Brainwashing is also a term used by cults to attack religions, many of which are cult-like in nature, but whose religion differs from the basic dogma of their own. Anti-cult organizations have a cult mentality in them and therefore make it difficult for other groups to advocate or educate about the real psychopathology of brainwashing. The extent to which they do this varies from group to group, with varying degrees of success and effectiveness.
Brainwashing, also known as mind control, is a complex process that overrides the normal beliefs, will and desires of a person and replaces them with the beliefs of the person or group who is doing the brainwashing. In other words, people fall for it and blur the distinction between brainwashing and educational indoctrination. It gets really sticky when modern cults have perfected various techniques and tactics, the most ironic of which is the ability to play the role of an organization that promotes free will and fights against organizations that promote “free will,” while conveniently defining “brainwashing” in such a way that it does not involve its own mind – control.
For example, a sect leader may show a warm and friendly tendency to gain a person’s trust and then break it by calling them by name, forcing them to work, or using other forms of abuse. These abuses are then enforced by threats of physical violence against the person and his or her family, making them totally dependent on the sect leader. If you are in a sect or in an abusive relationship, you cannot behave as you think.
People often think that brainwashing is done by evil people with torture devices in a far away place or by a nasty person. The resulting manipulator controls your brain and your ability to make decisions, control your thoughts and control your decisions. Brainwashing is a serious form of social influence that causes a change of mindset without the consent of that person, often against their will and without their consent. In reality, one in four people is a psychopath and narcissist, and that is precisely what they do. Brainwashing, i.e. a factor of influence, actively dismantles the identity of the target and replaces it with behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that work against his or her current environment. Influence is a form of social influence that requires total isolation and dependence on the subject, whether by force, coercion or other forms of coercion such as intimidation of the goal.
This is often an extension of everyday belief, going beyond controlling the way a person thinks and reacts in general, to the point of limiting critical thinking itself, to simply selling a single idea or decision based on the information and decisions presented. The purpose of brainwashing is to feel that one is being forced against the will of another. If you doubt the validity of what you believe in, or the wisdom of a particular belief system, or even your own beliefs, you may experience Stockholm syndrome.
Julia Layton’s “How Stuff Works” presents three ways we can experience thought reform. Educational methods essentially involve propaganda, persuasion methods use control and conditioning that can cause altered perceptions, and compliance methods merely serve to do something. On the contrary, social influence is an integral part of the definition of what it means to be human. The general use of the term implies a sense of freedom, where one can see an opposite point of view, but perhaps this is unjustified. In the field of social influence, psychology has come under the influence of what is often called “thought reform”: the use of cognitive behavioral therapy.
There are a number of ways in which people can change other people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Compliance methods, for example, are not geared to a person’s attitude or beliefs, but are aimed at changing their behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as brainwashing, is the use of certain psychological techniques that can alter or control the human mind.
The Oxford English Dictionary records the earliest known use of the term in the English language in an article by journalist Edward Hunter published in the Miami News on September 24, 1950. The term “brainwashing” was first used in English in 1950 by Edward Hunter to describe how the Chinese government seemed to get people to cooperate with them. Research on this concept has also examined the effects of brainwashing on people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, as well as their mental health.