Who invented brain washing?

: Brainwashing - This is how the victim is softened

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How to Recreate the Character of Dr. V. turned inside out - A warning against the methods of depersonalization

By Ivo Planava

There are two ways of falling into a state of apathy and losing the belief that action has a purpose: either through a sudden mental breakdown or in a slow process of self-abandonment. Breakdown from shock is quite rare, as the sudden pressure automatically activates a defense mechanism; apart from that, everyone is aware that they are threatened, and that strengthens their resilience.

Gradual changes in oneself are seldom consciously noticed by humans, least of all when similarly distressed people live in their environment. At the end of such a process there are a number of isolated individuals who are no longer able to make conscious decisions and to strive for goals that go beyond their daily livelihood. Most of the time it is people who react superficially and who adapt to everything and everyone; they are easily manipulable people, so internally unfree.

The freedom of the citizen consists on the one hand in the ability to choose and on the other in the ability to choose, that is, in the ability and a constant need to judge all situations and to act accordingly. The possibility of choosing is primarily determined by social conditions; the ability to choose, on the other hand, is more subjective.

With hands tied

If a power system prevents its citizens from grouping freely according to their views, especially if it does not allow them to choose sensibly among people and programs, that does not mean that citizens automatically also have the ability to judge and act - or not to act on purpose - lose. In a society where freedom is outwardly. is suppressed, but there is a relative inner freedom, dissatisfaction, tension and aggression grow - something that constantly endangers the whole system of external bondage. Every modern usurper knows very well that it is relatively exhausting and above all very dangerous to rule for a long time only with the help of bayonets.

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This is by no means only true for the ruled, which is why rulers of every provenance try to gradually deprive people of their inner freedom - namely the freedom of thought - using psychological methods. This can happen on a case-by-case basis - or in large numbers. A typical example of an individual "re-education" is the "case of Dr. V."

When Doctor V was walking the streets of Shanghai one afternoon, he was surrounded by five men and an armed man said, "We are the representatives of the government and the people - you are under arrest." Thus began one of the many trials against spies and enemies of the people who confessed to unbelievable crimes and who often expressed their gratitude for the "just" death sentences or long prison sentences with pathological, flagellant self-humiliation.

Doctor V. was taken into a small cell in which prisoners were already sitting. He had to sit on the floor, then his fellow inmates, who had already been promoted to higher levels of "re-education", accused him of being a criminal and an agent of imperialism; He must confess all of this unreservedly.

A few hours later, Doctor V was brought in for interrogation. The interrogation began with the vague accusation: "You have committed a crime against the people. The government has all the evidence. Confess!" When the accused protested, the investigator said, "You are guilty because our government never arrests an innocent person." Questions about the doctor's past followed, and espionage was no longer mentioned.

This is how Doctor V. related with relief from his medical practice. He thereby revealed a number of information that later became an important part of his "confession". After a few hours the subject of hostile activity was touched again. When Doctor V again claimed that he was innocent, the examiner was angry and ordered the defendant to be bound and taken to the cell. Doctor V remained handcuffed day and night, even while eating and drinking, and nobody was allowed and nobody wanted to help him.

After a few days, a single thought settled in the doctor's brain: "Somehow I have to get rid of the bonds." One night he began to gush out his "confession", hoping to be freed from the shackles. He was wrong. The investigator objected, dissatisfied, that the confession was too general. Details were missing or diverging from one another.

The pressure on Doctor V continued and he began to invent details. As soon as he spoke of his "guilt", the chains were removed from him; the moment he began to sway, he was tied up again. Inconsistencies gradually disappeared, and a logical web of lies, half-truths and truths arose.

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An interesting and fundamental change soon took place. Up until this point the doctor still had a certain distance from his "confessions"; he was aware that he had not done anything wrong. But now in addition to the "facts" he was expected to judge them: He should judge his crimes from the standpoint of the "working people". When he admitted this only vaguely, his situation changed radically: the shackles were removed from him, he was allowed to sit comfortably during the interrogations, the investigator informed him of the government's regret that he had been under such oppressive conditions up to this point Prison had to live. As soon as he wavered, however, he was again shackled, for two or three days.

