Destabilisation

The word destabilisation can be applied to a wide variety of contexts such as attempts to undermine political, military or economic power. In a psychological context it is used as a technique in brainwashing and abuse to disorient and disarm the victim. For example, in the context of workplace bullying, destabilisation applied to the victim may involve:[1] [2] failure to acknowledge good work and value the victim's efforts allocation of meaningless tasks removal of areas of responsibility without consultation repeated reminders of blunders setting up to fail shifting of goal posts without telling the victim persistent attempts to demoralise the victim. Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, menticide, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual "systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated".[1] The term has been applied to any tactic, psychological or otherwise, which can be seen as subverting an individual's sense of control over their own thinking, behavior, emotions or decision making. Theories of brainwashing and of mind control were originally developed to explain how totalitarian regimes appeared to succeed systematically in indoctrinating prisoners of war through propaganda and torture techniques. These theories were later expanded and modified by psychologists including Margaret Singer, to explain a wider range of phenomena, especially conversions to new religious movements (NRMs). A third-generation theory proposed by Ben Zablocki focused on the utilization of mind control to retain members of NRMs and cults. The suggestion that NRMs use mind control techniques has resulted in scientific and legal controversy. Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Sociological Association have found any scientific merit in such theories The Oxford English Dictionary records its earliest known English-language usage of brainwashing in an article by Edward Hunter in Miami News published on 7 October 1950. During the Korean War, Hunter, who worked at the time both as a journalist and as a U.S. intelligence agent, wrote a series of books and articles on the theme of Chinese brainwashing.[3] The Chinese term ?? (xi nao, literally "wash brain")[4] was originally used to describe methodologies of coercive persuasion used under the Maoist regime in China, which aimed to transform individuals with a reactionary imperialist mindset into "right-thinking" members of the new Chinese social system.[5] To that end the regime developed techniques that would break down the psychic integrity of the individual with regard to information processing, information retained in the mind and individual values. Chosen techniques included dehumanizing of individuals by keeping them in filth, sleep deprivation, partial sensory deprivation, psychological harassment, inculcation of guilt and group social pressure.[citation needed] The term punned on the Taoist custom of "cleansing/washing the heart/mind"[6] (??, xi xin) prior to conducting certain ceremonies or entering certain holy places.[citation needed] Hunter and those who picked up the Chinese term used it to explain why, unlike in earlier wars, a relatively high percentage of American GIs defected to the enemy side after becoming prisoners-of-war. It was believed that the Chinese in North Korea used such techniques to disrupt the ability of captured troops to effectively organize and resist their imprisonment.[7] British radio operator Robert W. Ford[8][9] and British army Colonel James Carne also claimed that the Chinese subjected them to brainwashing techniques during their war-era imprisonment. The most prominent case in the U.S. was that of Frank Schwable, who confessed to having participated in germ warfare while in captivity.[10] After the war, two studies of the repatriation of American prisoners of war by Robert Jay Lifton[11] and by Edgar Schein[12] concluded that brainwashing (called "thought reform" by Lifton and "coercive persuasion" by Schein) had a transient effect. Both researchers found that the Chinese mainly used coercive persuasion to disrupt the ability of the prisoners to organize and maintain morale and hence to escape. By placing the prisoners under conditions of physical and social deprivation and disruption, and then by offering them more comfortable situations such as better sleeping quarters, better food, warmer clothes or blankets, the Chinese did succeed in getting some of the prisoners to make anti-American statements. Nevertheless, the majority of prisoners did not actually adopt Communist beliefs, instead behaving as though they did in order to avoid the plausible threat of extreme physical abuse. Both researchers also concluded that such coercive persuasion succeeded only on a minority of POWs, and that the end-result of such coercion remained very unstable, as most of the individuals reverted to their previous condition soon after they left the coercive environment. In 1961 they both published books expanding on these findings. Schein published Coercive Persuasion[13] and Lifton published Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism.[14] More recent writers including Mikhail Heller have suggested that Lifton's model of brainwashing may throw light on the use of mass propaganda in other communist states such as the former Soviet Union