|The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, & Brainwashing|
|Part One ♦ The Techniques of Individual Submission|
Since 1933, when a completely drugged and trial-conditioned human wreck confessed to having started the Reichstag fire in Berlin, Dr. Joost A. M. Meerloo has studied the methods by which systematic mental pressure brings people to abject submission, and by which totalitarians imprint their subjective "truth" on their victims' minds.
The first two and one-half years of World War II, Dr. Meerloo spent under the pressure of Nazi-occupied Holland, witnessing at firsthand the Nazi methods of mental torture, on more than one occasion. During this time he was able to use his psychiatric and psychoanalytic knowledge to treat some of the victims.
Then, after personal experiences with enforced interrogation, he escaped from a Nazi prison and certain death to England, where he was able, as Chief of the Psychological Department of the Netherlands Forces, to observe and study coercive methods officially. In this capacity he had to investigate not only traitors and collaborators, but also those members of the Resistance who had gone through the utmost of mental pressure. Later, as High Commissioner for Welfare, he came in closer contact with those who had gone through physical and mental torture.
After the war, he came to the United States, where his war experiences would not permit him to concentrate solely on his psychiatric practice, but compelled him to go beyond purely medical aspects to the social aspects of the problem.
As more and more cases of thought control, brainwashing, and mental coercion were disclosed - Cardinal Mindszenty, Colonel Schwable, Robert Vogeler, and others - his interest grew.
It was Dr. Meerloo who coined the word menticide, the killing of the spirit, for this peculiar crime.
His knowledge of these totalitarian procedures has been officially acknowledged; he served as an expert witness in the case of Colonel Schwable, the Marine Corps officer who, after months of subjection to physical and mental torture following his capture in Korea, was made to confess to having taken part in germ warfare.
It is Dr. Meerloo's position that through pressure on the weak points in men's makeup, totalitarian methods can turn anyone into a "traitor."
And in The Rape of the Mind he goes far beyond the direct military implications of mental torture to describing how our own culture unobtrusively shows symptoms of pressurizing people's minds.
He presents a systematic analysis of the methods of brainwashing and mental torture and coercion, and shows how totalitarian strategy, with its use of mass psychology, leads to systematized "rape of the mind."
He describes the new age of cold war with its mental terror, verbocracy, and semantic fog, the use of fear as a tool of mass submission and the problem of treason and loyalty, so loaded with dangerous confusion.
The Rape of the Mind is written for the interested layman, not only for experts and scientists.
Joost A. M. Meerloo
In his classic work on brainwashing The Rape of The Mind, Joost A. M. Meerloo says that modern education turns students into better followers and worse thinkers, and makes them susceptible to totalitarian ideologies. In chapter 16,“Education For Discipline or Higher Morale,” Meerloo says:
The paradox of universal literacy is that it may create a race of men and women who have become (just because of this new intellectual approach to life) much more receptive to the indoctrination of their teachers or leaders. Do we need conditioned adepts or freethinking students? Beyond this, our technical means of communication have caught up with our literacy. The eye that can read is immediately caught by advertising and propaganda. This is the tremendous dilemma of our epoch.
When education does not encourage free expression and discussion of dissenting ideas, even modern technology can hasten the process of the mind being turned into totalitarian channels. In the chapter 12, “The Paradox of Technology,” Meerloo says:
The dangerous paradox in the boost of living standards is that in promoting ease, it promotes idleness, and laziness. If the mind is not prepared to fill leisure time with new challenges and new endeavours, new initiative and new activities, the mind falls asleep and becomes an automaton. The god Automation devours its own children. It can make highly specialized primitives out of us.
Just as we are gradually replacing human labour by machines, so we are gradually replacing the human brain by mechanical computers, and thus increasing man's sense of unworthiness. We begin to picture the mind itself as a computing machine, as a set of electrochemical impulses and actions. The brain is an organ of the body; its structure and its actions can be studied and examined. But the mind is a very different thing. It is not merely the sum of the physiological processes in the brain; it is the unique, creative aspect of the human personality.
Unless we watch ourselves, unless we become more aware of the serious problems our technology has brought us, our entire society could turn into a kind of super-automatized state. Any breakdown of moral awareness and of the individual's sense of his own worth makes all of us more vulnerable to mental coercion.
[LINK] to original article at The Verma Report
From: The Freeman, March 1957 Issue
By Dr. J. A. M. Meerloo.
Cleveland: World Publishing Co.
This important book is written by a psychiatrist who experienced Nazi sadism at first hand in a concentration camp. After the usual nightmare adventures he reached this country and here has been used as an expert witness in the cases of American soldiers who collapsed under "brainwashing."
He has gone on record that every normal man whose mind has yet to be profoundly trained can be broken under the present skilled pressures. He is rightfully contemptuous of "truth drugs" and shows the shallowness of Russian
"Pavlovism." But his advice on preventive training sounds vague and conventional, coming from this tried and gallant defender ofliberty and the soul’s integrity.
We are told, for instance, that rats kept in luxury are soft, and so are men; that the advisory committee that drafted the code "to Govern the Conduct of American Fighting Men" was divided between the "hard Spartan view" and the more lenient. Dr. Meerloo appears to regard these as the only alternatives and to incline toward the former. But before we attempt to assess these alternatives, it is important for us to know that young Spartans were trained to be tough and violent by butchering their helots, and that almost every Spartan, given a position abroad where he could betray his hated country for money, did so.
This book contains no reference to nonviolent techniques of psychological training, such as the spiritual exercises of the Jesuits or the Buddhists. There is one reference to such new aids to concentration and character implementation as mescalin and lysurgic acid, but unfortunately it is quite uninformed. Although work in this field is still in the opening phases, those who have examined the results so far obtained believe that it holds remarkable promise for the edudation of the emotions so that they may cooperate with and actualize the directives of the reasonand the conscience.
The general public has been informed about these experiments largely through a little book by Aldous Huxley, describing what happened to him. Meerloo can dismiss Huxley’s account as not being a scientific paper, but his reference to his own negative experience twenty-five years ago is no more scientific.
These new medicaments do not "sell artificial heavens" or for that matter "artificial hells." They teach the subject swiftly and deeply to confront his true self. This knowledge may be painful or it may be a great relief. It can always be profitable. Of course, it should be given only by a medical psychiatrist skilled in the use of this aid as a producer of profound attention.
Huxley helped to further that research by acting as a subject for one of the most able. of the medical pioneers in this vital field.
To Train the Mind
Drill, discipline, esprit de corps, these are all rudimentary ways of mind-training. Auto-suggestion, meditation, contemplation, often accompanied by severe austerities were the ’ways the ascetic saints made themselves invulnerable; the intense ecstatic group field of the agape was what raised Christian martyrs above their anguish.
What we are now waiting for, Arthur Koestler has said, is a truly contemporary psychophysical technique and training manual. Whatever national community gets this first will have the initiative. This esearch is but a few years old, but its promise is great. Increasingly the answer to the challenge of psychological warfare seems to lie here, in the power to mobilize our only true defense, the inner discipline for which Dr. Meerloo pleads so convincingly.
Part One: The Techniques of Individual Submission
1. You Too Would Confess
2. Pavlov's Students as Circus Tamers
3. Medication into Submission
4. Why Do They Yield? The Psychodynamics of False Confession
Part Two: The Techniques of Mass Submission
5. The Cold War against the Mind
6. Totalitaria and its Dictatorship
7. The Intrusion by Totalitarian Thinking
8. Trial by Trial
9. Fear as a Tool of Terror
Part Three: Unobtrusive Coercion
10. The Child is Father to the Man
11. Mental Contagion and Mass Delusion
12. Technology Invades Our Minds
13. Intrusion by the Administrative Mind
14. The Turncoat in Each of Us
Part Four: In Search of Defenses
15. Training Against Mental Torture
16. Education for Discipline or Higher Morale
17. From Old to New Courage
18. Freedom -- Our Mental Backbone
The first part of this book is devoted to various techniques used to make man a meek conformist.
In addition to actual political occurrences, attention is called to some ideas born in the laboratory and to the drug techniques that facilitate brainwashing.
The last chapter deals with the subtle psychological mechanisms of mental submission.
A fantastic thing is happening in our world. Today a man is no longer punished only for the crimes he has in fact committed. Now he may be compelled to confess to crimes that have been conjured up by his judges, who use his confession for political purposes. It is not enough for us to damn as evil those who sit in judgment. We must understand what impels the false admission of guilt; we must take another look at the human mind in all its frailty and vulnerability.
During the Korean War, an officer of the United States Marine Corps, Colonel Frank H. Schwable, was taken prisoner by the Chinese Communists. After months of intense psychological pressure and physical degradation, he signed a well documented "confession" that the United States was carrying on bacteriological warfare against the enemy. The confession named names, cited missions, described meetings and strategy conferences. This was a tremendously valuable propaganda tool for the totalitarians. They cabled the news all over the world: "The United States of America is fighting the peace loving people of China by dropping bombs loaded with disease spreading bacteria, in violation of international law."
After his repatriation, Colonel Schwable issued a sworn statement repudiating his confession, and describing his long months of imprisonment. Later, he was brought before a military court of inquiry. He testified in his own defense before that court: "I was never convinced in my own mind that we in the First Marine Air Wing had used bug warfare. I knew we hadn't, but the rest of it was real to me the conferences, the planes, and how they would go about their missions."
"The words were mine," the Colonel continued, "but the thoughts were theirs. That is the hardest thing I have to explain: how a man can sit down and write something he knows is false, and yet, to sense it, to feel it, to make it seem real."
This is the way Dr. Charles W. Mayo, a leading American physician and government representative, explained brainwashing in an official statement before the United Nations: "...the tortures used...although they include many brutal physical injuries, are not like the medieval torture of the rack and the thumb screw. They are subtler, more prolonged, and intended to be more terrible in their effect. They are calculated to disintegrate the mind of an intelligent victim, to distort his sense of values, to a point where he will not simply cry out 'I did it!' but will become a seemingly willing accomplice to the complete disintegration of his integrity and the production of an elaborate fiction."
The Schwable case is but one example of a defenceless prisoner being compelled to tell a big lie. If we are to survive as free men, we must face up to this problem of politically inspired mental coercion, with all its ramifications.
It is more than twenty years (in 1956) since psychologists first began to suspect that the human mind can easily fall prey to dictatorial powers. In 1933, the German Reichstag building was burned to the ground. The Nazis arrested a Dutchman, Marinus Van der Lubbe, and accused him of the crime. Van der Lubbe was known by Dutch psychiatrists to be mentally unstable. He had been a patient in a mental institution in Holland. And his weakness and lack of mental balance became apparent to the world when he appeared before the court. Wherever news of the trial reached, men wondered: "Can that foolish little fellow be a heroic revolutionary, a man who is willing to sacrifice his life to an ideal?"
During the court sessions Van der Lubbe was evasive, dull, and apathetic. Yet the reports of the Dutch psychiatrists described him as a gay, alert, unstable character, a man whose moods changed rapidly, who liked to vagabond around, and who had all kinds of fantasies about changing the world.
On the forty second day of the trial, Van der Lubbe's behaviour changed dramatically. His apathy disappeared. It became apparent that he had been quite aware of everything that had gone on during the previous sessions. He criticized the slow course of the procedure. He demanded punishment either by imprisonment or death. He spoke about his "inner voices." He insisted that he had his moods in check. Then he fell back into apathy. We now recognize these symptoms as a combination of behaviour forms which we can call a confession syndrome. In 1933 this type of behaviour was unknown to psychiatrists. Unfortunately, it is very familiar today and is frequently met in cases of extreme mental coercion.
Van der Lubbe was subsequently convicted and executed. When the trial was over, the world began to realize that he had merely been a scapegoat. The Nazis themselves had burned down the Reichstag building and had staged the crime and the trial so that they could take over Germany. Still later we realized that Van der Lubbe was the victim of a diabolically clever misuse of medical knowledge and psychological technique, through which he had been transformed into a useful, passive, meek automaton, who replied merely yes or no to his interrogators during most of the court sessions. In a few moments he threatened to jump out of his enforced role. Even at that time there were rumours that the man had been drugged into submission, though we never became sure of that.
(NOTE: The psychiatric report about the case of Van der Lubbe is published by Bonhoeffer and Zutt. Though they were unfamiliar with the "menticide syndrome," and not briefed by their political fuehrers, they give a good description about the pathologic, apathetic behaviour, and his tremendous change of moods. They deny the use of drugs.)
Between 1936 and 1938 the world became more conscious of the very real danger of systematized mental coercion in the field of politics. This was the period of the well remembered Moscow purge trials. It was almost impossible to believe that dedicated old Bolsheviks, who had given their lives to a revolutionary movement, had suddenly turned into dastardly traitors. When, one after another, everyone of the accused confessed and beat his breast, the general reaction was that this was a great show of deception, intended only as a propaganda move for the non Communist world.
Then it became apparent that a much worse tragedy was being enacted. The men on trial had once been human beings. Now they were being systematically changed into puppets. Their puppeteers called the tune and manipulated their actions. When, from time to time, news came through showing how hard, rigid revolutionaries could be changed into meek, self accusing sheep, all over the world the last remnants of the belief in the free community presumably being built in Soviet Russia began to crumble.
In recent years, the spectacle of confession to uncommitted crimes has become more and more common. The list ranges from Communist through non Communist to anti Communist, and includes men of such different types as the Czech Bolshevik Rudolf Slansky and the Hungarian cardinal, Joseph Mindszenty.
Those of us who lived in the Nazi occupied countries during the Second World War learned to understand only too well how people could be forced into false confessions, and into betrayals of those they loved. I myself was born in the Netherlands and lived there until the Nazi occupation forced me to flee. In the early days of the occupation, when we heard the first eyewitness descriptions of what happened during Nazi interrogations of captured resistance workers, we were frightened and alarmed.
The first aim of the Gestapo was to force prisoners under torture to betray their friends and to report new victims for further torture. The Brown Shirts demanded names and more names, not bothering to ascertain whether or not they were given falsely under the stress of terror. I remember very clearly one meeting held by a small group of resisters to discuss the growing fear and insecurity. Everybody at that meeting could expect to be mentioned and picked up by the Gestapo at some time. Should we be able to stand the Nazi treatment, or would we also be forced to become informers? This question was being asked by anti Nazis in all the occupied countries.
During the second year of the occupation we realized that it was better not to be in touch with one another. More than two contacts were unsafe. We tried to find medical and psychiatric preventives to harden us against the Nazi torture we expected. As a matter of fact, I myself conducted some experiments to determine whether or not narcotics would harden us against pain. However, the results were paradoxical. Narcotics can create pain insensitivity, but their dulling action at the same time makes people more vulnerable to mental pressure. Even at that time we knew, as did the Nazis themselves, that it was not the direct physical pain that broke people, but the continuous humiliation and mental torture. One of my patients, who was subjected to such an interrogation, managed to remain silent. He refused to answer a single question, and finally the Nazis dismissed him. But he never recovered from this terrifying experience. He hardly spoken even when he returned home. He simply sat bitter, full of indignation and in a few weeks he died. It was not his physical wounds that had killed him; it was the combination of fear and wounded pride.
We held many discussions about ways of strengthening our captured underground workers or preventing them from final self betrayal. Should some of our people be given suicide capsules? That could only be a last resort. Narcotics like morphine give only a temporary anaesthesia and relief; moreover, the enemy would certainly find the capsules and take them away.
We had heard about German attempts to give cocaine and amphetamine to their air pilots for use in combat exhaustion, but neither medicament was reliable. Those drugs might revive the body by making it less sensitive to pain, but at the same time they dulled the mind. If captured members of the underground were to take them, as experiments had shown, their bodies might not feel the effects of physical torture, but their hazy minds might turn them into easier dupes of the Nazis.
We also tried systematic exercises in mental relaxation and auto hypnosis (comparable with Yogi exercises) in order to make the body more insensitive to hunger and pain. If an individual's attention is fixed on the development of conscious awareness of automatic body functions, such as breathing, the alert functioning of the brain cortex can be reduced, and awareness of pain will diminish. This state of pain insensitivity can sometimes be achieved through autohypnotic exercises. But very few of our people were able to bring themselves into such anaesthesia.
Finally we evolved this simple psychological trick: when you can no longer outwit the enemy or resist talking, the best thing to do is to talk too much. This was the idea: keep yourself sullen and act the fool; play the coward and confess more than there is to confess. Later we were able to verify that this method was successful in several cases. Scatterbrained simpletons confused the enemy much more than silent heroes whose stamina was finally undermined in spite of everything.
I had to flee Holland after a policeman warned me that my name had been mentioned in an interrogation. I had twice been questioned by the Nazis on minor matters and without bodily torture. When they later caught up with me in Belgium, probably as the result of a betrayal, I had to undergo a long initial examination in which I was beaten, fortunately not too seriously. The interview had started pleasantly enough. Apparently, the Nazi officer in charge thought he would be able to get information out of me through friendly methods. Indeed, we even had a discussion (since I am a psychiatrist) about the methods used in interrogation. But the officer's mood changed, and he behaved with all the sadistic characteristics we had come to expect from his type. Happily, I managed to escape from Belgium that very night before a more systematic and more torturous investigation could begin.
Arriving at the London headquarters after an adventurous trip through France and Spain, I became Chief of the Psychological Department of the Netherlands Forces in England. In this official position I was able to gather data on what was happening to the millions of victims of Nazi terror and torture. Later on I questioned and treated several escapees from internment and concentration camps. These people had become real experts in suffering. The variety of human reactions under those infernal circumstances taught us an ugly truth: the spirit of most men can be broken; men can be reduced to the level of animal behaviour. Both torturer and victim finally lose all human dignity.
My government gave me the power to investigate a group of traitors and I also interrogated imprisoned Nazis. When I reviewed all these wartime experiences, all the confusion about courage and cowardice, treason, morale, and mental fortitude, I must confess that my eyes were only really opened after a study of the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi leaders. These trials gave us the real story of the systematic coercive methods used by the Nazis. At about the same time we began to learn more about the perverted psychological strategy Russia and her satellites were using.
The specific techniques used in the modern world to break man's mind and will to extort confessions for political propaganda purposes are relatively new (in 1956) and highly refined. Yet enforced confession itself is nothing new. From time immemorial tyrants and dictators have needed these "voluntary" confessions to justify their own evil deeds. The knowledge that the human mind can be influenced, tamed, and broken down into servility is far older than the modern dictatorial concept of enforced indoctrination.
The primitive shaman used awe inspiring ritual to bring his victim into such a state of fright hypnosis that he yielded to all suggestions. The native on whom a spell of doom has been cast by the medicine man may become so hypnotized by his own fear that he simply sits down, accepts his fate, and dies (Malinowski).
Throughout history men have had an intuitive understanding that the mind can be manipulated. Elaborate strategies have been worked out to achieve this end. Ecstasy rituals, frightening masks, loud noises, eerie chants all have been used to compel the crowd to accept the beliefs of their leaders. Even if an ordinary man at first resists a cruel shaman or medicine man, the hypnotizing ritual gradually breaks his will.
More painful methods are not new either. When we study the old reports of the Inquisition, or of the many witch trials, both in Europe and America, we learn a great deal about these methods. The floating test is one example. Those accused of witchcraft were thrown into the river, their feet and hands tied together. If the body did not sink, the victim was immediately pulled out of the water and burned at the stake. The fact that he did not sink was proof positive of his guilt. If, on the other hand, the accused obeyed the law of gravity and sank to the bottom of the river, the drowned body was ceremoniously removed from the river and proclaimed innocent.
Not much choice was left to the victim!
Man has been tremendously inventive in developing means for inflicting suffering on his fellow man. With refined passion he has devised techniques which provoke the most exquisite pain in the most vulnerable parts of the human body. The rack and the thumbscrew are age old instruments and have been used not only by primitive judges but also by so called civilized dictators and tyrants.
In order better to understand modern mental torture, we must constantly keep in mind the fact that from the earliest days bodily anguish and the rack were never meant merely to inflict pain on the victim. They may not have expressed their understanding in sophisticated terms, but the medieval judge and hangman were nevertheless aware that there is a peculiar spiritual relationship and mental interplay between the victim and the rest of the community.
Much painful torture and hanging had to be done as public demonstrations. After suffering the most intense pain, the witch would not only confess to shocking sexual debaucheries with the devil, but would herself gradually come to believe the stories she had invented and would die convinced of her guilt. The whole ritual of interrogation and torture finally compelled her to yield to the fantasies of her judges and accusers. In the end she even yearned for death. She wanted to be burned at the stake in order to exorcise the devil and expiate her sins.
These same judges and hangman realized, too, that their witch trials were intended not only to torture the witches, but even more to torture the bystanders, who, albeit unconsciously, identified themselves with the victims. This is, of course, one of the reasons burnings and hangings were held in public and became the occasion for great pageants. Terror thus became widespread, and many judges spoke euphemistically of the preventive action of such torture. Psychologically, we can see this entire device as a blackmailing of human sympathy and the general tendency to identify with others.
As far back as 1563 the courageous Dutch physician Johannes Wier published his masterwork, De Praestigiis Daemonum (On the Delusions About Demons) in which he states that the collective and voluntary self accusation of older women through which they exposed themselves to torture and death by their inquisitors was in itself an act inspired by the devil, a trick of demons, whose aim it was to doom not only the innocent women but also their reckless judges. Wier was the first medical man to introduce what became the psychiatric concept of DELUSION and mental blindness. Wherever his book had influence, the persecution of witches ceased, in some countries more than one hundred and fifty years before it was finally brought to an end throughout the civilized world. His work and his insights became one of the main instruments for fighting the witch delusion and physical torture (Baschwitz). Wier realized even then that witches were scapegoats for the inner confusion and desperation of their judges and of the "Zeitgeist" in general.
All knowledge can be used either for good or for evil, and psychology is not immune to this general law. Psychology has delivered up to man new means of torture and intrusion into the mind. We must be more and more aware of what these methods and techniques are if we are successfully to fight them. They can often be more painful and mentally more paralyzing than the rack. Strong personalities can tolerate physical agony; often it serves to increase stubborn resistance. No matter what the constitution of the victim, physical torture finally leads to a protective loss of consciousness. But to withstand mental torture leading to creeping mental breakdown demands an even stronger personality.
What we call brainwashing (a word derived from the Chinese "Hsi Nao") is an elaborate ritual of systematic indoctrination, conversion, and self accusation used to change non Communists into submissive followers of the party (Hunter). "Menticide" is a word coined by me and derived from "mens", the mind, and "caedere", to kill.
(NOTE: Here I followed the etymology used by the United Nations to form the word "genocide," meaning the systematic destruction of racial groups.)
Both words indicate the same perverted refinement of the rack, putting it on what appears to be a more acceptable level. But it is a thousand times worse and a thousand times more useful to the inquisitor.
Menticide is an old crime against the human mind and spirit but systematized anew. It is an organized system of psychological intervention and judicial perversion through which a powerful dictator can imprint his own opportunistic thoughts upon the minds of those he plans to use and destroy. The terrorized victims finally find themselves compelled to express complete conformity to the tyrant's wishes. Through court procedures, at which the victim mechanically reels off an inner record which has been prepared by his inquisitors during a preceding period, public opinion is lulled and thrown off guard. "A real traitor has been punished," people think. "The man has confessed!" His confession can be used for propaganda, for the cold war, to instil fear and terror, to accuse the enemy falsely, or to exercise a constant mental pressure upon others.
One important result of this procedure is the great confusion it creates in the mind of every observer, friend or foe. In the end no one knows how to distinguish truth from falsehood. The totalitarian potentate, in order to break down the minds of men, first needs widespread mental chaos and verbal confusion, because both paralyze his opposition and cause the morale of the enemy to deteriorate unless his adversaries are aware of the dictator's real aim. From then on he can start to build up his system of conformity.
In both the Mindszenty and the Schwable cases, we have documented reports of the techniques of menticide as it has been used to break the minds and wills of courageous men.
Let us look first at the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, accused of misleading the Hungarian people and collaboration with the enemies, the United States. In his expose' on Cardinal Mindszenty's imprisonment, Stephen K. Swift graphically describes three typical phases in the psychological "processing" of political prisoners. The first phase is directed toward extorting confession. The victim is bombarded with questions day and night. He is inadequately and irregularly fed. He is allowed almost no rest and remains in the interrogation chamber for hours on end while his inquisitors take turns with him. Hungry, exhausted, his eyes blurred and aching under unshaded lamps, the prisoner becomes little more than a hounded animal.
"...when the Cardinal had been standing for sixty six hours [Swift reports], he closed his eyes and remained silent. He did not even reply to questions with denials. The colonel in charge of the shift tapped the Cardinal's shoulder and asked why he did not respond. The Cardinal answered: 'End it all. Kill me! I am ready to die!' He was told that no harm would come to him; that he could end it all simply by answering certain questions.
"...By Saturday forenoon he could hardly be recognized. He asked for another drink and this time it was refused. His feet and legs had swollen to such proportions that they caused him intense pain; he fell down several times."
To the horrors the accused victim suffers from without must be added the horrors from within. He is pursued by the unsteadiness of his own mind, which cannot always produce the same answer to a repeated question. As a human being with a conscience he is pursued by possible hidden guilt feelings, however pious he may have been that undermine his rational awareness of innocence. The panic of the "brainwashee" is the total confusion he suffers about all concepts. His evaluations and norms are undermined. He cannot believe in anything objective any more except in the dictated and indoctrinated logic of those who are more powerful than he. The enemy knows that, far below the surface, human life is built up of inner contradictions. He uses this knowledge to defeat and confuse the brainwashee. The continual shift of interrogators makes it ever more impossible to believe in consecutive thinking. Hardly has the victim adjusted himself to one inquisitor when he has to change his focus of alertness to another one.
Yet, this inner clash of norms and concepts, this inner contradiction of ideologies and beliefs is part of the philosophical sickness of our time!
As a social being the Cardinal is pursued by the need for good human relationships and companionship. The constantly reiterated suggestion of his guilt urges him toward confession. As a suffering individual he is blackmailed by an inner need to be left alone and undisturbed, if only for a few minutes. From within and without he is inexorably driven toward signing the confession prepared by his persecutors. Why should he resist any longer.
There are no visible witnesses to his heroism. He cannot prove his moral courage and rectitude after his death. The core of the strategy of menticide is the taking away of all hope, all anticipation, all belief in a future. It destroys the very elements which keep the mind alive. The victim is utterly alone.
(NOTE: This continual attack on human conscience and guilt by unconscious self accusations is brilliantly depicted by Franz Kafka in The Trial. In this novel the victim never knows of what he is accused but his inner guilt leads him to conviction. Kafka anticipated the age of blackmailing into confession. His novel was written before the 1930s. The same theme has been treated from a psychological point of view by Theodor Reik in his Confession, Compulsion and the Need for Punishment.)
