The main difference between brainwashing and conventional education is the time lapse between the introduction of new ideas and the acceptance of these ideas. Conventional education is the imparting of certain information to beings (children or otherwise) who are not in a position to question the validity of their education, through lack of experience. The brainwasher on the other hand does not feed propaganda into an empty, receptive vessel, but into the minds of people who have been previously educated and posess pre-set ideas and life styles. It is the job of the brainwasher to first wipe out these pre-set ideas and turn the mind into a cleanly washed, receptive vessel for the introduction of a new doctrine of rules, beliefs and disinformation.
The idea of brainwashing through a form of sensory deprivation (ie. total isolation in which the main sense organs are deprived of stimulation) is not new. Solitary confinement — the ‘softening up’ period – became routine for prisoners of communists awaiting indoctrination during the Korean War.
In the 1960s experiments were carried out in American laboratories to measure the effect of sensory deprivation on susceptibility to propaganda. Firstly the scientists attempted to produce attitude change favourable to Turkey in volunteer subjects whose attitude was originally neutral. One half of the group of subjects was confined under conditions of sensory deprivation (isolation in a small cubicle without light or sound), while the other half remained unrestricted but within the building. After 24 hours all subjects were played a tape of Turkish propaganda under conditions of sensory deprivation. After questioning it was found that the subjects confined for 24 hours changed their attitudes on average 8 times more favourably towards Turkey than the unrestricted subjects.
From these studies scientists developed a ‘superior system of brainwashing’ which is capable, for example, of coverting a subject from one strongly held viewpoint to another which he previously found repulsive. The process consists of placing the subject in sensory deprivation for 4 days. An experience so monotonous that he will actively seek almost any form of novelty. After 4 days of such calculated emotional stress, 2 switches are introduced to the subject without any instruction. Switch ‘A’ triggers a 50 second speech in favour of his current religion. Switch ‘B’ a 30 second speech in favour of the opposing religion. The difference being that switch ‘A’ always gives the same recording • of the same speech, whereas switch *B’ gives a different 30 second speech read by a different voice. The monotony of sensory deprivation would soon become associated with the monotony of the repititious speech from switch ‘A’. A desire for novelty would compel the subject to listen to his ‘captors propaganda’ through his own choice. (The subject who continually chooses switch ‘A’ may also suffer, as such a repitition of his beliefs may result in a weakening of the meaning behind the words. Through monotony they are transformed from passion rousing slogans into empty meaningless sounds).
Once the point of breakdown is reached and the subject begins to listen to the opposing propaganda he is given the chance to improve his miserable conditions. Still in darkness he is questioned and rewarded with perhaps some light or a less repetitious diet if he shows signs of conversion. This change is not overtly forced but subtly induced through the subjects craving for novelty. A craving which is greater in a highly intelligent subject than one with a lower IQ. But the conversion of the more intelligent would be less permanent as he would probably be more capable of understanding the brainwashing system and so be able to reverse the process once released from conditions of sensory deprivation. Personality is another factor affecting the results of this ‘superior brainwashing’: it is predictable that subjects more likely stressed by sensory deprivation and hence more influenced by propaganda are individuals who accept well presented information at face value without considering their own knowledge and experience. Scientists dubbed these ‘concrete’ individuals. ‘Abstract’ individuals, who evaluated information by utilizing their total experience – past and present, were on average 4 times more difficult to convert than ‘concrete’ subjects.
As far as ‘mental abnormalities* go, hysterics are more likely to respond to dramatic group conversions such as religious revivalist meetings than this subtle indoctrination. Psychopaths do not in general respond either. But it is generally accepted that the apparently normal healthy extrovert is the most vunerable to this superior system of brainwashing.’
Steven R. Scott.