Two types of physical torture are distinguishable more by their psychological effect in inducing conflict than by the degree of painfulness:
a. The first type is one in which the victim has a passive role in the pain inflicted on him (e.g., beatings). His conflict involves the decision of whether or not to give in to demands in order to avoid further pain. Generally, brutality of this type was not found to achieve the desired results. Threats of torture were found more effective, as fear of pain causes greater conflict within the individual than does pain itself.

b. The second type of torture is represented by requiring the individual to stand in one spot for several hours or assume some other pain-inducing position. Such a requirement often engenders in the individual a determination to "stick it out." This internal act of resistance provide a feeling of moral superiority at first. As time passes and his pain mounts, however, the individual becomes aware that it is his own original determination to resist that is causing the continuance of pain. A conflict develops within the individual between his moral determination and his desire to collapse and discontinue the pain. It is this extra internal conflict, in addition to the conflict over whether or not to give in to the demands made of him, that tends to make this method of torture more effective in the breakdown of the individual personality.

3. Isolation. Individual differences in reaction to isolation are probably greater than to any other method. Some individuals appear to be able to withstand prolonged periods of isolation without deleterious effects, while a relatively short period of isolation reduces others to the verge of psychosis. Reaction varies with the conditions of the isolation cell. Some sources have indicated a strong reaction to filth and vermin, although they had negligible reactions to the isolation. Others reacted violently to isolation in relatively clean cells. The predominant cause of breakdown in such situations is a lack of sensory stimulation (i.e., grayness of walls, lack of sound, absence of social contact, etc.). Experimental subjects exposed to this condition have reported vivid hallucinations and overwhelming fears of losing their sanity.

4. Control of Communication. This is one of the most effective methods for creating a sense of helplessness and despair. This measure might well be considered the cornerstone of the communist system of control. It consists of strict regulation of the mail, reading materials, broadcast materials, and social contact available to the individual. The need to communicate is so great that when the usual channels are blocked, the individual will resort to any open channel, almost regardless of the implications of using that particular channel. Many POWs in Korea, whose only act of "collaboration" was to sign petitions and "peace appeals," defended their actions on the ground that this was the only method of letting the outside world know they were still alive. May stated that their morale and fortitude would have been increased immeasurably had leaflets of encouragement been dropped to them. When the only contact with the outside world is via the interrogator, the prisoner comes to develop extreme dependency on his interrogator and hence loses another prop to his morale.

Another wrinkle in communication control is the informer system. The recruitment of informers in POW camps discouraged communication between inmates. POWs who feared that every act or thought of resistance would be communicated to the camp administrators, lost faith in their fellow man and were forced to "untrusting individualism." Informers are also under several stages of brainwashing and elicitation to develop and maintain control over the victims.

5. Induction of Fatigue. This is a well-known device for breaking will power and critical powers of judgment. Deprivation of sleep results in more intense psychological debilitation than does any other method of engendering fatigue. The communists vary their methods. "Conveyor belt" interrogation that last 50-60 hours will make almost any individual compromise, but there is danger that this will kill the victim. It is safer to conduct interrogations of 8-10 hours at night while forcing the prisoner to remain awake during the day. Additional interruptions in the remaining 2-3 hours of allotted sleep quickly reduce the most resilient individual. Alternate administration of drug stimulants and depressants hastens the process of fatigue and sharpens the psychological reactions of excitement and depression.

Fatigue, in addition to reducing the will to resist, also produces irritation and fear that arise from increased "slips of the tongue." Forgetfulness, and decreased ability to maintain orderly thought processes.

6. Control of Food, Water and Tobacco. The controlled individual is made intensely aware of his dependence upon his interrogator for the quality and quantity of his food and tobacco. The exercise of this control usually follows a pattern. No food and little or no water is permitted the individual for several days prior to interrogation. When the prisoner first complains of this to the interrogator, the latter expresses surprise at such inhumane treatment. He makes a demand of the prisoner. If the latter complies, he receives a good meal. If he does not, he gets a diet of unappetizing food containing limited vitamins, minerals, and calories. This diet is supplemented occasionally by the interrogator if the prisoner "cooperates." Studies of controlled starvation indicate that the whole value-system of the subjects underwent a change. Their irritation increased as their ability to think clearly decreased. The control of tobacco presented an even greater source of conflict for heavy smokers. Because tobacco is not necessary to life, being manipulated by his craving for it can in the individual a strong sense of guilt.

7. Criticism and Self-Criticism. There are mechanisms of communist thought control. Self-criticism gains its effectiveness from the fact that although it is not a crime for a man to be wrong, it is a major crime to be stubborn and to refuse to learn. Many individuals feel intensely relieved in being able to share their sense of guilt. Those individuals however, who have adjusted to handling their guilt internally have difficulty adapting to criticism and self-criticism. In brainwashing ,after a sufficient sense of guilt has been created in the individual, sharing and self-criticism permit relief. The price paid for this relief, however, is loss of individuality and increased dependency.