If the prisoner's mind proves too resistant, narcotics are given to confuse it: mescaline, marijuana, morphine, barbiturates, alcohol. If his body collapses before his mind capitulates, he receives stimulants: benzedrine, caffeine, coramine, all of which help to preserve his consciousness until he confesses. Many of the narcotics and stimuli which ultimately help to induce mental dependency and enforced confusion can also create an amnesia, often a complete forgetting of the torture itself. The torture techniques achieve the desired effect, but the victim forgets what has actually happened during the interrogation. The clinicians who do therapeutic work with amphetamine derivatives, which when injected into the blood stream help patients to remember long forgotten experiences, are familiar with the drug's ability to bring soothing forgetfulness of the period during which the patient was drugged and questioned.
Next the victim is trained to accept his own confession, much as an animal is trained to perform tricks. False admissions are reread, repeated, hammered into his brain. He is forced to reproduce in his memory again and again the fantasized offenses, fictitious details which ultimately convince him of his criminality. In the first stage he is forced into mental submissiveness by others. In the second stage he has entered a state of autohypnosis, convincing himself of fabricated crimes. According to Swift: "The questions during the interrogation now dealt with details of the Cardinal's 'confession.' First his own statements were read to him; then statements of other prisoners accused of complicity with him; then elaborations of those statements. Sometimes the Cardinal was morose, sometimes greatly disturbed and excited. But he answered all questions willingly, repeated all sentences once, twice, or even three times when he was told to do so." (Lassio)
In the third and final phase of interrogation and menticide the accused, now completely conditioned and accepting his own imposed guilt, is trained to bear false witness against himself and others. He doesn't have to convince himself any more through autohypnosis; he only speaks "his master's voice." He is prepared for trial, softened completely; he becomes remorseful and willing to be sentenced. He is a baby in the hands of his inquisitors, fed as a baby and soothed by words as a baby.
(NOTE: A more extended survey of the different psychological stages in menticide and brainwashing will be given at the end of Chapter Four Why Do They Yield - The Psychodynamics of False Confession.)
Now let us take a look at the Schwable case. In its general outline it is similar to the Mindszenty story; it differs only in details. As an officer of the United States Marine Corps, fighting with the United Nations in Korea, he is taken prisoner by the enemy. The colonel expects to be protected by international law and by the regulations regarding officer prisoners of war, which have been accepted by all countries. However, it slowly dawns on him that he is being subjected to a kind of treatment very different from what he expected. The enemy looks on him not as a prisoner of war, but as a victim who can be used for propaganda purposes.
He is subjected to slow but constant pressures devised to break him down mentally. Humiliation, rough, inhuman treatment, degradation, intimidation, hunger, exposure to extreme cold all have been used to crumble his will and to soften him. They need to wangle military secrets out of him and to use him as a tool in their propaganda machine. He feels completely alone. He is surrounded by filth and vermin. For hours on end he has to stand up and answer the questions his interrogators hurl at him. He develops arthritic backache and diarrhoea. He is not allowed to wash or shave. He doesn't know what will happen to him next. This treatment goes on for weeks.
Then the hours of systematic and repetitious interrogation and oppression increase. He no longer dares to trust his own memory. There are new teams of investigators every day, and each new team points out his increasing errors and mistakes. He cannot sleep any more. Daily his interrogators tell him they have plenty of time, and he realizes that in this respect at least they are telling the truth. He beings to doubt whether he can resist their seductive propositions. If he will just unburden himself of his guilt, they tell him, he will be better treated.
The inquisitor is treacherously kind and knows exactly what he wants. He wants the victim captured by the influence of a slowly induced hypnosis. He wants a well documented confession that the American army used bacteriological warfare, that the captive himself took part in such germ warfare. The inquisitor wants this confession in writing because it will make a convincing impression and will shock the world. China is plagued by hunger and epidemics; such a confession will explain the high disease rate and exculpate the Chinese government, whose popularity is at a low ebb. So the colonel has to be prepared for a systematic confession, made before an international group of Communist experts. Mentally and physically he is weakened, and every day the Communist "truths" are imprinted on his mind.
The colonel has in fact become hypnotized; he is now able to reproduce for his jailers bits and pieces of the confession they want from him. It is a well known scientific fact that the passive memory often remembers facts learned under hypnosis better than those learned in a state of alert consciousness. He is even able to write some of it down. Eventually, all the little pieces fit, like a jigsaw puzzle, into a complete, well organized whole; they form part of a document which was in fact prepared beforehand by his captors. This document is placed in the colonel's hands, and he is even allowed to make some minor changes in the phrasing before he signs it.
By now, the colonel has been completely broken. He has given in. All sense of reality is gone; identification with the enemy is complete. For weeks after signing the confession he is in a state of depression. His only wish is to sleep, to have rest from it all.
A man will often try to hold out beyond the limits of his endurance because he continues to believe that his tormentors have some basic morality, that they will finally realize the enormity of their crimes and will leave him alone. This is a delusion. The only way to strengthen one's defences against an organized attack on the mind and will is to understand better what the enemy is trying to do and to outwit him. Of course, one can vow to hold out until death, but even the relief of death is in the hands of the inquisitor. People can be brought to the threshold of death and then be stimulated into life again so that the torments can be renewed. Attempts at suicide are foreseen and can be forestalled.
In my opinion hardly anyone can resist such treatment. It all depends on the ego strength of the person and the exhaustive technique of the inquisitor. Each man has his own limit of endurance, but that this limit can nearly always be reached and even surpassed is supported by clinical evidence. Nobody can predict for himself how he will handle a situation when he is called to the test. The official United States report on brainwashing (See the "New York Times", August 18, 1955) admits that "virtually all American P.O.W.s collaborated at one time or another in one degree or another, lost their identity as Americans...thousands lost their will to live," and so forth. The British report (See the "New York Times", February 27, 1955) gives a statistical survey about the abuse of the P.O.W.s. According to this report one third of the soldiers absorbed enough indoctrination to be classified as Communist sympathizers.
This same report describes in a more extended way some of the sadistic means used by the enemy:
"If a prisoner accepted Communist doctrines, his life became easier, according to the men's stories. But if a prisoner resisted Communist doctrines, the Chinese considered him a criminal and reactionary deserving of any brutalities. the tortures applied to the 'reactionaries' included:
"Making a prisoner stand at attention or sit with legs outstretched in complete silence from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and constantly waking him during the few hours allowed for sleep.
"Keeping prisoners in solitary confinement in boxes about five by three by two feet. A private of the Gloucester Regiment spent more than six months in one of these.
"Withholding liquids for days 'to help self reflection'.
"Binding a prisoner with a rope passed over a beam, one end fixed as a hangman's noose round his neck and the other end tied to his ankles. He was then told that if he slipped or bent his knees he would be committing suicide.
"Forcing a prisoner to kneel on jagged rocks and hold a large rock over his head with arms extended. It took a man who had undergone this treatment days to recover the ability to walk.
"At one camp North Korean jailers pushed a pencil like piece of wood or metal through a hole in the cell door and made the prisoner hold the inner end in his teeth. Without warning a sentry would knock the outer end sidewise, breaking the man's teeth or splitting the sides of his mouth. Sometimes the rod was rammed inward against the back of the mouth or down the throat.
"Prisoners were marched barefooted to the frozen Yalu River, water was poured over their feet and they were kept for hours with their feet frozen to the ice to 'reflect' on their 'crimes.'"
Time, fear, and continual pressure are known to create a menticidal hypnosis. The conscious part of the personality no longer takes part in the automatic confessions. The brainwashee lives in a trance, repeating the record grooved into him and by somebody else. Fortunately, this, too, is known: as soon as the victim returns to normal circumstances, the panicky and hypnotic spell evaporates, and he again awakens into reality.
This is what happened to Colonel Schwable. True, he confessed to crimes he did not commit, but he repudiated his confession as soon as he was returned to a familiar environment.
When, during the military inquiry into the Schwable case, I was called upon to testify as an expert on menticide, I told the court of my deep conviction that nearly anybody subjected to the treatment meted out to Colonel Schwable could be forced to write and sign a similar confession.
"Anyone in this room, for instance?" the colonel's attorney asked me, looking in turn at each of the officers sitting in judgment on this new and difficult case.
And in good conscience I could reply, firmly: "Anyone in this room."
It is now technically possible to bring the human mind into a condition of enslavement and submission. The Schwable case and the cases of other prisoners of war are tragic examples of this, made even more tragic by our lack of understanding of the limits of heroism. We are just beginning to understand what these limits are, and how they are used, both politically and psychologically, by the totalitarians. We have long since come to recognize the breast beating confession and the public recantation as propaganda tricks; now we are beginning to see ever more clearly how the totalitarians use menticide: deliberately, openly, unashamedly, as part of their official policy, as a means of consolidating and maintaining their power, though, of course, they give a different explanation to the whole procedure it's all confessions of real and treacherous crimes.
This brutal totalitarian technique has at least one virtue, however. It is obvious and unmistakable, and we are learning to be on our guard against it, but as we shall see later, there are other subtler forms of mental intervention. They can be just as dangerous as the direct assault, precisely because they are more subtle and hence more difficult to detect. Often we are not aware of their action at all. They influence the mind so slowly and indirectly that we may not even realize what they have done to us.
Like totalitarian menticide, some of these less obvious forms of mental manipulation are political in purpose. Others are not. Even if they differ in intent, they can have the same consequences.
These subtle menticidal forces operate both within the mind and outside it. They have been strengthened in their effect by the growth in complexity of our civilization. The modern means of mass communication bring the entire world daily into each man's home; the techniques of propaganda and salesmanship have been refined and systematized; there is scarcely any hiding place from the constant visual and verbal assault on the mind. The pressures of daily life impel more and more people to seek an easy escape from responsibility and maturity. Indeed, it is difficult to withstand these pressures; to many the offer of a political panacea is very tempting, to others the offer of escape through alcohol, drugs, or other artificial pleasures is irresistible.
Free men in a free society must learn not only to recognize this stealthy attack on mental integrity and fight it, but must learn also what there is in side man's mind that makes him vulnerable to this attack, what it is that makes him, in many cases, actually long for a way out of the responsibilities that republican democracy and maturity place on him.
Before asking ourselves what the deeper mental mechanisms are of brainwashing, false confession, and conversion into a collaborator, let us try to see things from the standpoint of the totalitarian potentates. What is their aim? What terms do they use to describe the behaviour of their prisoners? What do they want from the Schwables and the Midszentys?
The totalitarian jailers don't speak of hypnosis or suggestion; they even deny the fact of imposed confession. They think about human behaviour and human government in a much more mechanical way. In order to understand them we have to give more attention to their adoration of simplified Pavlovian concepts.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century the Russian Nobel price winner Ivan Petrovich Pavlov conducted his famous experiments with a bell and a dog. He knew that salivation is associated with eating, and that if a dog was hungry, its mouth would water each time it saw food. Pavlov took advantage of this useful inborn reflex, which serves the digestive process, to develop in his experimental animal the salivating response in answer to a stimulus which would not ordinarily create it. Each time Pavlov fed the dog, he rang a bell, and at each feeding the dog's mouth watered. Then after many repetitions of the combined food bell stimulus, Pavlov rang the bell but did not feed the dog. The animal reacted to the bell alone just as it had previously reacted to the sight of food its mouth watered. Thus the scientist had found out that the dog could be induced to salivate involuntarily in response to an arbitrary signal. It had been "conditioned" to respond to the ringing of the bell as if that sound were the smell and taste of food.
From this and other experiments, Pavlov developed his theory of the conditioned reflex, which explains learning and training as the building up of a mosaic of conditioned reflexes, each one based on the establishment of an association between different stimuli. The greater the number of learned complex responses also called patterns the greater the number of conditioned reflexes developed. Because man, of all the animals, has the greatest capacity for learning, he is the animal with the greatest capacity for such complicated conditioning.
Pavlov's experiments were of great value in the study of animal and human behaviour, and in the study of the development of neurotic symptoms. However, this knowledge of some of the mechanisms of the human mind can be used as we have seen already, like any other knowledge, either for good or for evil. And unfortunately, the totalitarians have used their knowledge of how the mind works for their own purposes
They have applied some of the Pavlovian findings, in a subtle and complicated way and sometimes in a grotesque way, to try to produce the reflex of mental and political conditioning and of submission in the human guinea pigs under their control.
Even though the Nazis employed these methods before the Second World War, they can be said to have reached their full flower in Soviet Russia. Through a continued repetition of indoctrination, bell ringing and feeding, the Soviet man is expected to become a conditioned reflex machine, reacting according to a prearranged pattern, as did the laboratory dogs. At least, such a simplified concept is roaming around in the minds of some of the Soviet leaders and scientists (Dobrogaev).
In accordance with one of Stalin's directives, Moscow maintains a special "Pavlovian Front" (Dobrogaev) and a "Scientific Council on Problems of Physiological Theory of the Academician I. P. Pavlov" (London). These institutions, part of the Academy of Science, are dedicated to the political application of the Pavlovian theory. They are under orders to emphasize the purely mechanical aspects of Pavlov's findings. Such a theoretical view can reduce all human emotions to a simple, mechanistic system of conditioned reflexes. Both organizations are control agencies dealing in research problems, and the scientists who work on them explore the ways in which man can theoretically be conditioned and trained as animals are. Since Pavlovian theory is proclaimed by the obdurate totalitarian theoreticians as the gospel of animal and human behaviour, we have to grapple with the facts they adduce to prove their point, and with their methods and theoretical explanations.
What the Pavlovian council tries to achieve is the result of an oversimplification of psychology. Their political task is to condition and mould man's mind so that its comprehension is confined to a narrow totalitarian concept of the world. It is the idea that such a limitation of thinking to Lenin Marxist theoretical thinking must be possible for two reasons: first, if one repeats often enough its simplification, and second, if one withholds any other form of interpretation of reality.
This concept is based on the naive belief that one can permanently suppress any critical function and verification in human thinking. Yet, through taming and conditioning of people, during which period errors and deviations must continually be corrected, unwittingly a critical sense is built up. True, at the same time the danger of using this critical sense is brought home to the students. They know the dangers of any dissent, but even this promotes the development of a secondary and more refined critical sense. In the end, human rebellion and dissent cannot be suppressed; they await only one breath of freedom in order to awake once more. The idea that there exist other ways to truth than those he sees close at hand lives somewhere in everybody. One can narrow his pathways of research and expression, but a man's belief in adventurous new roads elsewhere is ever present in the back of his mind.
The inquisitive human mind is never satisfied with a simple recital of facts. As soon as it observes a set of data, it jumps into the area of theory and offers explanations, but the way a man sees a set of facts, and the way he juggles them to build them into a theory is largely determined by his own biases and prejudices.
Let me be the first to confess that I am affected by my own subjectivities. Even the words we use are loaded with implications and suggestions. The word "reflex," for example, so important in Pavlovian theory, is a perfect instance of this. It was first used by the seventeenth century philosopher Descartes, in whose philosophical system a parallel was made between the actions of the human body and those of a machine. For example, in the Cartesian view, the automatic reaction of the body to certain painful stimuli (e.g., withdrawing the hand after it has come into contact with fire) is compared with the automatic physical reflection of light from a mirror. The nervous system, according to Descartes, reflects its response just as the mirror does. Such a simple explanation of behaviour, and the very words used to describe it, immediately denies the whole organism taking part in that response.
Yet man is not only a mirror, but a thinking mirror. According to the old mechanical view, actions are associated only with the part of the body which performs them, and they have no relationship whatsoever to the purposeful behaviour of the organism as a whole. But man is not a machine composed of independently functioning parts. He is a whole. His mind and body interact; he acts on the outside world and the outside world acts on him. The innate reflexes, of which this hand withdrawal is one example, are part of a whole system of adaptive responses which serve to help the individual, as an entity, to adjust to changed circumstances. They can be described as the result of an inborn adaptation tendency. The only real difference between the innate reflexes and the conditioned reflexes is that the former supposedly have developed in the entire race over the millions of years of the evolutionary process, while the latter are developed during the life span of the individual as a result of the gradual automatization of acquired responses.
If you analyze any one of the complicated actions you may perform during the course of a single day (driving an automobile, for example), you will see that it occurs outside your conscious management. And yet, before the process could be automatized, the actions, purposefully directed toward the satisfaction of some goal, had to be consciously learned and managed. You were not born with the innate reflex of jamming on the brake to stop a car quickly in an emergency. You had to learn to do it, and in the process of learning and driving, this response became automatic. If, after you have learned to drive, you see a child running across the path of your car, you put the brake on immediately, by reflex, without thinking.
Pavlov's research on the machinery of the mind taught us how all the animals including man learn adjustment to existing limitations through linking the signs and signals of life to body reactions. The mind creates a relationship between repeated simultaneous occurrences, and the body reacts to the connections the mind forms. Thus the bell, rung each time the dog was fed, became a signal to the animal to prepare for digestion, and the animal began to salivate.
Recent experiments conducted by Dr. Gregory Razran of Queens College show how men may develop these same kinds of responses. Dr. Razran treated a group of twenty college students to a series of free luncheons at which music was played or pictures shown. After the final luncheon, these twenty students were brought together with another group who had not been luncheon guests. At this meeting, as at the luncheons, music was played and pictures shown, and all the students were asked to tell what the music and pictures made them think of. The music and the pictures generally reminded the first group of something related to eating, but had no such associations for the second group. There was obviously a temporary connection in the minds of the luncheon guests between the music and the pictures on the one hand and eating on the other.
The Chinese did their mass conditioning in an even simpler way. After having taught the prisoners for days to write down all possible nonsense and political lies in an atmosphere of utter confusion and stress they were ripe to sign collectively the lie of having taken part in germ warfare (Winokur.)
All conditioned reflexes are involuntary temporary adjustments to pressures which create an apparent connection between stimuli which may be in fact totally unrelated. For this reason, the conditioned reflex is not necessarily permanently imprinted on the individual, but can gradually disappear. If, after the dog's conditioned reflex to the bell has been developed, the bell is rung over and over again and no food is presented to the animal, the salivating reflex disappears. Doubtless Dr. Razran's students will not always think of food when they hear music.
We could describe the conditioned reflex another way: it is a selected response of the mind body unit to a given stimulus. The ways in which the stimulus and the response are connected vary considerably they may have been associated in time, in place, or by coincidence, or by a common aim and thus they may form a special conditioned complex in our mental and physical attitude. Some of these complex responses or patterns are more autonomous than others, and will act like the innate patterns. Some are flexible and are continually changing. Analysis of some of the psychosomatic diseases, for example, shows us how our inner emotional attitudes can intensify or even change a conditional response. Stomach ulcers are considered an example of such a psychosomatic disease. The mother who puts her child on a too rigid feeding schedule may change the child's favourable response to hunger into a stubborn reaction against feeding.
For our purpose we have to be aware that conditioning takes place throughout all our lives in the most subtle and in the most obvious ways. We discover that the moulding of our personalities may occur in a thousand fold ways through such matters as these: the meal training given in early childhood; the harshness or the musical tone of the words spoken to us; the sense of haste in our surroundings; the steadiness of family habits or the chaos of neurotic parents; the noises of our machines; the reservedness of our friends; the discipline of our schools and the competitiveness of our clubs. We are even conditioned by such things as the frailty of our toys and the cosiness of our houses, the steadiness of traditions or the chaos of a revolution. The artist and the engineer, the teacher and the friend, the uncle or aunt they all give shape to our behaviour.
Pavlov made another significant discovery: the conditioned reflex could be developed most easily in a quiet laboratory with a minimum of disturbing stimuli. Every trainer of animals knows this from his own experience; isolation and the patient repetition of stimuli are required to tame wild animals. Pavlov formulated his findings into a general rule in which the speed of learning is positively correlated with quiet and isolation. The totalitarians have followed this rule. They know that they can condition their political victims most quickly if they are kept in isolation. In the totalitarian technique of thought control, the same isolation applied to the individual is applied also to groups of people. This is the reason the civilian populations of the totalitarian countries are not permitted to travel freely and are kept away from mental and political contamination. It is the reason, to, for the solitary confinement cell and the prison camp.
Another of Pavlov's findings was that some animals learn more quickly if they were rewarded (by affection, by food, by stroking) each time they showed the right response, while others learned more quickly when the penalty for not learning was a painful stimulus. In human terms, the latter animals could be described as learning in order to avoid punishment. These different reactions in animals may perhaps be related to an earlier conditioning by the parents, and they find their counterparts among human beings. In some people the strategy of reward and flattery is a stimulus to learning, while pain evokes all their resistance and rebellion; in others retribution and punishment for failure can be a means of training them into the desired pattern. Before he can do his job effectively, the brainwasher has to find out to which category his victim belongs. There are people more amenable to brainwashing than others. Part of the response may be innate or related to earlier conditioning to conformity.
Pavlov also distinguished between the weaker type of involuntary learning, in which the learned response was lost as soon as some disturbance occurred, and the stronger type, in which training was retained through all kinds of changed conditions. As a matter of fact, Pavlov described more types of learning than this, but for our purposes it is only important to know that there are some types of people who lose their conditioned learning easily, while others, the so called "stronger" types, retain it. This, by the way, is another example of how our choice of words reflects our bias. The descriptions "strong" and "weak" depend completely on the aim of the experimenter. For the totalitarian, the "weak" P.O.W. is the man who stubbornly refuses to accept the new conditioning. His "weakness" may be, in fact, a resistance, the result of a previous strong conditioning to loyalty to anti totalitarian principles. We never know how strongly conditioning and initial learning are impressed on the personality. Rigid dogmatic behaviour has its roots in early conditioning and so may submissiveness based on ignorance rather than knowledge.
Pavlov showed, too, how internal and external factors interact in the conditioning process. If, for example, a new laboratory assistant was brought in to work with the animals, all of their newly acquired patterns could easily be inhibited because of the animals' emotional reactions to the newcomer. Pavlov explained this as a disruptive reaction caused by the animals' investigatory reflexes, which led them to sniff around the stranger. Current psychology tends to interpret it as the result of the changed emotional rapport between the animal and its trainers. We can easily expand the implications of this more modern view into the field of human relations. It points up the fact that there are some persons who can create such immediate rapport with others that the latter will soon give up many old habits and ways of life to conform with new demands. There are inquisitors and investigators whose personalities so deeply affect their victims that the victims speedily yield their secrets and accept entirely new ways of thinking.
We can see the same thing in psychotherapy, where the development of an emotional rapport between doctor and patient is the most important factor leading to cure. In some cases rapport can be established immediately, in others rapport cannot be built up at all, in most cases it develops gradually during the course of the therapy. It is not difficult for a psychologist to test a man's "softness" and willingness to be conditioned, and as a matter of fact the Pavlovians have developed simple questionnaires through which they can easily determine a given individual's instability and adaptability to suggestion and brainwashing.
Pavlov found that all conditioning, no matter how strong it had been, became inhibited through boredom or through the repetition of too weak signals. The bell could no longer arouse salivation in the experimental dogs if it was repeated too often or its tone was too soft. A process of unlearning took place. The result of such internal inhibition of conditioning and the loss of conditioned reflex action is sleep. The inhibition spreads over the entire activity of the brain cortex; the organism falls into a hypnotic state. This explanation of the process of inhibition was one of the first acceptable theories of sleep. An interesting psychological question is whether too much official conditioning causes boredom and inhibition, and whether that is the reason why the Stakhanovite movement in Russia was necessary to counteract the loss of productivity of the people.
We can make a comparison with what happened to our prisoners of war in Korea. Under the daily signal of dulling routine questions for every word can act as a Pavlovian signal their minds went into a state of inhibition and diminished alertness. This made it possible for them to give up temporarily their former democratic conditioning and training. When they had unlearned and suppressed the democratic way, their inquisitors could start teaching them the totalitarian philosophy. First the old patterns have to be broken down in order to build up new conditioned reflexes. We can imagine that boredom and repetition arouse the need to give in and to yield to the provoking words of the enemy. Later I shall come back to the system of negative stimuli used in conditioning for brainwashing.
According to official Pavlovian psychology, human speech is also a conditioned reflex activity. Pavlov distinguished between stimuli of the first order, which condition men and animals directly, and stimuli of the second order, with weaker and more complicated conditioning qualities. In this so called second signal system, verbal cues replace the original physical sound stimuli. Pavlov himself did not give much attention to this second signal system. It was especially after Stalin's publication in 1950 on the significance of linguistics for mass indoctrination (as quoted by Dobrogaev) that the Russian psychologists began to do work in this area. In his letter, Stalin followed Engel's theory that language is the characteristic human bit of adaptive equipment. That tone and sound in speech have a conditioning quality is something we can verify from our own experience in listening to or in giving commands, or in dealing with our pets. Even the symbolic and semantic meaning of words can acquire a conditioning quality. The word "traitor," for example, provokes direct feelings and reactions in the minds of those who hear it spoken, even if this discriminatory label is being applied dishonestly.
Through an elaborate study on speech reflexes written by one of the leading Russian psychologists, Dobrogaev, we get a fairly good insight into the ways in which speech patterns and word signals are used in the service of mass conditioning, by means of propaganda and indoctrination. The basic problems for the man tamer are rather simple: Can man resist a government bent on conditioning him? What can the individual do to protect his mental integrity against the power of a forceful collectivity? Is it possible to do away with every vestige of inner resistance?
Pavlov had already explained that man's relation to the external world, and to his fellow men, is dominated by secondary stimuli, the speech symbols. Man learns to think in words and in the speech figures given him, and these gradually condition his entire outlook on life and on the world. As Dobrogaev says, "Language is the means of man's adaptation to his environment." We could rephrase that statement in this way: man's need for communication with his fellow men interferes with his relation to the outside world, because language and speech itself the verbal tools we use are variable and not objective. Dobrogaev continues: "Speech manifestations represent conditioned reflex functions of the human brain." In a simpler way we may say: he who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the press and radio, is master of the mind.
In the Pavlovian strategy, terrorizing force can finally be replaced by a new organization of the means of communication. Ready made opinions can be distributed day by day through press, radio, and so on, again and again, till they reach the nerve cell and implant a fixed pattern of thought in the brain. Consequently, guided public opinion is the result, according to Pavlovian theoreticians, of good propaganda technique, and the polls a verification of the temporary successful action of the Pavlovian machinations on the mind. Yet, the polls may only count what people pretend to think and believe, because it is dangerous for them to do otherwise.
Such is the Pavlovian device: repeat mechanically your assumptions and suggestions diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition. This is the simple formula for political conditioning of the masses. This is also the actual ideal of some of our public relation machines, who thus hope to manipulate the public into buying a special soap or voting for a special party.
The Pavlovian strategy in public relations has people conditioned more and more to ask themselves, "What do other people think?" As a result, a common delusion is created: people are incited to think what other people think, and thus public opinion may mushroom out into a mass prejudice.
Expressed in psychoanalytic terms, through daily propagandistic noise backed up by forceful verbal cues, people can more and more be forced to identify with the powerful noisemaker. Big Brother's voice resounds in all the little brothers.
