Brainwashing is a term used to describe this type of coercive control, where one person holds power over another through psychological and physical tactics. It can take many forms such as verbal abuse, isolation, humiliation, fear tactics, and even torture.
Most people assume that brainwashing is only carried out by governments, but this is not necessarily true.
What is brainwashing?
Brainwashing is an act of deliberately influencing someone’s thoughts, beliefs, and behavior by using coercive techniques. It usually involves techniques such as manipulation, isolation, repetition of phrases or ideas, rewards, and punishments to shape the individual’s beliefs and behaviors over time. Brainwashing can be used in a variety of contexts ranging from political to religious to even marketing campaigns.
Brainwashing can be done by anyone with the power to control another person’s thoughts and beliefs. It can also be achieved through psychologically manipulative tactics such as advertising, social media messages, and even religious indoctrination. Brainwashing is a dangerous form of psychological manipulation that can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental health and wellness.
Who is vulnerable to brainwashing?
Anyone can be vulnerable to brainwashing, but certain groups of people are more susceptible to its effects. People who are in a vulnerable state such as those who have already experienced psychological trauma or those with mental illness are more prone to being manipulated by those with powerful persuasive techniques. Additionally, children, the elderly, and people from marginalized communities may face greater risks when it comes to being brainwashed.
Brainwashing can involve several steps:
Isolation of a person being brainwashed can involve several steps:
- Removing the individual from support systems, family, and friends.
- Restricting access to outside sources of information or ideas.
- Keeping the person in physical confinement or removing any sense of freedom by controlling all aspects of day-to-day life such as food, clothing, and activities.
- Engaging in psychological manipulation techniques such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, shame tactics, and other forms of covert aggression.
- Introducing fear by making the person feel powerless and without control over their own destiny or circumstances.
Attack on self-esteem can involve several steps:
1. Criticizing and belittling the person creates a sense of inadequacy and worthlessness.
2. Blaming the person for any mistakes or failures and denying any positive contributions they may have made.
3. Telling the person they are not good enough or that they will never be successful or accomplished in life.
4. Engaging in subtle forms of control such as telling them how to dress, how to behave, or what their opinions should be.
5. Sabotaging the person’s efforts at success or autonomy in order to maintain control over them and their belief system.
Us vs. Them
1. Creating an “us versus them” mentality by instilling fear and mistrust of anyone who is “different” from the group.
2. Rewriting history or making up stories to reinforce the ideologies of the group and suppress any evidence that doesn’t support their view.
3. Consolidating power by silencing dissenting voices, discouraging independent thinking, and creating an environment where dissent will not be tolerated.
4. Imposing strict rules and punishments that condition members of the group to conform to the beliefs of the leader in order to avoid punishment or censure.
5. Demonizing any groups or individuals who do not agree with the ideals of the leader or the group, creates a sense of fear and hatred towards those outside of the group’s control.
Obedience by a brainwashed person can involve several steps:
1. Following orders without question, even if the orders are immoral or unethical.
2. Believing that the leader is infallible and has their best interests in mind at all times.
3. Feeling a sense of shame or guilt when they go against the leader’s instructions or beliefs.
4. Justifying any action taken by the leader as righteous and necessary, regardless of how harmful it may be to others.
5. Refusing to accept any criticism of the leader or questioning of their authority, in fear of repercussions from the group or its leaders.
How to stop brainwashing
Stopping brainwashing requires a conscious effort to recognize and challenge any authority figures or narratives that attempt to control one’s thinking and behavior. To do this, it is important to:
1. Take responsibility for one’s own thoughts and decisions.
2. Question the leader’s beliefs whenever necessary.
3. Speak up when something does not feel right or it feels like peer pressure is being exerted on them to conform to group ideals.
4. Resist any attempts at control and manipulation from external sources, even if it involves a degree of risk.
5. Seek out and listen to different opinions in order to gain a better perspective on reality.