I just read a news article about a woman who says she is going to convert to Islam. Her family shouts that she has been brainwashed and needs an intervention to prevent that from happening. Just what does it really mean to be brainwashed? Brainwashing like many other words and conditions has a myriad of definitions depending on the speaker.
Here is what Wikipedia says about brainwashing:
Mind control (also known as brainwashing) 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.
Who is to say what is an ethical vs. unethical manipulation for convincing someone of a different truth? Aren’t we all manipulated in one degree or another almost every day?
- When I was a kid if I wanted to go ride my bicycle I just went to the garage and jumped on board. Now if you want to ride a bike you have to go to a store and get all the proper bike riding clothes, riding shoes and especially a helmets before you ride. Am I being brainwashed into thinking that somehow this additional $200+ expense for clothes I would not normally buy will somehow make the ride more enjoyable?
- I have spent sixty-seven years on this earth brushing my teeth twice a day but now I find that isn’t good enough. Now I am supposed to spend several dollars a month for products that bleach them to a very unnatural white. Am I being brainwashed into doing something that actually have some long-term negative consequences?
- I am told that I just can’t cook a tasty meal unless I have granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and cherry cabinets. Everything else is just substandard and will therefore make tasteless meals.
- For pretty much most of my life I was told by numerous sources that the founders intended this country to be a Christian nation. It was not until I researched it on my own that I found that to be false. Was I brainwashed into something that served a political or religious agenda?
- I was first told by my Catholic teachers and clergy that Catholics would be the only ones in heaven. Later when I became a Lutheran I received the same message except that now it was Lutherans who are the only ones going to heaven. Have I been brainwashed all these years?
- When I was a rebellious teenager I was told by all the tobacco company experts that cigarettes were not addictive and definitely didn’t cause cancer. I know I was brainwashed in this area. It took me twenty-five years to break that addiction.
I could go on and on about being brainwashed about one manner or another. In order to sell their products Madison Avenue and the drug manufacturers attempt to brainwash me everyday to buy their products. They want me to go to my doctor and tell him I need the particular drug that sell. Religious organizations try to brainwash me into believing that they are the only ones among the thousands of religious denominations out there that have it right about things spiritual. Everyone else is simply wrong.
Let’s face it brainwashing sadly is just a fact in much of today’s world. I think we all need some serious intervention for many of the things we have been brainwashed about.
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….