NPJ Book Review: The Manipulated Mind: Brainwashing, Conditioning and Indoctrination by Denise Winn


The Manipulated Mind by Denise Winn (2000)
This in an interesting book if one is seeking to know more about elementary aspects of mind control and social conditioning. There are any number of ideas built into the framework of the author’ discussion the least of which is, what do we mean by free will? That said the author offers insightful information as to the nature of how our minds are conditioned and how we are influenced to accept things that are not necessarily an actuality.

In the past decade or so there have been a number of books about brainwashing and conditioning that offer a variety of in-depth excursions into mind control. There are scholars that reject the popular understanding of mind control while others have exposed how people are easily influenced by religion and a belief in something bigger than themselves. William Sargent’s Battle for the Mind Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing – How Evangelists, Psychiatrists, Politicians, and Medicine Men Can Change Your Beliefs and Behavior (2015) is a study in point.

The use of mind control experiments by various “intelligence agencies and psychologists around the globe is a book yet to be comprehensively written. The effects on individuals within religious traditions and ethnic groups is an example. People can be indoctrinated and manipulated to believe in almost anything where the facts would suggest otherwise as Wynn suggests.

The author perceptively notes that” People do not make their own decisions based on their own, and collective, standards of behavior always, because few have the resources to resist authority. Circumstances can affect our actions more dramatically than we could ever allow ourselves to believe.” Our minds can be more easily manipulated than we can possibly imagine.

The author in her overview does add some fascinating examples such as prisoners of war in Korea and how the Turkish prisoners used humor to deflect or channel mind control. This is not a comprehensive study but a tantalizing taste of the nature of brainwashing, social conditioning, conversion and the need for approval. It’s a fascinating look into how easily our minds can be manipulated and how we need to test our assumptions especially our language.

Our technologies and malleable brains only add to the textured layers of manipulative conditioning.