Your mind consists of your mental and intellectual faculties. It includes all cognitive functions such as perception, memory, thinking, and other psychiatric activities.
Your mental abilities depend on how neurons are stimulated and connected to different parts of your brain.
Certain factors such as trauma, accident, drugs or even meditation can trigger a change to your normal mental state – also known as an altered state of consciousness.
Methods like hypnosis and brainwashing can also induce an altered state of consciousness.
Hypnosis and brainwashing are popular terms. What is the distinction between them?
Difference Between Hypnosis And Brainwashing
Hypnosis is a technique in which someone makes suggestions to your subconscious mind to help you make changes on your own.
In brainwashing, someone controls your mind and forces you to modify how you ordinarily think and act.
When used correctly, hypnosis can provide you with the freedom to change unwanted habits and develop yourself.
In brainwashing, there is no real freedom as someone makes that choice for you. What is worse is that you may not even realize that you have been brainwashed.
Hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy, is a trance-like state with enhanced concentration and focus. Hypnosis is often performed with the assistance of a therapist and it involves the use of vocal repetition and mental pictures.
Hypnosis can assist you in gaining control over undesirable behaviors. It can also aid in the management of pain and anxiety.
When you are hypnotized, you become calm, relaxed, and more receptive to suggestions. Note that while hypnosis makes you more open to suggestions, you’ll retain control over your actions.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
A hypnotherapist can hypnotize you by inducing a strong state of concentration or focused attention. Hypnosis is a guided process that involves verbal cues and repetition.
The trance-like condition you enter is comparable to sleep, although you are fully aware of everything that is going on around you.
Your therapist will offer ideas to help you reach your therapeutic goals while in this trance-like condition.
Since your concentration level is high, you become more receptive to recommendations or advice that you may ignore or dismiss in your normal mental state.
During a trance-like condition, hypnotherapy may plant the seeds of new concepts in your mind, and those changes will take root and flourish.
Hypnotherapy can also help you analyze and accept your emotions more deeply. Your mind would not absorb suggestions and directions in its normal cluttered state.
Your therapist will stir you back to consciousness, or you will exit the trance-like state on your own when the session is over.
It remains unclear how this high level of inner concentration and concentrated attention has such a powerful influence.
The Purpose Of Hypnosis
Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for dealing with anxiety and stress. Hypnosis can help a patient relax and unwind before a medical operation.
Hypnosis has been useful in several other ways.
- With hypnosis things like headaches, burns, dental treatments, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, childbirth, joint disorders, and fibromyalgia have been studied.
- Hot flashes are one of the symptoms of menopause and may be relieved with hypnosis.
- Insomnia, bedwetting, smoking, and overeating have all been treated using hypnosis.
- Hypnosis has helped people cope with the negative effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
- Anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder may be treated using hypnosis.
Risks Associated With Hypnosis
Hypnosis offers very few risks or negative effects. Hypnosis is a safe alternative therapy if a qualified hypnotist or hypnotherapist performs it.
However, hypnosis for memory retrieval is a controversial practice. Some people may experience mild to moderate side effects such as headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and situational anxiety.
Anxiety, distress, and other adverse effects are more common in those who use hypnosis for this purpose. You may also be more prone to fabricating recollections.
Brainwashing is a systematic endeavor to persuade you to accept a certain loyalty, order, or philosophy, usually contrary to your belief or conviction.
It is a colloquial term for any technique used to manipulate human cognition or action against the subject’s will, desire, or knowledge.
The goal is to eliminate allegiances to unfavorable groups or individuals by controlling the physical and social environment.
The individual is made to believe that their attitudes and thinking patterns are incorrect and must be changed while encouraging loyalty and unquestionable obedience.
The term is most appropriately used to refer to a political or religious indoctrination or ideological remodeling program.
Brainwashers employ the following techniques to brainwash their victims:
- Isolation from former acquaintances and information sources;
- a strict routine requiring full obedience and humility;
- intense social pressure and incentives for collaboration
- Severe consequences for disobedience ranging from ostracism and criticism to food and sleep deprivation, disconnection of social connections, as well as bondage and torture, and constant reinforcement.
