Brainwashing consists of, through a multitude of techniques and tools, changing the will and thinking of a person or group in order to achieve a series of interests.
Brainwashing also means indoctrination, they are synonyms. And they are defined as the action of manipulating the mind of a person or a group through non-violent or coercive techniques. This, in order for these people to be useful to the manipulator and for him to achieve his goals.
We say that the techniques used can be violent or coercive because there are many ways to carry out this indoctrination. Although the real brainwashing is done through words and propaganda.
This laundering can be perpetrated at all levels, from the family and work level to the indoctrination of an entire society. We are going to see examples and how some of them have been made.
Brainwashing in the family
This can occur from parents to children or between couples. In the first case, we are dealing with children or adults whose parental influence has been disproportionate. Thus, we find people with a total absence of critical sense and who exalt and highlight all the decisions made by their parents. The causes of this could have been from extreme overprotection to psychological abuse by the parents, thus annulling their descendant and disposing of him for any purpose.
In the case of couples, this brainwashing can be caused by psychological and physical abuse by one of them towards the other, usually carried out by the man. That is why it is so difficult for many people to get out of so-called toxic relationships, due to the constant negative influence of contempt and undervaluation that ends up affecting the mental health of the victim.
Brainwashing in education
Indoctrination in education is a distinctive feature of any totalitarian regime. Moreover, it is the true engine of sustenance and perpetration of any regime of these characteristics. Through the manipulation of history, an entire generation can be made to hate the political adversary defined by the regime and, in turn, adore or legitimize the one that is established.
The downside, from the manipulator’s point of view, is that it takes a long time to indoctrinate generations. Lenin realized this, for example, and therefore accelerated the revolution through violence.
Brainwashing in the religious field
This is one of the most paradigmatic examples, specifically, what we know as sects. These are groups of people who share beliefs, usually religious, whose interpretation of dogmas and thoughts is very radical. Thus, they form closed and discreet communities.
Some of its characteristics are: existence of a supreme leader, restricted access, fanaticism, manipulation of its members and development outside of society. The objectives pursued by the leader can be economic or narcissistic for personal recognition.
In the sects, the manipulation towards its members is constant, exerting a great bond of belonging among all its followers. Two of their arguments are belonging to the only way of salvation and that they are marginalized from the rest of society.
Brainwashing in totalitarian regimes
The main weapons that these types of regimes have are two: education and propaganda. All this accompanied by the repression of all dissidents or insurgents. Propaganda is vital in any regime, magnifying the achievements and hiding the defeats make the popularity (of the leader) among the citizens grow.
The creation of various types of organisms is also resorted to at all social levels. As an example of this we have the Hitler Youth in Germany or the Komsomol in the USSR. Thus, and through other organizations, the direct participation of the population in the regime was sought, increasing its legitimacy and internal strength.
How to escape brainwashing
This state can generally be abandoned through two methods. Either the person becomes aware of it through a traumatic event, or an attempt is made to “rescue” him in a therapeutic way.
In the first case, as examples we have the death of loved ones, suffering large economic scams, etc. The second case is more complex. It is about gradually getting a person out of that state, starting with gaining the perception of trust and empathy of the indoctrinated person.