“…They took over the Pavlovian experiments on animals and extended them to people. They did so with the objective of changing human nature and creating a “new Soviet man.” People, they anticipated, would react voluntarily under Pavlovian pressures, in the way the dog does, to Communist orders, exactly as ants do in their collectivized society.
MR. ARENS: What were the results of their application of these techniques to people?
MR. HUNTER: We have been witnessing the results without knowing how they came about for 30 years and more. We saw the first results in the Moscow trials, when the Old Bolsheviks, who had dedicated their lives to Communist ideology and had successfully captured the Russian Revolution away from the democratic elements, appeared in open court and beat their breast and pleaded for execution as traitors to the Bolshevism they had set up. We heard confessions that came from the mouths of these people, but which no sense to us because they fit into no logical framework that we could as true. We saw such developments go on, not only with a small group of people picked for trial, but in a curiously similar fashion with large parts of the population in Communist areas, in their schools and in their villages. We saw the fine brain of Cardinal Mindszenty cracked in open court, and heard him brand himself everything we all knew the cardinal was not.”
(Excerpt from HUAC investigation, 85th Congress)
Now that I’ve got your attention….
We are controlled everyday, in every way, continuously, and without any recognition of what is taking place. Much of this is deliberate, and is in part by explicit intention; another part is without the awareness of either controller or “controlee.”
I first started thinking about this subject in 1967, when I can across a remarkable book, “Man the Manipulator” by Everett L. Shostrom. [i] In it, the author discusses the subject of manipulation by advertisers, and for the first time as far as I know. While this was recognized in a general sense, as it applied to advertising, it was not generally known—or taught—that there existed a vast science of behavior modification and manipulation, which has been continued and perfected over the last half a century.
After the Korean War, and after brainwashing by the Chinese and North Koreans during the Korean War years[ii] became common knowledge, the general idea of mind manipulation came into the public awareness; but this was considered a world apart and away from Madison Avenue. Unfortunately, these are not as far apart as one might think.
As I have discussed in previous article, there exists a well-documented history of the creation and use of such manipulation. These methods of control, which could be considered abusive and intrusive, are unfortunately well documented; and I can think of no better single source than “The Search for the Manchurian Candidate” by John Marks. In particular, the appearance of Cardinal Josef Mindszenty, who publicly confessed crimes that clearly he did not commit, was the first public demonstration of such a state.
As I described in my previous article, there is a long, deliberate history of such experimentation, starting in the U.S. and in Canada, at virtually every major known American university. They were exported to Nazi Germany, where they were continued under the cover of war but financed generously and independently, and subsequently returned to this country to be continued as MKULTRA, Operation Paperclip, and others. Joost Meerloo a doctor, who was on both sides of the interrogation process, gives one of the more graphic descriptions, and describes this is unnerving detail in “The Rape of the Mind.” I strongly advise anyone who know that they may be triggered by such graphic descriptions to be aware before reading.
Lest anyone think that that’s “all in the past,” think again: As recently as 1995, experimentation in 1991 at Vacaville State Prison in California was documented in a series of articles by Harry Martin and David Caul, in The “Napa Sentinel.”
The apocryphal document on the subject is the notorious “Greenbaum Speech,” another landmark document, originally entitled “Hypnosis in MPD” (Multiple Personality Disorder) and written by Dr. D. Corydon Hammond. For anyone wishing to read this, I strongly urge him or her to be aware that it is virtually assured that this can and will trigger any previously implanted material.
Finally, Carole Smith, a respected Psychoanalyst, has attempted to draw together in a responsible way the history of mental experimentation with its attendant production of mental disorders, with the need for classification as found in the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical and Disease Manual for mental disorders) in “On the Need for New Criteria of Diagnosis of Psychosis in the Light of Mind Invasive Technology.” The fact that such technology exists is now beyond any reasonable doubt.
The use of less physically intrusive yet very influential methods has been codified in the field of Neuro linguistic Programming (NLP:)
This was developed about 1973 by Richard Bandler and Dr. Robert Grinder. Although Bandler is the most known expositor and advocate, he remains quite controversial; yet his influence is beyond question. Robert Grinder is a Professor of linguistics. Bandler got the idea from the work of the highly respected Psychoanalyst and master hypnotist, Dr. Milton Erickson.
We all have heard or have seen people hypnotized by a stage hypnotist. Most hypnotists will tell you that it is not possible to hypnotize people against their will; yet they all know this is a barefaced lie. Should you doubt this, ask yourself one simple question: Do you seriously think that any of those hypnotized subjects would do—or could do—the things that they do in a non-hypnotized, waking state?
The most important idea that has evolved, any controversy regarding ethics or efficacy notwithstanding, is the recognition of the very power and subtlety of words and gestures, used in explicit and learned fashion, so as to influence the thoughts and actions of others, and to do so by design, without the explicit permission of the subject or subjects. It is no longer necessary—nor even practicable–to induce a “formal” hypnotic trance state to achieve the desired effects, nor is it necessary to resort to the historically harsher.
What is crucial for most of us to understand is that, absent any personal and grotesque experiences with mind control or formal programming, the power of “trance” used in a generic sense, is omnipresent. Dr. Adam Crabtree has written “Trance Zero–The Psychology of Maximum Experience.” It describes the power of trance to influence individuals, groups, and even nations.[iii]
How does one know if they have been so influenced or if others have been?
