Brainwashing isn’t a secretive event that takes place in hidden rooms. No hypnotists or vials full of chemicals are required. It takes place every day on a massive scale across the United States.
Unlike Raymond Shaw in The Manchurian Candidate, brainwashing does not turn people into hypnotized zombies who would be ready to kill a presidential candidate at a command. Instead, it transforms them into the sort of people who would be willing to kill someone for political reasons.
The distinction is why so few people understand the sources of political radicalism and violence.
Brainwashing isn’t magic, but it can look like magic. The sleight of hand that causes us to think so is our firm belief in our reason and free will. It’s easier to believe in changing minds through hypnotism and drugs, than to understand, what the successful practitioners of brainwashing do, that the human mind is more malleable than we like to think, and that the subconscious is more powerful than the conscious.
The art and science of brainwashing is well known. We don’t know it because we choose not to.
Brainwashing happens every day. It doesn’t have to mean a complete transformation of identity. On the simplest level, it means compelling someone to believe something that isn’t true.
It’s as simple as two cops browbeating an innocent suspect into believing that he’s guilty. The officers and the suspect won’t see their interaction as brainwashing. The officers can honestly believe in his guilt. And, at the end of the process, the suspect will also believe that he committed the crime. He will even be able to describe in great detail how he committed it. That’s common, everyday brainwashing.
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