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Jackson, M. (1963). The Manipulation of Human Behaviour, edited by A. D. Bidermann and H. Zimmer. London, New York, John Wiley, 1961. pp. 323. 64s.. J. Anal. Psychol., 8(1):93-94.

(1963). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 8(1):93-94

The Manipulation of Human Behaviour, edited by A. D. Bidermann and H. Zimmer. London, New York, John Wiley, 1961. pp. 323. 64s.

Review by:
Murray Jackson

This is a book about the interrogation of prisoners. In recent years there has been great public interest in this question and many sensational accounts have appeared about the supposed efficacy of “brain-washing”, “thought reform”, ideological conversion, and the extraction of false confessions. Some of these accounts resemble medieval treatises on demonology rather than scientific documents. In them, and in popular mythology, the archetypal figure of the wizard appears as the scientist who, as servant of “the enemy”, uses his magic on the helpless prisoner. This notion is founded on paranoid thinking and fascination with the ambivalence of omnipotent domination and impotent submission. Although this myth does seem to correspond to some aspects of current reality, this book shows that the facts, however bad they may be, are not quite so desperate.

Although human beings may be depersonalized and treated as “sources” of information (and even in this enlightened book a prisoner is referred to as a “captive source”), they are, if reasonably stable, surprisingly resistant to permanent ideological change. Although information may often be extracted by coercive measures, it may well be of doubtful validity.

The seven original papers which comprise the book were written by psychologists and psychiatrists with special experience in the field of interrogation. Each paper is a review of the scientific work available on the subject of eliciting factual information from an unwilling victim. The established and potential uses of drugs, hypnotism, perceptual isolation, and interpersonal influence are some of the methods discussed. As factual and scientific studies of what is actually known about the subject of influence, the papers are a valuable antidote to the sinister and sensational mythologies of the “hidden persuader” variety.

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