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How Brainwashing Works

September 6, 2018


How brainwashing works: repetition, thought-reform, and social influence. Other people try to change the individuals’ opinions through social influence. Cult leaders are such successful brainwashers only because they use repetition. They break people down by not letting them get enough sleep. Persuasion goes for a change in attitude so that a person thinks that they do something that will make them more successful. Brainwashing is all about compliance, persuasion, and education. Education is all about social-influence when somebody is told that what he or she is doing is the right thing to do. The agent requires control over the person being brainwashed.



Sleep patterns, using the bathroom and other basic needs, all of them dependent on the will of the person doing the brainwashing. In my childhood, I lacked a lot of sleep. I still don’t know what it is like to sleep the whole night. Brainwashing is thought-reform, often done by communist states on this planet to their prisoners. Korean War POWs were not converted to communism much at all. The steps of brainwashing are 1. Assault on identity, 2. Guilt, 3. Self-betrayal, 4. Breaking point, 5. Leniency, 6. Compulsion to confess, 7. Channeling of guilt, 8. Release of guilt, 9. Progress and harmony, 10. Final confession and rebirth.


Sleep deprivation and malnutrition all have a role in the brainwashing process. A target has to be attacked for days on end until they crack. The guilt comes from an identity crisis induced in the target as the second step of brainwashing. The abuser then tries to make the target agree that they are bad, so in which case alleviating the target’s guilt when the agreement is made. When the target reaches a breaking point, this means the target goes through an existential nervous breakdown wondering who they are.


Once the sense of self is betrayed, the target doesn’t necessarily stray from what they are told to believe. Patty Hearst was an heir to a large fortune who got kidnapped and forced to participate in a bank robbery. She was sentenced to 7 years in prison but released after 2 because she still claimed she was brainwashed by her cult, which was called the Symbionese Liberation Army, or a political cult. Brainwashing victims cannot tell right from wrong. Some believe that large-scale brainwashing is not possible since brainwashing requires short-term thought reform isolations. Isolation is required to truly brainwash somebody but it may not happen on a grand scale.












Works Cited



From → Health, Psychology

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