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The term mentacide is derived from the root word mens, meaning mind, and cide, meaning “to kill.” Thus, mentacide means to kill the mental process, even so far as to kill one’s own mind. The term has been in use in the field of psychiatry as early as 1951. Joost A. M. Meerloo published an article titled “The Crime of Menticide” that appeared that year in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Meerloo claimed that “ample evidence has been gathered to prove that different forms of mental torture—mentacide—are part of the stock-in-trade of all police states” (Joost, 1950, p. 595).

Mentacide was a technique used in World War II by the Nazis to destroy prisoners’ beliefs, values, and psychological wholeness in order to coerce confessions. ...

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