Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mind control, brainwashing and psychological torture: an introduction

When I first started to read about the standard brainwashing and torture techniques that are used to influence, control and break people such as political prisoners, some of it sounded uncannily familiar. I thought immediately of what went on in my family; I was also reminded of the experiences of the young Jane Eyre, some of which were based on what actually happened to several of the Brontë sisters.

It is frightening to realise that some parents and other people in control of children apply these techniques instinctively.

It is devastating to read of such practices as isolating the victims, keeping them in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, keeping them torn between fight or flight and unable to do either, deprivation of food and sleep, constant humiliation, false accusations, making demands that are impossible to meet, random unfair and unjustified punishments, force feeding with political or religious ideology and mock executions and then to realise that they have been systematically applied to children, often in adapted and modified forms.

For example, where prisoners live in permanent fear of death and are forced to undergo mock executions, a child might live in permanent fear of being put in a children’s home and be forced to listen to frequent threats of abandonment or being sent away. I certainly was. Like the mock executions, these threats are never actually carried out, but on each occasion it seems that they will be.

The Brontë children lived in constant fear of their father’s death, which would have left them destitute. The Reverend Patrick Brontë was a hypochondriac who was always expecting to die, but he actually outlived all of his offspring. Bronson Alcott, the father of Louisa and her sisters, continually threatened to abandon the family and leave them to fend for themselves, but he never actually did it.

Deprivation can be done indirectly, children can be deliberately kept short of the necessities or they can be so sickened or shell-shocked that they cannot eat or sleep. For example, Jane Eyre was so badly affected by being put in the Red Room that she could not eat the jam tart that was made especially for her, and like her creator she could not eat the burnt porridge at the terrible school. At one point in her formative years, Louisa M. Alcott was forced to subsist on a diet restricted to bread, water, vegetables and apples. I was given large amounts of sweets from a very early age and became addicted to sugar: this had many bad effects including ruining my appetite for nourishing meals.

Once I started to make connections between my experience and others’ and detect many recurring patterns and features, it was as if an evil spell had started to lift. There was finally something that I could do to improve my life: I could investigate and analyse and try to understand. I could try to find answers to the many questions that came into my mind.

How do the people responsible for causing so much suffering to children know exactly what to do, and why do they do it? Are they hostages to something evil that is just using them for its own purposes? Are they on some kind of assignment, i.e. just doing their job, which is to put selected vulnerable children through a process designed to make them useful agents in the future for whatever is behind all this? 

Do they know how much damage they are doing, and if so, is this precisely why they do it? Do they feed on humiliation, fear, pain and anger, making threats just so as to get a ‘fix’ of terror?

What is the point of forcing the victims to accept an ideology?

How and why do the perpetrators get away with it for so long, often hiding behind a smokescreen and avoiding confrontation for their entire lives? Is some kind of hypnotism involved here? Are they protected?

What do the victims have in common? Is the real problem the fact that the victims are hypersensitive and highly suggestible so their experiences would not have such a devastating effect on a normal child, or is the perpetrators’ behaviour unacceptable by any standards? Do the victims inevitably do the same things to others?

I am still working on all this, but I can report that it is possible for us to deprogramme ourselves to a certain extent and avoid being the sort of person that we were brought up to be. Knowing that we have won and they have lost is one of the few compensations on offer; passing on insights and information to people who might benefit from them is another.

There is something else that might bring some comfort: there are many similarities between what some children endure and an initiation process. You can turn it back on the perpetrators by thinking of it in those terms.

Food and sleep deprivation can be transmuted into fasting and the vigil. Isolation and pain can be considered to be the requisite solitude and ordeal. Being forced to wear something that attracts derision is a parallel to the special garment that initiation candidates sometimes wear to denote that they are on a quest. The sudden shocks are equivalent to the controlled, deliberate shocks designed to put people in touch with other dimensions. The terrible feelings of being nothing and no-one and having nobody to turn to are the necessary stage where the candidate is alone with just their inner resources.

But then what? After all, we had no choice in this, and in any case some of us would much rather just have freedom from depression and bad memories. We would like to have good relationships, ones that do not appear to be choreographed from behind the scenes by something sinister. We would prefer to have the coping abilities of the average person and a much stronger nervous system rather than be lacking in insulation and grounding and constantly aware of unseen influences.

Spiritual development should be in addition to not instead of real life I think.