Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, menticide, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual “systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated“. The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual’s sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. In Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes, Jacques Ellul maintains that the “principal aims of these psychological methods is to destroy a man’s habitual patterns, space, hours, milieu, and so on.”
Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and people will believe it.
- Adolf Hitler
Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed in systematically indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques. These theories were later expanded and modified to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs).