The two words, brainwashing and Sputnik, none of us heard about until the 1950’s, yet were two words that entered dictionaries much quicker than most.
Sputnik was the launching of the Russian satellite millions around the world watched. I was living in Tokyo at the time and we stayed up with great anticipation to watch it fly over the area. Brainwashing is a term that entered our language some time before Sputnik, as it was a word coined during the Korean War. Sputnik has long since been forgotten about with all the technology about out our entrance into outer space and we rarely ever hear the word brainwashing, yet it’s alive and well in our present day culture and used on all of us in various forms when we are unaware of it.
Because my husband had a tour of duty as an air sea rescue helicopter pilot, I first heard about brainwashing from him. I was so interested in the technique and wanted to know all about it. There was a brilliant doctor named Meyer who became an expert on brainwashing and I obtained a copy of his explanation of the techniques used in brainwashing. Dr. Meyer was stationed at a hospital in Tokyo where the prisoners of war were sent to be “de-programmed” from the brainwashing. All of this took place in the early fifties.
As I recall, the technique of mind control was accomplished when the Koreans captured an American soldier, put him in isolation, deprived him of food and water, tortured, and interrogated him around the clock. The interrogation was a methodology of repetitious hatred statements about the United States in an attempt to turn the subject against the United States. The subject would be stripped of clothing facing a bright light, denied food and water until they were broken to a point they agreed with the captors to repeat the hatred. One of the methods used to accomplish this was repeated derogatory remarks about the mother of the captured. Once they destroyed the love and connection with the capture’s mother, they could have him agree with any propaganda they chose to instill into his mind.
It was a technique the United States Armed Services were unfamiliar with, something not used during World War II. Consequently, there was a crop of released prisoners filled with hatred for the United States expressed in statements released through the news media. We heard stories of American servicemen condemning the United States in the most vitriolic statements, which is one of the reasons so much resentment brewed in the minds of Americans toward the Korean War and the returning soldiers.
It was the job of Dr. Meyer, a great doctor and patriot working with a small staff in a Tokyo hospital, to de-program these indoctrinated young men sent to fight for freedom in this strange and unfamiliar country. The term brainwashing was born out of this technique.
Later, we hear about it in other areas referred to as “Stockholm Syndrome.” This is a situation where the captives are so brainwashed they become bonded with the captors and tormentors. When the will of the victims have been so broken, they join ranks with the captor, unable to extract themselves from the brainwashing. This is because self-preservation and survival is the first law; one does what one must do to survive.
I went to Japan in the mid fifties, stationed first in southern Japan near Gifu air force base, in Nagoya at fifth air force headquarters, then moved to Tokyo. One of the first things I wanted to do was visit the hospital in Tokyo where Dr. Meyer de-programmed those returning Americans from the Korean War. Because I had read his report on the techniques of brainwashing prior to going to Japan, I was very interested in his de-programming techniques.
After returning to the United States in the early sixties and the years following, I heard reference to the term many times. It has been used to describe the mind control of abused women and children, and aptly so, because when an individual has been so intimidated with mental, emotional and physical abuse they do become brainwashed to varying degrees and subservient and bonded to the abuser.
I write about this because I live in an area of north Georgia where I have seen children taken in by the Department of Family Services, removed from situations of physical, mental and emotional abuse. These cases are all over the news. We hear and read about the abuse of women and children and their bonding to the abuser, despite many removals, then their return to the same abusive situations. They frequently want to return to the family of origin and abuse because they are familiar with that and have been subjected to some degree of brainwashing. The technique interferes with the mind, will and emotions; it disrupts rational thinking, particularly in children and frequently in adult women.
I read the news stories and listen to intervention programs and always think back to those early years when we first heard about the techniques of brainwashing. Instead of learning the lessons, it seems as though much about the adversities of the techniques have crept into many lives and is rather pervasive in various forms throughout our present day culture. Perhaps not to the degree of severity the young American soldiers were subjected to, yet no less devastating to many young lives.
Is it a generational thing of abuse, handed down from the horrors of that Korean War? I do not have the answers, but only know it exists in today’s culture. In a civilized society, it is something that should be recognized and reckoned with. As one who lived before, during and after that period, it seems to me there is a very real possibility it all may stem from what took place back then.
When we hear reference to “Stockholm Syndrome,” it tells us so little. However, if we went a bit further back into the brainwashing techniques used during the Korean War, there is much information about what took place there during the early fifties of the last century that might be enlightening in our current situation with the pervasive abuse of children.
It seems to me that the escape hatch that avoids the reality of all that is happening currently is to label the abusive parent bi-polar. That is the current medical diagnosis for all that ails abuse by adults of innocent children. They are drugged and jailed, assigned free attorneys, released, their children are returned and then the cycle repeats itself. Once a person is labeled bi-polar, that seems to be the accepted excuse for all misbehavior. The label of bi-polar seems to be the panaceas for every irresponsible behavior of parents who abuse their children.
Once a label becomes accepted and popular, it seems all abusive, irresponsible behavior is characterized under the umbrella of that specific label. It’s a situation of Orwell’s double think, double talk. Once a label is attached, which no one understands, but everyone repeats like a mantra, there is no interest in delving into any further cause for erratic behavior. It’s set in concrete by doctors, courts, social workers and thousands clinging to their salaried jobs who are involved in the process of all labeled bi-polar clients.
It is the accepted thing to do now a day (to label a person bi-polar) and a large flurry of job justifications are set in motion around the person in the system labeled bi-polar. No one seems to know precisely what it means, a sort of manic depressive unstable personality usually on prescribed drugs. That’s what keeps it all going. The labeled person learns to manipulate the system and all are happy while the dog bites the flea and the flea bites the dog in the merry-go- round of denial, a denial of responsibility for one’s actions enabled by the process of the system.
Could it be a possibility it all may be the result of brainwashing techniques? It’s a theory that I certainly cannot prove and have no intention of attempting to prove. It’s an observation of a possibility, I suggest, based upon persons I know and a history of past events. I pose the question of how did it all happen. Why did so much abuse evolve in a civilized society?
On Sunday morning, I tune into church services filled with thousands of decent American citizens—law abiding, thoughtful, generous and caring millions, and yet we seem headed down a road of disaster. The polls indicate most believe we are on the wrong direction, the wrong track. Why is that? It’s not because we are a nation of lazy people. It’s not because we are a nation of non-religious people. It’s not because we are non-inventive. Not because we are uneducated. Not because we don’t sense something is wrong. What is it?
I personally think about, talk about, and write about possibilities of what is wrong, but frankly and specifically, I do not have the answers to what ails us. Mine is mostly speculation with non-specific answers to some specific situations. I relate to, and, write about. I can write about and describe certain particular situations with opinions about it. Nevertheless, the overall larger picture is that we are in trouble as a nation. The politicians make speeches about change, when in actuality all they really have to offer is more of the same.
With all due respect, they do not really know what’s wrong, much less have any solutions. If there is a solution, it’s in the soul of the people, their minds, wills and emotions, in obedience to an all loving, all powerful and all wise God.
I personally do not believe the survival of this nation is in the hands of politicians, despite the fact millions will flock to the polls thinking otherwise.
I suspect most are lulled into a false sense of expectation out of frustration.
Let Freedom Ring!