8. Hypnosis and Drugs as Controls. There is no reliable evidence that the communists are making widespread use of drugs or hypnosis in brainwashing or elicitation. The exception to this is the use of common stimulants or depressants in inducing fatigue and "mood swings."

9. Other methods of control, which when used in conjunction with the basic processes, hasten the deterioration of prisoners' sense of values and resistance are:
a. Requiring a case history or autobiography of the prisoner provides a mine of information for the interrogator in establishing and "documenting" accusations.

b. Friendliness of the interrogator , when least expected, upsets the prisoner's ability to maintain a critical attitude.

c. Petty demands, such as severely limiting the allotted time for use of toilet facilities or requiring the POW to kill hundreds of flies, are harassment methods.

d. Prisoners are often humiliated by refusing them the use of toilet facilities during interrogator until they soil themselves. Often prisoners were not permitted to bathe for weeks until they felt contemptible.

e. Conviction as a war criminal appears to be a potent factor in creating despair in the individual. One official analysis of the pressures exerted by the ChiComs on "confessors" and "non-confessors" to participation in bacteriological warfare in Korea showed that actual trial and conviction of "war crimes" was overwhelmingly associated with breakdown and confession.

f. Attempted elicitation of protected information at various times during the brainwashing process diverted the individual from awareness of the deterioration of his value-system. The fact that, in most cases, the ChiComs did not want or need such intelligence was not known to the prisoner. His attempts to protect such information was made at the expense of hastening his own breakdown.

The Exercise of Control: A "Schedule" for Brainwashing

From the many fragmentary accounts reviewed, the following appears to be the most likely description of what occurs during brainwashing .

In the period immediately following capture, the captors are faced with the problem of deciding on best ways of exploitation of the prisoners. Therefore, early treatment is similar both for those who are to be exploited through elicitation and those who are to undergo brainwashing. Concurrently with being interrogated and required to write a detailed personal history, the prisoner undergoes a physical and psychological "softening-up" which includes: limited unpalatable food rations, withholding of tobacco, possible work details, severely inadequate use of toilet facilities, no use of facilities for personal cleanliness, limitation of sleep such as requiring a subject to sleep with a bright light in his eyes. Apparently the interrogation and autobiographical ,material, the reports of the prisoner's behavior in confinement, and tentative "personality typing" by the interrogators, provide the basis upon which exploitation plans are made.

There is a major difference between preparation for elicitation and for brainwashing .Prisoners exploited through elicitation must retain sufficient clarity of thought to be able to give coherent, factual accounts. In brainwashing , on the other hand, the first thing attacked is clarity of thought. To develop a strategy of defense, the controlled individual must determine what plans have been made for his exploitation. Perhaps the best cues he can get are internal reactions to the pressures he undergoes.

The most important aspect of the brainwashing process is the interrogation. The other pressures are designed primarily to help the interrogator achieve his goals. The following states are created systematically within the individual . These may vary in order, but all are necessary to the brainwashing process:

  1. A feeling of helplessness in attempting to deal with the impersonal machinery of control.
  2. An initial reaction of "surprise."
  3. A feeling of uncertainty about what is required of him.
  4. A developing feeling of dependence upon the interrogator .
  5. A sense of doubt and loss of objectivity.
  6. Feelings of guilt.
  7. A questioning attitude toward his own value-system.
  8. A feeling of potential "breakdown," i.e., that he might go crazy.
  9. A need to defend his acquired principles.
  10. A final sense of "belonging" (identification).

A feeling of helplessness in the face of the impersonal machinery of control is carefully engendered within the prisoner. The individual who receives the preliminary treatment described above not only begins to feel like an "animal" but also feels that nothing can be done about it. No one pays any personal attention to him. His complaints fall on deaf ears. His loss of communication, if he has been isolated, creates a feeling that he has been "forgotten." Everything that happens to him occurs according to an impersonal; time schedule that has nothing to do with his needs. The voices and footsteps of the guards are muted. He notes many contrasts, e.g., his greasy, unpalatable food may be served on battered tin dishes by guards immaculately dressed in white. The first steps in "depersonalization" of the prisoner have begun. He has no idea what to expect. Ample opportunity is allotted for him to ruminate upon all the unpleasant or painful things that could happen to him. He approaches the main interrogator with mixed feelings of relief and fright.

