform.
    • Edward Hunter (1956) Brainwashing. New York: Pyramid Books. p. 185-186
  • The American Psychological Association had rejected the brainwashing/mind control theories in 1987 insofar as they applied to religious movements, on the basis that they were not scientific is, therefore, perfectly accurate. It is, in fact, almost identical to [Margaret} Singer’s own statement that the rejection of the DIMPAC report was “described by the APA as a rejection of the scientific validity of the theory of coercive persuasion.
  • Social scientists need not alter their definition of brainwashing, but should simply acknowledge that at least one contemporary ideological organization utilizes brainwashing in an attempt to retain its members. While this study cannot answer crucial questions about the long term implications for people who have been through this particular brainwashing program (compare Schein, 1961: 284), no doubt exists that Scientology's founder gave considerable thought to brainwashing techniques and imposed them on those of his followers whom he believed were harbouring thoughts or performing actions against him or the organization. The "brainwashing" term, therefore, has validity within some social science discourse.
  • Raiden: You want to control human thought? Human behavior?
Colonel: Of course. Anything can be quantified nowadays. That's what this exercise was designed to prove.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 written by Hideo Kojima and Tomokazu Fukushima
  • Ren: Hey! What is this thing? Get it off of me!
Stimpy: It's the Happy Helmet, Ren. Now you'll always be happy! And this is the remote control. And I use this dial to control how happy you are!
  • Ren: "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, ha ha ha ha! Stimpy, I'm so - happy! I must - go - do nice - things! Hee hee he hee hee, ha ha ha hahaaaa! So - happy - ironing... for STIMPY! Ha ha ha ha ha haaa!
Ren: I - must do - wonderful things - for my best - friend - Stimpy! OH - JOY!!! HA HA HA HA HAHAAAAAA!!! See how I love to clean - filthy catboxes!
Stimpy: Oh Re-en! I've got a surprise for you! Hey... maybe Ren is somewhere being sad! I will make him happy again!
  • Behind this web of semantic.(and more than semantic) confusion [regarding the definition of thought reform] lies an image of "brainwashing" as an all-powerful, irresistible, unfathomable, and magical method of achieving total control over the human mind. It is of course none of these things, and this loose usage makes the word a rallying point for fear, resentment, urges toward submission, justification for failure, irresponsible accusation, and for a wide gamut of emotional extremism.
  • Brainwashing: (a.k.a. thought control, mind control, coercive persuasion). A non-violent method that uses mind control techniques to convince a person to abandon some of their basic beliefs and adopt the beliefs of the indoctrinator.
    • B.A. Robinson (1996) "Glossary of religious and spiritual terms" on religioustolerance.org (online)
  • Brainwashing is defined as an observable set of transactions between a charismatically-structured collectivity and an isolated agent of the collectivity with the goal of transforming the agent into a deployable agent. Brainwashing is thus a process of ideological resocialization carried out within a structure of charismatic authority.
    • Thomas Robbins, ‎Benjamin David Zablocki (2001) Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial Field. p. 183
  • Given the problematic nature of scientific support for brainwashing based theories as they are applied to participants in new religions, it is reasonable to ask why such evidence was ever admitted [into court testimony], and why it is sometimes still admitted. The most plausible answer has to do with the operation of biases, prejudices, and misinformation in these cases that involve controversial parties and issues or, as Kassin and Wrightsman (1988) say: cases involving emotional topics over which public opinion is polarized.
    • James T. Richardson and Gerald Ginsburg; partly cited in Helen Reece (1998) Law and Science, Volume 1. p. 287
  • Thought reform contains elements which are evident in Chinese culture (emphasis on interpersonal sensitivity, learning by rote and self-cultivation); in methods of extracting confessions well known in the Papal Inquisition (13th century) and elaborated through the centuries, especially by the Russian secret police; in methods of organizing corrective prisons, mental hospitals and other institutions for producing value change; in methods used by religious sects, fraternal orders, political elites or primitive societies for converting or initiating new members. Thought reform techniques are consistent with psychological principles but were not explicitly derived from such principles.
    • Edgar Schein (1963). "Brainwashing". in: Encyclopædia Britannica 4 (14th (revised) ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. p. 91.
  • An estimated 5,000 economic, political, and religious groups operate in the United States alone at any given time, with 2.5 million members. Over the last ten years, cults have used tactics of coercive mind control to negatively impact an estimated 20 million victims in the last ten years. Worldwide figures are even greater.
  • The belief that the people of a democracy rule themselves through their elected representatives, though sanctified by tradition and made venerable by multiple repetitions, is actually mystical nonsense.  In any election, only a percentage of the people vote.  Those who can't vote because of age or other disqualifications, and those who don't vote because of confusion, apathy, or disgust at a Tweedledum-Tweedledummer choice can hardly be said to have any voice in the passage of the laws which govern them.  Nor can the individuals as yet unborn, who will be ruled by those laws in the future.  And, out of those who do "exercise their franchise," the large minority who voted for the loser are also deprived of a voice, at least during the term of the winner they voted against.

