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Meerloo, J.A. (1958). Brainwashing and Menticide: Some Implications of Conscious and Unconscious Thought Control. Psychoanal. Rev., 45A(1/2):83-99.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Review, 45A(1/2):83-99

Brainwashing and Menticide: Some Implications of Conscious and Unconscious Thought Control

Joost A. M. Meerloo

During the last thirty years several political agencies have tried to misuse psychological and psychiatric experience to further their private aims. Active psychological warfare and political mental torture are now accepted concepts in totalitarian countries. A prime result of the political pressure, both overt and unobtrusive, has been a cynical re-evaluation of human values. A new profession of specialists has emerged whose task it is not to cure, but to aggravate and manipulate the weaknesses of selected victims so that they might become more easily amenable to influence, and to prescribed political ideologies.

We may define such planned enforcement of ideas and mental coercion applied as a political tool as “thought control.” The provocation of false confessions in the service of political propaganda can be defined as “brainwashing” or “menticide.” The United Nations defined the systematic suppression, starvation and killing of minorities as the crime of genocide, the murder of a species. The new more subtle crime is menticide, the murder of the potentialities of the free creative mind.

I wish to say no more at this time concerning the obviously sensational impact of this problem of brainwashing. It is interesting to know, however, why people reacted so hysterically and dramatically to the first detailed news on brainwashing. Terrible fears were aroused in them: especially the fear of conformity and the fear of the evil eye that can see through the person and magically dig the truth out of him.


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