Does MK Ultra really exist

The CIA also tried to open a back door to the brain, but its efforts were unsuccessful

As hard as the specialists in the service of the CIA tried to open a back door to the brain with increasingly ruthless methods, their efforts remained unsuccessful. The mysterious “Mkultra” program was finally discontinued after several years. Doubts about the fabulous manipulation abilities of the communists would have been appropriate earlier: After the end of the hostilities in Korea, 21 of the 4,500 prisoners of war decided not to return to their homeland - 22,000 soldiers were on the communist side, from roughly up to 100,000 prisoners.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of ​​brainwashing resurfaced. It apparently explained why new religions and cults like the children of God, the Moon sect, Hare Krishna or Scientology were so popular, especially among young people - the followers were obviously brainwashed. The new religions were sued for damages, and “deprogrammers” appeared who offered to delete the malicious program from the cult victim's brain.

But the allegation of sectarian brainwashing met with sharp criticism from experts. Because their followers remained guilty of evidence that cultists were hypnotized, trained or mentally weakened in order to deprive them of their free will. Rather, scientists found that most of the followers of alternative religions were "seekers," disappointed with traditional beliefs that were not mentally restricted. The community gave strength to some, but many quickly abandoned their new faith without being harmed. Skinner's idea of ​​any programmability and manipulation of humans and their brains had proven to be a mistake.

Brainwashing as a manipulative secret technique, as a secret route into the unconscious, does not exist. But there are arguments for a “weak” variant called “mind control”. At its center stands the group to which an individual adapts or subordinates himself. "If you are tortured or have to take a truth drug, then you know that you are being manipulated," says psychologist John Dylan-Haynes from the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin. "But when young people from a cult influence you, you may not notice how they are trying to take social control over you."

The American psychiatrist Robert Lifton was among those who examined American soldiers in Korea who had been subjected to mind control, or "thought reform" as the Chinese term used it, while in communist captivity. He found evidence that the prisoners' thinking was centered on group doctrine. The group is placed above the individual, its goals are sublime and superior to those of the outside world, the goal is purification and self-abandonment.

However, brutal coercion was used to break the prisoners' selves. Lifton's colleague Edgar Schein has pointed out that the Chinese thought reform has its historical parallels in the extorted confessions of the papal inquisition or the Stalinist show trials with their self-inflicting rituals. These torture-like methods have nothing to do with subtle persuasion, but they have "proven" over the centuries.

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