Exploitive Techniques

The Art of Cleansing the Mind

There are many names for manipulation, some more emotionally loaded than others. The name with the most negative sense is “brainwashing”, which was popularized by journalist Edward Hunter, a CIA agent.

Exploitive Techniques - Brainwashing

Hunter’s sensationalist 1951 best-seller was called Brainwashing in Red Chinaand it exposed the Chinese “thought reform” camps, where millions of citizens and foreigners were subjected to an intense remodeling of their beliefs, often spending years imprisoned in awful conditions. Hunter was writing at the height of the Korean War, where Communist China was seen as the arch-enemy of freedom, while in the US, the House Un-American Activities Committee waged a witch-hunt against the ‘Red Menace.’

The term “brainwashing” derives from hsi nao, a traditional term in the Taoist religion, meaning the “cleansing of the mind.” It was adopted by the Communists who wanted to root out “imperialist thinking.” At the core of Chinese brainwashing was the transfer of loyalty from the family to the Communist Party.

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