News from Red China, as reported by neutral Indian journalists (See the "New York Times", November 27, 1954) tells us that the Chinese leaders are using this vocal conditioning of the public to strengthen their regime. Throughout the country, radios and loud speakers are broadcasting the official "truths." The sugary voices take possession of people, the cultural tyranny traps their ears with loud speakers, telling them what they may and may not do. This microphone regimentation was foreseen by the French philosopher La Rochefoucauld, who, in the eighteenth century, said: "A man is like a rabbit, you catch him by the ears."
During the Second World War the Nazis showed that they too were very much aware of this conditioning power of the word. I saw their strategy at work in Holland. The radio constantly spread political suggestions and propaganda, and people were obliged to listen because the simple act of turning off one's radio was in itself suspicious. I remember one day during the occupation when I was taking a bicycle trip with some friends. We stopped off to rest at a cafe that, we later realized, was a true Nazi nest. When the radio, which had been on ever since we arrived, announced a speech by Hitler, everyone stood up in awe, and it was a must to take in the verbal conditioning by the Fuhrer. My friends and I had to stand up too, and were forced to listen to that raucous voice crackling in our ears and to summon all our resistance against that long, boring, repetitive attack on our eardrums and minds.
Throughout the occupation, the Nazis printed tons of propaganda, Big Lies, and distortions. They even went so far as to paint their slogans on the stoops of the houses and in the streets. Every week newly fabricated stereotypes ogled at us as if to convince us of the splendour of the Third Reich. But the Nazis did not know the correct Pavlovian strategy. By satisfying their own need to discuss and to vary their arguments in order to make them seem more logical, they only increased the resistance of the Dutch people. This resistance was additionally fortified by the London radio, on which the Dutch could hear the sane voice of their own legal government. Had the Nazis not argued and justified so much, and had they been able to prevent all written, printed, or spoken communication, the long period of boredom would have inhibited our democratic conditioning, and we might well have been more seduced by the Nazi oversimplifications and slogans.
Political conditioning should not be confused with training or persuasion or even indoctrination. It is more than that. It is tampering. It is taking possession of both the simplest and the most complicated nervous patterns of man. It is the battle for the possession of the nerve cells. It is coercion and enforced conversion. Instead of conditioning man to an unbiased facing of reality, the seducer conditions him to catchwords, verbal stereotypes, slogans, formulas, symbols. Pavlovian strategy in the totalitarian sense means imprinting prescribed reflexes on a mind that has been broken down. The totalitarian wants first the required response from the nerve cells, then control of the individual, and finally control of the masses. The system starts with verbal conditioning and training by combining the required stereotypes with negative or positive stimuli: pain, or reward. In the P.O.W. camps in Korea where there was individual and mass brainwashing, the negative and positive conditioning stimuli were usually hunger and food. The moment the soldier conformed to the party line his food ration was improved: say yes, and I'll give you a piece of candy!
The whole gamut of negative stimuli, as we saw them in the Schwable case, consists of physical pressure, moral pressure, fatigue, hunger, boring repetition, confusion by seemingly logical syllogisms. Many victims of totalitarianism have told me in interviews that the most upsetting experience they faced in the concentration camps was the feeling of loss of logic, the state of confusion into which they had been brought the state in which nothing had any validity. They had arrived at the Pavlovian state of inhibition, which psychiatrists call mental disintegration or depersonalization. It seemed as if they had unlearned all their former responses and had not yet adopted new ones. But in reality they simply did not know what was what.
The Pavlovian theory translated into a political method, as a way of levelling the mind (the Nazis called it "Gleichschaltung") is the stock in trade of totalitarian countries. Some psychiatric points are of interest because we see that Pavlovian training can be used successfully only when special mental conditions prevail. In order to tame people into the desired pattern, victims must be brought to a point where they have lost their alert consciousness and mental awareness. Freedom of discussion and free intellectual exchange hinder conditioning. Feelings of terror, feelings of fear and hopelessness, of being alone, of standing with one's back to the wall, must be instilled.
The treatment of American prisoners of war in the Korean P.O.W. camps followed just such a pattern. They were compelled to listen to lectures and other forms of daily word barrage. The very fact that they did not understand the lectures and were bored by the long sessions inhibited their democratic training, and conditioned them to swallow passively the bitter doctrinal diet, for the prisoners were subjected not only to a political training program, but also to an involuntary taming program. To some degree the Communist propaganda lectures were directed toward retraining the prisoners' minds. This training our soldiers could reject, but the endless repetitions and the constant sloganizing, together with the physical hardships and deprivations the prisoners suffered, caused an UNCONSCIOUS TAMING and conditioning, against which only previously built up inner strength and awareness could help.
There is still another reason why our soldiers were sometimes trapped by the Communist conditioning. Experiments with animals and experiences with human beings have taught us that threat, tension, and anxiety, in general, may accelerate the establishment of conditioned responses, particularly when those responses tend to diminish fear and panic (Spence and Farber). The emergency of prison camp life and mental torture provide ideal circumstances for such conditioning. The responses can develop even when the victim is completely unaware that he is being influenced. Thus, many of our soldiers developed automatic responses of which they remained completely unconscious (Segal). But this is only one side of the coin, for experience has also shown that people who know what to expect under conditions of mental pressure can develop a so called perceptual defense, which protects them from being influenced. This means that the more familiar people are with the concepts of thought control and menticide, the more they understand the nature of the propaganda barrage directed against them, the more inner resistance they can put up, even though inevitably some of the inquisitor's suggestions will leak through the barrier of conscious mental defense.
Our understanding of the conditioning process leads us also to an understanding of some of the paradoxical reactions found among victims of concentration camps and other prisoners. Often those with a rigid, simple belief were better able to withstand the continual barrage against their minds than were the flexible, sophisticated ones, full of doubt and inner conflicts. The simple man with deep rooted, freely absorbed religious faith could exert a much greater inner resistance than could the complex, questioning intellectualist. The refined intellectual is much more handicapped by the internal pros and cons.
In totalitarian countries, where belief in Pavlovian strategy has assumed grotesque proportions, the self thinking, subjective man has disappeared. There is an utter rejection of any attempt at persuasion or discussion. Individual self expression is taboo. Private affection is taboo.
Peaceful exchange of free thoughts in free conversation will disturb the conditioned reflexes and is therefore taboo. No longer are there any brains, only conditioned patterns and educated muscles. In such a taming system neurotic compulsion is looked upon as a positive asset instead of something pathological. The mental automaton becomes the ideal of education.
Yet the Soviet theoreticians themselves are often unaware of this, and many of them do not realize the dire consequences of subjecting man to a completely mechanistic conditioning. They themselves are often just as frightened as we are by the picture of the perfectly functioning human robot. This is what one of their psychologists says: "The entire reactionary nature of this approach to man is completely clear. Man is an automaton who can be caused to act as one wills! This is the ideal of capitalism! Behold the dream of capitalism the world over a working class without consciousness, which cannot think for itself, whose actions can be trained according to the whim of the exploiter! This is the reason why it is in America, the bulwark of present day capitalism, that the theory of man as a robot has been so vigorously developed and so stubbornly held to." (Bauer)
Western psychology and psychiatry, although acknowledging its debt to Pavlov as a great pioneer who made important contributions to our understanding of behaviour, takes a much less mechanical view of man than do the Soviet Pavlovians. It is apparent to us that their simple explanation of training ignores and rejects the concept of purposeful adaptation and the question of the goals to which this training is directed. Western experimental psychologists tend to see the conditioned reflex as developing fully only in the service of gratifying basic instinctual needs or of avoiding pain, that is, only when the whole organism is concerned in the activity. In that complicated process of response to the world, conscious, and especially unconscious, drives and motivations play a role.
All training, of which the conditioned response is only one example, is an automatization of actions which were originally consciously learned and thought over. The ideal of Western democratic psychology is to train men into independence and maturity by enlisting their conscious aid, awareness, and volition in the learning process. The ideal of the totalitarian psychology, on the other hand, is to tame men, to make them willing tools in the hands of their leaders. Like training, taming has the purpose of making actions automatic; unlike training, it does not require the conscious participation of the learner. Both training and taming are energy and timesaving devices, and in both the mystery of the psyche is hidden in the purposefulness of the responses. The automatization of functions in man saves him expenditure of energy but can make him weaker when encountering new unexpected challenges.
Cultural routinization and habit formation by local rules and myths make of everybody a partial automaton. National and racial prejudices are acted out unwittingly. Group hatred often bursts out almost automatically when triggered by slogans and catchwords. In a totalitarian world, this narrow disciplinarian conditioning is done more "perfectly" and more "ad absurdum."
One suggestion this chapter is not intended to convey is that Pavlovian conditioning as such is something wrong. This kind of conditioning occurs everywhere where people are together in common interaction. The speaker influences the listener, but the listener also the speaker. Through the process of conditioning people often learn to like and to do what they are allowed to like and do. The more isolated the group, the stricter the conditioning that takes place in those belonging to the group. In some groups one finds people more capable than others of conveying suggestion and bringing about conditioning. Gradually one can discern the stronger ones, the better adjusted ones, the more experienced ones, and those noisier ones, whose ability to condition others is strongest. Every group, every club, every society has its leading Pavlovian Bell. This kind of person imprints his inner bell ringing on others. He can even develop a system of monolithic bell ringing: no other influential bell is allowed to compete with him.
Another subtler question belongs to these problems. Why is there in us so great an urge to be conditioned, the urge to learn, to imitate, to conform, and to follow the pattern of family and group? This urge to be conditioned, to submit to the communal pattern and the family pattern must be related to man's dependency on parents and fellow men. Animals are not so dependent on one another. In the whole animal kingdom man is one of the most helpless and naked beings. But among the animals man has, relatively, the longest youth and time for learning.
Puzzlement and doubt, which inevitably arise in the training process, are the beginnings of mental freedom. Of course, the initial puzzlement and doubt is not enough. Behind that there has to be faith in our democratic freedoms and the will to fight for it. I hope to come back to this central problem of faith in moral freedom as differentiated from conditioned loyalty and servitude in the last chapter. Puzzlement and doubt are, however, already crimes in the totalitarian state. The mind that is open for questions is open for dissent. In the totalitarian regime the doubting, inquisitive, and imaginative mind has to be suppressed. The totalitarian slave is only allowed to memorize, to salivate when the bell rings.
It is not my task here to elaborate on the subject of the biased use of Pavlovian rules by totalitarians, but without doubt part of the interpretation of any psychology is determined by the ways we think about our fellow human beings and man's place in nature. If our ideal is to make conditioned zombies out of people, the current misuse of Pavlovianism will serve our purpose. But once we become even vaguely aware that in the totalitarian picture of man the characteristic human note is missing, and when see that in such a scheme man sacrifices his instinctual desires, his pleasures, his aims, his goals, his creativity, his instinct for freedom, his paradoxicality, we immediately turn against this political perversion of science. Such use of Pavlovian technique is aimed only at developing the automaton in man, not his free alert mind that is aware of moral goals and aims in life.
Even in laboratory animals we have found that affective goal directedness can spoil the Pavlovian experiment. When, during a bell food training session, the dog's beloved master entered the room, the animal lost all its previous conditioning and began to bark excitedly. Here is a simple example of an age old truth: love and laughter break through all rigid conditioning. The rigid automaton cannot exist without spontaneous self expression. Apparently, the fact that the dog's spontaneous affection for his master could ruin all the mechanical calculations and manipulations never occurred to Pavlov's totalitarian students.
As we have already seen in the preceding chapters, it is not only the political and Pavlovian pressure that may drag down man's mind into servile submissiveness. There are many other human habits and actions which have a coercive influence.
All kinds of rumours have been circulated telling how brainwashees, before surrendering to their inquisitor, have been poisoned with mysterious drugs. This chapter aims to describe what medical techniques -- not only drugs -- can do to reach behind man's inner secrets. Actually the thought-control police no longer need drugs, though occasionally they have been used.
I will touch upon another side to this problem as well, namely, our dangerous social dependence on various drugs, the problem of addiction, making it easier for us to slip into the pattern of submissiveness. The alcoholic has no mental backbone any more when you give him his drink. The same is true for the chronic user of sedatives or other pills. The use of alcohol or drugs may result in a chemical dependency, weakening our stamina under exceptional circumstances.
In the field of practical medicine, magic thinking is still rampant. Though we flatter ourselves that we are rational and logical in our choice of therapy, somewhere we know that hidden feelings and unconscious motivations direct the prescribing hand. In spite of the therapeutic triumphs of the last fifty years (since 1900), the era of chemotherapy and antibiotics, let us not forget that the same means of medical victory can be used to defeat our purposes.
No day passes that the mail does not flood the doctor's office with suggestions about what to use in his clinical practice. My desk overflows with gadgets and multicoloured pills telling me that without them mankind cannot be happy. The propaganda campaign reaching our medical eyes and ears is often so laden with suggestions that we can be persuaded to distribute sedatives and stimulants where straight critical thinking would deter us and we would seek the deeper causes of the difficulties. This is true not only for modern pharmacotherapy; the same tendencies can also be shown in psychotherapeutic methods.
This chapter aims to approach the problem of mental coercion with the question: How compulsive can the use of medical drugs and medical and psychological methods become? In the former chapters on menticide I was able to describe political attempts to bring the human mind into submission and servility. Drugs and their psychological equivalents are also able to enslave people.
Among drug addicts of all sorts we repeatedly encounter the yearning for a special ecstatic and euphoric mood, a feeling of living beyond everyday trouble. "Thou has the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty opium!" Thomas De Quincey says, in his "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater." Although the ecstatic state is different for each person who experiences it, the addict always tells us that the drug takes him to the lost paradise he is looking for; it brings him a feeling of eternal euphoria and free elation that takes him past the restrictions of life and time.
In the ecstatic state, man arranges the universe according to his own desires and, at the same time, seeks communion with the Higher Order of things. But the ecstatic state has its negative as well as its positive aspects. It may represent the Yogi's mystic feeling of unity with the universe, but it may also mean the chronic intoxicated state of the drunkard or the passion of some manic psychotic states. The feeling may express the intensified spiritual experience of a dedicated study group, but, on the other hand, it may be encountered in the lynch mob and the riot. There are many kinds of ecstasy -- aesthetic ecstasy, mystic ecstasy, and sick, toxic ecstasy.
The search for ecstatic experience is not only an individual search, it often reaches out to encompass whole groups. When moral controls become too burdensome, whole civilizations may give themselves up to uncontrolled orgies such as we saw in the Greek Bacchanalia and the contagious dance-fury of the Middle Ages. In these mass orgies, artificial stimulants are not necessarily used. The hypnotic influence of being part of the crowd can induce the same loss of control and sense of union with the outside world that we associate with drugs. In the mass orgy the individual loses his conscience and self-control. His sexual inhibitions may disappear; he is temporarily relieved of his deep frustrations and the burden of unconscious guilt. He endeavours to experience the blissful sensations of utter yielding to his own body needs and desires.
The ecstatic participation in mass elation is the oldest psychodrama in the world. Taking part in some common action results in a tremendous emotional relief and catharsis for every individual in the group. This feeling of participation in the magic omnipotent group, of reunion and communion with the all-embracing forces in the world brings euphoria to the normal person and feelings of pseudo-strength to the weak. The demagogue who is able to provide such ecstatic release in the masses can be sure of their yielding to his influence and power. Dictators love to organize such mass rituals in the service of their dictatorial aims.
Ever since man has been a conscious being, he has tried from time to time to break down the inevitable tension between himself and the outside world. When mental alertness cannot be relaxed now and then, when the world is too much and too constantly with him, man may try to lose himself in the deep waters of oblivion. Ecstasy, drugged sleep, and its fantasies and swoons of mental exaltation temporarily take him beyond the burdensome effort of keeping his senses and ego alert and intact. Drugs can bring him to this state, and any addiction may be explained as a continuing need to escape.
The body cooperates with the mind in this search for an evasion of life, and drugs gradually become a body need as well as an emotional necessity.
In criminal circles addicting drugs like cocaine and heroin are often given to members of the gang in order to make them more submissive to the leader who distributes them. The man who provides the drug becomes almost a god to the members of the gang. They will go through hell in order to acquire the drug they so desperately need.
In the hands of a powerful tyrant, this medication into dependency can become extremely dangerous. It is not unthinkable that a diabolical dictator might want to use addiction as a means of bringing a rebellious people into submission. In May, 1954, during a discussion in the World Health Organization, the fact was disclosed that Communist China, while forbidding the use of opium in her own country, was smuggling and exporting it in great quantities to her neighbours, who have consequently been compelled to carry on a constant struggle against opium addiction among their own people and against the passivity which results from use of the drug.
At the same time, according to officials of Thailand who made the charge and requested U.N. aid, Communist China has been sending all kinds of subversive propagandists into Thailand. Thailand charged that the Chinese were using every device they know to infect the Siamese people with their ideology: brainweakening opium addiction, leaflets, radio, whispering campaigns, and so on.
The Nazis followed a similar strategy. During the occupation of Western Europe, they created an artificial shortage of normal medicaments by halting their usual export of healing drugs to the "inferior" countries. However, they made an exception in the case of barbiturates. In Holland, for example, these drugs were made readily available in many drugstores without doctors' prescriptions, a situation which was against customary Dutch law. Although the right therapeutic drugs were not made available for medical work, the drugs which created passivity, dependence, and lethargy were widely distributed.
The totalitarian dictator knows that drugs can be his helpers. It was Hitler's intention, in his so-called biological warfare, to weaken and subdue the countries that surrounded the Third Reich, and to break their backbones for good. Hunger and addiction were among his most valuable tools.
What has all this to do with the growing addiction and alcoholism in our own country? I have already mentioned the alarming increases in death from barbiturates. But I would like to emphasize even more the psychological and political consequences. Democracy and freedom end where slavery and submission to drugs and alcohol begin. Democracy involves free, self-chosen activity and understanding; it means mature self-control and independence. Any man who escapes from reality through the use of alcohol and drugs is no longer a free agent; he is no longer able to exert any voluntary control over his mind and his actions. He is no longer a self-responsible individual. Alcoholism and drug addiction prepare the pattern of mental submission so beloved by the totalitarian brainwasher.
From time immemorial those who wanted to know the inner workings of the other fellow's mind in order to exert pressure on him have used artificial means to find the hidden pathways to his most private thoughts. Modern brainwashers, too, have tried all kinds of drugs to arrive at their devious objectives. The primitive medicine man had several methods of compelling his victim to lose his self-control and reserve. Alcoholic drinks, toxic ointments, or permeating holy smoke which had a narcotizing effect, as used by the Mayas, for example, were used to bring people into such a state of rapture that they lost their self-awareness and restraint. The victims, murmuring sacred words, often revealed their self-accusing fantasies or even their deepest secrets.
In the Middle Ages, so-called witch ointments were used either voluntarily or under pressure. These ointments were supposed to bring the anointed into touch with the devil. Since they contained opiates and belladonna in large quantities, which could have been absorbed by the skin, modern science can explain the ecstatic visions they evoked as the typical hallucination-provoking effect of these drugs.
One of the first useful techniques medicine delivered into the hands of the prier - into souls was the knowledge of hypnosis, that intensified mental suggestion that makes people give up their own will and brings them into a strange dependency on the hypnotizer. The Egyptian doctors of three thousand years ago knew the technique of hypnosis, and ancient records tell us that they practiced it.
There are many quacks who practice hypnosis, not to cure their victims but to force them into submission, using the victim's unconscious ties and dependency needs in a criminal, profitable way. One of the most absorbing aspects of this whole problem of hypnosis is the question of whether people can be forced to commit crimes, such as murder or treason, while under a hypnotic spell. Many psychologists would deny that such a thing could happen and would insist that no person can be compelled to do under hypnosis what he would refuse to do in a state of alert consciousness. But actually what a person can be compelled to do depends on the degree of dependency that hypnosis causes and the frequency of repetition of the so-called posthypnotic suggestions.
Actual psychoanalysis teaches that there even exist several other devices to live other people's lives. True, no hypnotizer can take away a man's conscience and inner resistance immediately, but he can arouse the latent murderous wishes which may become active in his victim's unconscious by continual suggestion and continual playing upon those deeply repressed desires. Actual knowledge of methods used in brainwashing and menticide proves that all this can be done.
If the hypnotizer persists long enough and cleverly enough, he can be successful in his aim. There are many antisocial desires lying hidden in all people. The hypnotic technique, if cleverly enough applied, can bring them to the surface and cause them to be acted out in life.
The mass criminality of the guards in concentration camps finds part of its explanation in the hypnotizing influence of the totalitarian state and its criminal dictator. Psychological study of criminals shows that their first violation of moral and legal codes often takes place under the strong influence and suggestion of other criminals. This we may look upon as an initial form of hypnosis, which is a more intensified form of suggestion.
True, the incitement to crime in a hypnotic state demands specially favourable conditions, but unfortunately these conditions can be found in the real and actual world.
Recently there has been much judicial discussion of the problem of the psychiatrist who uses his special knowledge of suggestion to force a confession from a defendant. Such a psychiatrist is going beyond the commonly accepted concepts of the limitations of psychiatry and beyond psychiatric ethics. He is misusing the patient's trust in the medical confidant and therapist in order to provoke a confession, which will then be used against the patient temporarily in his care. In so doing, the doctor not only acts against his Hippocratic oath, in which he promised only to work for the good of his patients and never to disclose his professional secrets, he also violates the constitutional safeguards accorded a defendant by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects a man against self-incrimination.
What a defendant will reveal under hypnosis depends on his conscious and unconscious attitudes toward the entire question of magic influence and mental intrusion by another person. People are usually less likely to stand on their legal rights in dealing with a doctor than in dealing with a lawyer or a policeman. They have a yielding attitude because they expect magic help.
An interesting example of this can be seen in a case that was recently decided by the Supreme Court. In 1950, Camilio Weston Leyra, a man in his fifties, was arrested and accused by the police of the brutal hammer murder of his aged parents in their Brooklyn flat ("People v. Leyra"). At first, under prolonged questioning by the police, Leyra denied any knowledge of the crime and stated that he had not even been at his parents' home on the day of the murder. Later, after further interrogation by the police, he said he had been at their home that day, but he remained firm in his denial of the murder. He was detained in jail, and a psychiatrist was brought in to talk to him. Their conversation was recorded on tape. The psychiatrist told Leyra that he was "his doctor," although in fact he was not. Under slight hypnosis and after continued suggestion that Leyra would be better off if he admitted to having committed the murder in a fit of passion, Leyra agreed to confess to the crime. The police were called back in, and the confession was taken down.
During his trial, Leyra repudiated the confession, insisting that he had been under hypnosis. He was convicted, but the conviction was set aside on the grounds that the confession had been wrested from him involuntarily, and that his constitutional safeguards had been denied him. Later, Leyra was brought to trial and convicted a second time. Finally his case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction in June, 1954, on the grounds that mental pressure and coercive psychiatric techniques had been used to induce the confession. The Supreme Court gave its opinion here, indirectly, of the responsibility of the brainwashed P.O.W.
For us, the question of Leyra's guilt or innocence is less important than the fact that under mental pressure he was induced to do what he would ordinarily have resisted doing, and that his confidence in the doctor, which led him to relax the defences he would doubtless have put up against other investigators, was used to break him down.
Suggestion and hypnosis are considered by some to be a psychological blessing, but they can also be the beginning of terror. Mass hypnosis, for example, can have a dangerous influence on the individual. Psychiatrists have found several times that public demonstrations of mass hypnosis may provoke an increased hypnotic dependency and submissiveness in many members of the audience that can last for years. Largely for this reason Great Britain has passed a law making séances and mass hypnotism illegal. Hypnosis may act as a trigger mechanism for a repressed dependency need in the victim and turn him temporarily into a kind of waking sleep-walker and mental slave. The hypnotic command relieves him of his personal responsibility, and he surrenders much of his conscience to his hypnotizer. As we mentioned before, our own times have provided us with far too many examples of how political hypnosis, mob hypnosis, and even war hypnosis can turn civilized men into criminals.
Some personalities are more amenable to hypnosis than others. Strong egos can defend themselves for a long time against mental intrusion, but they too may have a point of surrender. There are overtly critical persons who are much less sensitive to suggestion from the outside than to images from within themselves. We can distinguish between heterosuggestive and autosuggestive personalities, although quite a variety of reactions to hypnosis and suggestion can be distinguished. But even these autosuggestive types, if subjected to enough pressure, will gradually build up internal justification for giving in to mental coercion.
Those "charming" characters who are easily able to influence others are often extremely susceptible to suggestion themselves. Some personalities with a tremendous gift for empathy and identification provoke in others the desire to yield up all their secrets; they seem somehow to be the Father Confessor by the grace of God. Other emphatic types, by reflecting their own deceitful inner world, can more easily provoke the hidden lies and fantasies in their victims. Still others make us close up completely. Why one man should inspire the desire to give in and another the desire to resist is one of the mysteries of human relationships and contact. Why do certain personalities complement and reinforce one another while others clash and destroy one another? Psychoanalysis has given new insight into those strange human relations and involvements.
During the Second World war, the technique of the so-called truth serum (the popular name for narco-analysis) was developed to help soldiers who had broken down under the strain of battle. Through narco-analysis by means of injections of sedatives, they could be brought to remember and reveal the hyper-emotional and traumatic moments of their war experiences that had driven them into acute anxiety neurosis. Gradually a useful mental first-aid technique was developed which helped the unconscious to reveal its secrets while the patient was under the influence of the narcotic.
How does the truth serum work? The principle is simple: after an injection, the mind in a kind of half-sleep is unable to control its secrets, and it may let them slip from the hidden reservoirs of frustration and repression into the half-conscious mind. In certain acute anxiety cases, such enforced provocation may alleviate the anxieties and pressures that have led to breakdown. But narco-analysis often does not work. Sometimes the patient's mind resents this chemical intrusion and enforced intervention, and such a situation often obstructs the way for deeper and more useful psychotherapy.
The fear of unexpected mental intrusion and coercion may be pathological in character. When I first published my concept of menticide and brainwashing, I received dozens of letters and phone calls from people who were convinced that some outside person was trying to influence them and direct their thoughts. This form of "mental intrusion delusion" may be the early stage of a serious psychosis in which the victim has already regressed to primitive magic feelings. In this state the whole outside world is seen and felt as participating in what is going on in the victim's mind. There is, as it were, no real awareness of the frontiers between "I", the person, and the world. Such fear-ridden persons are in constant agony because they feel themselves the victims of many mysterious influences which they cannot check or cope with; they feel continually endangered. Psychologically, their fear of intrusion from the outside can be partially explained as a fear of the intrusion of their own fantasies from the inside, from the unconscious. They are frightened by their own hidden, unconscious thoughts which they can no longer check.