Ironically, the proof is often staring us in the face. Have you ever asked yourself—how on earth can he or she believe such-and-such a story? Sometimes we are not even sure if a speaker, or news commentator, or whoever—actually believes what they are saying. The truth of the matter, however, is often more subtle:
There are degrees of awareness; and in those cases where we know that what we are hearing is patently absurd or indefensible, that speaker may have started by knowing better; but over a period of time, by virtue of their motivation, known or unknown, they have come to be convinced otherwise.
Case in point: Nazi Germany. Or coming perhaps close to home, the gullibility of the American public in the face of the policies of George W. Bush.
To confound the picture further, even though we can actually be aware of the influences upon us and yet be virtually incapable of changing our behavior, even though we wish to do so.
Several years ago, a little-known book caught my eye, entitled “The Action Approach,” by George Weinberg, PhD.[iv] In the introduction to the book, the author quotes William James, the great American Psychologist and writer who said, (and I paraphrase,) it is generally understood that thought can lead to action; but what is not generally recognized is that action can profoundly influence thought: We get “in the habit” of doing things in a certain way, and we unconsciously assume that that’s the way things have to be.
This last point is crucial: We often wonder how on earth political leaders can continue to say the same, ridiculous things and the most inane rationalizations for what is occurring or is being done, when common sense dictates the contrary. What we fail to realize is that the speaker knows the simple truth at least as well as you or I know it; but what he also knows is that if he keeps repeating it over and over, in the fact of the fact that we do nothing to change it—either because we cannot or will not—the profound psychological effect is the same. Unconsciously, we will come to believe that the connection is inevitable. (Weinberg suggests exercises to reverse this process.)
onsider the song from “The King and I:”
“Whenever I feel afraid
I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune
So no one will suspect
Later on, we hear:
“The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear
I fool myself as well.”
Please take this very seriously. Several years ago there was a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The customers were taken hostage and held for several days, clearly against their will. Days later when the authorities came subsequently to rescue the hostages, not only did they not welcome the police, but many of them actually threw themselves in front of the robbers in an attempt to shield them from being killed in a hail of bullets. This phenomenon is recognized as “The Stockholm Syndrome.”
It was I believe the film “Bridge over the River Kwai,” in which the leader of a British force captured by the Japanese is ordered to build a bridge. At first, with resistance, then with reluctance, he begins to build the bridge. By the time the Allied forces come to rescue him and his men, he was at the point of attacking his allies in order to defend his creation. In one dramatic moment, he looks squarely at the camera and says, with quiet horror, “My God! What have I done?”
On a wider scale, we see this behavior in the success of cults. On the other hand, cutting off a person from the outside world, constantly and repetitively indoctrinating them, and accompanying this with threats of social group disapproval on the one hand, and loving acceptance based upon obedience, on the other, can drastically change a person’s behavior changed in a chillingly short period of time.
The aspect of the appeal to authority, in whatever form, is profound in its effect. Several years ago Stanley Milgram and his co-workers did an experiment to see the extent to which this appeal could actually override life long instilled moral values. Milgram was influenced by the apparent willingness of Adolph Eichman and others of the German people to participate in the depravity of the experiments conducted during the Second World War. He was horrified to discover how easily an appeal from an abstract authority figure could contradict a personal moral code.
Very well then, how do we rise above such influences, so as to be truly free and independent in thought and action?
The very first thing to do is to be aware of the issue. The purpose of this discussion is to give some background and basic awareness of the subject and the magnitude of the problem and its influence. The second step is to assume that we are unaware—that we are, in fact, under such an influence unknowingly. Operationally, this is a wise assumption.
Now here’s the hard part: The medieval philosopher Spinoza said that, in order truly to discuss or debate an issue, you must first be able to state your opponent’s viewpoint—to their satisfaction. So the next step is to seek out those who disagree with us, and in particular those who rankle us for precisely that reason. If you are a Liberal, seek out a Conservative; and if Conservative, find yourself a Liberal.
State your position to that person; and ask them to respond. Don’t rebut what is said. Continue to revise your understanding of their point of view until they are satisfied with your final version of their point of view. This may—and usually does—require making some assumptions on your part, and for the purpose of discussion. Remember, your interest is truly selfish: you want to be right. So your task is to find the right, or winning position, as you understand it, to your satisfaction, and to no one else’s satisfaction.
That field of knowledge that has to do with words and the origins of their meanings is known as “Semantics.” Alfred Korzybski created the term and the initial body of knowledge so defined. Sessue Hayakawa, who later became a senator from California, popularized the field in his magnum opus “Language in Thought and Action.” The book is informative and yet highly entertaining. I can think of no better way to start to become aware of language and of its subtle influences upon us than to read this book.
How do we become aware of the motives behind the words and actions of others—friends, relatives and political leaders? How do we not only become aware that others are attempting to influence us, but how do we know their agendas, hidden from us and often hidden from themselves? There are several techniques for accomplishing this. This will be the purpose of my next article.
…to be continued.
[i] Despite several new editions, which clearly show a demand for the book, not one person has written a review of the book on “Amazon.com,” a fact which is distinctly counter-intuitive; however[i] Amazon picked up the book long after the first edition, which was in 1967.
[ii] See “The Manchurian Candidate” both the original film and the remake.
[iii] Crabtree unfortunately is “entranced” with his highly convoluted notions, which are the thrust of his book; however, he does touch upon the ability to influence groups and even civilizations; and the recognition of that fact in my view is the most significant part of his book.
[iv] The author speaks of what he calls the “Direct effect,” the “indirect effect,” and the “vantage point effect.” There are enormous implications in this. If interested, please contact me. Moss David Posner, M.D.