Book cover, 1963 edition
|Author||Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.|
|Translator||Richard Jaffe (Chinese)|
|Cover artist||Shelley Gruendler|
|Subject|| Psychology |
|Publisher|| Norton, New York (1961, first edition)|
University of North Carolina Press (reprint)
|1961, 1989 (UNC Press reprint)|
|Pages||524 (1989 reprint)|
|LC Class||BF633 .L5 1989|
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China is a non-fiction book by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton on the psychology of mind control.
Lifton's research for the book began in 1953 with a series of interviews with American servicemen who had been held captive during the Korean War. In addition to interviews with 25 Americans, Lifton also interviewed 15 Chinese who had fled their homeland after having been subjected to indoctrination in Chinese universities. From these interviews, which in some cases occurred regularly for over a year, Lifton identified the tactics used by Chinese communists to cause drastic shifts in one's opinions and personality and "brainwash" American soldiers into making demonstrably false assertions.
The book was first published in 1961 by Norton in New York.The 1989 reprint edition was published by University of North Carolina Press. Lifton is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.
In the book, Lifton outlines the "Eight Criteria for Thought Reform":
Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism popularized the term "thought-terminating cliché". This refers to a cliché that is a commonly used phrase, or folk wisdom, sometimes used to quell cognitive dissonance. Though the clichéd phrase in and of itself may be valid in certain contexts, its application as a means of dismissing dissent or justifying fallacious logic is what makes it thought-terminating.
Examples include “Everything happens for a reason”, “Why? Because I said so” (Bare assertion fallacy), “I’m the parent, that’s why” (Appeal to authority), “To each his own”, “It's a matter of opinion!”, “You only live once” (YOLO), and “We will have to agree to disagree”.
The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis.
In George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four , the fictional constructed language Newspeak is designed to eliminate the ability to express unorthodox thoughts. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World society uses thought-terminating clichés in a more conventional manner, most notably regarding the drug soma as well as modified versions of real-life platitudes, such as "A doctor a day keeps the jim-jams away".
In her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem , Hannah Arendt described Adolf Eichmann as a pseudo-intellectual who used clichés and platitudes to justify his actions and the role he played in the Jewish genocide of World War II. For her, these phrases are symptomatic of an absence of thought. She wrote "When confronted with situations for which such routine procedures did not exist, he [Eichmann] was helpless, and his cliché-ridden language produced on the stand, as it had evidently done in his official life, a kind of macabre comedy. Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by their existence."
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threats or force. It involves a set of various types of forceful actions that violate the free will of an individual to induce a desired response, for example: a bully demanding lunch money from a student or the student gets beaten. These actions may include extortion, blackmail, torture, threats to induce favors, or even sexual assault. In law, coercion is codified as a duress crime. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in a way contrary to their own interests. Coercion may involve the actual infliction of physical pain/injury or psychological harm in order to enhance the credibility of a threat. The threat of further harm may lead to the cooperation or obedience of the person being coerced.
Brainwashing is the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. Brainwashing is said to reduce its subjects' ability to think critically or independently, to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into their minds, as well as to change their attitudes, values and beliefs.
Margaret Thaler Singer was an American clinical psychologist and researcher with her colleague Lyman Wynne of family communication. She was a prominent figure in the study of undue influence in social and religious contexts.
Hannah Arendt was a German-born American political theorist. Her many books and articles have had a lasting influence on political theory and philosophy. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political thinkers of the 20th century.
Large-group awareness training (LGAT) refers to activities usually offered by groups linked with the human potential movement which claim to increase self-awareness and bring about desirable transformations in individuals' personal lives. They are noted for being unconventional and often take place over several days.
A cliché, is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work that has become overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, even to the point of being trite or irritating, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning, referring to an expression imposed by conventionalized linguistic usage.
A thought-terminating cliché is a form of loaded language, commonly used to quell cognitive dissonance. Depending on context in which a phrase is used, it may actually be valid and not qualify as thought-terminating; it does qualify as such when its application intends to dismiss dissent or justify fallacious logic. Its only function is to stop an argument from proceeding further, in other words "end the debate with a cliché... not a point." The term was popularized by Robert Jay Lifton in his 1961 book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, who called the use of the cliché, along with "loading the language", as "The language of Non-thought".