It would be a vast oversimplification to stick an easy psychiatric label on all such feelings of mental persecution, for there are many real, outside mental pressures in our world, and there are many perfectly normal people who are continually aware of and disturbed by the barrage of stimuli directed at their minds through propaganda, advertising, radio, television, the movies, the newspapers -- all the gibbering maniacs whose voices never stop. These people suffer because a cold, mechanical, shouting world is knocking continually at the doors of their minds and disturbing their feelings of privacy and personal integrity.
There is the further question of whether or not the drugs used in the truth serum always produce the desired effect of compelling the patient to tell the inner truth. Experiments conducted at Yale University in 1951 (J. M. MacDonald) on nine persons who received intravenous injections of sodium amatol -- the so-called truth serum -- showed interesting results, tending to weaken our faith in this drug.
Each of the patients, prior to the injection, had been suggested a false story related to a historical period about which he was going to be questioned. The experimenters knew both the true and the false story. Let me quote from the report: "It is of interest that the three subjects diagnosed as normal maintained their [suggested] stories. Of the six subjects diagnosed as neurotic, two promptly revealed the true story; two made partial admissions, consisting of a complex pattern of fantasy and truth; one communicated what most likely was a fantasy as truth; and the one obsessive-compulsive individual maintained his cover story except for one parapraxia (faulty or blundering action)."
In several cases, American law courts have refused to admit as evidence the results of truth serum tests, largely on the basis of psychiatric conviction that the truth serum treatment is misnamed; that, in fact, narco-analysis is no guarantee of getting at the truth. It may even be used as a coercive threat in cases where victims are not aware of it limited action.
Still another danger, more closely related to our subject, is that a criminal investigator can induce and communicate his own thoughts and feelings to his victim. Thus the truth serum may cause the patient with a weak ego to yield to the interventionist's synthetically injected thoughts and interpretations in exactly the same way the victim of hypnosis may take over the suggestions implanted by the hypnotist.
Additionally, this method of inquisition by drugs contains some physical danger. I myself have seen cases of thrombosis develop as a result of intravenous medication of barbiturates.
Experiments with mescaline, which started thirty years ago (in the 1920s), are suddenly fashionable again. Aldous Huxley in his recent book THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION described the artificial chemical paradise which he experienced after taking the drug (also known as peyote). It can stimulate all kinds of pleasant, subjective symptoms, but these are, nevertheless, delusive in character. I do not want to start a clinical argument with another author, yet his own euphoric ecstatic reactions to mescaline are not necessarily the same as those other people experience. Mescaline is dangerous stuff when not used under medical control. And, anyway, why does Mr. Huxley want to sell artificial heavens?
There is a very serious social danger in all these methods of chemical intrusion into the mind. True, they can be used as a careful aid to psychotherapy, but they can also be frightening instruments of control in the hands of men with an overwhelming drive to power.
In addition, they fortify more than ever in our "aspirin age" the fiction that we have to use miracle drugs in order to become free-acting agents. The propaganda for chemical elation, for artificial ecstasy and pseudo-nirvanic experience contains an invitation to men to become chemical dependents, and chemical dependents are weak people who can be made use of by any tyrannical political potentate. The actual propaganda carried on among general practitioners using treatment with all kinds of anxieties and mental disturbances with new drugs has the same kind of dangerous implications.
Hypnotism and narco-analysis are only two of the current devices that can be misused as instruments of enforced intrusion into the mind. The lie-detector, which has already been used as a tool for mental intimidation, is another. This apparatus, useful for psychobiological experimentation, can indicate -- through writing down meticulously the changes in the psychogalvanic reflex -- that the human guinea pig under investigation reacts more emotionally to certain questions than to others. True, this overreaction may be the reaction to having told a lie, but it may also be an innocent person's reaction to an emotion-laden situation or even to an increased fear of unjust accusation.
The interpersonal processes between interrogator and testee have just as much influence on the emotional reactions and the changes in the galvanic reflex as feelings of inner guilt and confusion. This experiment only indicates inner turmoil and hidden repressions, with all their doubts and ambiguities.
It is not in fact a lie-detector, although it is used as such (D. MacDonald). As a matter of fact, the pathological liar and the psychopathic, conscienceless personality may show less reaction to this experiment than do normal people. The lie-detector is more likely to become a tool of coercion in the hands of men who look more for a powerful magic in every instrument than a means of getting at the truth. As a result, even the innocent can be fooled into false confession.
Medical therapy and psychotherapy are the subtle sciences of human guidance in periods of physical and emotional stress. Just as training requires the alert, well planned participation of both student and teacher, so successful psychotherapy requires the alert, well-planned participation of both patient and doctor. And just as educational training, under special conditions, can degenerate into coercive taming, so therapy can degenerate into the imposition of the doctor's will on his patient. The doctor himself need not even be conscious that this is happening. The misuse of therapy may show itself in the patient's submission to the doctor's point of view or in the patient's development of excessive dependency on his therapist. Such a dependency, and even increased dependency need, may extend not only far beyond the usual limits, but may continue even after the therapy has run its course.
I have seen quacks whose only knowledge was where to buy their couches. By calling themselves psychoanalysts they were able to gratify their own need to live other people's lives. Eventually the law will have to establish standards which can keep these dangerous intruders from psychotherapeutic practice. But even the honest, conscientious therapist has a serious moral problem to face. His profession itself continually encourages him, indeed obliges him, to make his patients temporarily dependent on him, and this may appeal to his own need for a sense of importance and power. He must be continually aware of the impact his statements and deductions have on his patients who often listen in awe to the doctor who is for them the omniscient magician. The therapist must not encourage this submissive attitude in his patients -- though in some phases of treatment it will help the therapy -- for good psychotherapy aims toward educating man for freedom and maturity not for conforming submission.
The practitioners of psychology and psychiatry are now much more aware of the responsibility their profession imposes on them than they have ever been heretofore. The tools of psychology are dangerous in the hands of the wrong men.
Modern educational methods can be applied in therapy to streamline man's brain and change his opinions so that his thinking conforms with certain ideological systems. Medicine and psychiatry may become more and more involved in political strategy as we have seen in the strategy of brainwashing, and for this reason psychologists and psychiatrists must become more aware of the nature of the scientific tools they use.
The emphasis on therapeutic techniques, on students knowing all the facts and the tricks, the overemphasis on psychotherapeutic diplomas and labels lead actual therapy toward conformism and rationalization of principles that are in contrast to the personal sensitivity needed. Our critical and rational faculty can be a destructive one, destroying or disguising our basic doubts and ambivalences born out of tragic despair, that creator of human sensitivity.
The danger of modern psychotherapy (and psychiatry) is the tendency toward formalizing human intuition and empathy, and toward making an abstraction of emotion and spontaneity. It is a contradiction to attempt to mechanize love and beauty. If this were possible, we would find ourselves in a world where there is no inspiration and ecstasy but only cold understanding.
Every human relationship can be used for the wrong or the right aims, and this is especially true of the relationship of subtle unconscious ties which exist between psychotherapist and patient. This statement is equally true for medicine in general; the surgeon, too, thrives on strong ties with his patients and their willing submission to his surgical techniques. Experiences in therapy have taught us that faulty technique can give the patient feelings of being bogged down. Sometimes patients feel as if they have to remain living in servile submission to the doctor. I have seen whole families and sects swear by such modern witch doctors.
No wonder that sound psychoanalytic instruction requires the therapist to admit himself for years of technique he is about to apply to others, so that, armed with knowledge of his own unsound unconscious needs, he will not try to use his profession to mastermind other people's lives.
Various psychological agencies, with their different psychological concepts and techniques, such as family counselling, religious guidance, management counselling, and so forth, can easily be misused as tools of power. The good will that people invest in their leaders, doctors, and administrators is tremendous and can be used as a weapon against them. Even modern brain surgery for healing the mind could be misused by modern dictators to make zombies out of their competitors. Psychology itself may tend to standardize the mind, and the tendency among different schools of psychology to emphasize orthodoxy increases unwittingly the chance for mental coercion. ("If you don't talk my magic gobbledygook, I have to condition you to it.") It is easier to manipulate the minds of others than to avoid doing so.
A free society gives its citizens the right to act as free agents. At the same time, it imposes on them the responsibility for maintaining their freedom, mental as well as political. If, through the use of modern medical, chemical, and mechanical techniques of mental intrusion, we reduce man's capacity to act on his own initiative, we subvert our own beliefs and weaken our free system. Just as there is a deliberate political brainwashing, so there can be a suggestive intrusion masquerading under the name of justice or therapy. This may be less obtrusive than the deliberate totalitarian attack, but it is no less dangerous.
Medication into submission is an existing fact. Man can use his knowledge of the mind of a fellow being not to help him, but to hurt him and bog him down. The magician can increase his power by increasing the anxieties and fears of his victim, by exploiting his dependency needs, and by provoking his feelings of guilt and inferiority.
Drugs and medical techniques can be used to make man a submissive and conforming being. This we have to keep in mind in order to be able to make him really healthy and free.
Is there a bridge from the concept of Pavlovian conditioning to deeper psychological understanding? Only in those Pavlovian theoreticians who deny modern depth psychology does there exist a conflict between concepts. Pavlov himself acknowledged the presence of deeper, hidden motivations in man and the limitations of his study of animal behaviour.
Our task is to go back to the brainwashee, asking ourselves: How can we better convey an understanding of what happened to him? What were the Pavlovian circumstances, and what were the inner motivations to yield to enforced political manipulation of the mind? Was it cowardice, was it a prison psychosis, was it the general loss of mental stamina in our world?
In the following observations and experiences I hope to make use of the clinical insight actually provided by modern depth psychology.
One day in 1672, the lonely philosopher of reason, Spinoza, had to be forcibly restrained by his friends and neighbours. He wanted to rush out into the streets and shout his indignation at the mob which had murdered his good friend Jan De Witt, noble statesman of the Dutch Republic, who had been falsely accused of treason. But presently he calmed down and retreated to his room where, as usual, he ground optical lenses according to a daily and hitherto unbroken routine.
As he worked, he thought back to his own behaviour, which had been no more rational or sensible than the behaviour of the rioting crowd which had killed De Witt. It was then that Spinoza realized the existence of the emotional beast hidden beneath human reason, which, when aroused, can act in a wanton and destructive fashion, and can conjure up thousands of justifications and excuses for its behaviour.
For, as Spinoza sensed, and as was later discovered, people are not the rational creatures they think they are. In the unconscious, that vast storehouse of deeply buried memories, emotions, and strivings, lie many irrational yearnings, which constantly influence the conscious acts. All of us are governed to some degree by this hidden tyrant, and by the conflict between our reason and our emotions.
To the extent that we are the victims of unchecked unconscious drives, to that extent we may be vulnerable to mental manipulation.
And although there is a horrifying fascination in the idea that our mental resistance is relatively weak, that the very quality which distinguishes one man from another - the individual "I" can be profoundly altered by psychological pressures, such transformations are merely extremes of a process we find operating in normal life.
Through systematized suggestion, subtle propaganda, and more overt mass hypnosis, the human mind in its expressions is changed daily in any society. Advertising seduces the democratic citizen into using quackeries or one special brand of soap instead of another. Our wish to buy things is continually stimulated. Campaigning politicians seek to influence us by their glamour as well as by their programs. Fashion experts hypnotize us into periodic changes of our standards of beauty and good taste.
In cases of menticide, however, this assault on the integrity of the human mind is more direct and premeditated. By playing on the irrational child lying hidden in the unconscious and by sharpening the internal conflict between reason and emotion, the inquisitor can bring his victims to abject surrender.
All of the victims of deliberate menticide - the P.O.W.s in Korea, the imprisoned "traitors" to the dictatorial regimes of the Iron Curtain countries, the victims of the Nazi terror during the Second World War -- are people whose ways of life had been suddenly and dramatically altered. They had been torn from their homes, their families, their friends, and thrown into a frightening, abnormal atmosphere. The very strangeness of their surroundings made them more vulnerable to any attack on their values and attitudes. When the dictator exploits his victim's psychological needs in a threatening, hostile, and unfamiliar world, breakdown is almost sure to follow.
Already during the First World War, peculiar mental reactions, mixtures of apathy and rage, could be discerned in prisoners of war as a defensive adjustment against the hardships of prison life, the boredom, the hunger, the lack of privacy, the continual insecurity. The Korean War added to this situation the greater cruelty of the enemy, the prolonged fear of death, malnutrition, diseases, systematic attacks on the prisoner's mind, the lack of sanitation, and the lack of all human dignity.
Often improvement could be secured through acceptance of the totalitarian ideology. The psychological pressure not only led to an involvement with the enemy but caused mutual suspicion among the prisoners.
As I have already described, the barbed-wire disease begins with the initial apathy and despair of all prisoners. There is passive surrender to fate. In fact, people can die out of such despair; it is as if all resistance was gone. Being anything but aloof and apathetic was even dangerous in a camp where the enemy wanted to debate and argue with you in order to tear down your mental resistance. Consequently a vicious circle was built up of apathy, not thinking, letting things go -- a surrender to a complete zombie-like existence of mechanical dependency on the circumstances. Every sign of anger and alertness could be brutally punished by the enemy; that is why we do not find those sudden attacks of rage that were observed in the earlier prisoner-of-war camps during World Wars I and II.
Results of psychological testing of the liberated soldiers from the Korean P.O.W. camps could indicate that this defensive apathy and retreat into secluded dependency was likely to be found in nearly all of them. Yet, after being brought back into normal surroundings, alertness and activity returned rather soon, even in two or three days. Those few who remained anxious, apathetic, and zombielike belong to the long chapter of war and battle neuroses (Strassman).
What are some of the factors which can turn a man into a traitor to his own convictions, an informer, a confessor to heinous crimes, or an apparent collaborator?
Several victims of the Nazi inquisition have told me that the moment of surrender occurred suddenly and against their will. For days they had faced the fury of their interrogators, and then suddenly they fell apart. "All right, all right, you can have anything you want."
And then came hours of remorse, of resolution, of a desperate wish to return to their previous position of firm resistance. They wanted to cry out: "Don't ask me anything else. I won't answer." And yet something in them, that conforming, complying being hidden deep in all of us, was on the move.
This sudden surrender often happened after an unexpected accusation, a shock, a humiliation that particularly hurt, a punishment that burned, a surprising logic in the inquisitor's question that could not be counter-argued. I remember an experience of my own that illustrated the effect of such surprise.
After my escape from a Nazi prison in occupied Holland, I was able to reach neutral Switzerland via Vichy France. When I arrived, I was put in a jail where, at first, I was treated rather kindly. After three days, however, I was denied an officer's right to asylum and was told that I would be deported back to Vichy France. To this information, my jailers sneeringly added the comment that I should be happy I was not going to be deported back to the Germans.
When I left to be transported to the border, I was asked to sign a paper stating that all my possessions (which had been taken from me on my imprisonment) had been returned. I refused to sign because a few things -- unimportant in themselves, but of great emotional value to me - were not included in the package my jailers handed me. One of the guards looked at me with contempt, the second tapped his foot impatiently and repeatedly demanded that I sign the paper, the third scolded and chattered in a French that was completely unintelligible to me. I continued firm in my refusal.
Suddenly one of my officers started to slap me around the face and to beat me. Overwhelmed by surprise that they should display such fury over a bagatelle, I surrendered and signed the paper. (From the Vichy prison to which I was sent, I was permitted to write a letter of protest to the Swiss government. I still carry the official apology I received.)
This sudden change of mood of defiant resistance to one of submission must be explained by the unconscious action of contrasting feelings. Consciously we tell ourselves to be strong, but from deep within us the desire to give in and to comply beings to disturb us and to affect our behaviour. In psychology this is described as the innate ambivalence of all feelings.
The vocabulary of psychopathology contains many sophisticated terms for the wish to succumb to mental pressure, such as "wish to regress," "dependency need," "mental masochism," "unconscious death wish," and many others. For our purposes, however, it is enough to state that every individual has two opposing needs which operate simultaneously: the need to be independent to be oneself; and the need NOT to be oneself, NOT to be anybody at all, NOT to resist mental pressure.
The need to be inconspicuous, to disappear, and to be swallowed up by society is a common one. In its simplest form we can see it all around us as a tendency to conform. Under ordinary circumstances the need for anonymity is balanced by the need for individuality, and the mentally healthy person is one who can walk the fine line between them. But in the frightening, lonely situations in which the victims of menticidal terror find themselves - situations which have a nightmare quality, which are crammed with dangers so tremendous they cannot be grasped or understood because there is nobody to explain or reassure - the wish to collapse, to let go, to be not there, becomes almost irresistible.
This experience was reported by many concentration-camp victims. They had come into camp with one unanswered question burning in their minds: "Why has all this happened to me?" Their need for a sense of direction, for a feeling of purpose and meaning was unsatisfied, and hence they could not maintain their personalities. They let themselves go in what psychopathology calls a depersonalization syndrome, a general feeing of having lost complete control of themselves and their own existence. What Pavlovian conditioning can do in applying artificial confusion, can be done too by one shocking experience. "For what?" they asked themselves. "What is the meaning of all this suffering?" And gradually they sank dully into that paralyzed state of semi-oblivion we call depression: the self-destructive needs take over.
The Nazis were clever and unscrupulous in taking advantage of this need to collapse. The humiliation of concentration-camp life, the repeated suggestion that the Allies were as good as beaten - they conspired to convince the inmates that there would be no end to this pointless suffering, no victorious conclusion to the war, no future to their lives. The desire to break down, to give in, becomes almost insurmountable when a man feels that this horrible marginal existence is something permanent, that he cannot look toward a more personal goal, that he has to adjust to this dulling, degrading life forever.
At the moment faith and hope disappear, man breaks down. There are tragic stories of concentration-camp victims who fixed all their expectations on the idea that liberation would come on Christmas, 1944, and aimed their entire existence toward that date. When it passed and they were still incarcerated, many of them simply collapsed and died.
This tendency to collapse also serves as a protective device against danger. The victim seems to think, "If my torturer doesn't notice me, he will leave me alone." And yet this very feeling of anonymity, this sense of losing one's personality, of being useless, unnoticed and unwanted, also results in depression and apathy. Man's need to be an individual can never be completely killed.
Not enough attention has been given to the psychology of loneliness, especially to the implications of enforced isolation of prisoners. When the sensory stimuli of everyday life are removed, man's entire personality may change. Social intercourse, our continual contact with our colleagues, our work, the newspapers, voices, traffic, our loved ones and even those we don't like -- all are daily nourishment for our senses and minds. We select what we find interesting, reject what we do not want to absorb.
Every day, every citizen lives in many small worlds of exchange of gratifications, little hatreds, pleasant experiences, irritations, delights. And he needs these stimuli to keep him on the alert. Hour by hour, reality, in cooperation with our memory, integrates the millions of facts in our lives by repeating them over and over.
As soon as man is alone, closed off from the world and from the news of what is going on, his mental activity is replaced by quite different processes. Long forgotten anxieties come to the surface, long-repressed memories knock on his mind from inside. His fantasy life begins to develop and assume gigantic proportions. He cannot evaluate or check his fantasies against the events of his ordinary days, and very soon they may take possession of them.
I remember very clearly my own fantasies during the time I was in a Nazi prison. It was almost impossible for me to control my depressive thoughts of hopelessness. I had to tell myself over and over again: "Think, think. Keep your senses alert; don't give in." I tried to use all my psychiatric knowledge to keep my mind in a state of relaxed mobilization, and on many days I felt it was a losing battle.
Some experiments have shown that people who are deprived, for even a very short time, of ALL sensory stimuli (no touch, no hearing, no smell, no sight) quickly fall into a kind of hallucinatory hypnotic state. Isolation from the multitude of impressions that normally bombard us from the outside world creates strange and frightening symptoms. According to Heron, who performed experiments on a group of students at McGill University by placing each student in his own pitch black, soundproof room, ventilated with filtered air, and encasing his hands in heavy leather mittens and his feet in heavy boots, "little by little their brains go dead or slip out of control." Even in twenty-four hours of such extreme sensual isolation, all the horror phantoms of childhood are awakened, and various pathological symptoms appear. Our instinct of curiosity demands continual feeding; if it is not satisfied, the internal hounds of hell are aroused.
The prisoner kept in isolation, although his isolation is by no means as extreme as in the laboratory test, also undergoes a severe mental change. His guards and inquisitors become more and more his only source of contact with reality, with those stimuli he needs even more than bread. No wonder that he gradually develops a peculiar submissive relationship to them. He is affected not only by his isolation from social contacts, but by sexual starvation as well.
The latent dependency needs that lie deep in all men make him willing to accept his guard as a substitute father figure. The inquisitor may be cruel and bestial, but the very fact that he acknowledges his victim's existence gives the prisoner a feeling that he has received some little bit of affection. What a conflict may thus arise between a man's traditional loyalties and these new ones! There are only a few personalities which are so completely self-sufficient that they can resist the need to yield, to find some human companionship, to overcome the unbearable loneliness.
During the World Wars, prisoners at first suffered from a peculiar, burning homesickness already called barbed-wire disease. Memories of mother, home, and family made the soldiers identify with babyhood again, but as they became more used to prison-camp life, thoughts of home and family also created positive values and helped make the prison-camp life less harrowing.
Even the prisoner who is not kept in isolation can feel lonely in the unorganized mass of prisoners. His fellow prisoners can become his enemies as easily as they can become his friends. His hatred of his guards can be displaced and turned against those imprisoned with him. Instead of suspecting the enemy, the victim may become suspicious of his companions in misery.
In the Nazi concentration camps and the Korean P.O.W. camps, a kind of mass paranoia often developed. Loneliness was increased because the prisoners cut themselves off from one another through suspicion and hatred. This distrust was encouraged by the guards. They constantly suggested to their victims that nobody cared for them and nobody was concerned about what was happening to them. "You are alone. Your friends on the outside don't know whether you're alive or dead. Your fellow prisoners don't even care." Thus all expectation of a future was killed, and the resulting uncertainty and hopelessness became unbearable. Then the guards sowed suspicion and spread terrifying rumours: "You are here because those people you call your friends betrayed you." "Your buddies here have squealed on you." "Your friends on the outside have deserted you." Playing on a man's old loyalties, making him feel deserted and alone, force him into submission and collapse.
The times that I myself wavered and entertained thoughts about joining the opposite forces always occurred after periods of extreme loneliness and deep-seated yearnings for companionship. At such moments the jailer or enemy may become a substitute friend.
Deep within all of us lie hidden feelings of guilt, unconscious guilt, which can be brought to the surface under extreme stress. The strategy of arousing guilt is the mother's oldest tool for gaining dominance over her children's souls. Her warning and accusing finger give her a magic power over them and help to create deep-seated guilt feelings which may continue all through their adult lives. When we are children, we depend on our parents and resent them for just this reason. We may harbour hidden destructive wishes against those closest to us, and feelings of guilt about these wishes. Buried deep in man's unconscious is the knowledge that he has had hostile fantasies, and that in his hostile fantasies he has felt himself capable of committing many crimes.
Theodore Reik has drawn our attention to the unknown primitive murderer believed to be in all of us, whose compulsion to confess and to be punished may be easily provoked under circumstances of terror and depression.
This concept of concealed hostility and destructiveness is often difficult for the layman to accept. But consider for a moment the popularity of the detective story. We may tell ourselves that we enjoy reading these tales because we identify with the keen and clever sleuth, but, as is clear from psychoanalytic experience, the repressed criminal in all of us is also at work and we also identify with the conscienceless killer. As a matter of fact, our repressed hostilities make the reading of hostile acts attractive to us.
In the political sphere, the systematic exploitation of unconscious guilt to create submission is a utilization of the unconscious confession compulsion and the need for punishment. Continual purges and confessions, as we encounter them in the totalitarian countries, arouse deeply hidden guilt feelings. The lesser sin of rebellion or subversion has to be admitted to cover personal thoughts of crime which are more deeply imbedded. The personal reactions of those who are continually interrogated and investigated give us a clue as to what happens.
The very fact of prolonged interrogation can re-arouse the hidden and unconscious guilt in the victim. At a time of extreme emotion, after constant accusation and day-long interrogation, when he has been deprived of sleep and reduced to a state of utter despair, the victim may lose the capacity to distinguish between the real criminal act of which he is accused and his own fantasised unconscious guilt. If his upbringing burdened him with an almost pathological sense of guilt under normal circumstances, he will be completely unable to resist the menticidal attack.
Even normal people may be brought to surrender under such miserable conditions, and not only through the action of the inquisition, but also because of all the other weakening factors. Lack of sleep, hunger, and illness can create utter confusion and make any man vulnerable to hypnotic influence. All of us have experienced the mental fuzziness which comes with being overtired. Concentration-camp victims know how hunger, especially, induces a loss of mental control.
In the fantastic world of the totalitarian prison or camp, these effects are heightened and exaggerated.
(NOTE: The conversation in concentration camps usually revolved around food and memories of glorious gluttony. The mind could not work: it was fixed on eating and fantasies about food. A word grew up to express that constant possession by the idea of eating well again: stomach masturbation ("Magenonanie"). This kind of talk often took the place of all intellectual exchange.)
The Nazis, through clever exploitation of their victims' unconscious guilt after poking into the back corners of their minds, were often able to convert courageous resistance fighters into meek collaborators. That they were not uniformly successful can be explained by two factors. The first is that MOST OF THE MEMBERS OF THE UNDERGROUND WERE INWARDLY PREPARED FOR THE BRUTALITY WITH WHICH THEY WERE TREATED. The second is that, clever as the Nazi techniques were, they were not as irresistible as the methodical tricks of the Communist brainwashers are.
When the victims of Nazi brutality did break down, it was not torture but often the threat of reprisal against family which made them give in. Sudden acute confrontation with a long-buried childhood problem creates confusion and doubt. All of a sudden the enemy puts before you a clash of loyalties: your father or your friends, your brother or your fatherland, your wife or your honor. This is a brutal choice to have to make, and when the inquisitor makes use of your additional inner conflicts, he can easily force you into surrender.
A clash between loyalties makes either choice a betrayal, and this arouses paralyzing doubt. This calculated but subtle attack on the weakest spots in man's mind, on a man's conscience, and on the moral system he has learned from the Judaeo-Christian ethics, paralyzes the reason and leads the victim more easily into betrayal. The inquisitor subtly tests his victim's archaic guilt feelings toward paternal figures, his friends, his children. He cleverly exploits the victim's early ambivalent ties with his parents. The sudden outbreak of hidden moral flaws and guilt can bring a man to tears and complete breakdown. He regresses to the dependency and submissiveness of the baby.
A very husky former hero of the Dutch resistance, known as King Kong because of his size and strength, became the treacherous instrument of the Nazis soon after his brother had been taken with him and the Nazis threatened to kill the youth. King Kong's final surrender to the enemy and his becoming their treacherous tool was psychiatrically recognizable as a defense mechanism against his deep guilt, arising from hidden feelings of aggression against his brother (Boeree.)
