Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The mind control theories as applied to membership in new religious movements assumes that no one would join such a group if he knew what he was getting into. The recruit is not to be held responsible for his actions, since he was "under control". Neither scientists nor sociologists generally consider this model a viable theory.
Theories vary as to the degree of control attained and the methods used to attain it (either direct or more subtle). When these methods are used forcibly on captives, most sources refer to it as "brainwashing" (a term originally applied during the Korean War to POWs held by Communist China and North Korea). See also: brainwashing
2.1 Mind control and deprogramming
Methods and theories
Purported technologies of mind control
Hypothesized forms of mind control technology have included the use of drugs, hypnosis, Pavlovian conditioning, repetitive indoctrination, torture and subliminal stimuli. Government groups have actually experimented with all of these methods, with widely varying degrees of success.
Possible symptoms of schizophrenia (and sometimes of other forms of psychosis) include the belief that one is subject to external mind control, often by use of some form of technology. These often involve less plausible proposed mind-control technologies such as the use of microwave radiation or lasers to control thoughts, often by intelligence agencies and by secret societies.
However, others note that in fact these technologies do exist, in varying forms. ELF technology appears the most common and most well-documented. From the 1950s to the 1970s, both the Soviet Union and the United States carried out several experiments using ELF pulse transmissions to mimic human nerve impulses, in effect implanting certain states of consciousness -- particularly emotions -- by radiation. Scientists found that certain ELF frequencies, when transmitted in pulse mode, could induce emotions in subjects. Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde , a former Finnish physician and a well-known ufologist and conspiracy theorist, sees many 'schizophrenics' as misdiagnosed victims of mind-control experiments. Physical implants discovered in the cerebral tissue of such 'schizophrenics' have allegedly substantiated such claims.
Some believers in mind control assert that no one has immunity to mind control: a person could just start talking to a someone on the street, and nearly instantly, he becomes a victim. Other sources believe that such mind control does not exist, and that attempts at mind control cannot subvert free will.
U.S. Government research into mind control
A CIA research program which included experiments on human participants, known principally by the codename MKULTRA, began in 1950, largely in response to alleged Soviet, Chinese, and North Korean uses of mind-control techniques (popularly known as "brainwashing") on U.S. prisoners of war in Korea.
The general consensus sees MKULTRA as a failure, although because most of the MKULTRA records were deliberately destroyed in 1973 by order of then-Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, it is impossible to have a complete understanding of the more than 150 individually-funded research projects sponsored by MKULTRA and the related CIA programs.
- James Vicary coined the term "subliminal advertising" .
- The publication in 1957 of Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders brought the term to the attention of the general public.
- In 1973 the book Subliminal Seduction claimed that advertising made widespread use of subliminal techiques.
Does control of brain processes amount to mind control?
With intense modern magnets and the technique of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or repetitive TMS (rTMS), researchers have succeeded in transiently suppressing certain thought processes — such as the conjugation of verbs — with fleeting magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain. The technique has proved a valuable tool for testing hypotheses about the role and interplay between brain regions in particular cognitive activities and psychiatric symptoms such as depression.
The extent and viability of these capabilities as "mind control" remain controversial and disputed.
For example, antidepressant drugs and mood stabilizers have a definite effect on mood, through what is believed to be a direct action on the chemistry of the brain. However, most people would not say that this constituted mind control, and people on these drugs do not feel "controlled". This raises the question: if outsiders can control brain processes at the electrical or chemical level without this amounting to "mind control", where does free will lie?
Cults and mind control controversies
The term "mind control" evolved from theories of brainwashing after these theories had been found not applicable and discredited with regard to cults. (Note that sociologists and other experts often dispute about what constitutes a "cult".)
Some theorists maintain that merely by "milieu control " or censoring all information that might dissuade belief a group of manipulators may take control of the mind of a person who is otherwise free to end his association with the group (see especially Steve Hassan and Flo Conway ).
Some persons have claimed a "brainwashing defense" for crimes committed while purportedly under mind control (see Patty Hearst) or may sue their erstwhile captors after escaping from either a "cult" (religious mind controller) or "deprogrammer" (anti-religious mind controller).
According to James T. Richardson on his "Brainwashing" Claims and Minority Religions Outside the United States: Cultural Diffusion of a Questionable Concept in the Legal Arena, while heavy on theory, the mind control model is light on evidence:
- The ACM movement has collected some information to support its belief that religious groups successfully employ mind-control techniques. But the data is unreliable. The information typically represents a very small sample size. It is not practical to obtain information before, during and after an individual has been in a NRM. Often, their data is disproportionately obtained from former members of a religious organization who have been convinced during ACM counseling that they have been victims of mind-control.
