PART 2 of 2
[This article originally appeared in New Dimensions magazine in April 1990, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.]
In the international battle of wills between the Soviets and America, there was a problem. America is not one person with a singular resolve. It is millions of people, and as in any country, some of them are weak—living their lives in com¬plete submission to willful parents, employers, spouses, never really finding their identity. It is here that the Soviet propaganda machine scored some victories.
With the help of the hysterical press, the Cold War difficulties caused some casualties on our side. We have a kind of Trojan Horse in our midst as a result. The Soviet leadership counted on fear and ter¬ror—the Stockholm Syndrome—to implant socialist sympathies in the hearts of Americans for their cause.
Patricia Hearst's "conversion" was a case of the "Stockholm Syndrome."
The "Stockholm Syndrome" is a phenomenon in which a set of positive feelings develops between the captive and the captor. It is named after the 1974 incident in Stockholm, where two men held four captives in a bank vault for five days. Later, the ex-hostages sided with their captors, and two women hostages even became en¬gaged to their former captors.
According to psychiatrists, the sympathy results from the mental trauma of being held unharmed but helpless. "Once a hostage really believes his life is in jeopardy, then for each moment that he's not killed, he feels a great and irrational gratitude to the hostage taker," said Dr. Charles Bahn of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
"The hostage is suddenly placed in an infantile situation," explained psychiatrist Dr. Frank Ochberg, expert on hostage psychology and Director of Michigan's Department of Mental Health, specializing in the psychology of terrorism. "The hostage literally can't eat, can't move, can't use the toilet facilities, sometimes can't even talk, without permission. This is demeaning and frightening—throwing a person back to a set of emotions that are very primitive. These same infantile emotions are also the precursor to affection and love. It's what a one-year-old infant would feel toward a parent who, as the powerful being, takes away the terror of infancy. Hostages don't recognize that their feelings are primitive. They usually describe their emotions in adult terms such as trust, compassion, or love .... In the Stockholm Syndrome, part of the reason why terrorists reciprocate positive feelings toward hostages is that they themselves are in danger and depend on their hostages for safety."
Dr. Ochberg, who served as a consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service, points out that once the hostage situation has been resolved, it may take a while for the hostages to recover from the syndrome: "[T]he hostage can continue to have strong positive feeling about the hostage taker after captivity, and these emotions can color their interpretation of the terrorists' cause. This sympathetic feeling will eventually go away, ... [I]t's something primitive that is difficult to shake with reason." He adds that "[h]ostages don't make good witnesses for the prose¬cution."
During the Cold War, Soviet leadership counted on fear and ter¬ror—the Stockholm Syndrome—to implant socialist sympathies in the hearts of Americans for their cause. Americans, who felt helpless before their dark fears of impending doom, started to look to the Soviets for relief from this fear. To some extent Reagan slowed this process in the two key ways suggested in Part I of this article—strong defense and values. Knowing what we stood for helped us stand against tyranny, and with SDI, for the first time it seemed like there was an alternative to living in fear. But both of these things were made light of by the liberal media who considered SDI a "star wars" fantasy and American values somewhat corny—like Reagan himself. So with certain Americans, the Soviets still enjoyed considerable success.
Watching angry "peace" demonstrations must cause most Americans to scratch their heads in wonder. Nothing America does seems to satisfy these people. Jeane Kirkpatrick described them as people who "blame America first." What's really going on is straightforward enough; living with fear and resentment, many Americans were going through what Patty Hearst experienced—a conversion. Forty years or so of intimidation have transformed the thinking, feeling, emotional lives of these Americans. Through fear, rage, and intimidation, they have developed a subconscious affinity with the other side.
The technique is simple enough. Place a person under extreme pressure. Threaten his or her life over a long period of time without rest, and just as you see the terror transforming the victim, change the face of cruelty and smile sweetly at your victim; you become his friend after the terror does its work. Now you reward the slavish submission with approval and validate your victim's altered belief system as the truth, and give them new direction. Police sometimes use this bad guy/good guy routine to break down a suspect and obtain confessions.
Of course, you can't terrorize people if you can't reach them. The point is, the media must bear great responsibility for what has happened in America. They are supposed to report the news, but not in a dis¬torted manner that frightens people. I remember during the Second World War in England the calm, mat¬ter-of-fact manner of the newscast¬ers. They told us the most unpleasant truth with great dignity. They didn't try to panic the British people as they reported the Nazis were overrunning France and poised at our doors. On the contrary, the honesty and the dignity with which the bad news was presented seemed to bolster British morale. It made us all the more resolute to fight "the Jerries," as we called them to make light of the matter.
We all became more courageous and stronger in character thanks to the way the news was handled. Even Adolph Hitler felt the British confidence—despite the fact that we were close to defenseless thanks to liberal peacetime disarmament, Adolph Hitler hesitated in invading England and made the mistake of attacking the Soviets instead. He was afraid of the British resolve. We out-intimidated him.
The American media has not done so well; it has been used to instill fear and break down resolve in many of us. Because of some mindless journalistic policy, reporters have caused many young Americans to become severely traumatized into feeling hostility and blame toward their own country. Some bury their conflict with drugs or alcohol—a reaction sadly indicative of the take-care-of-me socialist attitude.