Another example of breakdown is seen in the story of one young resistance fighter who, after the Nazis had threatened to torture his father, who was imprisoned with him, finally broke into childish tears and promised to tell them everything they wanted to know. After that he was taken back to his cell in order to be softened up after the following day. This was the routine of his interrogator.
The inquisitors understood only too well the effectiveness of patient pursuit at repeated moments while intruding into a man's guilt feelings. Although both prisoners were liberated that night as a consequence of the Allied sweep through Belgium and the southwest part of Holland, the boy remained in his depression for a long time, tortured by his knowledge that he had nearly betrayed his best friends in the underground in order to save his father -- in spite of knowing, at the same time, that the promises of the enemy would not have protected his father.
The prisoners of war in Korea who gradually gave in to the systematic mental pressure of the enemy and collaborated in the production of materials that could be used for Communist propaganda - albeit tentatively and for only as long as they were in the orbit of the enemy - followed a peculiar psychological law of passive inner defense and inner deceit that when one cannot fight and defeat the enemy, one must join him. Later, a few of them were so taken in by totalitarian propaganda that they elected to remain in China and the totalitarian orbit. Some did it to escape punishment for having betrayed their comrades.
Man cannot become a turncoat without justifying his actions to himself. When Holland surrendered to the German army in 1940, I saw this general mechanism of mental surrender operating in several people who had been staunch anti-Nazis. "Maybe there is something good in Nazism," they told themselves as they saw the tremendous show of German strength. Those who were the victims of their own initial mental surrender and need to justify things, who could not stop and say to themselves "Hold on here; think this out," became the traitors and collaborators. They were completely taken in by the enemy's show of strength. The same process of self-justification and justifying the enemy started in the P.O.W. camps.
Experiences from the concentration camps give us some indication of how far this passive submission to the enemy can go. Because of the deep-seated human need for affection, many prisoners lived only for one thing: a friendly word from their guards. Each time it came, it fortified the delusion of grace and acceptance. Once these prisoners, mostly those who had been in the camps a long time, were accepted by the guards, they easily became the trusted tools of the Nazis. They started to behave like their cruel jailers and became torturers of their fellow campers. These collaborating prisoners, called "Kapos," were even more cruel and vengeful than the official overseers. Because of misunderstood inner needs, the brainwasher and sadistic camp leader are direly in need of collaborators. They serve not only for the propaganda machine but also to exonerate their jailers from guilt.
When a man has to choose either hunger, death marches, and torture or a temporary yielding to the illusions of the enemy, his self-preservation mechanisms act in many ways like reflexes. They help him to find a thousand justifications and exculpations for giving in to the psychological pressure.
One of the officers court-marshalled for collaborating with the enemy in a Korean P.O.W. camp justified his conduct by saying that he followed this course of action in order to keep himself and his men alive. Is that not a perfectly valid, though not necessarily true, argument?
The use of it serves to point up the fact that self-protective mechanisms are usually much stronger than ideological loyalty. No one who has not faced this same bitter problem can have an objective opinion as to what he himself would do under the circumstances. As a psychiatrist, I suggest that "most" people would yield and compromise when threat and mental pressure became strong enough.
Among the anti-Nazi undergrounds in the Second World War were physically strong boys who thought they could resist all pressure and would never betray their comrades. However, they could not even begin to imagine the perfidious technique of menticide. Repeated pestering, itself, is more destructive than physical torture. The pain of physical torture, as we have said, brings temporary unconsciousness and, consequently, forgetfulness, but when the victim wakes up, the play of anticipation begins. "Will it happen again? Can I stand it any more?" Anticipation paralyzes the will. Suicidal thoughts and identifications with death do not help. The foe doesn't let you die but drags you back from the very edge of oblivion. The anticipation of renewed torture increases internal anxieties. "Who am I to stand all this?" "Why must I be a hero?" Gradually resistance breaks down.
The surrender of the mind to its new master does not take place immediately under the impact of duress and exhaustion. The inquisitor knows that in the period of temporary relaxation of pressure, during which the victim will rehearse and repeat the torture experience in himself, the final surrender is prepared. During that tension of rumination and anticipation, the deeply hidden wish to give in grows. The action of continual repetition of stupid questions, reiterated for days and days, exhausts the mind till it gives the answers the inquisitor wants to have.
In addition to the weapon of mental exhaustion, he plays on the physical exhaustion of the senses. He may use penetrating, excruciating noises or a constant strong flashlight that blinds the eyes. The need to close the eyes or to get away from the noises confuses the mental orientation of the victim. He loses his balance and feelings of self-confidence. He yearns for sleep and can do nothing else but surrender. The infantile desire to become part of the threatening giant machine, to become one with the forces that are so much stronger than the prisoner has won.
It is an unequivocal surrender: "Do with me what you want. From now on I am you."
That only deprivation from sleep is able to produce various abnormal reactions of the mind was confirmed by Tyler in an experiment with 350 male volunteers. He deprived them of sleep for 102 hours. Forty-four men dropped out almost at once because they felt too anxious and irritated. After forty hours without sleep, 70 percent of all subjects had already had illusions, delusions, hallucinations, and similar experiences. Those who had true hallucinations were dropped from the experiment. After the second night, sporadic disturbances of thinking were common to all subjects. The participants were embarrassed when they were informed later of their behaviour.
The changes in emotional response had been noticeable -- euphoria followed by depression; dejection and restlessness; indifference to unusual behaviour shown by other subjects. The experiment gave the impression that prolonged wakefulness causes some toxic substance to affect brain and mind.
Only the few strong, independent, and self-sufficient personalities, who have conquered their dependency needs, can stand such pressure or are willing to die under it.
The ritual of self-accusation and breast-beating and unconditional surrender to the rules of the elders is part of age-old religious rites. It was based on a more or less unconscious belief in a supreme and omnipotent power. This power may be the monolithic party state or a mysterious deity. It follows the old inner device of "Credo quia absurdum" ("I believe because it is absurd"), of faithful submission to a super-world stronger than the reality which confronts our senses.
Why the totalitarian and orthodox dogmatic ideology sticks to such a rigid attitude, with prohibition of investigation of basic premises, is a complicated psychological question. Somewhere the reason is related to the fear of change, the fear of the risk of change of habits, the fear of freedom, which may be psychologically related to the fear of the finality of death.
The denial of human freedom and equality lifts the authoritarian man beyond his mortal fellows. His temporary power and omnipotence give him the illusion of eternity. In his totalitarianism he denies death and ephemeral existence and borrows power from the future. He has to invent and formulate a final Truth and protective dogma to justify his battle against mortality and temporariness. From then on, the new fundamental certainty must be hammered into the minds of adepts and slaves.
What happens inside the human psyche under severe circumstances of mental and physical attack is clarified for us in the studies of the general mental defences available to man; earlier, I myself tried in several publications to analyze the various ways people defend themselves against fear and pressure.
In the last phases of brainwashing and menticide, the self-humiliating submission of the victims serves as an inner defensive device annihilating the prosecuting inquisitor in a magic way. The more they accuse themselves, the less logical reason there is for HIS existence. Giving in and being even more cruel toward oneself makes the inquisitor and judge, as it were, impotent and shows the futility of the accusing regime.
We may say that brainwashing and menticide provoke the same inner defensive mechanism that we observe in melancholic patients. Through their mental self beatings, they try to get rid of fear and to avoid a more deeply seated guilt. They punish themselves in advance in order to overcome the idea of final punishment for some hidden, unknown, and worse crime. The victim of menticide conquers his tormentor by becoming even more cruel toward himself than the inquisitor. In this passive way, he annihilates his enemy.
In Arthur Koestler's masterpiece, DARKNESS AT NOON, he describes all the subtle intricacies, reasonings, and dialectics between the inquisitor and his victim. The old Bolshevik, Rubashov, preconditioned by his former party adherence, confesses to plotting against the party and the party line. He is partly motivated by the wish to render a last service: his confession is a final sacrifice to the party. I would explain the confession rather as part of that mysterious masochistic pact between the inquisitor and his victim which we encounter, too, in other processes of brainwashing.
(NOTE: The term "masochism" originally referred to sexual gratification received from pain and punishment, and later became every gratification acquired through pain and abjection.)
It is the last gift and trick the tortured gives to his torturer. It is as if he were to call out: "Be good to me. I confess. I submit. Be good to me and love me." After having suffered all manner of brutality, hypnotism, despair, and panic, there is a final quest for human companionship, but it is ambivalent, mixed with deep despising, hatred, and bitterness.
Tortured and torturer gradually form a peculiar community in which the one influences the other. Just as in therapeutic sessions where the patient identifies with the psychiatrist, the daily sessions of interrogation and conversation create an unconscious transfer of feelings in which the prisoner identifies with his inquisitors, and his inquisitors with him. The prisoner, enraptured in a strange, harsh, and unfamiliar world, identifies much more with the enemy than does the enemy with him. Unwittingly he may take over all the enemy's norms, evaluations, and attitudes toward life. Such passive surrender to the enemy's ideology is determined by unconscious processes. The danger of communion of this kind is that at the end all moral evaluations disappear. We saw it happen in Germany. The very victims of Nazism came to accept the idea of concentration camps.
In menticide we are faced with a ritual like that found in witch hunting during the Middle Ages, except that today the ritual has taken a more refined form. Accuser and accused -- each affords the other assistance, and both belong together as collaborating members of a ritual of confession and self-denigration. Through their cooperation, they attack the minds of bystanders who identify with them and who consequently feel guilty, weak, and submissive. The Moscow purge trials made many Russians feel guilty; listening to the confessions, they must have said to themselves, "I could have done the same thing. I could have been in that man's place." When their heroes become traitors, their own hidden treasonable wishes made them feel weak and frightened.
This explanation may seem overly complicated and involved and perhaps even self-contradictory, but, in fact, it helps us to understand what happens in cases of menticide. Both torturer and tortured are the victims of their own unconscious guilt.
The torturer projects his guilt onto some outside scapegoat and tries to expiate it by attacking his victim. The victim, too, has a sense of guilt which arises from deeply repressed hostilities. Under normal circumstances, this sense is kept under control, but in the menticidal atmosphere of relentless interrogation and inquisition, his repressed hostilities are aroused and loom up as frightening phantasmagorias from a forgotten past, which the victim senses but cannot grasp or understand. It is easier to confess to the accusation of treason and sabotage than to accept the frightening sense of criminality with which his long-forgotten aggressive impulses now burden him.
The victim's overt self-accusation serves as a trick to annihilate the inner accuser and the persecuting inquisitor. The more I accuse myself, the less reason there is for the inquisitor's existence. The victim's going to the gallows kills, as it were, the inquisitor too, because there existed a mutual identification: the accuser is made impotent the moment the victim begins to accuse himself and tomorrow the accuser himself may be accused and brought to the gallows.
Out of our understanding of this strange masochistic pact between accuser and accused comes a rather simple answer to the questions, WHY DO PEOPLE WANT TO CONTROL THE MINDS OF OTHERS, AND WHY DO THE OTHERS CONFESS AND YIELD? It is because there is no essential difference between the victim and the inquisitor. They are alike. Neither, under these circumstances, has any control over his deeply hidden criminal and hostile thoughts and feelings.
It is obviously easier to be the inquisitor than the victim, not only because the inquisitor may be temporarily safe from mental and physical destruction, but also because it is simpler to punish others for what we feel as criminal in ourselves than it is to face up to our own hidden sense of guilt. Committing menticide is the lesser crime of aggression, which covers up the deeper crime of unresolved hidden hatred and destruction.
At the end of this chapter describing the various influences that lead to yielding and surrender to the enemy's strategy, it is useful to give a short survey of the psychological processes involved.
Artificial Breakdown and Deconditioning
The inquisitor tries to weaken the ego of his prisoner. Though originally physical torture was used -- hunger and cold are still very effective -- physical torture may often increase a person's stubbornness. Torture is intended to a much greater extent to act as a threat to the bystanders' (the people's) imagination. Their wild anticipation of torture leads more easily to THEIR breakdown when the enemy has need of their weakness. (Of course, occasionally a sadistic enemy may find individual pleasure in torture.)
The many devices the enemy makes use of include: intimidating suggestion, dramatic persuasion, mass suggestion, humiliation, embarrassment, loneliness and isolation, continued interrogation, over-burdening the unsteady mind, arousing more and more self-pity. Patience and time help the inquisitor to soften a stubborn soul.
Just as in many old religions the victims were humbled and humiliated in order to prepare for the new religion, so, in this case, they are prepared to accept the totalitarian ideology. In this phase, out of mere intellectual opportunism, the victim may consciously give in.
Submission to and Positive Identification with the Enemy
As has already been mentioned, the moment of surrender may often arrive suddenly. It is as if the stubborn negative suggestibility changed critically into a surrender and affirmation. What the inquisitor calls the sudden inner illumination and conversion is a total reversal of inner strategy in the victim. From this time on, in psychoanalytic terms, a parasitic superego lives in man's conscience, and he will speak his new master's voice. In my experience such sudden surrender often occurred together with hysterical outbursts into crying and laughing, like a baby surrendering after obstinate temper tantrums. The inquisitor can attain this phase more easily by assuming a paternal attitude. As a matter of fact, many a P.O.W. was courted by a form of paternal kindness -- gifts, sweets at birthdays, and the promise of more cheerful things to come.
Maloney compares this sudden yielding with the theophany or kenosis (internal conversion) as described by some theological rites. For our understanding, it is important to stress that yielding is an unconscious and purely emotional process, no longer under the conscious intellectual control of the brainwashee. We may also call this phase the phase of autohypnosis.
The Reconditioning to the New Order
Through both continual training and taming, the new phonograph record has to be grooved. We may compare this process with an active hypnosis into conversion. Incidental relapses to the old form of thinking have to be corrected as in Phase I. The victim is daily helped to rationalize and justify his new ideology. The inquisitor delivers to him the new arguments and reasonings.
This systematic indoctrination of those who long avoided intensive indoctrination constitutes the actual political aspect of brainwashing and symbolizes the ideological cold war going on at this very moment.
Liberation from the Totalitarian Spell
As soon as the brainwashee returns to a free atmosphere, the hypnotic spell is broken. Temporary nervous repercussions take place, like crying spells, feelings of guilt and depression. The expectation of a hostile homeland, in view of his having yielded to enemy indoctrination, may fortify this reaction. The period of brainwashing becomes a nightmare. Only those who were staunch members of the resistance before may stick to it. But here, too, I have seen the enemy impose its mental pressure too well and convert their former prisoners into eternal haters of freedom.
|Part Two ♦ The Techniques of Mass Submission|
The purpose of the second part of this book is to show various aspects of political and non-political strategy used to change the feelings and thoughts of the masses.
- Starting with simple advertising and propaganda,
- Then surveying psychological warfare and actual cold war,
- And going on to examine the means used for internal streamlining of man's thoughts and behaviour.
Part Two ends with an intricate examination of how one of the tools of emotional fascination and attack -- the weapon of fear -- is used and what reactions it arouses in men.
Only blind wishful thinking can permit us to believe that our own society is free from the insidious influences mentioned in Part One. The fact is that they exist all around us, both on a political and a non-political level and they become as dangerous to the free way of life as are the aggressive totalitarian governments themselves.
Every culture institutionalizes certain forms of behaviour that communicate and encourage certain forms of thinking and acting, thus moulding the character of its citizens. To the degree that the individual is made an object of constant mental manipulation, to the degree that cultural institutions may tend to weaken intellectual and spiritual strength, to the degree that knowledge of the mind is used to tame and condition people instead of educating them, to that degree does the culture itself produce men and women who are predisposed to accept an authoritarian way of life. The man who has no mind of his own can easily become the pawn of a would-be dictator.
It is often disturbing to see how even intelligent people do not have straight thinking minds of their own. The pattern of the mind, whether toward conformity and compliance or otherwise, is conditioned rather early in life.
In his important social psychological experiments with students, Asch found out in simple tests that there was a yielding toward an ERRING MAJORITY opinion in more than a third of his test persons, and 75 percent of subjects experimented upon agreed with the majority in varying degrees. In many persons the weight of authority is more important than the quality of the authority.
If we are to learn to protect our mental integrity on all levels, we must examine not only those aspects of contemporary culture which have to do directly with the struggle for power, but also those developments in our culture which, by dulling the edge of our mental awareness or by taking advantage of our suggestibility, can lead us into the mental death - or boredom - of totalitarianism.
Continual suggestion and slow hypnosis in the wake of mechanical mass communication promotes uniformity of the mind and may lure the public into the "happy era" of adjustment, integration, and equalization, in which individual opinion is completely stereotyped.
When I get up in the morning, I turn on my radio to hear the news and the weather forecast. Then comes the pontifical voice telling me to take aspirin for my headache. I have "headaches" occasionally (so does the world), and my headaches, like everyone else's, come from the many conflicts that life imposes on me. My radio tells me not to think about either the conflicts or the headaches. It suggests, instead, that I should retreat into that old magic action of swallowing a pill. Although I laugh as I listen to this long-distance prescription by a broadcaster who does not know anything about me or my headaches and though I meditate for a moment on man's servility to the magic of chemistry, my hand has already begun to reach out for the aspirin bottle. After all, I do have a headache.
It is extremely difficult to escape the mechanically repeated suggestions of everyday life. Even when our critical mind rejects them, they seduce us into doing what our intellect tells us is stupid.
The mechanization of modern life has already influenced man to become more passive and to adjust himself to ready-made conformity. No longer does man think in personal values, following more his own conscience and ethical evaluations; he thinks more and more in the values brought to him by mass media. Headlines in the morning paper give him his temporary political outlook, the radio blasts suggestions into his ears, television keeps him in continual awe and passive fixation. Consciously he may protest against these anonymous voices, but nevertheless their suggestions ooze into his system.
What is perhaps most shocking about these influences is that many of them have developed not out of man's destructiveness, but out of his hope to improve his world and to make life richer and deeper. The very institutions man has created to help himself, the very tools he has invented to enhance his life, the very progress he has made toward mastery of himself and his environment -- all can become weapons of destruction.
The conviction is steadily growing in our country that an elaborate propaganda campaign for either a political idea or a deep-freeze can be successful in selling the public any idea or object one wants them to buy, any political figure one wants them to elect. Recently, some of our election campaigns have been masterminded by the so-called public-opinion engineers, who have used all the techniques of modern mass communication and all the contemporary knowledge of the human mind to persuade Americans to vote for the candidate who is paying the public-relation men's salaries. The danger of such high-pressure advertising is that the man or the party who can pay the most can become, temporarily at least, the one who can influence the people to buy or to vote for what may not be in their real interest.
The specialists in the art of persuasion and the moulding of public sentiment may try to knead man's mental dough with all the tools of communication available to them: pamphlets, speeches, posters, billboards, radio programs, and T.V. shows. They may water down the spontaneity and creativity of thoughts and ideas into sterile and streamlined clichés that direct our thoughts even although we still have the illusion of being original and individual.
What we call the will of the people, or the will of the masses, we only get to know after such collective action is put on the move, after the will of the people has been expressed either at the polls or in fury and rebellion. This indicates again how important it is who directs the tools and machines of public opinion.
In the wake of such advertising and engineering of consent, the citizen's trust in his leaders may become shaken and the populace may gradually grow more and more accustomed to official deceit. Finally, when people no longer have confidence in any program, any position, and when they are unable to form intelligent judgments any more, they can be more easily influenced by any demagogue or would-be dictator, whose strength appeals to their confusion and their growing sense of dissatisfaction. Perhaps the worst aspect of this slick merchandising of ideas is that too often even those who buy the experts, and even the opinion experts themselves, are unaware of what they are doing. They too are swayed by the current catchword "management of public opinion," and they cannot judge any more the tools they have hired. The end never justifies the means; enough steps on this road can lead us gradually to Totalitaria.
At this very moment in our country, an elaborate research into motivation is going on, whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell to the public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling rivalry and neighbour envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of colors, and the need for more and more luxuries.
The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant associations in his advertising, how to stimulate, unobtrusively, sex associations, how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He teaches the shops how to boost the buyer's ego, how to flatter the customer.
The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of strength and virility in their product. A car must have more horse-power in order to balance feelings of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one's social status and reputation, because without such a flag man feels empty. Advertising agencies dream of "universitas advertensis," the world of glittering sham ideas, the glorification of "menus vult decipi," the intensification of snob appeal, the expression of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas.
This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds its defences against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of our consciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better judgment.
In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many "free" minds have given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the "Zeitgeist," often without being aware of it. Public opinion moulds our critical thoughts every day. Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, of traditions in our culture that have a levelling effect -- these things change us. We crave excitement, hair-raising stories, sensation. We search for situations that create superficial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational because we dislike the challenge of self-study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is occupied increasingly by automatized activities in which we take no part: listening to piped-in words and viewing television screens. We hurry along with cars and go to bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion.
Every human communication can be either a report of straight facts or an attempt to suggest things and situations as they do not exist. Such distortion and perversion of facts strike at the core of human communication. The verbal battle against man's concept of truth and against his mind seems to be ceaseless. For example, if I can instil in eventual future enemies fear and terror and the suggestion of impending defeat, even before they are willing to fight, my battle is already half won.
The strategy of man to use a frightening mask and a loud voice to utter lies in order to manipulate friend and foe is as old as mankind. Primitive people used terror-provoking masks, magic fascination, or self-deceit as much as we use loudly spoken words to convince others or ourselves. They use their magic paints and we our ideologies. Truly, we live in an age of ads, propaganda, and publicity. But only under dictatorial and totalitarian regimes have such human habit formations mushroomed into systematic psychological assault on mankind.
The weapons the dictator uses against his own people, he may use against the outside world as well. For example, the false confessions that divert the minds of dictator's subjects from their own real problems have still another effect: they are meant (and sometimes they succeed in their aim) to terrorize the world's public. By strengthening the myth of the dictator's omnipotence, such confessions weaken man's will to resist him. If a period of peace can be used to soften up a future enemy, the totalitarian armies may be able in time of war to win a cheap and easy victory. Totalitarian psychological warfare is directed largely toward this end. It is an effort to propagandize and hypnotize the world into submission.
As far back as the early nineteenth century, Napoleon organized his Bureau de l'Opinion Publique in order to influence the thinking of the French people. But it fell to the Germans to develop the manipulation of public opinion into a huge, well organized machine. Their psychological warfare became aggressive strategy in peacetime, the so-called war between wars. It was as a result of the Nazi attack on European morale and the Nazi war of nerves against their neighbours that the other nations of the world began to organize their own psychological forces, but it was only in the second half of the war that they were able to achieve some measure of success. The Germans had a long head start.
Hitler's psychological artillery was composed primarily of the weapon of fear. He had, for example, a network of fifth columnists whose main job was to sow rumours and suspicions among the citizens of the countries against which he eventually planned to fight. The people were upset not only by the spy system itself, but by the very rumour of spies. These fifth columnists spread slogans of defeat and political confusion: "Why should France die for England?" Fear began to direct people's actions. Instead of facing the real threat of German invasion, instead of preparing for it, all of Europe shuddered at spy stories, discussed irrelevant problems, argued endlessly about scapegoats and minorities. Thus Hitler used the rampant, vague fears to becloud the real issues, and by attacking his enemies' will to fight, weakened them.
Not content with this strategic attack on the will to defend oneself, Hitler tried to paralyze Europe with the threat of terror, not only the threat of bombing, destruction, and occupation, but also the psychological threat implicit in his own boast of ruthlessness. The fear of an implacable foe makes man more willing to submit even before he has begun to fight. Hitler's criminal acts at home -- the concentration camps, the gas chambers, the mass murders, the atmosphere of terror throughout Germany - were as useful in the service of his fear-instilling propaganda machinery as they were a part of his delusions.
There is another important weapon the totalitarians use in their campaign to frighten the world into submission. This is the weapon of psychological shock. Hitler kept his enemies in a state of constant confusion and diplomatic upheaval. They never knew what this unpredictable madman was going to do next. Hitler was never logical, because he knew that that was what he was expected to be. Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot - it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter-argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another.
Strategic mental shocks were the instruments the Nazis used when they entered the Rhineland in 1936 and when they concluded their nonaggression pact with Russia in 1939. Stalin used the same strategy at the time of the Korean invasion in 1950 (which he directed), as did the Chinese and the North Koreans when they accused the United States of bacteriological warfare. By acting in this apparently irrational way, the totalitarians throw their logic-minded enemies into confusion. The enemy feels compelled to deny the propagandistic lies or to explain things as they really are, and these actions immediately put him in the weaker defensive position. For the galloping lie can never be overtaken, it can only be overthrown.
The technique of psychological shock has still another effect. It may so confuse the mind of the individual citizen that he ceases to make his own evaluations and begins to lean passively on the opinions of others. Hitler's destruction of Warsaw and Rotterdam - after the armistice in 1940, a complete violation of international law - immobilized France and shook the other democratic nations. Being in a paralysis of moral indignation, they became psychologically ill-equipped to deal with the Nazi horrors.
Just as the technological advances of the modern world have refined and perfected the weapons of physical warfare, so the advance in man's understanding of the manipulation of public opinion have enabled him to refine and perfect the weapons of psychological warfare.
The continual intrusion into our minds of the hammering noises of arguments and propaganda can lead to two kinds of reactions. It may lead to apathy and indifference, the I-don't-care reaction, or to a more intensified desire to study and to understand. Unfortunately, the first reaction is the more popular one. The flight from study and awareness is much too common in a world that throws too many confusing pictures to the individual. For the sake of our democracy, based on freedom and individualism, we have to bring ourselves back to study again and again. Otherwise, we can become easy victims of a well-planned verbal attack on our minds and consciences.
We cannot be enough aware of the continual coercion of our senses and minds, the continual suggestive attacks which may pass through the intellectual barriers of insight. Repetition and Pavlovian conditioning exhaust the individual and may seduce him ultimately to accept a truth he himself initially defied and scorned.
The totalitarians are very ingenious in arousing latent guilt in us by repeating over and over again how criminally the Western world has acted toward innocent and peaceful people. The totalitarians may attack our identification with our leaders by ridiculing them, making use of every man's latent critical attitude toward all leaders. Sometimes they use the strategy of boredom to lull the people to sleep. They would like the entire Western world to fall into a hypnotic sleep under the illusion of peaceful coexistence. In a more refined strategy, they would like to have us cut all our ties of loyalty with the past, away from relatives and parents. The more you have forsaken them and their so-called outmoded concepts, the better you will cooperate with those who want to take mental possession of you. Every political strategy that aims toward arousing fear and suspicion tends to isolate the insecure individual until he surrenders to those forces that seem to him stronger than his former friends.
And last but not least, let us not forget that in the battle of arguments those with the best and most forceful strategy tend to win. The totalitarians organize intensive dialectical training for their subjects lest their doubts get the better of them. They try to do the same thing to the rest of the world in a less obtrusive way.
