Brainwashed???

May 6, 2013

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brainwashI 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….

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4 responses to Brainwashed???

  1. 

    I think the term is improperly used. What else is new in the US?
    Were unethical and manipulative ways used? I guess that is a judgement call. Is it unethical to tell a kid that they need a helmet and guards for their shins? Was it manipulative to say that founding men who had pews in the local Christian Church were Christian? Was it manipulative to tell people that their religion was the only one getting into heaven – even when the actual religion never taught that concept? Are the Amish unethical when they shun? Are Orthodox Jews manipulative when their women have to wear wigs and men have to wear their bread a certain way?
    I think of brainwashed was when the good people I met in Germany, thirty years after the war, still believed that the only people who had money in Europe in the 20’a were Jewish. Brainwashed was the group of people in Jonestown who killed themselves and their children following a “prophet”. I think of brainwashed as manipulation with evil intent.
    Someone turning to another religion is a shift in belief systems. Not the norm. Probably not brainwashed, unless the choice makes you believe all others are evil.

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    • 

      Janette, you bring up some good examples of “mind manipulation” or brainwashing if you care to use that term. You say words like ethical, normal, and even evil which have very fluid definitions in our society.

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  2. 

    Brainwashing is a term used for the more extreme forms of persuasion. In my career as a radio consultant, my job was to convince listeners that my client station was #1, the best at something, the only place to turn on the radio dial, etc. We used slogans, jingles, advertising, and contests to ‘sell” those messages.

    Was that brainwashing? I don’t think so. It was trying to turn a perception into a behavior. But, we never claimed that by not listening someone would go to hell or have a terrible life. I guess that is the difference between brainwashing and marketing…what effect is expected or being promoted.

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    • 

      Oh you are getting a little to serious for me here Bob. 😉

      We seem to have all kinds of words for this type of thing depending on its depth I guess. Its kind of like those who believe violent movies and video games spurns murderers and terrorists. There are a full gamut of opinions…

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