Thought reform and the psychology of totalism; a study of brainwashing in China Hardcover – 1962
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Although the researches on those individual "victims" are thorough, however, these are only other facets of the polyhedron of the "brainwashing".
Surprisingly unknown to the Western world, but there is the salient fact of very successful cases of "brainwashing" in China and Japan which had, and still has, a devastating effect in terms of the issues of post war compensation between China and Japan.
One case that represents the "brainwashing" against the Manchus is of their Last Emperor, Pu-Yi. You can read and see some glimpses of his experience of the "thought reform" in books such as "From Emperor to Citizen", his Communist authorised autobiography, and in the film "The Last Emperor", so I leave it to your option.
Another is a completely untold (to the Westerners) story of former Japanese Imperial Army soldiers.
The followings are excerpts of the accounts of two Chinese officials, one of them worked for Mao Tse-tung as an interpreter for 18 years. They appear in a special feature issue of the Japanese left-wing magazine called "Sekai" (May, 1998), on the confession papers of soldiers mentioned above, that "found" in China by a Japanese photo-journalist, who also interviewed the two Chinese officials.
In July 1950, by the direct order from Stalin, 969 Japanese soldiers were transferred from Siberia, where those soldiers had been kept for slave labour suffering from starvation and despair for 6 years after war ended, to Fushun (Fuxuan) War Criminal Camp, in China, where, by the way, Pu-Yi was also transferred to at the same period.
At this point, the soldiers' mental health had already been deteriorating.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The concept "brainwashing" first came into public use during the Korean War in the 1950s as an explanation for why a few American GIs defected to the Communists. The two most authoritative studies of the Korean War defections (and this book was one of them) concluded that "brainwashing" was an inappropriate concept to account for this renunciation of U.S. citizenship. When several new religious came into high profile during the youth counter-culture of the 1960s and 70s the concept "brainwashing" was again employed as a culturally acceptable explanation to account for the fact that some idealistic "flower children" came under the influence of "cult" leaders. A quarter-of-a-century of scholarly research on why people join new religions has come to essentially the same conclusion as the Korean War studies -- "brainwashing" is not a viable concept to describe the dynamics of affiliation with new religions. Defenders of "brainwashing" have used other concepts like "mind control" and "thought reform," but they have failed to produce a scholarly literature to support their claims. Thus, whatever euphemisms may be employed, the basic conclusion against the brainwashing thesis is not altered. Still, the mass media continues to report claims of "brainwashing" as if the alleged phenomenon were real. And, as a result, the concept "brainwashing" sustains considerable currency in popular culture. It is, to be sure, a powerful metaphor. "Brainwashing" communicates disapproval of influence by persons, or groups, the user of the term considers to be illegitimate. If you want to understand the origins of the concept, read Lifton's work. Just take care to not get caught by the "cult mind control" rhetoric.
Lifton's principal shortcoming is the overarching psychotherapeutic interpretations, which sometimes stretch the imagination.
Lifton's book is often misunderstood and misrepresented as a polemic against 'brainwashing' and religious 'cultism'. 'Brainwashing' usually means the hypnotic manipulation of one's thoughts forcing someone to change their beliefs counter to their awareness or conscious will; Lifton denies emphatically that this happened in China or that it can happen. It appears that many who cite his work (and some of the reviewers here) have never read the book, other than through excerpts and summaries.
Lifton himself admits that 'brainwashing' is a misnomer; he denies that 're-education' was effective or that it converted people against their will. Furthermore, he argues that the principal difference between Chinese methods of thought-reform and normal, usual persuasion is the Chinese use of physical violence and imprisonment.
Lifton never intended for his book to be used by the anti-cult industry to attack religious non-orthodoxy and constitutionally guaranteed religious expression.
Originally published in 1961, the 1989 edition by The University of North Carolina Press is the best bang for the buck because it contains a brilliant new preface by Lifton explaining its relvance to today, even 2014.
While other texts are excellent treatises on the subject of mind control, such as Combatting Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan, Lifton's book lays the foundation for understanding not the genesis of thought reform, but its most wide scale, governmental use.
The potential purchaser does need to be aware that this is a dense, academic text, but well worth the read. You will not be disappointed.