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The Study of Man: The Science of Thought Control

- Abstract

THE EVENTS OF the past thirty years have created a kind of monstrous laboratory for the study of the enslavement of the human ego. The Moscow Trials confronted us with the spectacle of a man who had been brought into morbid alliance with his own persecutors, a man who confessed to crimes he had never committed, professed beliefs that negated his own history, and held “truths” that contradicted the evidence of his own senses. In an ecstasy of self-abomination many of these accused men demanded the extreme penalty from their judges. Later, we learned through Hitler’s concentration camps that systematic terror and degradation can strip personality to its naked foundations, that hunger and extreme peril can enslave a man to his persecutors, and that when the work of enslavement is completed the rags of personality can be made over so that a man finally comes to resemble his own jailers.

It was the Chinese Communists who gave us the term “brainwashing” and demonstrated through the conversion of Western civilians and prisoners of war that their methods of thought reform were not to be conceived of as a kind of black magic practiced by totalitarian regimes upon passive and enslaved citizens. The reports of our own repatriated prisoners of war collapsed a whole body of popular theories. We were without any explanation for the fact that a man born to freedom and reared in a democratic creed should surrender a part of his mind to his enemy. Official and public reaction was, in itself, without precedent in history. There were no denunciations of the converts and the collaborators as traitors, or any public demonstrations against them. They were visited by psychiatric teams appointed by their government, and brought back as mentally afflicted men.

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