THE RAPE OF THE MIND: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., Instructor in Psychiatry, Columbia University Lecturer in Social Psychology, New School for Social Research, Former Chief, Psychological Department, Netherlands Forces, published in 1956, World Publishing Company. (Out of Print)
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."
This book attempts to depict the strange transformation of the free human mind into an automatically responding machine a transformation which can be bought about by some of the cultural undercurrents in our present day society as well as by deliberate experiments in the service of a political ideology.
The rape of the mind and stealthy mental coercion are among the oldest crimes of mankind. They probably began back in pre historic days wheh man first discovered that he could exploit human qualities of empathy and understanding in order to exert power over his fellow men. The word "rape" is derived from the Latin word _rapere_, to snatch, but also is related to the words to rave and raven. It means to overwhelm and to enrapture, to invade, to usurp, to pillage and to steal.
The modern words "brainwashing," "thought control," and "menticide" serve to provide a clearer conception of the actual methods by which man's integrity can be violated. When a concept is given its right name, it can be more easily recognized and it is with this recognition that the opportunity for systematic correction begins.
In this book the reader will find a discussion of some of the imminent dangers which threaten free cultural interplay. It emphasizes the tremendous cultural implication of the subject of enforced mental intrusion. Not only the artificial techniques of coercion are important but even more the unobtrusive intrusion into our feeling and thinking. The danger of destruction of the spirit may be compared to the threat of total physical destruction through atomic warfare. Indeed, the two are related and intertwined.
My approach to this subject is based on the belief that it is only by looking at any problem from several angles that we are able to get at its heart.
According to Bohr's principle of complementarity, the rather simple phenomena of physics can be looked at from diverse viewpoints; different and seemingly contrasting concepts are needed to describe physical phenomena. For instance, for explanation of the behavior of electrons, both the concept of particle and the concept of wave are useful. The same is true for the even more complicated psychological and social interactions. We cannot look at brainwashing merely from a simple Pavlovian viewpoint. This book tries to do it also from the clinical descriptive view and from the concept of psychology; it tries to look at brainwashing from the standpoint that general mental coercion may belong to every human interaction.
Communication of any sort can almost be compared with trying to knock down a row of dolls in a throwing game. The more balls we throw, the greater is the probability that we may hit all the dolls. The more approaches we make to any problem, the greater chance we have of finding and grasping its essential core. Such detailed treatment will be impossible without some repetition in the text.
In this book we shall move from the specific subject of planned and deliberate mental coercion to the more general question of the influences in the modern world that tend to robotize and automatize man. The last chapters are devoted to the problem of inner backbone, as a first step in the direction of learning to maintain OUR MENTAL FREEDOM.
One of the great Dutch authors, Multatuli, wrote a letter to his friend excusing himself because the letter was so long: he had not had time enough to write a shorter one. In this paradox he expressed part of the problem of all search for expression and communication. It takes a long time to express an idea in a precise and communicable way. Yet being short and simple in one's descriptions is not always appreciated. Expecially modern psychology is loaded with superlearnedness with the secret intention of leaving the reading public awe stricken. The man who tries to express himself in simple words, bypassing jargon, risks being called popular and unscientific. Nevertheless, I am aware of the fact that I have been so much steeped in psychological terminology that I cannot completely forego psychological language. The real test of psychological clarity is the way the layman absorbs and understands the ideas communicated. My aim has been to write for the general public, not to popularize but to bring some order to the chaos of our particular epoch.
Every word man speaks is a plagiarism. The task of an author is to absorb, incorporate, and transform the knowledge and emotional currents of his own epoch and to present them in his own personal way, enriched by his own experiences. I am grateful, indeed, to all those whose ideas I have been able to borrow, and especially to all those who inspired me to write down my own thoughts on this controversial subject.
J.A.M.M. January, 1956
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