Now the systematic training began. It lasted ten to sixteen hours a day. The cell elder read from newspapers, brochures, and recited quotations from Mao-Tse-tung. The prisoners had to discuss it; that meant repetition, evaluation and enthusiastic approval. Doctor V. did this mechanically at first; but in time he thought just like the newspapers and like his "more developed" classmates.

The behavior of the prisoners was also discussed: if Doctor V did not finish his meal, for example, he was accused of wasting the money of the working class; if he drank too much water, he was told he sucked the blood of the workers; if he spread out while sleeping, it was evidence of his imperialist aggression.

After a year of training, long series of interrogations were repeated, during which the "confession" was honed. Now Doctor V. also admitted to being a criminal. After a while he was told that his demeanor and attitudes had improved significantly. He noted it gratefully. At the end of the three years of re-education, the prisoner was brought before the so-called judge. He sentenced Doctor V to three years in prison for crimes against the people. The case was published with the doctor's persuasive declaration of loyalty.

Shortly after his release, Doctor V came to Hong Kong on a British ship. He told the American psychiatrist Dr. Lifton, who published the case.

After a compilation of statements from other prisoners, prisoners from the Korean war, refugees in West Berlin and some other information, it is possible to describe some principles of brainwashing.

The devastating shock

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So that individual brainwashing can even begin, the appropriate atmosphere must be created: the citizen must be deprived of basic human rights; he must be fully aware or suspect that there is an active organization in the state against which one cannot legally defend oneself. This task has been carried out by the secret police since around the 19th century. Whether this institution is omnipotent or just powerful - it remains an institution to be afraid of, regardless of whether one has a clean or an impure conscience.

The "brainwashing" procedures take different lengths of time, depending on the individual's resistance. They are also used mixed together. First, with a one-time, surprising action, the very existence of the person is endangered. He is given to understand that he will not live much longer. The destructive effect of the shock is combined with the complete isolation of the person. Even in this phase, the victim can be made to understand that under certain circumstances there is a possibility of survival.

The aim of the second stage of "brainwashing" is to cultivate a feeling of guilt that cannot be further defined: "I must have made some mistake". The next stage is to provide the victim with appropriate information. For example, it can be deliberately twisted statements by the accused or falsified documents. In most cases, convincing news is presented that his friends and family have denounced him.

One reckons with the psychologically correct assumption that a person whom everyone has abandoned and betrayed is much more prone to betrayal and is less immune to influences. In the next stage one tries to suggest, directly or indirectly, the thought: "Only those who change and work properly can survive." The vague hope that the prison guards awakened shortly after their arrest is thus specified, while at the same time the vague feeling of guilt is "channeled".

It's about a slow build-up of paranoia and self-accusation. Common sense is often appealed to and "adapting to reality" is recommended as the only way out.

More modern totalitarian regimes do not require mass approval and enthusiasm; rather, they reckon with the indifference and blunt obedience of the broader classes. The "brainwashing" of the masses also requires a certain atmosphere of skepticism and insecurity (including economic ones). It is important, however, that from time to time a nebulous hope attached to many conditions is presented - along with "real" perspectives. Insecurity, fear, and pessimism cannot be absolute; it is not useful to create the feeling that "there is nothing to lose" and that this is all about it. In such a situation, on the contrary, a strong feeling of togetherness develops among the threatened and a willingness to risk resistance against arbitrariness.

With individual. "Re-education" prevents all contacts; with mass "brainwashing" it is primarily about the decomposition of the communication structure. The starting point is first: For a correct assessment and decision, the person must receive an optimal amount of objective information; second, interpersonal communication integrates people into a group or into society as a whole.

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This is then a source of resistance to any pressure. Therefore, it is beneficial to quickly disintegrate the communication system so that people are not only disinformed but also lose the sense of togetherness.

In modern societies, the main aim is to disrupt the functioning of the mass media with inconspicuous but gradually tightening censorship. This leads to a situation in which censorship becomes superfluous: the monopolized mass media are ruled by sufficiently "re-educated" employees. If leaders of some totalitarian regimes boast of no need for censorship, their pride is justified from that standpoint.