Mind control and deprogramming
Opponents of some new religious movements accused so-called "cult"s of coercing recruits to join (and members to remain) via strong influence acquired and maintained by manipulation (see also anti-cult movement and Christian countercult movement). Many of these opponents advocate deprogramming as necessary to "free" the victim of a cult from mind control.
Opponents of deprogramming generally regard it as an even worse violation of personal autonomy than any (possible) loss of personal freedom attributable to the allegedly deceptive recruiting tactics of new religions. These opponents complain that targets of deprogramming are (1) victims of deception, (2) denied due process and (3) forced to endure more intense manipulation by their supposed rescuers than they encountered during their previous group membership.
Mind control and the Unification Church
Bob and Gretchen Passantin have written:
- One good indicator of the non-existence of mind-control techniques is the ineffectiveness of NRM recruitment programs. "Eileen Barker documents that out of 1000 people persuaded by the Moonies [Unification Church] to attend one of their overnight programs in 1979, 90% had no further involvement. Only 8% joined for more than one week..." 
Tyler Hendricks , former president of the Unification Church, estimates approximately 100,000 people "moved into" the Unificaton Church as full-time members from the 1970s to the 1990s. Membership in the church was 8,600 in 2004 (counting only those who joined as adults, and excluding the children of members). This is an attrition rate of 93%.
Taking Barker's figures with Hendricks' figures, it appears that less than 0.5% of people who stayed overnight became long-term members.
Mind control and faith
Leon Festinger based his theory of the cognitive dissonance (that is a component of Hassan's Mind Control model) on his observation that the faith of most members of a Ufo cult was unshattered by failed prophecy. .
Barrett who is affiliated with CESNUR and Eileen Barker, whom some anti-cult activists consider cult apologists, wrote that logical arguments are irrelevant when trying to persuade some members to leave a movement due to the certainty that they have about their faith which he sees as not confined to cults, but also occurring in some forms of mainstream religion. He also wrote that some members do not leave the movement even though they realize that things are wrong. See also Leaving a cult.
American Psychological Association task force on mind control
The American Psychological Association (APA) in 1984 allowed Margaret Singer, the main proponent of anti-cult mind control theories, to set up a working group called Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Methods of Persuasion and Control (DIMPAC ).
In 1987 the DIMPAC committee submitted its final report to the Board of Social and Ethical Responsibility for Psychology of the APA. On May 11, 1987 the Board rejected the report and concluded that its kind of mind control theories, used in order to distinguish "cults" from religions, did not form part of accepted psychological science (American Psychological Association 1987). Although the APA memorandum only dismissed the theories of brainwashing and mind control as presented in the DIMPAC report — without prejudice to theories of influence and control other than those advocated by the DIMPAC committee - the results of the APA document proved devastating for the anti-cult movement.
In fact, the DIMPAC theories rejected by APA largely corresponded to the anti-cult position as a whole. Starting from the Fishman case (1990) (where a defendant accused of commercial fraud raised as a defense that he was not fully responsible since he was under the mind control of Scientology) American courts consistently rejected testimonies about mind control and manipulation, stating that these were not part of accepted mainline science (Anthony & Robbins 1992: 5-29). Margaret Singer and her associate Richard Ofshe filed suits against the APA and the American Sociological Association (who had supported APA's 1987 statement) but they lost in 1993 and 1994.
Steve Hassan and his BITE model for cults
The term destructive mind control, as used by self-proclaimed expert on "destructive cults" and anti-cult activist Steve Hassan is part of his BITE model . The BITE model advances a theory that mind control is a set of techniques to get control over people by manipulation and deception.
Hassan's critics argue that Steve Hassan uses the term "mind control" (for what they see as essentially a strong form of influence) only to justify the forcible extraction of believers from religious groups. They argue that Hassan doesn't merely say that fraudulent salesmanship persuaded the believers; he claims that these groups literally take away a victim's freedom of mind. For this reason an involuntary procedure must operate in order to "rescue" a "victim" from a "destructive cult", for "victims" may not realize their victimhood status and may resist rescuing. Hassan, after taking part in a number of deprogrammings in the late 1970s, distances himself from this practice and the criminal activities associated with that occupation and refers to his method as "strategic interaction".