Surprise is commonly used in the brainwashing process. The prisoner is rarely prepared for the fact that the interrogators are usually friendly and considerate at first. They make every effort to demonstrate that they are reasonable human beings. Often they apologize for bad treatment received by the prisoner and promise to improve his lot if he, too, is reasonable. This behavior is not what he has steeled himself for. He lets down some of his defenses and tries to take a reasonable attitude. The first occasion he balks at satisfying a request of the interrogator, however, he is in for another surprise. The formerly reasonable interrogator unexpectedly turns into a furious maniac. The interrogator is likely to slap the prisoner or draw his pistol and threaten to shoot him. Usually this storm of emotion ceases as suddenly as it began and the interrogator stalks from the room. These surprising changes create doubt in the prisoner as to his very ability to perceive another person's motivations correctly. His next interrogation probably will be marked by impassivity in the interrogator 's mien.

A feeling of uncertainty about what is required of him is likewise carefully engendered within the individual. Pleas of the prisoner to learn specifically of what he is accused and by whom are side-stepped by the interrogator. Instead, the prisoner is asked to tell why he thinks he is held and what he feels he is guilty of. If the prisoner fails to come up with anything, he is accused in terms of broad generalities (e.g., espionage, sabotage, acts of treason against the "people"). This usually provokes the prisoner to make some statement about his activities.

If this take the form of a denial, he is usually sent to isolation on further decreased food rations to "think over" his crimes. This process can be repeated again and again. As soon as the prisoner can think of something that might be considered self-incriminating, the interrogator appears momentarily satisfied. The prisoner is asked to write down his statement in his own words and sign it.

Meanwhile a strong sense of dependence upon the interrogator is developed. It does not take long for the prisoner to realize that the interrogator is the source of all punishment, all gratification, and all communication. The interrogator, meanwhile, demonstrates his unpredictability. He is perceived by the prisoner as a creature of whim. At times, the interrogator can be pleased very easily and at other times no effort on the part of the prisoner will placate him. The prisoner may begin to channel so much energy into trying to predict the behavior of the unpredictable interrogator that he loses track of what is happening inside himself.

After the prisoner has developed the above psychological and emotional reactions to a sufficient degree, the brainwashing begins in earnest. First, the prisoner's remaining critical faculties must be destroyed. He undergoes long, fatiguing interrogations while looking at a bright light. He is called back again and again for interrogations after minimal sleep. He may undergo torture that tends to create internal conflict. Drugs may be used to accentuate his "mood swings." He develops depression when the interrogator is being kind and becomes euphoric when the interrogator is threatening the direst penalties. Then the cycle is reversed. The prisoner finds himself in a constant state of anxiety which prevents him from relaxing even when he is permitted to sleep. Short periods of isolation now bring on visual and auditory hallucinations. The prisoner feels himself losing his objectivity. It is in this state that the prisoner must keep up an endless argument with the interrogator. He may be faced with the confessions of other individuals who "collaborated" with him in his crimes. The prisoner seriously begins to doubts his own memory. This feeling is heightened by his inability to recall little things like the names of the people he knows very well or the date of his birth. The interrogator patiently sharpens this feeling of doubt by more questioning. This tends to create a serious state of uncertainty when the individual has lost most of his critical faculties.

The prisoner must undergo additional internal conflict when strong feelings of guilt are aroused within him. As any clinical psychologist is aware, it is not at all difficult to create such feelings. Military servicemen are particularly vulnerable. No one can morally justify killing even in wartime. The usual justification is on the grounds of necessity or self-defense. The interrogator is careful to circumvent such justification. He keeps the interrogation directed toward the prisoner's moral code. Every moral vulnerability is exploited by incessant questioning along this line until the prisoner begins to question the very fundamentals of his own value-system. The prisoner must constantly fight a potential breakdown. He finds that his mind is "going blank" for longer and longer periods of time. He can not think constructively. If he is to maintain any semblance of psychological integrity, he must bring to an end this state of interminable internal conflict. He signifies a willingness to write a confession.

If this were truly the end, no brainwashing would have occurred. The individual would simply have given in to intolerable pressure. Actually, the final stage of the brainwashing process has just begun. No matter what the prisoner writes in his confession the interrogator is not satisfied. The interrogator questions every sentence of the confession. He begins to edit it with the prisoner. The prisoner is forced to argue against every change. This is the essence of brainwashing. Every time that he gives in on a point to the interrogator, he must re-write his whole confession. Still the interrogator is not satisfied. In a desperate attempt to maintain some semblance of integrity and to avoid further brainwashing, the prisoner must begin to argue that what he has already confessed to is true. He begins to accept as his own the statements he has written. He uses many of the interrogator's earlier arguments to buttress his position. By this process, identification with the interrogator's value-system becomes complete. It is extremely important to recognize that a qualitative change has taken place within the prisoner. The brainwashed victim does not consciously change his value-system; rather the change occurs despite his efforts. He is no more responsible for this change than is an individual who "snaps" and becomes psychotic. And like the psychotic, the prisoner is not even aware of the transition.

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