How Can You Help A Brainwashed Person?
Awareness is key:
Awareness is a liberating force. A brainwashed person can only be liberated when they have realized their brainwashed state.
Once you find someone who has been brainwashed, make them aware of it. Do not make the mistake of differentiating between brainwashed and unaware. If the victims are unaware, they can be brainwashed again.
Undo brainwashing with facts:
One by one, you expose the lies. Tell them the truth about what they have been fed. You will need patience since an indoctrinated person may respond negatively to you.
These retorts could become even hostile. Regardless, maintain a polite and calm tone. Do not be bothered when your subject reacts angrily to your efforts.
Anger can be beneficial to a brainwashed victim if it does not become violent, as it helps to liberate them from indoctrination gradually.
Brainwashing In Modern History
As early as1929, Mao Tse-tung, the future leader of the Chinese Communist Party, coined the phrase “thought struggle” to describe the process of brainwashing.
According to reports, China and Korea reportedly subjected political prisoners to communist conversion techniques.
However, American journalist Edward Hunter first used the term “brainwashing” in 1951 to describe the experiences of American soldiers captured during the Korean conflict.
Hunter introduced the concept during the Cold War when there were serious concerns about mass indoctrination. Worse still was the fact that brainwashed persons did realize their indoctrination.
The revelations from the Korean conflict prompted the US government to research mind control.
In 1953, the CIA studied the effects of mind-altering drugs and the potential of psychedelics to induce a brainwashing state of mind. They code-named the program MKULTRA.
The results did not offer any meaningful information, and the subjects also reportedly suffered some adverse effects. As a result, Congress barred the CIA from further drug experimentation.
Public concern in brainwashing waned after the Cold War but revived in the sixties and seventies. This period saw the proliferation of political and religious groups.
Parents expressed serious concerns about their children’s strange new beliefs and the activities they indulged in. They were fears that cult leaders had indoctrinated these children.
Patricia Hearst, the heiress to the Hearst publishing company, was one of the alleged victims of brainwashing at the time. She would later use brainwashing as a defense during her trial for bank robbery charges.
In the early seventies, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) allegedly kidnapped Patricia and forced her to join the group. At the time, many people considered SLA a political cult.
Patricia narrated how her captors locked her in a dark room for many days without food. They subjected her to dehumanizing treatment and constantly bombarded her with their ideologies.
Two months after her abduction, Patricia had become part of the group and changed her name, mocking her family in the process. She was caught on a security camera in a bank robbery with some members of the SLA.
She was arrested and tried for bank robbery in 1976. The popular Lee Bailey led her defense team. According to her defense, Patricia Hearst was a victim of brainwashing by the SLA.
Her defense claimed that Patricia could not have been involved in a crime in her normal mental state. The SLA alleged brainwashing made her lose her sense of right and wrong.
Although she served for only two years, Patricia was found guilty and sentenced to seven years, as President Jimmy Carter reduced the sentence in 1979.
Three decades later, a seventeen-year-old Lee Mavro would stand trial for shooting and killing at least ten people. He allegedly committed these crimes under the guidance of a much older John Muhammad.
Lee’s defense claimed that John had brainwashed the teenager into committing those crimes. Lee was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment without any option of parole. John Mohammed received a death sentence in a separate trial.
Hypnosis and brainwashing are both terms that refer to altered states of consciousness. However, they’re not the same.
In hypnosis, a hypnotherapist makes suggestions to your subconscious mind to help you make changes on your own.
In brainwashing, someone controls your mind and forces you to modify the way you think and act.
Hypnosis gives you the freedom to change unwanted habits and develop yourself. In brainwashing, there is no freedom as someone makes that choice for you.
The term brainwashing first appeared in 1951 following reports of indoctrination of American POWs by Korean authorities during the Cold War.
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