Consistent "re-education" also disrupts the connection between the present and the past, more precisely: between the humanistic tradition of society and its contemporary consciousness. In the history of every people there have been struggles for external or internal freedom. The attempt to "synchronize" history - to erase some of its pages and thus to realize the ideal of a "remote controlled" being, detached from the historical national context, is quite logical.

Related to this is the effort of the "brain cleaners" to disrupt naturally occurring social structures, i.e. families and friendships, to dissolve groups of interests and professions. This is how the victim is softened.

Because family ties are more resilient, you start at work. Man is directly dependent on the system of government and the decisions of the powerful. It is beneficial to focus primarily on the people who are compromised in some way, either because they have something on their conscience or because they are not doing a decent job.

Such people are made clear that they can only continue their work if they follow certain instructions, for example when collecting information about less compliant employees. There are many ways to break down a group. You can create insecurity by constantly transferring people, you can fire people for no reason, you can promote the most zealous and unfit.

"Brainwashing" is a lengthy procedure. People are also expected to become tired, with their instinct for self-preservation and the need to somehow get over the bad times. To satisfy these needs under these circumstances, a person must react like a radar device, evasive, twisting and turning, pretending to be "dead" and stupid, in short: deforming himself as the crooked conditions demand. All of this not only exhausts his energy, it also leads to lack of concentration and the inability to work purposefully.

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No matter how disinformed a person is, he desperately needs and desperately looks for a relative security in order to survive. The usurpers of power try to reassure him, but the only thing they can offer is a relative security: if you recognize us and loyally carry out our instructions, you have nothing to fear.

This, of course, is just an illusion of security. Either the individual can be rigorously manipulated (half freedom is impossible for a long time), or he himself becomes the active bearer of oppression.

In the first case, it comes into conflict with itself in a very short time (because one cannot suppress the natural need of human beings to get involved and realize oneself).

In the other case, in which the individual has become the bearer of violence, the feeling of security is also threatened because sooner or later it inevitably and ruthlessly comes into conflict with those who are in the same boat with him.

"Brainwashing" wants to rob people of their dignity, regardless of whether they are behind bars or "just" behind the barriers. Human dignity, that is, the awareness of one's own worth, of the primacy of one's intellect over one's actions, arises not only from one's awareness of where a person is, in what circumstances they live, but above all from what values ​​they value in relation to the given "reality" "despite striving. If "brainwashing" relies on fear and insecurity, then the victim should not allow himself to be paralyzed by fear and insecurity. These human impulses only become inhuman when we act under their dictates.

Pressure and counter pressure

If the "brainwashers" rely on destroying communication between people, they are trying in vain. Of course we can imagine that the mass media will become institutions that prevent information. Yet it is difficult to imagine that an intelligent person would take the non-information as a source of information.

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It is true that the path to inner bondage also leads through the disintegration of the relationship to the humanistic tradition of a national community, but it is difficult to imagine that there is a force that could rob an educated and well-trained people from their history or their humanistic meaning. The more intense the ties of the individual to other people with similar attitudes, the better he and the whole group can withstand the destructive pressure.

It would be naive to console oneself with the fact that the forces that try to steal people's freedom are stupid or weak.Both sides have their experiences in this struggle. As if each were a Sisyphus, for centuries they tossed their boulders over the paths of historical battles. One time one wins, another time the other; but none has been defeated once and for all. Even in the time of defeat, the two have to wrestle with each other again and again - and both build their muscles in the process, both "play for endurance" and expect the opponent's fatigue and depression. That is the deep sense of not letting the boulder crush or deform you. Not to survive, but to preserve the ability to be free because that's the only way we can be again.

The author Dr. Ivo Planava, born in Brno in 1934, was a psychiatrist at a hospital, then a science editor. He has been a lecturer at the University of Brno for two years. Eva Gabányi translated his article, which first appeared in the Czechoslovak literary newspaper "Listy", into German.