Thought reform can refer to:
Robert Jay Lifton is an American psychiatrist and author, chiefly known for his studies of the psychological causes and effects of wars and political violence, and for his theory of thought reform. He was an early proponent of the techniques of psychohistory.
Steven Alan Hassan is an American mental health counselor who has written on the subject of mind control and how to help people who have been harmed by the experience. He has been helping people exit destructive cults since 1976. Hassan has appeared on the TV news programs 60 Minutes, Nightline, and Dateline, and is a published author and lecturer.
The (Chinese) People's Volunteer Army was the armed expatriate volunteer forces deployed by the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. Although all units in the PVA were actually transferred from the People's Liberation Army under orders of Mao Zedong, the PVA was separately constituted in order to prevent an official war with the United States. The PVA entered Korea on October 19, 1950, and completely withdrew by October 1958. The nominal commander and political commissar of the PVA was Peng Dehuai before the ceasefire agreement in 1953, although both Chen Geng and Deng Hua served as acting commander and commissar after April 1952 due to Peng's illness. The initial units in the PVA included 38th, 39th, 40th, 42nd, 50th, 66th Corps totalling 250,000 men, and eventually about 3 million Chinese civilian and military personnel served in Korea by July 1953.
Milieu control is a term popularized by psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton to describe tactics that control environment and human communication through the use of social pressure and group language; such tactics may include dogma, protocols, innuendo, slang, and pronunciation, which enables group members to identify other members, or to promote cognitive changes in individuals. Lifton originally used "milieu control" to describe brainwashing and mind control, but the term has since been applied to other contexts.
A platitude is a trite, meaningless, or prosaic statement, often used as a thought-terminating cliché, aimed at quelling social, emotional, or cognitive unease. The statement may be true, but its meaning has been lost due to its excessive use.
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is a 1963 book by political theorist Hannah Arendt. Arendt, a Jew who fled Germany during Adolf Hitler's rise to power, reported on Adolf Eichmann's trial for The New Yorker. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 1964.
Scientology terminology consists of a complex assortment of jargon used by Scientologists in conjunction with the practice of Scientology and in their everyday lives. It is difficult if not impossible to understand Scientology without understanding its terminology the way Hubbard defines it.
Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control is a 2004 popular science book explaining mind control, which is also known as brainwashing, thought reform and coercive persuasion, by neuroscientist and physiologist Kathleen Taylor. It explains the neurological basis for reasoning and cognition in the brain, and proposes that the self is changeable while describing the physiology of neurological pathways. It reviews case studies including Patty Hearst, the Manson Family, and the mass murder/suicide of members of Peoples Temple at Jonestown, and compares the techniques of influence used by cults to those of totalitarian and communist societies. It lays out a model FACET - Freedom, Agency, Complexity, Ends-not-means, and Thinking - which she believes can be used to negate the influence of brainwashing techniques.
Doublethink is a process of indoctrination whereby the subject is expected to accept a clearly false statement as the truth, or to simultaneously accept two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in contravention to one's own memories or sense of reality. Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy.
Thought reform in China was a campaign of the Communist Party of China to reform the thinking of Chinese citizens into accepting Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought (Maoism) from 1951 to 1952. Techniques employed included indoctrination, "struggle sessions", propaganda, criticism and self-criticism, and a variety of other techniques.
Hannah Arendt is a 2012 German-Luxembourgish-French biographical drama film directed by Margarethe von Trotta and starring Barbara Sukowa. The film centers on the life of German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt. It is distributed by Zeitgeist Films in the United States, where it opened theatrically on 29 May 2013.
The Life of the Mind was the final work of Hannah Arendt (1906–1975), and was unfinished at the time of her death. Designed to be in three parts, only the first two had been completed and the first page of the third part was in her typewriter the evening of the day she suddenly died. The unfinished work was edited by her friend, the author, Mary McCarthy and published in two volumes in 1977 and 1978.