THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONING OF AMERICANS
Dennis L. Cuddy, Ph.D.
October 29, 2012
(Note: Perhaps the most troubling thing about the attack on our Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya weeks ago is that Obama administration defenders are saying we have to wait until investigations are completed to know what went wrong, and Republicans are NOT responding that sends a green light to terrorists to attack us today, tomorrow, etc., around the world because we are so stupid or incompetent that it takes us weeks to figure out what went wrong!)
In the past, I have mentioned that Edward Bernays in PROPAGANDA (1928) said: "Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of the country....The technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented." And in THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON SOCIETY (1951), Bertrand Russell wrote: "Although this science of mass psychology will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions are generated."
In 1966, Dr. James McConnell, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, stated: "I teach a course called The Psychology of Influence, and I begin it by stating categorically that the time has come when, if you give me any normal human being and a couple of weeks,...I can change his behavior from what it is not to whatever you want it to be, if it's physically possible....I can turn him from a Christian into a communist and vice versa....Look, we can do these things. We can control behavior."
Five years later, Milton Rokeach in "Persuasion That Persists" (PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, September 1971) proclaimed: "Suppose you could take a group of people, give them a twenty-minute pencil-and-paper task, talk to them for ten to twenty minutes afterward, and thereby produce long-range changes in core values and personal behavior in a significant portion of this group. For openers, it would of course have major implications for education, government, propaganda, and therapy....My colleagues and I in the last five years achieved the kinds of results suggested in the first paragraph of this article....It now seems to be within man's power to alter experimentally another person's basic values, and to control the direction of the change."
How did the psychological conditioning of Americans toward this end occur? In SCIENCE OF COERCION: COMMUNICATION RESEARCH AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE 1945-1960 (1994), Christopher Simpson referred to "the engineering of consent of targeted populations at home and abroad....Various leaders in the social sciences engaged one another in tacit alliances to promote their particular interpretations of society....They regarded mass communication as a tool for social management and as a weapon in social conflict....Key academic journals of the day...concentrated on how modern technology could be used by elites to manage social change, extract political concessions, or win purchasing decisions from targeted audiences....This orientation reduced the extraordinarily complex, inherently communal process of communication to simple models based on the dynamics of transmission of persuasive---and, in the final analysis, coercive---messages."
Sometimes, the messages have been subliminal, as Robert Bornstein in "Subliminal Techniques as Propaganda Tools" (JOURNAL OF THE MIND AND BEHAVIOR, Summer 1989) indicated that subliminal methods might be successfully used to deliver propaganda messages, because "the undetectable ability of subliminal stimuli may diminish their resistability relative to other persuasion techniques." In case one is skeptical as to whether subliminal techniques work, refer to a study by G. J. W. Smith, D. P. Spence, and G. S. Klein ("Subliminal Effects of Verbal Stimuli," JOURNAL OF ABNORMAL AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, pages 167-176), which was described by them as follows: "A static, expessionaless portrait of a man was flashed on a screen by Smith, Spence and Klein. They requested their subjects to note how the expression of the picture changed.
They intermittently flashed the word 'angry'on the screen, at exposures so brief that the subjects were consciously completely unaware of having seen the word. They tended, however, to see the face as becoming more angry. When the word 'happy' was flashed on the screen in similar fashion, the viewers tended to see the face as becoming more happy. Thus they were clearly influenced by stimuli which registered at a subliminal level, stimuli of which the individual was not, and could not, be aware."
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Two years before the article by Smith, Spence and Klein, BATTLE FOR THE MIND: THE MECHANICS OF INDOCTRINATION, BRAINWASHIING, AND THOUGHT CONTROL by psychiatrist William Sargant was published, in which he indicated that if certain "underlying psychological principles are once understood, it should be possible to get at the person, converting and maintaining him in his new belief by a whole variety of imposed stresses that end by altering his brain function." Sargant further explained that the human brain "is particularly sensitive to rhythmic stimulation by percussion and bright lights....Belief can be implanted in people after brain function has been sufficiently disturbed by...induced fear, anger or excitement. Of the results caused by such disturbances, the most common one is temporarily impaired judgment and heightened suggestibility."
� 2012 Dennis Cuddy - All Rights Reserved