This implanted feeling for socialism is self-perpetuating because their lack of productivity causes them to blame capitalism, like some people spend their lives blaming parents for their unhappiness, never finally taking responsibility for themselves. They have been prevented from functioning as they should by media-generated feelings of hope-lessness and despair.
In recent years, there has been developing in America a groundswell of sympathy for the Soviets, as if somehow the collapse of the socialist republics is really a renaissance of socialism ("with a human face"). The inevitable parallel attitudes are there too—a growing hatred for leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Reagan is now being blamed for presiding over a decade of greed, not really surprising when you realize that greed to the socialist mentality is synonymous with business—a successful capitalist is a greedy capitalist. Behind that anti-business prejudice is the inevitable "you-owe-me" attitude, thinly disguised as ''you-owe-them'' charitableness. All this leads directly to discussions of fair distribution of wealth, i.e., plundering the productive through taxation supposedly meant to help the poor, while really creating more bureaucracy and welfare dependency.
You can see the implanted socialist identity becoming an electorate represented by leftist American Congressmen who almost lost the arms race by voting down the military budget in favor of social causes. For these politicians, military strength equals "Rambo," profit equals greed, freedom equals selfishness—while poverty is nobility, welfare is love, disarmament is peace, and in general, socialism is fairness.
Patty Hearst got her peace when she broke down in sympathy for the SLA. All she needed was the smiling face of terrorist acceptance to validate her new identity and give it a bank-robbing directive. The altered identity always craves the nurturing, approval, and direction of those responsible for the change in the victim's consciousness.
Most Americans accept that, in a very real sense, liberty is a spirit, an identity that can be communicated as it was in Eastern Europe. The spirit of '76 became the spirit of '89 from China to Czechoslovakia. This feeling, this longing for freedom gets inside of people—it changes their attitudes. Eastern Europe will never be the same. Ironically, the spirit of socialism is here in America, with its own parasitic version of freedom. A police officer recently told a friend of mine about a new reality in his rural community. He said we are "growing monsters," kids whose entire attitude is "sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll—and you owe me a job."
We have almost won the Cold War. We have almost won the arms race. We have almost won the peace. But alas, many Americans have been infected, implanted, with the socialist spirit. Too many burn flags, hate free enterprise, degrade the military, denigrate traditional American values, and all the while, demand more and more social programs at the expense of defense. They even call the Constitution an outdated document. Under the influence of their changed loyalty, they accuse someone like Ronald Reagan of war-mongering—and yet, see Castro, Ortega, or Gorbachev as their smiling, approving friend.
Intimidated people can have a change of heart and turn against their own values, their own families, their own country—in much the same way a child disobeys his conscience under the influence of peer pressure. If Gorbachev were up for vote in this country, there are many who would try to elect him. So, during the next few years, if we start to see a renaissance of socialism, "free-market" or otherwise, we will know what is at work. And when we are told that perhaps there should be a blending of their system and ours, it will be a good time to remember that if you have a clear glass of water and another person has a muddy glass of water, mixing the two is not compromise, it is capitulation.
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Time will tell what is in store for the people who live under socialist tyranny now. Mikhail Gorbachev may indeed be another Anwar Sadat, a leader who has radically changed his thinking for the better. Or he may simply have no other choice but to let go of the ill-gotten empire he leads. Or, he may end up as just another Marxist/Leninist following the historical Communist agenda of "retreat only to attack again." History will be the judge of his deepest motivations. Either way, America is in danger of creating her own political nightmare by submitting to the idealistic socialist dream. Perhaps many of us have taken for granted what our forefathers died for—the chance to be a free man or woman, to live and prosper in a blessed land free of the misery, degradation, and forced servitude that are the everyday reality of almost every other nation on the earth.
[To free yourself from entanglement in the intimidator’s game, you must learn to deal properly, without resentment, to pressures of any kind. My Be Still and Know meditation exercise shows you how to do this and helps you practice remaining in the proper state. You can try it before you buy it and, if you like it, purchase your own copy, at fhu.com or by calling 800-877-3227.]
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Roy Masters—who in his 80s continues to broadcast the longest-running counseling show in talk radio history, his internationally syndicated daily radio program Advice Line, grew up in pre-WWII England. He started his journey toward understanding human nature when as a teen he saw a stage hypnotist at a vaudeville show in Brighton. The hypnotist easily put volunteer subjects in a spell and made them do outlandish things, like dancing with a broom and forgetting their own names.
Puzzled by the hypnotist’s mysterious power, Roy distinctly remembers pondering the question: “Why can’t hypnotism be used to make people act sensibly, rather than foolishly?” Inspired by the idea of harnessing this baffling force for good, he later pursued the art of hypnotism and established a successful hypnotherapy practice.
After several years of practice, Masters made his central and pivotal discovery about the root of people’s emotional problems, addictions and complexes. He realized that people did not need hypnosis, because their core problem was that they are already hypnotized—not by a clever stage performer, but by the stresses, pressures and seductions of daily life.
He used his knowledge to discover a way to help us become de-hypnotized, and discovered that the root of the power of negative suggestion lay in our wrong emotional response, that of resentment. Masters’ remarkably effective exercise, a simple observation technique called Be Still and Know—is at the core of his unmatched track record in helping people overcome even the most serious mental-emotional problems, and is the centerpiece of a successful program within the U.S. military community (“Patriot Outreach”) that is helping thousands of military personnel and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).