"Confess, for we have already proved you a liar," was one
of the constant cries of the brainwasher.
Clarity of mind was needed to see through all this. How
could a chap xxith only a few years of education and little
or no Sunday school, who had gone directly into the military as a raw recruit, who found himself in Korea a few
months later and in a p.o.w. camp a few months after
that — all before his twenty-first birthday — see through
such sleight-of-hand, while people at home were daily
falling for card sharks, quack doctors, and Communist
fronts? Yet such was part of the personal story of many.
The psychoanalyst, Dr. Leon Freedom, calls brainwashing corticovisceral psychiatry. Here is part of his explanation :
"The Reds apply pressure on the simple, fundamental
traits of the isolated individual. The indoctrinator carefully differentiates between various types of people.
"One type inspires confidence, is a leader. The reticent
type can sit in an office for six months without his colleagues' knowing his name. The mild type is as gentle as
a bunny rabbit. There is the hard, cantankerous type,
sometimes vicious or ex-en evil. The worry bird is full of
doubts. The impulsive type wants to do everything right
then and there. The apathetic type isn't aroused by anything.
"These different kinds of people all have subconscious
needs. Sometimes they are unaware of them. Conflict arises
between the responses that a man knows he has, ancl those
suppressed. Nobody actually realizes what goes on in his
own subconscious. The brainxvasher is trained to increase
such conflict and to manipulate these responses.
"Every man has basic needs. Frustration brings a sense
of defeat. The brainwasher knows what a very useful tool
defeatism is to communism. Either frustration or a sense
of defeat leads to resentment. Out of resentment the
indoctrinator creates hostility.
"Only one short step separates hostility from outright
hate. Communism puts great emphasis on hate. Without
a foundation in hatred, communism would perish. The
brainwasher foments hate to achieve his main objective:
some pro-Communist activity. The customary reaction of
a person fostering a hostility or a hate is to project it
outside himself. The planners decide the direction that
this projection takes. The importance of this cannot be
"The individual who blames another for his mistakes is
using this projection mechanism. The indoctrinator keeps
working at the hostile fee-ling already in the [screened |
individuals. Guilt feelings also are aroused. The brainwasher, during entire contact with the individual, attempts
to soxv doubt in his mind. Doubt leads to tension. Tension
leads to fear. Fear has given communism some- astounding
victories. A deadly spiral is set up anel the brainwasher
keeps it spinning until the man breaks.
"Out of fear comes desire to retaliate. This is the re-action toward which the brainwasher lias been working all
the time. Once aroused, he- has only to project it against
whatever the- Reels want to strike. This desire to retaliate
max- be directed against the man himself. Then he eagerly
plays the martyr."
Dr. Freedom stressed that the traits which were deliberately encouraged by the brainwasher were the same as
those he himself diagnosed in his clinic as illness or mentid
upset. The Reds used the highly-specialized knowledge of
medical science to take balanced minds and make them
unbalanced. This approach, and this alone, is their contribution to modern thought. The most diabolical intrigues
of the past never descended to such dark, unstirred depths.
There is something revolting and against nature in it. This
is not easy for the normal mind to grasp. Once realization
dawns on a person, he is revolted by it.
The all-too-human response to such shocking information is, "I just won't believe it." Pavlov called this type °*
reaction, "conditioned inhibition." He was dealing with
the reflexes of animals, but thc comparison with humans is
perfect. When brainwashing is exposed, people instinctively want to fight it — if only out of a sense of self-
preservation. That is why the totalitarian state can survive
only by maintaining an iron curtain: what Dr. Freedom
calls a conditioned or controlled environment.
The Reds themselves have thought up nothing. Dr. Freedom says, "All they have done is to take what free science
developed and use it in a way that would ordinarily be
considered mad. Their objective is solely to make minds
sick, not healthy; to create frustrations ancl fan them into
hates, so they can be projected against their own subject8
ancl against the free world."
I also discussed with Dr. Freedom the weird emphasis
that the Reds put on confession. They borrowed it fronl
religion for purposes of politics, but used it in a way thin
put it into the psychiatrist's field.
Victims of brainwashing, including returned p.o.w.s,
frequently told me their brainwasher went into a tantrum-
becoming almost panicky, in his insistence on a confession-
The inquisitors were under the same pressures as others
to accomplish the- task set, to fulfill their work quota. »
they failed, they were severely penalized, as any other
worker in this dog-oat-dog system. Fear permeates botn
sides, in the confession ritual. Confession becomes a desperate form of play-acting.
The sole- stability, they teach, is the eternal verity <"
the Communist cause-. They consider as truth only that
which upholds the Communist line; all else is untruth, lies'
Good is what advances communism. Bad is what hurt8
communism. No exceptions are recognized. No relig1011
has ever been more fanatical.
Such fanaticism, which in the ease of the individual has
already crossed the line between mental imbalance an'
actual insanity, is being induced on a national scale ">'
the Reels, xxith a world scale the ultimate objective, I"*
calculated creation of national neurosis is incontroccrtil"1'
tbe greatest threat ever posed against human society-
Dr. Freedom is again epioteel: "The perversion of tin'-'"
peutic techniques by political authorities of the totalitarian
countries requires exhaustive study in order to counte-iac
aiul defeat it."
How It Can Be Beat
Communism, by applying Pavlov's findings to old \V**5™
of influencing minds, appears to many realistic people as
unbeatable strategy. The Reels discovered that science, h"
fire, can be used more easily for destruction than constriction, and have chosen that way.
This gave rise to a defeatist state of mind: "Every ma1
has his breaking point." The Commies endlessly repea
their hopelessness-inevitability line: in a Soviet prison "'
at an internationalist conference, it is always present.
What struck me is the Communists' fear of the xx'"1'
Facts For, xi \i.ws, December, 1956