    But even the individuals who voted and who managed to pick a winner are not actually ruling themselves in any sense of the word.  They voted for a man, not for the specific laws which will govern them.  Even all those who had cast their ballots for the winning candidate would be hopelessly confused and divided if asked to vote on these actual laws.  Nor would their representative be bound to abide by their wishes, even if it could be decided what these "collective wishes" were.  And besides all this, a large percentage of the actual power of a mature democracy, such as the U.S.A., is in the hands of the tens of thousands of faceless appointed bureaucrats who are unresponsive to the will of any citizen without special pull.

    Under a democratic form of government, a minority of the individuals governed select the winning candidate.  The winning candidate then proceeds to decide issues largely on the basis of pressure from special-interest groups.  What it actually amounts to is rule by those with political pull over those without it.  Contrary to the brainwashing we have received in government-run schools, democracy—the rule of the people through their elected representatives—is a cruel hoax!

    Not only is democracy mystical nonsense, it is also immoral.  If one man has no right to impose his wishes on another, then ten million men have no right to impose their wishes on the one, since the initiation of force is wrong (and the assent of even the most overwhelming majority can never make it morally permissible).  Opinions—even majority opinions—neither create truth nor alter facts.  A lynch mob is democracy in action.  So much for mob rule.

  • The persuasive techniques used by totalist cults to bind and exploit the members, while not magical or infallible, are sufficiently powerful and effective to assure the recruitment of a significant percentage of those approached, and the retention of a significant percentage of those enlisted.
    • Louis Jolyon West "Persuasive Techniques in Religious Cults," in: Marc Galanter (1989) Cults and New Religious Movements. p. 4
  • I am convinced, based on more than three decades of studying NRMs through participant-observation and through interviews with both members and ex-members, that these movements have unleashed social and psychological forces of truly awesome power. These forces have wreaked havoc in many lives - in both adults and in children. It is these social and psychological influence processes that the social scientist has both the right and the duty to try to understand, regardless of whether such understanding will ultimately prove helpful or harmful to the cause of religious liberty. … the real sociological issue ought not to be whether brainwashing ever occurs but rather whether it occurs frequently enough to be considered an important social problem.
    • Benjamin Zablocki (1997) The Blacklisting of a Concept: The Strange History of the Brainwashing Conjecture in the Sociology of Religion. (online)
  • 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. … It seems to me that at the very heart of the controversy over the existence of mind control is a bias toward believing in the power of people to resist the power of situational forces, a belief in individual will power and faith to overcome all evil adversity. It is Jesus modeling resistance against the temptations of Satan, and not the vulnerability of Adam and Eve to deception. More recently, examples abound that challenge this person-power misattribution.
    • Benjamin Zablocki (2002); As cited in: Herbert W Simons, PH.D., ‎Jean Jones (2011) Persuasion and Contemporary Culture. p. 343

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