We have to learn to encounter the totalitarians' exhausting barrage of words with better training and better understanding. If we try to escape from these problems of mental defense or deny their complications, the cold war will gradually be lost to the slow encroachment of words - and more words.
Is it possible to coexist with a totalitarian system that never ceases to use its psychological artillery? Can a free democracy be strong enough to tolerate the parasitic intrusion of totalitarianism into its rights and freedoms? History tells us that many opposing and clashing ideologies have been able to coexist under a common law that assured tolerance and justice. The church no longer burns its apostates.
Before the opposites of totalitarianism and free democracy can coexist under the umbrella of supervising law and mutual good will, a great deal more of mutual understanding and tolerance will have to be built up. The actual cold war and psychological warfare certainly do not yet help toward this end.
To the totalitarian, the word "coexistence" has a different meaning than it has to us. The totalitarian may use it merely as a catch-word or an appeaser. The danger is that the concept of peaceful coexistence may become a disguise, dulling the awareness of inevitable interactions and so profiting the psychologically stronger party. Lenin spoke about the strategic breathing spell (peredyshka) that has to weaken the enemy. Too enthusiastic a peace movement may mean a superficial appeasement of problems. Such an appeal has to be studied and restudied, lest it result in a dangerous letdown of defences which have to remain mobilized to face a ruthless enemy.
Coexistence may mean a suffocating subordination much like that of prisoners coexisting with their jailers. At its best, it may imitate the intensive symbiotic or ever-parasitic relationship we can see among animals which need each other, or as we see it in the infant in its years of dependency upon its mother.
In order to coexist and to cooperate, one must have notions and comparable images of interaction, of a sameness of ideas, of a belonging-together, of an interdependence of the whole human race, in spite of the existence of racial and cultural differences. Otherwise the ideology backed by the greater military strength will strangle the weaker one.
Peaceful coexistence presupposes on BOTH sides a high understanding of the problems and complications of simple coexistence, of mutual agreement and limitations, of the diversity of personalities, and especially of the coexistence of contrasting and irreconcilable thoughts and feelings in every individual of the innate ambivalence of man. It demands an understanding of the rights of both the individual and the collectivity. Using coexistence as a catch-word, we may obscure the problems involved, and we may find that we use the word as a flag that covers gradual surrender to the stronger strategist.
There actually exists such a thing as a technique of mass brainwashing. This technique can take root in a country if an inquisitor is strong and shrewd enough. He can make most of us his victims, albeit temporarily.
What in the structure of society has made man so vulnerable to these mass manipulations of the mind? This is a problem with tremendous implications, just as brainwashing is. In recent years we have grown more and more aware of human interdependence with all its difficulties and complications.
I am aware of the fact that investigation of the subject of mental coercion and thought control becomes less pleasant as time goes on. This is so because it may become more of a threat to us here and now, and our concern for China and Korea must yield to the more immediate needs at our own door. Can totalitarian tendencies take over here, and what social symptoms may lead to such phenomena? Stern reality confronts us with the universal mental battle between thought control (and its corollaries) and our standards of decency, personal strength, personal ideas, and a personal conscience with autonomy and dignity.
Future social scientists will be better able to describe the causes of the advent of totalitarian thinking and acting in man. We know that after wars and revolutions this mental deterioration more easily finds an opportunity to develop, helped by special psychopathic personalities who flourish on man's misery and confusion. It is also true that the next generation spontaneously begins to correct the misdeeds of the previous one because the ruthless system has become too threatening to them.
My task, however, is to describe some symptoms of the totalitarian process (which implies deterioration of thinking and acting) as I have observed them in our own epoch, keeping in mind that the system is one of the most violent distortions of man's consistent mental growth. No brainwashing is possible without totalitarian thinking.
The tragic facts of political experiences in our age make it all too clear that applied psychological technique can brainwash entire nations and reduce their citizens to a kind of mindless robotism which becomes for them a normal way of living. Perhaps we can best understand how this frightening thing comes about by examining a mythical country, which, for the sake of convenience, we shall call Totalitaria.
First, let me utter a word of caution. We must not make the mistake of thinking that there is any one particular nation that can be completely identified with this hypothetical land. The characteristics to be discussed can come into existence here. Some of Totalitaria's characteristics were, of course, present in Nazi Germany, and they can today be found behind the Iron Curtain, but they exist to some extent in other parts of the world as well. Totalitaria is any country in which political ideas degenerate into senseless formulations made only for propaganda purposes. It is any country in which a single group - left or right - acquires absolute power and becomes omniscient and omnipotent, any country in which disagreement and differences of opinion are crimes, in which utter conformity is the price of life.
Totalitaria - the Leviathan state - is the home of the political system we call, euphemistically, totalitarianism, of which systematized tyranny is a part. This system does not derive from any honest political philosophy, either socialist or capitalist. Totalitaria's leaders may mouth ideologies, but these are in fact mainly catch-words used to justify the regime. If necessary, totalitarianism can change its slogans and its behaviour overnight. For totalitarianism embodies, to me, the quest for total power, the quest of a dictator to rule the world. The words and concepts of "socialism" and "communism" may serve, like "democracy," as a disguise for the megalomaniac intention of the tyrant.
Since totalitarianism is essentially the social manifestation of a psychological phenomenon belonging to every personality, it can best be understood in terms of the human forces that create, foster, and perpetuate it. Man has two faces; he wants to grow toward maturity and freedom, and yet the primitive child in his unconscious yearns for more complete protection and irresponsibility. His mature self learns how to cope with the restrictions and frustrations of daily life, but at the same time, the child in him longs to hit out against them, to beat them down, to destroy them - whether they be objects or people.
Totalitarianism appeals to this confused infant in all of us; it seems to offer a solution to the problems man's double yearning creates. Our mythical Totalitaria is a monolithic and absolute state in which doubt, confusion, and conflict are not permitted to be shown, for the dictator purports to solve all his subjects' problems for them. In addition, Totalitaria can provide official sanction for the expression of man's most antisocial impulses. The uncivilized child hidden in us may welcome this liberation from ethical frustration.
On the other hand, our free, mature, social selves cannot be happy in Totalitaria; they revolt against the restriction of individual impulses.
The psychological roots of totalitarianism are usually irrational, destructive, and primitive, though disguised behind some ideology, and for this reason there is something fantastic, unbelievable, even nightmarish about the system itself. There is, of course, a difference in the psychic experience of the elite, who can live out their needs for power, and the masses, who have to submit; yet the two groups influence each other.
When a dictator's deep neurotic needs for power also satisfy some profound emotional need in the population of his country, especially in times of misery or after a revolution, he is more easily able to assume the power for which he longs. If a nation has suffered defeat in war, for example, its citizens feel shame and resentment. Loss of face is not simply a political abstraction, it is a very real and personal thing to a conquered people. Every man, consciously or unconsciously, identifies with his native land. If a country suffers from prolonged famine or severe depression, its citizens become bitter, depressed, and resentful, and will more willingly accept the visions and promises of the aspiring dictator.
If the complexity of a country's political and economic apparatus makes the individual citizen feel powerless, confused, and useless, if he has no sense of participation in the forces that govern his daily life, or if he feels these forces to be so vast and confusing that he can no longer understand them, he will grasp at the totalitarian opportunity for belonging, for participation, for a simple formula that explains and rationalizes what is beyond his comprehension. And when the dictator has taken over finally, he transfers his own abnormal fantasies, his rage and anger, easily to his subjects. Their resentments feed his; his pseudo-strength encourages them. A mutual fortification of illusions takes place.
Totalitarianism as a social manifestation is a disease of inter-human relations, and, like any other disease, man can best resist its corroding effects if, through knowledge and training, he is well immunized against it. If, however, he is unfortunate enough to catch the totalitarian bug, he has to muster all the positive forces in his mind to defeat it. The raging internal struggle between the irresponsible child and the mature adult in him continues until one or the other is finally destroyed completely. As long as a single spark of either remains, the battle goes on. And for as long as man is alive, the quest for maturity keeps on.
In the battle against this dread disease, social factors as well as personal ones play an important role. We can see this more clearly if we analyze the ways in which the ideals of a culture as a whole affect its citizens' vulnerability to totalitarianism. The ethics of our own Western civilization are our strongest defences against the disease, for the ideal of these ethics is to produce a breed of men and women who are strongly individualistic and who evaluate situations primarily in terms of their own consciences.
We aim to develop in our citizens a sense of self-responsibility, a willingness to confront the world as it is, and an ability to distinguish between right and wrong through their own feelings and thoughts. Such men and women are impelled to action by their personal moral standards rather than by what some outside group sets up as correct. They are unwilling to accept group evaluations immediately unless these coincide with their own personal convictions, or unless they have been able to discuss them in a democratic way. People like this are responsible to their communities because they are first responsible to themselves. If they disagree, they will form a "loyal minority", using their rights of convincing other people at appropriate times.
There are other cultures which emphasize attitudes and values that are different from these. The Eastern ideal of man, as we find it in China and some of the other Oriental countries, is in the first place that one "oneness", of being one with the family, one with the fatherland, one with the cosmos -- nirvana. The Oriental psyche looks for a direct aesthetic contact with reality through an indefinable empathy and intuition. Eternal truth is behind reality, behind the veil of Maya. Man is part of the universe; his ideal is passive servility and non-irritability. His ideal of peace lies in rest and relaxation, in meditation, in being without manual and mental travail. The happiness of the Oriental psyche lies in the ecstasy of feeling united with the universal cosmos. Ascesis, self-redemption, and poverty are better realized ideals in Oriental culture than in our Western society.
The classic Oriental culture pattern can best be described as a pattern of participation. In it the individual is looked upon as an integral part of the group, the family, the caste, the nation. He is not a separate, independent entity. In this culture, greater conformity to and acceptance of the collective rules are the ideals. An Oriental child may be trained from infancy into a pattern of submission to authority and to rules of the group. Many primitive cultures also display this pattern. To a person raised in these cultures, the most acceptable standards, the best conceivable thoughts and actions, are those sanctioned by the group. The totalitarian world of mass actions and mass thoughts is far more comprehensible to the members of a participation-patterned and less individual-minded culture than it is to Western individualists. What is to us unbearable regimentation and authoritarianism may be to them comforting order and regularity.
An example of an intensified pattern of participation and thought control and mutual spying has been given by the anthropologist E. P. Dozier. [See the "New York Times", December 11, 1955; and "Science News Letter", December 3, 1955.] The Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande area believe that wrongdoing or wrong thinking of one man in the tribe affects all members. He may upset the cosmic balance by ill feeling toward any one of his fellow men. The moral code of the village is group-centred. The individual who transgresses this jeopardizes the well-being of all. Epidemics, crop failures, droughts are interpreted as a result of "deviationism" of one member of the group. Village members are closely watched and spied on in order to discover the culprit or "witch." Gossip and accusations of witchcraft are rampant, and the Pueblo Indian is constantly searching in his own conscience for harmful thoughts and attitudes. It is as if we watch the ritual of the purge in the totalitarian state.
Such forms of "creeping collectivism" and participation we may see in every group formation where tolerance for non-conformism ceases to exist. Wherever dogmatic partisanship dominates, the mind is coerced. We may even detect such encroaching tendencies in some scientific circles where there exists an overemphasis on group research, teamwork, membership cards, and a disdain for individual opinion.
The culture into which a man is born and his own psychological constitution interact to produce his personality in much the same way as his body and mind interact to produce his behaviour. Our culture of individual freedom may offer us a partial immunity to the disease of totalitarianism, but at the same time our personal immaturities and repressed savageries can make us vulnerable to it. The participation type of culture may make men more susceptible in general to totalitarianism, although personal strivings toward maturity and individuality can offer them, too, some measure of protection against it.
Because of the interaction between these social and personal forces, no culture is completely safe from internal attack by totalitarianism and from the mental destruction it may create. As I said before, our Totalitaria is a mythical country, but the brutal truth is that any country can be turned into Totalitaria.
The aims of the rulers of our fictitious country are simply formulated: despotism, the total domination of man and mankind, and the unity of the entire world under one dictatorial authority. At first glance, this idea of unity can be most attractive -- the idea, oversimplified, of a brotherhood unity of nations under a central powerful agency. When the world is one, it would seem, there will be no more war, the tensions that face us will be eliminated, earth will become a paradise. But the simplified conception of a universal dictatorship is false and reflects the danger inherent in the totalitarian goal: all men are different, and it is the difference between them that creates the greatness, the variety, and the creative inspirations of life, as well as the tensions of social intercourse. The totalitarian conception of equalization can be realized only in death, when the chemical and physical laws that govern all of us take over completely. Death is indeed the great equalizer.
In life, all of us are different. Our bodies and minds interact with one another and with the outside world in different ways. Each man's personality is unique. True, all of us share certain basic human qualities with all the other members of the human race, but the differences in personality are also so many and so varied that no two men anywhere in the world or ever in all of human history can be said to be exactly alike. This uniqueness is as true of the citizen of Totalitaria as it is of anyone else. As a human being, he is not only different from us, he is different from his compatriots. However, to create man in the totalitarian image through levelling and equalization means to suppress what is essentially personal and human in him, the uniqueness and the variety, and to create a society of robots, not men.
The noted social scientist, J. S. Brunner, in his introduction to Bauer's book on Soviet psychology has expressed this thought in a different way: "Man's image of the nature of man is not only a matter for objective inquiry; it is and has always been a prime instrument of social and political control. He who moulds that image does so with enormous consequences for the society in which he lives."
Totalitaria fosters the illusion that everyone is part of the government, a voter; no one can be a non-voter or anti-voter. His inner pros and cons and doubts are not private problems of the individual himself any more; his thoughts belong to the state, the dictator, the ruling circle, the Party. His inner thoughts have to be controlled. Only those in power know what really lies behind national policy. The ordinary citizen becomes as dependent and obedient as a child. In exchange for giving up his individuality, he obtains some special gratifications: the feeling of belonging and of being protected, the sense of relief over losing his personal boundaries and responsibilities, the ecstasy of being taken up and absorbed in wild, uncontrolled collective feelings, the safety of being anonymous, of being merely a cog in the wheel of the all-powerful state.
The despotism of modern Totalitaria is very different from the lush, exotic personal tyrannies of ancient times. It is an ascetic, cold, mechanical force, aiming at what Hanna Ahrendt calls the "transformation of human nature itself." In our theoretical country, man has no individual ego any longer, no personality, no self. A levelling system is at work, and everything above the common level is trampled on and beaten down.
The leaders of Totalitaria are the strangest men in the state. These men are, like all other men, unique in their mental structure, and consequently we cannot make any blanket psychiatric diagnosis of the mental illness which motivates their behaviour.
But we can make some generalizations which will help us toward some understanding of the totalitarian leader. Obviously, for example, he suffers from an overwhelming need to control other human beings and to exert unlimited power, and this in itself is a psychological aberration, often rooted in deep-seated feelings of anxiety, humiliation, and inferiority. The ideologies such men propound are only used as tactical and strategical devices through which they hope to reach their final goal of complete domination over other men. This domination may help them compensate for pathological fears and feelings of unworthiness, as we can conclude from the psychological study of some modern dictators.
Fortunately, we do not have to rely on a purely hypothetical picture of the psychopathology of the totalitarian dictator. Dr. G. M. Gilbert, who studied some of the leaders of Nazi Germany during the Nuremberg trials, has given us a useful insight into their twisted minds, useful especially because it reveals to us something about the mutual interaction between the totalitarian leader and those who want to be led by him.
Hitler's suicide made a clinical investigation of his character structure impossible, but Dr. Gilbert heard many eyewitness reports of Hitler's behaviour from his friends and collaborators, and these present a fantastic picture of Nazism's prime mover. Hitler was known among his intimates as the carpet-eater, because he often threw himself on the floor in a kicking and screaming fit like an epileptic rage. From such reports, Dr. Gilbert was able to deduce something about the roots of the pathological behaviour displayed by this morbid "genius."
Hitler's paranoid hostility against the Jew was partly related to his unresolved parental conflicts; the Jews probably symbolized for him the hated drunken father who mistreated Hitler and his mother when the future Fuhrer was still a child. Hitler's obsessive thinking, his furious fanaticism, his insistence on maintaining the purity of "Aryan blood," and his ultimate mania to destroy himself and the world were obviously the results of a sick psyche.
As early as 1923, nearly ten years before he seized power, Hitler was convinced that he would one day rule the world, and he spent time designing monuments of victory, eternalizing his glory, to be erected all over the European continent when the day of victory arrived. This delusional preoccupation continued until the end of his life; in the midst of the war he created, which led him to defeat and death, Hitler continued revising and improving his architectural plans.
Nazi dictator Number Two, Hermann Goering, who committed suicide to escape the hangman, had a different psychological structure. His pathologically aggressive drivers were encouraged by the archaic military tradition of the German Junker class, to which his family belonged.
From early childhood he had been compulsively and overtly aggressive. He was an autocratic and a corrupt cynic, grasping the Nazi-created opportunity to achieve purely personal gain. His contempt for the "common people" was unbounded; this was a man who had literally no sense of moral values.
Quite different again was Rudolf Hess, the man of passive yet fanatical doglike devotion, living, as it were, by proxy through the mind of his Fuhrer. His inner mental weakness made it easier for him to live through means of a proxy than through his own personality, and drove him to become the shadow of a seemingly strong man, from whom he could borrow strength. The Nazi ideology have this frustrated boy the illusion of blood identification with the glorious German race. After his wild flight to England, Hess showed obvious psychotic traits; his delusions of persecution, hysterical attacks, and periods of amnesia are among the well-known clinical symptoms of schizophrenia.
Still another type was Hans Frank, the devil's advocate, the prototype of the overambitious latent homosexual, easily seduced into political adventure, even when this was in conflict with the remnants of his conscience. For unlike Goering, Frank was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
Dr. Gilbert also tells us something about General Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler's Chief of Staff, who became the submissive, automatic mouthpiece of the Fuhrer, mixing military honor and personal ambition in the service of his own unimportance.
Of a different quality is the S.S. Colonel, Hoess, the murderer of millions in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. A pathological character structure is obvious in this case. All his life, Hoess had been a lonely, withdrawn, schizoid personality, without any conscience, wallowing in his own hostile and destructive fantasies. Alone and bereft of human attachments, he was intuitively sought out by Himmler for this most savage of all the Nazi jobs. He was a useful instrument for the committing of the most bestial deeds.
Unfortunately, we have no clear psychiatric picture yet of the Russian dictator Stalin. There have been several reports that during the last years of his life he had a tremendous persecution phobia and lived in constant terror that he would become the victim of his own purges.
Psychological analysis of these men shows clearly that a pathological culture -- a mad world - can be built by certain impressive psychoneurotic types. The venal political figures need not even comprehend the social and political consequences of their behaviour. They are compelled not by ideological belief, no matter how much they may rationalize to convince themselves they are, but by the distortions of their own personalities. They are not motivated by their advertised urge to serve their country or mankind, but rather by an overwhelming need and compulsion to satisfy the cravings of their own pathological character structures.
The ideologies they spout are not real goals; they are the cynical devices by which these sick men hope to achieve some personal sense of worth and power. Subtle inner lies seduce them into going from bad to worse. Defensive self-deception, arrested insight, evasion of emotional identification with others, degradation of empathy - the mind has many defense mechanisms with which to blind the conscience.
A clear example of this can be seen in the way the Nazi leaders defended themselves through continuous self-justification and exculpation when they were brought before the bar at the Nuremberg trials. These murderers were aggrieved and hurt by the accusations brought against them; they were the very picture of injured innocence.
Any form of leadership, if unchecked by controls, may gradually turn into dictatorship. Being a leader, carrying great power and responsibility for other people's lives, is a monumental test for the human psyche. The weak leader is the man who cannot meet it, who simply abdicates his responsibility. The dictator is the man who replaces the existing standards of justice and morality by more and more private prestige, by more and more power, and eventually isolates himself more and more from the rest of humanity. His suspicion grows, his isolation grows, and the vicious circle leading to a paranoid attitude begins to develop.
The dictator is not only a sick man, he is also a cruel opportunist. He sees no value in any other person and feels no gratitude for any help he may have received. He is suspicious and dishonest and believes that his personal ends justify any means he may use to achieve them. Peculiarly enough, every tyrant still searches for some self-justification. Without such a soothing device for his own conscience, he cannot live.
His attitude toward other people is manipulative; to him, they are merely tools for the advancement of his own interests. He rejects the conception of doubt, of internal contradictions, of man's inborn ambivalence. He denies the psychological fact that man grows to maturity through groping, through trial and error, through the interplay of contrasting feelings. Because he will not permit himself to grope, to learn through trial and error, the dictator can never become a mature person. But whether he acknowledges them or not, he has internal conflicts, he suffers somewhere from internal confusion. These inner "weaknesses" he tries to repress sternly; if they were to come to the surface, they might interfere with the achievement of his goals. Yet, in the attacks of rage his weakening strength is evident.
It is because the dictator is afraid, albeit unconsciously, of his own internal contradictions, that he is afraid of the same internal contradictions of his fellow men. He must purge and purge, terrorize and terrorize in order to still his own raging inner drives. He must kill every doubter, destroy every person who makes a mistake, imprison everyone who cannot be proved to be utterly single-minded. In Totalitaria, the latent aggression and savagery in man are cultivate by the dictator to such a degree that they can explode into mass criminal actions shown by Hitler's persecution of minorities. Ultimately, the country shows a real pathology, an utter dominance of destructive and self-destructive tendencies.
What happens to the common man in such a culture? How can we describe the citizen of Totalitaria? Perhaps the simplest answer to this question lies in the statement that he is reduced to the mechanical precision of an insectlike state. He cannot develop any warm friendships, loyalties, or allegiances because they may be too dangerous for him. Today's friend may be, after all, tomorrow's enemy. Living in an atmosphere of constant suspicion -- not only of strangers, but even of his own family - he is afraid to express himself lest concentration camp or prison swallow him up.
The citizens of Totalitaria do not really converse with one another. When they speak, they whisper, first looking furtively over their shoulders for the inevitable spy. Their inner silence is in sharp contrast to the official verbal bombardment. The citizens of Totalitaria may make noise, and utter polite banalities, or they may repeat slogans to one another, but they say nothing. Existing literature reveals that leading authors, among them H.G. Wells, Huxley, and Orwell, grow more and more concerned about the ghastly future of the robotized man, trained as a machine on a standard of conformity. They translate for us the common fear of a mechanized civilization.
In Totalitaria, the citizen no longer knows the real core of his mind. He no longer feels himself an "I", an ego, a person. He is only the object of official barrage and mental coercion. Having no personality of his own, he has no individual conscience, no personal morality, no capacity to think clearly and honestly. He learns by rote, he learns thousands of indoctrinated facts and inhales dogma and slogans with every breath he draws. He becomes an obedient pedant, and pedantry makes people into something resembling pots filled with information instead of individuals with free, growing personalities.
Becoming wiser and freer implies selective forgetting and changes of mind. This we accept, this we leave behind. Alert adjustment requires a change of patterns, the capacity to be de-conditioned, to undo and unlearn in order to become ripe for new patterns. The citizen of Totalitaria has no chance for such learning through unlearning, for growth through individual experience. Official oversimplifications induce the captive audience into acceptance and indoctrination. Mass ecstasy and mass fanaticism are substituted for quiet individual thought and consideration.
Hitler taught his people to march and to do battle, and at the end they did not know wherefore they marched and battled. People become herds -- indoctrinated and obsessed herds -- intoxicated first with enthusiasm and happy expectations, then with terror and panic. the individual personality cannot grow in Totalitaria. The huge mass of citizens is tamed into personal and political somnambulism.
It may be scientifically questionable to compare experiences gained from individual pathological states with social phenomena and to analyze the partial collapse of the ego under totalitarianism by analogy with actual cases of madness.
But there is in fact much that is comparable between the strange reactions of the citizens of Totalitaria and their culture as a whole on the one hand and the reactions of the introverted, sick schizophrenic on the other.
Even though the problem of schizophrenic behaviour in individuals and groups is extremely complicated and cannot be fully handled within the scope of this book, the comparison can be helpful in our search for an understanding of the nature and effects of totalitarianism.
This excursion into the world of pathology is not a description of a merely coincidental resemblance between a disease and a political system. It should serve to point up the fact that totalitarian withdrawal behind official justifications and individual fantasy is something that can occur either in social life or inside the individual mind. And many scholars believe in a relationship between cultural deterioration and schizophrenic withdrawal.
Let us briefly explain the individual schizophrenic's reaction of complete inner automatization and mental withdrawal as a personal failure to adjust to a world experienced as insecure and dangerous. Often rather simple emotional incidents may lead to such schizophrenic retreat -- for instance, the intrusion of schedules and habits forced on the mind during infancy or a sly hypersensitivity to our overactive and over-verbose culture. Many a child is forced into schizophrenic withdrawal by an over-compulsive parent. Sometimes lack of external contact may drive a man into a state of utter loneliness and isolation, sometimes his own preference for solitude. A certain tendency to so-called schizophrenic withdrawal has been proved to be inborn. Yet it an be provoked in everybody.
Whatever the cause, the schizophrenic patient becomes a dissocialized being, lost in loneliness. Conscious and unconscious fantasy life begins to become dominant over alert confrontation of reality. In the end his weird fantasies become more real for the schizophrenic than the actual world. He hides more and more behind his own iron curtain, in the imaginary dreamland and retreat he has built for himself. This is his nirvana, in which all his dream wishes are fulfilled. Inertia and fanaticism alternate. The patient regresses to an infantile, vegetative form of behaviour and rejects everything that society has taught him. In his fantasy, he lives in a world which always obeys his commands. He is omnipotent. The world turns around according to his divine inclinations.
Reality, requiring as it does, continual and renewed adjustment and verification, becomes a persecutor, attacking his illusion of divine might. Every disturbing intrusion into his delusional world is encountered by the schizophrenic either with tremendous aggression or with the formation of secondary delusion to protect the first delusion, or with a combination of both. The schizophrenic displays tremendous hostility toward the real world and its representatives; reality robs him both of his delusions of omnipotence and his hallucinatory sense of being utterly protected, as he was in the womb.
Clinical experience has shown that the disease of schizophrenia often begins with negativism -- a defense against the influence of others, a continual fight against mental intrusion, against what is felt as the rape of the oversensitive mind. Gradually, this defensive attitude toward the world becomes a hostile attitude toward everything, not only toward influences from the outside, but also toward thoughts and feelings from the inside.
Finally, the victim becomes paralyzed by his own hostility and negativisms. He behaves literally as though he were dead. He sits, unmoving, for hours. He may have to be force-fed, force-dressed. The schizophrenic moves like a puppet on a string, only when someone compels him to. Clinically, we call this catatonia -- the death attitude.
