Brainwashing techniques are more common than you think. In fact, you could be subject to brainwashing in your daily life.

Most of us associate brainwashing with covert Cold War spy operations and old black and white movies. But brainwashing techniques are used far more commonly than you would think, and in the modern day world.

People who want to manipulate a person or a situation will often use brainwashing so that they can have the upper hand, but before we start to examine what kind of brainwashing techniques they use, what exactly is brainwashing?

What is brainwashing

Brainwashing is a process by which a person or group uses underhand methods to persuade others to the will of the person who is manipulating them.

But where does honest persuasion stop and brainwashing start? There are many forms of persuasion used today, particularly in politics. For example, a simple way of persuading a crowd to go along with your instructions is to firstly state a couple of things that provoke a ‘yes’ response, then add things that are true facts, and finally suggest what you want them to do:

“Are you fed up with paying too much at the gas stations? Are you sick of rising healthcare costs? Do you want to see an end to austerity? Well you know that the government has stated that austerity will continue, they will not stop rises in fuel and they are overseeing the highest costs in healthcare since the Second World War! If you want change vote Democrats.”

You wouldn’t call these brainwashing techniques, more like subtle persuasion, so what are the techniques used by manipulators?

Here are the most common ones to look out for:

Isolation

The first tactic to be used in brainwashing is typically to isolate the victim away from their friends and family. The reason for doing this is so that the victim only has the manipulator to talk to, to get their information and ideas from, and they do not have to worry about any third party coming in and questioning what’s going on.

Attacks on self-esteem

Now that the victim has been isolated, he or she has to be broken down so that the manipulation can start rebuilding them in the image they desire. A person can only be brainwashed if their manipulator is in a superior position to them. These attacks could be in the form of ridiculing or mocking the victim, or intimidation.

Mental abuse

Another way a manipulator will try and brainwash their victims is by mentally torturing them. They could tell the victims lies and then embarrass them with the truth in front of others, or they could bully their victims by badgering them and not allowing them any personal space.

Physical abuse

Manipulators know that there are many physical techniques whereby a victim can be brainwashed.

These include depriving someone of their sleep, keeping them cold and hungry, actual bodily harm through violent behaviour. There are also other more subtle ways that a manipulator can use, such as keeping noise levels up, having lights that flicker on and off all the time, and lowering or raising the temperature in the room.

Repetitive music

Studies have shown that if you play a repetitive beat, most ideally one that ranges from 45 to 72 beats per minute, you can induce an extremely hypnotic state. This is because that repetition is very close to the rhythm of the beat of a human heart.

This rhythm can alter your consciousness until you have reached what is known as an Alpha state, where you are 25 times more suggestible as you would be in a Beta state.

Only allowing contact with other brainwashed members

By only allowing contact with those who are already brainwashed, the manipulator is creating a situation whereby peer pressure comes into play. Everybody wants to be liked and accepted, especially if they are the new member of the group. Adhering and promoting what the other members are saying and doing means that they will be accepted.

Us vs. Them

Again, this is all about being accepted into a group, and the best group as well. By saying that there is an Us and a Them, the manipulator is immediately offering the victim the chance to choose which group they want to belong to. Their goal is now to achieve absolute obedience and loyalty.

Love Bombing

This is a tactic whereby the victim is drawn into the group by physical touching, sharing intimate thoughts and emotional bonding, all through excessive affection and constant validation.

These are just a few ways in which a person can be brainwashed, and if you think it is easy to get them back into a normal state, you might be interested in one study by neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor. After reviewing the neural effects of brainwashed victims, she discovered that they had more rigid neural pathways than others.

This could suggest that this is why brainwashed people find it hard to rethink their situation once they have been brainwashed.

References:

  1. http://lifehacker.com
  2. http://www.bbk.ac.uk
  3. http://www.wikihow.com
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org
Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

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the power of misfits

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Avatar
    divine spirit

    you did not mention how people who micro-manage others from guests to family are actually manipulating. who would know when they manipulate with a smile on their face and you thinkyou are doing the right thing. these people are hard to spot but they do exist as with my sister in law and estranged brother…they control my nephews and everyone else who follow their seemingly good intent. Beware…peace

  2. Avatar
    Theresa Arita

    Great intro synopsis – most are found on the famed Wheel of Power and Control used to help domestic violence victims also. Don’t forget Stockholm Syndrome, which makes debriefing tricky if not impossible The advertising industry seems to have the secrets down pat for sure! I wish more was written about it to expose it and empower people to think clearly for themselves.

  3. Avatar
    Tammy

    This article was very helpful in helping me understand what happened to my teenage niece by a monster predator. The sad thing is, there’s doesn’t seem to be much support for family and friends to learn 1)understanding what happened to their loved one and 2) How to help your loved one. My naive teenage niece was manipulated by a 48 year old man during the most vulnerable time of her life, the loss of her father. He’s been in jail for the last few months and she has come a long way but it’s very evident that he has a very strong hold on her. My fear is that he’ll get out soon as he’s an effective manipulator and all the progress she’s made will be for nothing as she does not see her situation as abnormal. Anyway, I just wished there was something I could read or someone to talk too about her situation and how we can best help her.

  4. Avatar
    Tammy

    Who can a person turn to for help/coaching to help a loved one who has been brainwashed? There’s a lot of self help books but for this subject matter, one would have to recognize they are a victim of brainwashing. I’ve been searching for support on how to help my family member. Any thoughts/ideas would be greatly appreciated!

  5. Avatar
    Stephen smith

    My girlfriend of 23 years in the past year has been seeing a life coach that she worked for cleaning her house. since then she started acting distant from me and then all of the sudden while I was at work moved all my things out and you are friends of hers house and told me that’s where I was going to live from now on. After me drilling on her on why she did this she said that her life coach wanted her to find an inner purpose. Since then she won’t talk to me you won’t see me we have a sixteen-year-old daughter together and I would like to see them both and talk to them but I feel she’s being brainwashed any advice please anyone.

  6. Avatar
    Doree

    Solidifies what I already suspected: especially concerning repetitive music and isolation. This is scary stuff: so many people do not recognize that EVIL is at work, and blinding accepting what is being presented.

  7. Avatar
    Travis

    I think its happening to me and what’s even worse is that I’m being made to think that I am crazy because No one is around when it’s. Going on

  8. Avatar
    Michelle

    You actually can be brainwashed by someone who is in a position of “inferiority” to you. It’s actually easier to manipulate someone when they believe you are their subordinate.

  9. Avatar
    Chris Kalkbrenner

    This sounds precisely what I went through in Marine Corps Bootcamp. Then, four years there after. It took quite awhile to rid myself of the techniques that were used on me.

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