In a article by the evangelical Christian writers Bob and Gretchen Passantino, first appearing in Cornestone magazine, titled Overcoming The Bondage Of Victimization A Critical Evaluation of Cult Mind Control Theories they challenge the validity of mind control theories and the alleged "victimization" by mind-control, and assert in their conclusion:
- [...] the Bogey Man of cult mind control is nothing but a ghost story, good for inducing an adrenaline high and maintaining a crusade, but irrelevant to reality. The reality is that people who have very real spiritual, emotional, and social needs are looking for fulfillment and significance for their lives. Ill-equipped to test the false gospels of this world, they make poor decisions about their religious affiliations. Poor decisions, yes, but decisions for which they are personally responsible nonetheless. As Christians who believe in an absolute standard of truth and religious reality, we cannot ignore the spiritual threat of the cults. We must promote critical thinking, responsible education, biblical apologetics, and Christian evangelism. We must recognize that those who join the cults, while morally responsible, are also spiritually ignorant. 
Mind control in fiction
Mind control has proven a popular subject in fiction, featuring in books and films such as The Ipcress File, and The Manchurian Candidate, which has the premise that controllers could hypnotized a person into murdering on command while retaining no memory of the killing.
The TV series The Prisoner featured mind control as a recurring plot element.
George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four features a description of mind control, both directly by torture, and indirectly, in the form of pervasive mind control by the use of Newspeak, a constructed language designed to remove the possibility, Sapir-Whorf-wise of articulating or of even thinking subversive thoughts.
In science fiction, fantasy and superhero fiction, mind control often appears as the means whereby a person literally seizes control of the minds of the victims to the point where not only their bodies come under direct control, but also their consciousnesses as well, so that they become puppets -- like slaves -- to the controller. Fiction often depicts this process taking place electronically; the trademark equipment of the Batman supervillain The Mad Hatter -- headgear designed to put victims under his control when placed in direct physical contact with the head -- furnishes one example of this. In addition, characters with powerful telepathic or psychic abilities, like Professor X and Jean Grey of the X-Men, can do the same with mental concentration against a target.
See also: mind uploading
Mind control as entertainment
Hypnotism has often been used by stage performers to make volunteers do strange things, such as clucking like a chicken, for the entertainment of audiences. The British psychological illusionist Derren Brown performs more sophisticated mental tricks in his television programmes, Derren Brown: Mind Control.
- love bombing
- Milgram experiment
- MKULTRA, the United States Central Intelligence Agency's mind-control project of the 1960s and 70s.
- Sargant, William
- subliminal messages
- thought reform
- tinfoil hat
- Bromley, D.B., Shupe, A.D., Strange Gods: The Great American Cult Scare, Beacon Press, Boston, (1981).
- Hadden, Jeffrey K., The Brainwashing Controversy.
- Introvigne. Massimo, “Liar, Liar”: Brainwashing, CESNUR and APA. (Rebuttal to DIMPAC report)
- Keith, Jim, Experiments in Mind-Control
- Kilde, Rauni Leena, M.D., Former Chief Medical Officer of Finland Microwave Mind-Control
- Lifton, Robert J., Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (1961);
- Passantino Bob and Gretchen. Overcoming The Bondage Of Victimization.A Critical Evaluation of Cult Mind Control Theories. (1994) Cornerstone Magazine. Available online
- Schein, Edgar H. et al., Coercive Persuasion (1961)
- Shapiro,K. A. Pascual-Leone, A., Mottaghy, F. M., Gangitano, M., & Caramazza, A. (2001). Grammatical distinctions in the left frontal cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 13(6), 713-720
- Mind Control Archive Includes documents, video, audio and links
- The Converging Technologies Report, which details the creation of a hive mind using cybernetic technologies within the next 10-30 years: Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance
- Report of the APA Task Force on Deceptive and Indirect Techniques of Persuasion and Control, November 1986
- Steve Hassan Extensive definition of mind control especially with regard to cults
- Mind-Control and Cybernetics
- Steve Hassan's website
- Skeptic dictionary entry on the various meanings and forms of mind control
- A Critical Overview of Suggestion Control Research
- "Brainwashing" : Career of a Myth in the United States and Europe - Paper delivered by Dr Massimo Introvigne at the CESNUR-REMID conference held in Marburg, Germany, on March 27-29, 1998
- Anton Hein's apologetics index/countercult website about mind control
- Essay by Mark Dunlop about cults and mind control
- Snopes on subliminal advertising
- Skeptic dicionary entry on the various meanings and forms of mind control
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