Introverted schizophrenics prefer the automatic routine life of the asylum to life in the outside world, on the condition that they be allowed to indulge their private fantasies. They surrender utterly in self-defeatism. They never congregate in groups, they seldom talk with one another; even when they do, they never have any real mutual contact. Each one lives in his own retreat.
In the totalitarian myth - think, for instance, of "das Dritte Reich" - in the psychological folklore of our mythical state, the vague fantasy of the technically perfected womb, the ideal nirvana, plays a tremendous role. In a world full of insecurities, a world requiring continual alert adjustment and readjustment, Totalitaria creates the delusion of the omnipotent, miraculous ideal state -- a state where, in its final form, every material need will be satisfied. Everything will be regulated, just as it was for the foetus in the womb, the land of bliss and equanimity, just as it is for the schizophrenic in the mental hospital.
There is no social struggle, no mental struggle; the world moves like clockwork. There is no real interplay between people, no clash of opinions or beliefs, there is no emotional relationship between these womb-fellows; each exists as a separate number-bearing entity in the same filing system.
In Totalitaria, there is no faith in fellow men, no "caritas," no love, because real relationships between men do not exist, just as they do not exist between schizophrenics. There is only faith in and subjection to the feeding system, and there is in every citizen a tremendous fear of being expelled from that system, a fear of being totally lost, comparable with the schizophrenic's feeling of rejection and fear of reality. In the midst of spiritual loneliness and isolation, there is the fear of still greater loneliness, of more painful isolation. Without protective regulations from the outside, internal hell may break lose. Strong mechanical external order must be used to cover the internal chaos and approaching breakdown.
We have had experience in post-war years with several refugees from the totalitarian world who broke down when they had to cope with a world of freedom where personal initiative was required. The fear of freedom brought them to a state of panic. They no longer had strong enough egos to build and maintain their defences against the competitive demands of free democratic reality.
As in schizophrenia, a manoeuvrable and individual ego cannot exist in Totalitaria. In schizophrenia the ego shrinks as a result of withdrawal; in Totalitaria, as a result of constant merging in mass feelings. If such a shrunken ego should grow up, with its own critical attitude, its needs for verification of facts and for understanding, it would then be beaten down as being treacherous and nonconforming.
Totalitaria requires of its citizens complete subjection to and identification with the leader. It is this leader-dominance that makes people nearly ego-less, as they are in schizophrenia. This again may result in loss of control of hostile and destructive drives.
Psychologists have seen this time and time again in what we call the concentration-camp psyche. When the victims first came to the camp -- dedicated to their gradual extermination - most of them displayed a complete loss of self, an utter depersonalization, combined with apathy and loss of awareness. The same observations have been made among our POWs in Korea. Some concentration-camp victims got better immediately after their return to a normal society; in others, this schizophrenic reaction of lost ego remained and, as we mentioned above, sometimes developed into a real psychosis.
Totalitarianism is man's escape from the fearful realities of life into the virtual womb of the leader. The individual's actions are directed from this womb - from the inner sanctum. The mystic center is in control of everything; man need no longer assume responsibility for his own life. The order and logic of the prenatal world reign. There is peace and silence, the peace of utter submission. The members of the womb state do not really communicate; between them there is silence, the silence of possible betrayal, not the mature silence of reticence and reservedness.
Totalitaria increases the gap between the things one shows and communicates and the things one secretly dreams and thinks deep within oneself. It develops the artificial split-mindedness of political silence. Whatever little remains of individual feeling and opinion is kept carefully enclosed. In the schizophrenic world of Totalitaria, there is no free mutual exchange, no conversation, no exclamation, no release from emotional tension. It is a world of silent conspirators. Indeed, the atmosphere of suspicion is the big attacker of mental freedom because it makes people cling together, conspiring against mysterious enemies -- first from outside, then among themselves.
In Totalitaria, each citizen is continually watched. The mythical state moulds the individual's conscience. He has hardly any of his own. His neighbours watch him, his postman, his children, and they all represent the punishing state, just as he himself must represent the state and watch others. Not betraying them is a crime.
The need to find conspiracies, to discover persecutors and criminals is another schizophrenic manifestation. It is psychologically related to an infantile need for a feeling of omnipotence. Megalomaniac feelings grow better in an atmosphere of mysterious secrecy. Secrecy and conspiracy increase the delusion of power. That is why so many people like to pry into other people's lives and to play the spy.
This feeling of conspiracy also lies behind the pathological struggle with imaginary persecutors, a struggle we find both in mentally ill individuals and in our mythical Totalitaria. "It is there!" "It is chasing us!" All the inner fears of losing the nirvanic womb-illusion become rampant. Mysterious ghosts and vultures chase people out of nirvana and paradise.
In these fantasies, the patriarch, the dictator, the idol, becomes both the universal danger and the omnipotent savoir at the same time. Not even the citizens of Totalitaria really love this cruel giant. Suspicion against the breast that feeds and the hand that guides and forbids is often found in the fantasy of schizophrenic children, who experience the nourisher as the enemy, the dominating ogre, bribing the growing mind into submission.
The deep hate the sick individual feels toward the parental figure cannot be expressed directly, and so it is displaced onto the self or onto scapegoats. Scapegoats is also part of the totalitarian strategy.
As we pointed out before, the scapegoat temporarily absorbs all the individual's inner fury and rage. Kulaks, Negroes, Jews, Communists, capitalists, profiteers, and warmongers - any or all of them can play that role. Perhaps the greatest dangers, to the totalitarian mind, is the use of intellect and awareness and the "egg-head's" demand for free, verifying thinking. Aberration and perversion are chosen by the citizens of Totalitaria, as they are by the inhabitants of madhouses, over the tiring, intellectual control.
In the center of the totalitarian fears and fantasies stands the man-eating god and idol. He is unconquerable. He uses man's great gift of adjustment to bring him to slavery. Every man's inner core of feelings and thoughts has to belong to the leader.
Is the citizen of Totalitaria consciously aware of this? Probably not. Modern psychology has taught us how strongly the mental mechanism of denial of reality works. The eye bypasses external occurrences when the mind does not want them to happen. Secondary justifications and fantasies are formed to support and explain these denials. In Totalitaria we find the same despising of reality facts as we do in schizophrenia. How else are we to explain the fact that Hitler was still moving his armies on paper after they were already defeated?
Totalitarian strategy covers inner chaos and conflict by the strict order of the police state. So does the compulsive schizophrenic patient, by his inner routine and schedules. These routines and schedules are a defense against painful occurrences in external reality. This internal robotization may lead to denial of internal realities and internal needs as well. The citizen of Totalitaria, repressing and rejecting his inner need for freedom, may even experience slavery as liberation. He may go even one step further - yearn for an escape from life itself, a delusion that he could become omnipotent through utter destruction.
The SS soldiers called this the magic action of the "Blutkitt," the tie of bloody crime binding them together and preparing them for Valhalla. With this magic unification, they could die with courage and equanimity. Anarchic despair and need for greatness alternated in them as they do in the psychotic patient. In the same way, the citizens of Totalitaria search for a "heroic" place in history even though the price be doom an annihilation.
Many soldiers - tired by the rigidities of normal life - look back at violent moments of their war experiences, despite the hunger and terror, as the monumental culminating experiences of their lives. There, in the "Bruderbund" of fighters, they felt happy for the first and only times in their lives.
This all sounds like a bitter comedy, but the fantasy of schizophrenics has taught us how the mind can retreat into delusion when there is a fear of daily existence. Under these circumstances, fantasy begins to prevail over reality, and soon assumes a validity which reality never had. The totalitarian mind is like the schizophrenic mind; it has a contempt for reality. Think for a moment of Lysenko's theory and its denial of the influence of heredity. The totalitarian mind does not observe and verify its impressions of reality; it dictates to reality how it shall behave, it compels reality to conform to its fantasies.
The comparison between totalitarianism and psychosis is not incidental. Delusional thinking inevitably creeps into every form of tyranny and despotism. Unconscious backward forces come into action. Evil powers from the archaic past return. An automatic compulsion to go on to self-destruction develops, to justify one mistake with a new one; to enlarge and expand the vicious pathological circle becomes the dominating end of life. The frightened man, burdened by a culture he does not understand, retreats into the brute's fantasy of limitless power in order to cover up the vacuum inside himself. This fantasy starts with the leaders and is later taken over by the masses they oppress.
What else can man do when he is caught in that tremendous machine called Totalitaria? Thinking - and the brain itself - has become superfluous, that is, only reserved for the elite. Man has to renounce his uniqueness, his individual personality, and must surrender to the equalizing and homogenizing patterns of so-called integration and standardization. This arouses in him that great inner emptiness of the savage child, the emptiness of the robot that unwittingly years for the great destruction.
In order to investigate the social forces at work undermining the free individual development of man's mind, we have to look at manifold aspects of political life. As a clinician and polypragmatist, I don't want to bind myself to one political state or current, but want to describe what can be experienced in social life everywhere. Where human thinking and human habits are in the process of being remoulded, they are under the influence of tremendous political upheaval. In one country this may happen overnight, in others more slowly. The psychologists' task is to observe and describe the impact of these processes on the human mind.
When once a nation is under the yoke of totalitarianism, when once its people have succumbed to the oversimplifications and blandishments of the would-be dictator, how does the leader maintain his power? What techniques does he use to make his countrymen docile followers of his bloody regime?
Because man's mature self resists totalitarianism, the dictator must work and scheme constantly to keep his subjects in line and to immobilize their need for individual development, rebellion, and healthy growth. As we examine his techniques, we will come to a better understanding of totalitarianism and of the interaction between the dictator's methods and the personalities of his subjects. We need this understanding desperately, for we have to recognize that the forces in Totalitaria that make humourless robots out of living men can also develop, albeit unwittingly, in the so-called free, democratic societies.
The weapon of terror has been used by tyrants from time immemorial to make a meek instrument of man. In Totalitaria, the use of this weapon is refined to a science which can wipe out all opposition and dissent. The leaders of Totalitaria rule by intimidation; they prefer loyalty through fear to loyalty through faith. Fear and terror freeze the mind and will; they may create a general psychic paralysis. In the panic caused by totalitarian terror, men feel separated from one another, as by an impassable vacuum, and each man becomes a lonely, frightened soul. Even panicky hovering together could be suspected of being conspiracy against the state. Separated from any real emotional contact with his fellow men by his own inner isolation, the citizen of Totalitaria becomes increasingly unable to fight against its dehumanizing influences.
Totalitaria is constantly on the alert for social sinners, the critics of the system, and accusation of dissent is equivalent to conviction in the public eye. Insinuation, calumny, and denunciation are staples of the totalitarian strategy. The entire nation is dedicated to the proposition that every man is a potential enemy of the regime. No one is excluded from the terror. Any man may be subjected to it no matter how high his rank.
The secret police create awe and panic inside the country, while the army serves to create awe and panic outside. Just the thought of an outbreak of terror - of even a possible future terror - makes men unwilling to express their opinions and expose themselves. Both the citizens of Totalitaria and those of her neighbours are affected by this general fear. A clear example of how this fear paralysis operates in reality may be seen in the fact that as far back as 1948 western Europeans, who felt the shadow of anticipated totalitarian occupation, thought it safer to criticize and attack their American friends than to find fault with a totalitarian enemy who might sweep in suddenly and without warning.
In Totalitaria, jails and concentration camps by the score are built in order to provoke fear and awe among the population. They may be called "punishment" or "correction" camps, but this is only a cheap justification for the truth. In these centres of fear, nobody is really corrected; he is, as it were, expelled from humanity, wasted, killed - but not too quickly, lest the terrorizing influence be diminished.
The truth of the matter is that these jails are built not for real criminals, but rather for their terrorizing effect on the bystanders, the citizens of Totalitaria. Jails represent a permanent menace, a continual threat. They may put an almost insupportable strain on the empathy and imagination of those citizens who are, temporarily at least, on the outside of the barbed wire. In addition to the fear of undergoing the same cruel treatment, the fear of abasement, humiliation, and death, the very concept of the concentration camp rouses every man's deep-seated fear of being himself expelled from the community, of being alone, a wanderer in the desert, unloved and unwanted.
There exist several milder forms of mass terror, for instance, THE STRATEGY OF NO POLITICAL REST. In Totalitaria man is always caught by some form of official planning. He is always conscious of control and surveillance, of spying, leering powers lying in wait to chase him and to punish him. Even leisure time and holidays are occupied by some official program, some facts to be learned, some political meeting, some parade. Quiet and solitude no longer exist. There is no time for meditation, for pondering, for reminiscing. The mind is caught in a web of official thinking and planning. Even the delights of self-chosen silence are forbidden. Every citizen of Totalitaria must join in the singing and the slogan shouting. And he becomes so caught in the constant activity that he loses the capacity to realize what is happening to him.
The emphasis on more production by individuals, factories, and agricultural enterprises also can become a weapon of increased control and terror. The Stakhanovite movement in Russia, urging a constant increase in production norms, became a threat for many. The workers had to increase the pace of their labour and production, or they would be severely punished. The emphasis on pace and speed makes man more and more a soulless cog in the totalitarian wheel.
Terror can almost never stop itself; it thrives on compliance and grows in a vacuum. Terror as a tool means a gradual transfer into terror as a goal - but terror is actually a self-defeating strategy. Man will ultimately revolt even under an absolute dictatorship. When men have been reduced to puppet-hood by Totalitaria, they will finally have become immune to all threats. The magic spell of terror will finally lose its force. First the citizens of Totalitaria will become dulled to the terror and will no longer consider even death a danger. Then a few will initiate a final revolt, for Totalitaria's government by fear and terror fosters internal rebellion, in the few who cannot be broken down. Even in "gleichgeschaltet" Nazi Germany a resistance movement was active.
Cleaning out the higher echelons of government is an old historic habit. The struggle between fathers and sons, between the older and the younger generation, became ritualized far back in prehistoric times. Frazer's classic, "The Golden Bough," has told us a great deal about this. The ancient priest of the heathens acquired his high post by killing his predecessor. Later in history, the newly proclaimed king offered criminals instead as sacrifices to the gods on the day of his anointment.
In Totalitaria, the killing and purging ritual is part of the mechanism of government, and it serves not only a symbolic but also a very real function for the dictator. He must eliminate all those he has bypassed and double-crossed in his ruthless climb to power, lest their resentments and frustrated rage break out, endangering his position or even his life.
The purge reflects another characteristic of life in Totalitaria. It dramatizes the fiction that the party is always on the alert to keep itself pure and clean. Psychiatry has demonstrated that the cleanliness compulsion in neurotic individuals is actually a displaced defense against their own inner rage and hostility. It plays the same sort of role in communities, and when it is elevated to the level of an officially sanctioned ritual, it reduces the citizenry to infancy. It makes the inhabitants of Totalitaria feel like babies -- still struggling to learn their first cleanliness habits, still listening to their parent's reiterated commands to be clean, be clean, be clean, be good, be good, be good, be loyal, be loyal, be loyal. The constant repetition of these commands reinforces each citizen's sense of guilt, of childishness, and of shame.
The totalitarian purge is always accompanied by an elaborate confession ceremonial, in which the accused publicly repents his sins, much as did the witches of the Middle Ages. This is the general formula: "I confess my doubts. Thanks to the criticism of the comrades, I have been able to purify my thinking. I bow in humility to the opinion of my comrades and the Party and am thankful for the opportunity to correct my errors. You enabled me to repudiate my deviational questions. I acknowledge my debt to the selfless leader and the government of the people."
The strategy of public expression of shame has two effects: it serves, like the purging rituals themselves, to provoke feelings of childish submissiveness among the people, and, at the same time, it offers each citizen a defense against his own deep-seated psychological problems and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Somewhere deep inside him, the citizen of Totalitaria knows that he has abdicated his maturity and his responsibility; public purgings relieve his sense of shame. "It is the others who are guilty and dirty, not I," he thinks. "It is they who are constantly plotting and conniving." But the very things of which he suspects others are also true of himself. He is afraid others will betray him because he cannot be sure in his own mind that he will not betray them. Thus his inner tensions increase, and the purge provides a periodic blood offering to his own fear and to the god of threat.
The very fact that this ritual of coercive confession and purge must be repeated again and again indicates that man develops an inner mental defense against it and that the more it is used, the less effective it becomes as a means of arousing guilt and terror. Just as the citizen of Totalitaria becomes hardened or dulled to the terror of constant official intrusion into his private life, so he becomes almost immune to the cries of treason and sabotage.
In the same way, as the purge becomes less effective as a taming tool, the tyrant uses it more frequently to soothe his own fears. History provides us with many examples of revolutions which eventually drowned in a bloody reign of terror and purge. Some of the most devoted heroes and leaders of the French Revolution met their death on the guillotine of the republic they helped to create.
Wild accusation and black magic, like all the other taming tools of Totalitaria, are nothing new, but in primitive civilizations and in prehistoric times the craft of black magic was rather simple. The shaman had merely to destroy or mutilate a small statuette of the accused criminal, to point or thrust a special stick at the man himself, or to curse and berate him with furious words and gestures in order to bring his victim to collapse and death. In his blind acceptance of the magic ritual, the victim was possessed by fear, and often he gave himself up to the spell and just died (Malinowski).
This magic slaying of the foe has plural psychological implications. The victim of the magic spell was often looked upon as the representative of the tribal god, the internalized authority and father. He must be killed because his very existence aroused guilt and remorse among his people. His death may silence the inner voices in every man which warn against impending downfall. Sometimes the victim comes from a different tribe than that of his accusers. In this situation, the stranger is an easier scapegoat, and punishing him serves to still the clash of ambivalent feelings in the members of the killing tribe. Hate for an outsider checks and deflects the hate and aggression each man feels toward his own group and toward himself. The more fear there is in a society, the more guilt each individual member of the society feels, the more need there is for internal scapegoats and external enemies. INTERNAL CONFUSION LOOKS FOR DISCHARGE IN OUTSIDE WARS.
In Totalitaria, the air is full of gossip, calumny, and rumour. Any accusation, even if it is false, has a greater influence on the citizenry than subsequent vindication. Bills of particulars, made out of whole cloth are manufactured against innocents, especially against former leaders, who have been able to develop some personal esteem and loyalty among their friends and followers. Trumped-up charges made against us always revive unconscious feelings of guilt and induce us to tremble.
In our analysis of the psychological forces that lead prisoners of war and other political victims to confession and betrayal, we saw how strongly the sense of hidden guilt and doubt in each man impels him under strain to surrender to the demands and ideologies of the enemy. This same mechanism is at work constantly among the citizens of Totalitaria. Accusations against others remind him of his own inner rebellions and hostilities, which he does not dare to bring out into the open, and so the accused, even when he is innocent, becomes the scapegoat for his private sense of guilt. Cowardice makes the other citizens of our mythical country turn away from the victim lest they be accused themselves.
The very fact that character assassination is possible reveals the frailty and sensitivity of human sympathy and empathy. Even in free, democratic societies, political campaigns are often conducted in an atmosphere of extravagant accusation and even wilder counter accusation. The moment the strategy of wild accusation, with all its disagreeable noises of vituperation and calumny, begins, we forget the strategic intention behind the words and find ourselves influenced by the shouting and name calling. "Maybe," we say to ourselves, "there is something in this story."
This, of course, is just what the slanderer wants. In the minds of the politicians the illusion still persists that the end justifies the means. But campaigns of slander produce paradoxical results because the very fact that an unfounded accusation has been made weakens the moral sense of both listener and accuser.
In Totalitaria this vicious circle of vituperation reaches its fullest flowering. Drowned in a reign of suspicion, the citizen of Totalitaria suffers from a terrible delusion of persecution -- "spy-onoia," the spy mania. He is continually on the alert, watching his fellow men. His good neighbour may at any moment become a saboteur or a traitor. The citizen of Totalitaria hardly ever looks for confusion or flaws in his own soul, but projects them onto scapegoats - until he himself finally becomes the victim of someone else's spyonoia. Every citizen is constantly trying to search out everyone else's innermost thoughts. Because one's own hidden thoughts are projected on one's neighbours, thinking in itself becomes the enemy. This great fear of the inner thoughts of our fellow men is related to a general process of paranoiac re-evaluation of the world as a result of fear and totalitarian thinking. In the denial of human loyalty and in the constant delusion of treason and sabotage are expressed the whole infantile mythology of Totalitaria and its repudiation of mature human relationships.
Through interrogation, character assassination, humiliation, mental terror, and demoralization -- such as happens in individual and collective brainwashing -- man can be so utterly demoralized that he accepts any political system. He is nothing any more; why should he oppose matters? In Totalitaria there is no open policy, no free discussion, no honest difference of opinion; there is only intrigue and denunciation, with their frightening action on the masses.
The strategy of wild accusation is used not only against Totalitaria's citizenry, but also against the rest of the world. Totalitaria needs the images of outside enemies - imaginary cruel monsters who spread plague and disease - to justify its own internal troubles. The remnants of the individual citizen's conscience are calmed and held in check by a paranoiac attack on the rest of the world. "The enemy is poisoning our food, throwing beetles and bacteria into our crops." This myth of an imaginary world conspiracy aims at bringing the fearful citizens of Totalitaria into a concerted defense against nonexistent dangers. It conceals, at the same time, internal failures leading to diminishing crops and lack of food.
Projecting blame onto others reinforces each citizen's sense of participation in the totalitarian community and stills the nagging internal voice demanding that he act as a self-responsible individual. The myth of external plotting also increases the individual citizen's feeling of dependence and immaturity. Now only his dictatorial leader can protect him from the evil world outside -- a world which is described to him as a vast zoo, inhabited by atomic dragons and hydrogen monsters.
As we said before, the citizen of Totalitaria may be able to fulfil some of his irrational, instinctual needs in return for his submission to totalitarian slavery. Hitler Germany taught us the accepted pattern. The citizen (and party member) is encouraged to betray his friends and parents, something the angry, frustrated baby in him has often wanted to do. He may live out in action his deeply repressed aggressions and desires for revenge. He no longer has to suppress or reject some of his own primitive impulses. The system assumes the full burden of his guilt and hands him a ready-made list of thousands of justifications and exculpations for the release of his sadistic impulses. Flowery catchwords, such as "historical necessity," help the individual to rationalize immorality and evil into morality and good. We see here the great corruption of civilized standards.
In his strategy of criminalization, the totalitarian dictator destroys the conscience of his followers, just as he has destroyed his own. Think of the highly learned and polished Nazi doctors who started their professional life with the Hippocratic oath, promising to be the helping healer of man, but who later in cold blood inflicted the most horrible tortures on their concentration-camp victims (Mitscherlich). They slaughtered innocents by the thousands in order to discover the statistical limits of human endurance. They infected other thousands as guinea pigs because the Fuhrer wanted it so. They had lost their personal standards and ethics completely and justified all their crimes through the Fuhrer's will. Political catchwords encouraged them to yield their consciences completely to the dictator. The process of systematic criminalization requires a "deculturation" of the people. As one of Hitler's gang-men said, "When I hear the word 'civilization,' I prepare my gun." This is done to consistently arouse the instinct of cruelty. People are told not to believe in intellect and objective truth, but to listen only to the subjective dictates of the Moloch State, to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Stalin.
Criminalization is conditioning people to rebellion against civilized frustrations. Show them blood and bloody scapegoats, and a thousand years of acculturation fall away from them. This implies imbuing the people with hysteria, arousing the masses, homogenizing the emotions. All this tends to awaken the brute Neanderthal psyche in man. Justify crime with the glamorous doctrine of race superiority, and then you make sure the people will follow you.
Hitler knew very well what he was doing when he turned the German concentration camps over to the unleashed lusts of his storm troopers. "Let them kill and murder," was the device. "Once they have gone so far with me, they must go on to the end." The strategy of criminalization is not only directed toward crushing the victims of the totalitarian regime, but also toward giving the elite hangmen -- the governing gang -- that poisonous feeling of power that drags them farther and farther away from every human feeling; their victims become people without human identity, merely speaking masks and ego-less robots. The strategy of criminalization is the systematic organization of the lower passions in man, in particular in those the dictator must trust as his direct helpers.
Under the pressure of totalitarian thinking, nearly every citizen identifies with the ruling gang, and many must prove their loyalty by murder and killing, or at least expressing their approval of murder and killing. The boredom of Totalitaria's automatic patterns of living leads the deluded citizens to welcome the adventure of war and crime and self-destruction. Each new act of torture and crime makes new bonds of fidelity and unscrupulous obedience, especially within the leading gang. In the end, driven by crime and guilt, the ruling members have to stick it out together because the downfall of the system would bring about the downfall of the entire gang, both leaders and followers. The same thing holds true in the criminal world. Once a man has taken the first step and rejected the laws of society and joined the criminal gang, he is at war with the outside world and its moral evaluations. From that point on, the gang can blackmail him and subdue him.
In Totalitaria, the vicious circle of criminalization of the citizenry, in which the means become ends in themselves, grows into a cynical conspiracy covered with the cynical flag of decent idealism. The country's leaders use such simple words as "the universal campaign of peace," and the citizens rejoice and take pride in these words. Only a few among them know what deceptive deeds lie behind the flowery phrases.
These perversions are also incorporated into a great nationalistic myth - the Third Reich, the New Empire, the People's Republic - and the citizen's desire to do something heroic becomes identified with doing something violent and criminal. Blood becomes a magic fluid, and shedding someone else's blood becomes a virtuous and life-giving deed.
Unlimited killing, as it is practiced in totalitarian systems, is related to deep, unconscious fears. The weak and emotionally sick in any society kill out of fear, in order to borrow, in a magic way, their dead victims' strength and happiness - as well as, of course, their material possessions. The killing of millions in the Nazi gas ovens was part of this ancient mythology of murder. Perhaps the members of the master race thought that slaughtering the Jews would ensure that the Germans would endure pain for as many centuries as had their victims! It is part of an old primitive myth that through killing one fortifies and prolongs one's own life. Let us not forget that forces of reason and understanding in man are rather weak. It is difficult to control the fire of explosive drives, once they are lighted.
Totalitarianism must kill, slaughter, make war. Totalitaria preaches hatred, and the totalitarian mouthpiece is a lonely, deluded, tough "superman," calling for hatred and injustice and arousing intensified fanaticism unhampered by any moral feeling or remorse. His battle cry reinforces the dictator's hold on his subjects, because each citizen, in and through his guilty deeds, learns to hate his victim, whose very suffering arouses even more the criminal's deeply buried sense of guilt.
After the First World War, we became more conscious of our attitude toward words. This attitude was gradually changing. Our trust in official catchwords and clichés and in idealistic labels had diminished. We became more and more aware of the fact that the important questions were what groups and powers stood behind the words, and what their secret intentions were. But in our easygoing way we often forget to ask this question, and we are all more or less susceptible to noisy, oft-repeated words.
