Brainwashing is a pseudoscientific term first used by Edward Hunter in 1951 to describe new and powerful psychotechnologies used by the Chinese communists supposedly to change minds and even personalities of Chinese citizens. Similar processes were described by classic scholars who studied the process of change in Chinese citizens (Robert Lifton’s thought reform) and Korean POWs (Edgar Schein’s coercive persuasion). Since that inauspicious beginning, the term (and synonyms mind control and in Europe, mental manipulation) has become common parlance used against unpopular movements and processes, especially those religious in orientation.

The term gained impetus within America when offered by the defense in the trial of Patricia Hearst, the heiress kidnapped in 1974 and who subsequently participated in a bank robbery in which a guard was killed. ...

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