The formulation of big propagandistic lies and fraudulent catchwords has a very well-defined purpose in Totalitaria, and words themselves have acquired a special function in the service of power, which we may call verbocracy. The Big Lie and the phoney slogan at first confuse and then dull the hearers, making them willing to accept every suggested myth of happiness. The task of the totalitarian propagandist is to build special pictures in the minds of the citizenry so that finally they will no longer see and hear with their own eyes and ears but will look at the world through the fog of official catchwords and will develop the automatic responses appropriate to totalitarian mythology.
The multiform use of words in DOUBLE TALK serves as an attack on our logic, that is, an attack on our understanding of what monolithic dictatorship really is. Hear, hear the nonsense: "Peace is war and war is peace! Democracy is tyranny and freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength! Virtue is vice and truth is a lie." So says the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's grim novel, "1984." And we saw this nightmare fantasy come true when our soldiers who had spent long years in North Korean prison camps returned home talking of totalitarian China with the deceiving cliché of "the people's democracy." Pavlovian conditioning to special words forces people into an AUTOMATIC THINKING that is tied to those words. The words we use influence our behaviour in daily life; they determine the thoughts we have.
In Totalitaria, facts are replaced by fantasy and distortion. People are taught systematically and intentionally to lie (Winokur). History is reconstructed, new myths are built up whose purpose is twofold: to strengthen and flatter the totalitarian leader, and to confuse the luckless citizens of the country. The whole vocabulary is a dictated set of slowly hypnotizing slogans. In the semantic fog that permeates the atmosphere, words lose their direct communicative function.
They become merely commanding signs, triggering off reactions of fear and terror. They are battles cries and Pavlovian signals, and no longer represent free thinking. THE WORD, ONCE CONSIDERED A FIRST TOKEN OF FREE HUMAN CREATION, IS TRANSFORMED INTO A MECHANICAL TOOL. In Totalitaria, words may have a seductive action, soothing or charming their hearers, but they are not allowed to have intrinsic meaning. They are conditioners, emotional triggers, serving to imprint the desired reaction patterns on their hearers.
Man's mental laziness, his resistance to the hard labour of thinking, makes it relatively easy for Totalitaria's dictator to bring his subjects into acceptance of the Big Lie.
At first the citizen may say to himself, "All this is just nonsense - pure double talk," but in the very act of trying to shrug it off, he has become subject to the power of the inherent suggestion. That is the trick of double talk; once a man neglects to analyze and verify it, he becomes lost in it and can no longer see the difference between rationale and rationalization. In the end, he can no longer believe anything, and he retreats into sullen dullness. Once the citizen of Totalitaria has accepted the "logic" of his leaders, he is no longer open to discussion or argument. Alas, in our Western world, we often meet this evasion of semantic clarity. Let us not forget that the battle for words is part of the ideological cold war in our world.
Something has crept into our mechanized system of communication that has made our modes of thinking deteriorate. People too casually acquire ideas and concepts. They no longer struggle for a clear understanding. The popularized picture replaces the battle of the pros and cons of concepts. Instead of aiming at true understanding, people listen to thoughtless repetition, which gives them THE DELUSION OF UNDERSTANDING.
Communication has an even more infantile, magic character for the citizen of Totalitaria. Words no longer represent intelligible meanings or ideas. They bind the citizen of Totalitaria to utter dependence on his commander, much as the infant is bound to the word pictures of his parents.
Byfield points out in his pamphlet on logocide that words are commonly used as instruments of social revolution. Politicians seeking power must coin new labels and new words with emotional appeal, "while allowing the same old practices and institutions to continue as before. The trick is to replace a disagreeable image though the substance remains the same. The totalitarians consequently have to fabric a hate language in order to stir up the mass emotions. We have all experience how the word 'peace' doesn't mean peace any more, it has become a propagandistic device to APPEASE the masses and to disguise aggression."
The VERBOCRACY in totalitarian thinking and the official verbosity of demagogues serve to disturb and suffocate the free minds of citizens. We can say that verbocracy turns them into what psychology calls symbol agnostics, people capable only of imitation, incapable of inquisitive sense of objectivity and perspective that leads to questioning and understanding and to the formation of individual ideas and ideals. In other words, the individual citizen becomes a parrot, repeating ready-made slogans and propaganda catchwords without understanding what they really mean, or what forces stand behind them.
This parrotism may give the citizen of Totalitaria a certain infantile emotional pleasure, however. "Heil, heil! - Duce, Duce!" -- these rhythmic chants afford him the same kind of sound-enjoyment children achieve through babbling, shrieking, and yelling.
The abuse of the word and the enshrinement of propaganda are more obvious in Totalitaria than in any other part of the world. But this evil exists all over. We can find all too many examples of it in actual conversation. Many speakers use verbal showing off to cover an emptiness of thought, to stir up emotions and to create admiration and adoration of what is essentially empty and valueless. Loud-mouthed phoniness threatens to become the ideal of our time.
The semantic fog in Totalitaria is thickened by the regimentation of information. The citizens of our mythical country have no access to sources of facts and opinions. They are not free to verify what they hear or read. They are the victims of their leader's "labelomania" -- their judgments are determined by the official labels everything and everybody bears.
The urge to attach too much meaning to the label of an object or institution and to look only casually at its intrinsic value is characteristic of our times and seems to be growing. I call this condition labelomania; it is the exaggerated respect for the scientific-sounding name - the label, the school, the degree, the diploma - with a surprising disregard for underlying value. All about us we see people chasing after fixed formulas, credits, marks, ranks, and labels because they believe that if one is to have prestige or recognition these distinguishing marks are necessary. In order to obtain acceptance, people are prepared to undergo most impractical and stylized training and conditioning - not to mention expense - in special schools and institutions which promote certain labels, diplomas, and sophisticated facades.
Not long ago a psychiatric colleague worked in a clinic where a different terminology was used, and the ideas of his former teachers, because they were expressed in terms other than those of the clinic, were criticized and even vilified. My colleague was a good practical therapist; yet he came to need psychotherapy himself, to counteract the utter confusion resulting from daily contacts with aggressive adepts of a different terminology, just as much as some of our soldiers released from the Korean prison camps.
There is something essentially unpleasant in the need to express and judge all opinions and evaluations in accepted clichés and labels. It implies a devaluation of the work or of the idea involved, and it denies the subtle human differences between people and the phenomena their words describe. In Totalitaria, man is so anxiety-ridden, so fearful of any deviation from the prescribed opinions and ways of thinking that he only allows himself to express himself in the terms his dictators provide. To the citizen of Totalitaria, the acknowledged label becomes more important than the eternal variation that is life.
As words lose their communicative function, they acquire more and more of a frightening, regulatory, and conditioning function. Official words must be believed and must be obeyed. Dissension and disagreement become both a physical and an emotional luxury. Vituperation, and the power that lies behind it, is the only sanctioned logic. Facts contrary to the official line are distorted and suppressed; any form of mental compromise is treason. In Totalitaria, there is no search for truth, only the enforced acceptance of the totalitarian dogmas and clichés. The most frightening thing of all is that parallel to the increase in our means of communication, our mutual understanding has decreased. A Babel-like confusion has taken hold of political and non-political minds as a result of semantic disorder and too much verbal noise.
Totalitaria makes the thinking man a criminal, for in our mythical country the citizen can be punished as much for wrong thinking as for wrongdoing. Because the watchful eyes of the secret police are everywhere, the critic of the regime is driven to conspiratorial methods if he wants to have even a safe conversation with those he wants to trust. What we used to call the "Nazi gesture" was a careful looking around before starting to talk to a friend.
The criminal in Totalitaria can be an accidental scapegoat used for release of official hostility, and there is often need for a scapegoat. From one day to the next, a citizen can become a hero or a villain, depending on strategic party needs.
Nearly all of the mature ideals of mankind are crimes in Totalitaria. Freedom and independence, compromise and objectivity - all of these are treasonable. In Totalitaria there is a new crime, the apostatic crime, which may be described as the obstinate refusal to admit imputed guilt. On the other hand, the hero in Totalitaria is the converted sinner, the breast-beating, recanting traitor, the self-denouncing criminal, the informer, and the stool pigeon.
The ordinary, law-abiding citizen of Totalitaria, far from being a hero, is potentially guilty of hundreds of crimes. He is a criminal if he is stubborn in defense of his own point of view. He is a criminal if he refuses to become confused. He is a criminal if he does not loudly and vigorously participate in all official acts; reserve, silence, and ideological withdrawal are treasonable. He is a criminal if he doesn't LOOK happy, for then he is guilty of what the Nazis called physiognomic insubordination. He can be a criminal by association or disassociation, by scapegoatism, or by projection, by intention or by anticipation. He is a criminal if he refuses to become an informer. He can be tried and found guilty by every conceivable "ism" - cosmopolitanism, provincialism; deviationalism, mechanism; imperialism, nationalism; pacifism, militarism; objectivism, subjectivism; chauvinism, equalitarianism; practicalism, idealism. He is guilty every time he IS something.
The only safe conduct pass for the citizen of Totalitaria lies in the complete abdication of his mental integrity.
For the Special Marine Corps Court of Inquiry in Washington that had to judge one of the cases of brainwashing, I was asked, as an expert witness, if I could explain why some of the American officers yielded rather easily to mental pressure exerted by the enemy.
It was in the days when Congressional investigations in our country were in full swing. In all honesty I had to answer that sometimes coercive suggestions underlying such investigations could exert conforming pressure on susceptible minds. People are conditioned by numerous psychological processes in our daily political atmosphere.
Though we have been forewarned of what totalitarian techniques may do to the mind, there is reason to be alarmed by the possible disruption of values brought about by some of our own troubles.
The totalitarian dictator succeeded in transforming his apparatus of "justice" into an instrument of threat and domination. Where once a balanced feeling of justice had been recognized as the noblest ideal of civilized man, this ideal was now scoffed at by cynics — like Hitler and Goebbels — and called a synthetic emotion useful only to impress or appease people. Thus, in the hands of totalitarian inquisitors and judges justice has become a farce, a piece of propaganda to soothe the people's conscience. Investigative power is misused — to arouse prejudices and animosities in those bystanders who have become too confused to distinguish between right and wrong.
The totalitarian has taught us that the courts and the judiciary can be used as tools of thought control. That is why we have to study how our own institutions, intentionally or unobtrusively, may be used to distort our concepts of democratic freedom.
To a psychologist, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Moscow purge trials between 1936 and 1938 was the deep sense of moral shock felt by people all over the world, whose trust in the judicial process was shaken to its foundations by these perversions of justice. Discussions about the trials always concerned themselves less with the question of guilt or innocence of the accused than with the horrifying travesty of justice the trials presented. Somewhere deep in the soul of men lies the conviction that a judge is, by definition, a righteous, impartial man, that an appeal to the courts is the road to truth, that the law stands above corruption, degradation, and perversion. Of course, we recognize that judges are human beings like ourselves, that they can make mistakes, as the rest of us do, and we are even willing to accept temporary injustice because we believe that there will be eventual vindication and that the rule of law and justice will remain triumphant. The moment the judicial process becomes a farce, a show to intimidate the people, something in man's soul is profoundly affected. When justice is no longer blind, but has her eye on the main chance, we become frightened and alarmed. To whom shall a man turn if he cannot find justice in the courts?
During the course of psychotherapy, one of my patients was called to jury duty. The experience disturbed him deeply, for apparently the prosecutor in this case was more interested in getting a conviction than in finding out the truth. Although the jury had the last word, and, by its verdict, condemned the prosecutor's strategy, our juror was greatly upset. "What happens," he asked me, "in other cases? Suppose the jurors cannot see through the lawyer's sophisms? Suppose they are taken in by his constant suggestion and insistence?"
Indeed, any trial can be used as a weapon of intimidation; it can, in a subtle way, intimidate the jurors, the witnesses, the entire public. In Totalitaria, some higher courts exist only to carry out this function of intimidation; their purpose is to prove to their own citizens and to the world at large that there is a punishing and threatening force controlling the government and that this force can use the judiciary for its own purposes.
An apparent objective official investigation may become a weapon of political control simply through the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. The man who is under investigation is almost automatically stigmatized and blamed because our suspicions are thrust on him. The very fact that he is under scrutiny makes him suspect. Thus, even the so-called "democratic power to investigate" may become the power to destroy. We must beware of this danger! Already the approving or disapproving way of interrogation changes man's thinking about facts.
Any judicial action, whether legal or investigative, which receives widespread publicity, exerts some mental pressure on the entire public. It is not only the participants in the action who have a stake in its eventual outcome, the citizens as a whole may well become emotionally involved in the proceedings. Any official investigation can be either a mere show of power or an act of truth. As a show of power, by a totalitarian government or by an unscrupulous demagogue, it can have frightening consequences. The German Reichstag fire case, the Moscow purge trials, and the court actions against our P.O.W.s in China are prime examples of "legal" action which served to consolidate the political power of ruthless men and had for their object confusion of a helpless citizenry. An additional intention was to shock the public opinion of the world.
If we look at legal inquiry from the point of view of each of its participants, we will see even more clearly the dangers we must guard against.
Recent happenings in our own country indicate clearly that the methods used to satisfy a question for power show a universal pattern. The ancient magic masks used to frighten the people may have been replaced by an overconfident show of physical strength by a "hero" artificially shaped as an object of admiration and identification for infantile minds, but the loud noises of propaganda are still with us, magnified a thousandfold by the radio and television, and serving to intimidate and hypnotize our less alert contemporaries. A worldwide audience, watching and listening to the demagogue playing all his different roles — the righteous accuser, the martyred victim, the voice of conscience — is temporarily thrown into a semifrightend, trancelike state of exhausted inattentiveness through the monotonous repetition of threats, accusations, and cliches.
The demagogue, like the totalitarian dictator, knows well how to lay a mental spell on the people, how to create a kind of mass suggestion and mass hypnosis. There is no intrinsic difference between individual and mass hypnosis. In hypnosis — the most intensified form of suggestion — the individual becomes temporarily automatized, both physically and mentally. Such a clinical state of utter mental submission can be brought about quite easily in children and in primitive people, but it can be created in civilized adults, too. Some of the American P.O.W.s in Korean prison camps were reduced to precisely this condition.
The more the individual feels himself to be part of the group, the more easily can he become the victim of mass suggestion. This is why primitive communities, which have a high degree of social integration and identification, are so sensitive to suggestions. Sorcerers and magicians can often keep an entire tribe under their spell.
Most crowds are rather easy to influence and hypnotize because common longings and yearnings increase the suggestibility of each member of the group. Each person has a tendency to identify with the rest of the group and with the leader as well, and this makes it easy for the leader to hold the people in his grip. As Hitler said in "Mein Kampf," the leader can count on increasing submissiveness from the masses.
Sudden fright, fear, and terror were the old-fashioned methods used to induce hypnosis, and they are still used by dictators and demagogues. Threats, unexpected accusations, even long speeches and boredom may overwhelm the mind and reduce it to a hypnotic state.
Another easy technique is to work with specially suggestive words, repeating them monotonously. Arouse self-pity! Tell the people that they have been "betrayed" and that their leaders have deserted them. From time to time, the demagogue has to add a few jokes. People like to laugh. They also like to be horrified, and the macabre, especially, attracts them. Tell them gory tales and let them huddle together in sensational tension. They will probably develop an enormous awe for the man who frightens them and will be willing to give him the chance to lead them out of their emotional terror. In the yearning to be freed from one fear, they may be willing to surrender completely to another.
Radio and television have enhanced the hypnotizing power of sounds, images, and words. Most Americans remember very clearly that frightening day in 1938 when Orson Welles's broadcast of the invasion from Mars sent hundreds of people scurrying for shelter, running from their homes like panicky animals trying to escape a forest fire. The Welles broadcast is one of the clearest examples of the enormous hypnosuggestive power of the various means of mass communication, and the tremendous impact that authoritatively broadcast nonsense can have on intelligent, normal people.
It is not only the suggestive power of these media that gives them their hypnotizing effect. Our technical means of communication make of the people one huge participating mass. Even when I am alone with my radio, I am technically united with the huge mass of other listeners. I see them in my mind, I unconsciouly identify with them, and while I am listening I am one with them. Yet I have no direct emotional contact with them. It is partly for this reason that radio and television tend to take away active affectionate relationships between men and to destroy the capacity for personal thought, evaluation, and reflection. They catch the mind directly, giving people no time for calm, dialectical conversation with their own minds, with their friends, or with their books. The voices from the ether don't permit the freedom-arousing mutuality of free conversation and discussion, and thus provoke greater passive acceptance — as in hypnosis.
Many people are hypnophiles, anxious to daydream and day-sleep throughout their lives; these people easily fall prey to mass suggestion. The lengthy oration or the boring sermon either weakens the listeners and makes them more ripe for the mass spell, or makes them more resentful and rebellious. Long speeches are a staple of totalitarian indoctrination because finally the boredom breaks through our defenses. We give in. Hitler used this technique of mass hypnosis through monotony to enormous advantage. He spoke endlessly and included long, dull recitals of statistics in his speeches.
The din of constant verbal intimidation of the public is a recognized tool of totalitarian strategy. The demagogue uses this suggestive technique, too, as well as the more tricky maneuver of attacking opponents who are usually considered to be beyond suspicion. This maneuver is often combined with a renewed appeal to self-pity. "Fourteen years of disgrace and shame," was the slogan Hitler used to slander the very creative period between the Armistice in 1918 and the year he seized the helm. "Twenty years of treason," a slogan used in our country not too long ago, sounds suspiciously like it, and is all too familiar to anyone who watched Hitler's rise and fall.
The stab-in-the-back myth reduces everyone who is taken in by it to the level of suspicious childhood. This inflammatory oratory aims toward arousing chaotic and aggressive responses in others. The demagogue doesn't mind temporary verbal attacks on himself — even slander can delight him — because these attacks keep him in the headlines and in the public eye and may help increase people's fear of him. Better to be hated and feared than forgotten!
The demagogue grows fat on prolonged and confused discussion of his behavior; it serves to paralyze the people's minds and to obscure completely the real issues behind his red herrings. If this continues long enough, people become fed up, they give in, they want to sleep, they are willing to let the big "hero" take over. And the sequel can be totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, Nazism and Fascism both gambled on the fear of Communisim as a means of seizing power for themselves. What we have recently experienced in this country is frighteningly similar to the first phase of the deliberate totalitarian attack on the mind by slogans and suspicions. Violent, raucous noise provokes violent emotional reactions and destroys mental control. When the demagogue starts to rant and rave, his outbursts tend to be interpreted by the general public as proof of his sincerity and dedication. But for the most part such declarations are proof of just the opposite and are merely part of the demagogue's power-seeking energy.
There is in existence a totalitarian "Document of Terror" which discusses in detail the use of well-planned, repeated successive WAVES OF TERROR to bring the people into submission. Each wave of terrorizing cold war creates its effect more easily — after a breathing spell — than the one that preceded it because people are still disturbed by their previous experience. Morale becomes lower and lower, and the psychological effect of each new propaganda campaign becomes stronger; it reaches a public already softened up. Every dissenter becomes more and more frightened that he may be found out. Gradually people are no longer willing to participate in any sort of political discussion or to express their opinions. Inwardly they have already surrendered to the terrorizing dictatorial forces.
We must learn to treat the demagogue and aspirant dictator in our midst just as we should treat our external enemies in a cold war — with the weapon of ridicule. The demagogue himself is almost incapable of humor of any sort, and if we treat him with humor, he will begin to collapse. Humor is, after all, related to a sense of perspective. If we can see how things should be, we can see how askew they can get, and we can recognize distortion when we are confronted with it. Put the demagogue's statements in perspective, and you will see how utterly distorted they are. How can we possibly take them seriously or answer them seriously? We have important business to attend to — matters of life and death both for ourselves as individuals and for our nation as a whole. The demagogue relies for his effectiveness on the fact that people will take seriously the fantastic accusations he makes; will discuss the phony issues he raises as if they had reality, or will be thrown into such a state of panic by his accusations and charges that they will simply abdicate their right to think and verify for themselves.
The fact is that the demagogue is not appealing to what is rational and mature in man; he is appealing to what is most irrational and most immature. To attempt to answer his ravings with logic is to attempt the impossible. First of all, by so doing we accept his battling premises, and we find ourselves trapped in an argument on terms he has chosen. It is always easier to defeat an enemy on your own ground, and by choosing your own terms. In addition, the demagogue either is, or pretends to be, incapable of the kind of logic that makes discussion and clarification possible.
He is a master at changing the subject. It is worse than criminal for us to get ourselves involved in endless, pointless, and inevitably vituperative arguments with men who are less concerned with truth, social good, and real problems than they are with gaining unlimited attention and power for themselves.
In their defense against psychological attacks on their freedom, the people need humor and good sense first. Consistent approval or silent acceptance of any terror-provoking strategy will result only in the downfall of our democratic system. Confusion undermines confidence. In a country like ours, where it is up to the voting public to discern the truth, a universal knowledge of the methods used by the demagogue to deceive or to lull the public is absolutely necessary.
Man's suggestibility can be a severe liability to him and to his democratic freedom in still another important respect. Even when there is no deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion, the uncontrolled discussion of legal actions, such as political or criminal trials, in newspaper headlines and in partisan columns helps to create a collective emotional atmosphere. This makes it difficult for those directly involved to maintain their much-needed objectivity and to render a verdict according to facts rather than suggestions and subjective experiences.
In addition, any judicial process which receives widespread publicity exerts mental pressure on the public at large. Thus, not only the participants but the entire citizenry can become emotionally involved in the proceedings. Any trial can be either an act of power or an act of truth. An apparently objective examination may become a weapon of control simply by the action of the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. As an act of power by a totalitarian government, the trial can have frightening consequences. The Moscow purge trials and the German Reichstag fire case are prime examples.
We do not, of course, have such horrifying travesties on justice in this country, but our tendency to turn legal actions into a field day for the newspapers, the radio, and television weakens our capacity to arrive at justice and truth. It would be better if we postponed discussion of the merits of any legal case until after the verdict was in.
As we have already seen, any man can be harassed into a confession. The cruel process of menticide is not the only way to arrive at this goal; a man can be held guilty merely by accusation, especially when he is too weak to oppose the impact of collective ire and public opinion.
In circumstances of abnormal fear and prejudice, men feel the need for a scapegoat more strongly than at other times. Consequently, people can be easily duped by false accusations which satisfy their need to have someone to blame. Victims of lynch mobs in our own country have been thus sacrificed to mass passion and so have some so-called traitors and collaborators. In public opinion, the trial itself becomes the verdict of "guilty."
Let me first state that I firmly believe that the right of the Congress to investigate and to propose legislation on the basis of such investigation is one of the most important of our democratic safeguards. But like any other human institution, the Congressional right to investigate can be abused and misused. The power to investigate may become the power to destroy — not only the man under attack, but also the mental integrity of those who, in one way or another, are witnesses to the investigation. In a subtle way, the current wave of Congressional investigations may have a coercive effect on our citizenry. Some dictatorial personalities are obsessed with a morbid need to investigate, and Congressional investigations are made to order for them. Everybody who does not agree with them, who does not bow low and submit, is suspect, and is subjected to a flow of vilification and vituperation. The tendency on the part of the public is to disbelieve everything that the demagogue's opponents say and to swallow uncritically the statements made by those who either surrender to his browbeating or go along with it because they believe in the aims he pretends to stand for.
PSYCHOLOGICALLY, IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE SIMPLE FACT OF BEING INTERVIEWED AND INVESTIGATED HAS A COERCIVE INFLUENCE. As soon as a man is under cross-examination, he may become paralyzed by the procedure and find himself confessing to deeds he never did. In a country where the urge to investigate spreads, suspicion and insecurity grow. Everybody becomes infected with the feelings of the omnipotence of the inquisitor. Wire tapping, for instance, has the same power; it is grasping the secrets of others.
In psychological circles a good deal of attention is now being given to the impact of interviews and interrogations on people. The psychological interviewer himself must be aware of the various interpersonal processes involved in this kind of communication; if he is not, he will not be able to find out where the truth lies. Instead he will get answers which are implicit in his own questions, answers which may have little relation to the real truth. This does not happen only in cases where both the interviewer and the man he is interviewing show bad faith. It can happen despite their best intentions. For everybody brings to an interview the sum total of all his earlier interpersonal relationships. In the initial verbal "trial and error," during what we could call the smelling-out period, each party mobilizes himself to find out what the other party expects and where his weaknesses are and, at the same time, tries to hide his own weaknesses and emphasize his own strengths. The man in the street who is suddenly interviewed tends to give the answer he thinks his questioner expects.
Every conversation, every verbal relationship repeats, at least to some degree, the pattern of the early verbal relationships between the child and its parents. To a man or woman under investigation, the interrogator becomes the parent, good or bad, an object of suspicion or of submission. Since the interrogator himself is often unaware of this unconscious process, the result can be a confusing battle of unconscious or half-conscious tendencies, in which the spoken words are often merely a cover for suspicion-laden conversation between deeper layers of both personalities.
All people who are systematically interrogated, whether in a court, during a Congressional inquiry, or even when applying for a job or having a medical examination, feel themselves exposed. This very fact in itself provokes peculiar defensive mental attitudes. These attitudes may be useful and protective, but at times they may be harmful to the individual. When a man is looking for a job, for example, he may become overeager, and in his zeal to "make a good impression" to "put his best foot forward," he may make a bad impression and arouse suspicion. For it is not only what we say but the way we say it that can indicate our honesty and poise. Nervous sounds, gestures, pauses, moments of silence or stuttering may give us away. Aggressive zeal may seduce us into saying too much. Inhibition may prevent us from saying enough.
The defendant in a court action or in an inquiry is defensive not only about the accusations leveled against him or the questions he has to answer, he is even more defensive about his own unconscious guilt and about his doubts about his own capabilities. Many of my colleagues in medicine and psychiatry who have been called as expert witnesses in legal actions have told me that the very moment they were under cross-examination, they felt themselves on trial and nearly convicted. Cross- examination seemed to them often less a way of getting at the truth than a form of emotional coercion, which did a great disservice to both the facts and the truth. This is the reason that every kind of investigative power can so easily become a coercive power. Making witnesses and defendants suffer from acute stage fright can be a nasty weapon of totalitarianism.
Because psychologists and psychiatrist appreciate these facts, there is now a strong tendency in these circles to use what we might call a passive technique in interviewing. When the interviewer's questions are not directed toward any specific answer, the man being questioned will be encouraged to answer on his own initiative, out of his own desire to communicate. The neutral question, "What did you do afterwards?" provokes a freer and more honest response than the question "Did you go home after that?"
We have seen in recent years a long parade of recanting Communists, who have testified freely and openly about their pasts. Currently, we have still another kind of parade: the recanting recanters. How are we to know the truth from falsehood in all this morass of conflicting testimony? How are we to prevent ourselves from becoming confused by the contradictory testimony of men and women whose words can influence the course of our nation's actions? How are we to learn to evaluate what they say? Psychologically, how reliable is their testimon